Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price now has sole possession of the all-time wins record after a 3-1 victory over the Detroit Red Wings at the Bell Centre on Tuesday night, his 315th win overall with the organization. The crucial two points for Montreal’s playoff push came with more difficulty than anticipated, with Price’s stellar goaltending being the primary reason for the win.
The game opened with netminders Price and Jonathan Bernier exchanging breakaway saves in the first five minutes, with Price stopping Detroit’s Andreas Athanasiou with his pad and Bernier turning away a breakaway from Tomas Tatar.
Price and Bernier were the best players in the opening frame, as they both shut the door on multiple scoring chances to keep the game tied at zero after 20 minutes of play. Despite the scoreless period, the Canadiens dominated the Red Wings in the shot count by sending 15 pucks on Bernier while allowing just five to reach Price.
The goalie battle ensued in the second period, with both goaltenders keeping their nets free of pucks during the other team’s power plays, but the Canadiens eventually figured out Bernier — named the game’s second star — a little over halfway through the period. Max Domi picked up his 23rd of the season by deflecting a pass from Andrew Shaw just under the crossbar of the Detroit netminder, giving the Canadiens a 1-0 lead.
Brett Kulak’s doubled Montreal’s lead in the final three minutes of the period with his fourth of the season that he slapped from the top of the faceoff circle. Phillip Danault was screening Bernier on the play, and Tatar picked up his second point of the night with assists on both of Montreal’s goals. The period ended 2-0 in favour of the home team, with them still outshooting their opponents 23-13.
Though Athanasiou’s breakaway was stopped early in the game, he was determined to beat Price, and would be the player to get his team on the board in the opening minute of the third, bringing his team back to within one. Brett Kulak was out of position, which led to Athanasiou sending his 24th of the season through Price’s legs on the play, breaking his shutout.
Though the Canadiens never trailed and ultimately held on for the two points, the victory came much harder than it should have against the Red Wings, and Price proved yet again in the third just how essential he is to the team and their playoff push with a save on Todd Bertuzzi in a crucial moment. Bertuzzi came at him alone with 12 minutes to play and came extremely close to tying the game, but Price shut the door with an incredible pad save and miraculously kept the rebounds out of the net by tracking the puck and sprawling around in his crease.
Price could breathe a little easier in the final minute of play when Domi put his second of the night into the empty Detroit net to give the Canadiens an insurmountable lead over the Red Wings, locking in the two points.
After their single-game home visit, the Canadiens are right back on the road to visit the New York Islanders on Thursday night.