BOSTON – After allowing 13 goals in their last two visits to Boston, the Montreal Canadiens made sure to take care of their own zone Thursday.
Goaltender Carey Price made 31 saves and his teammates blocked 19 other shots as Habs beat the Bruins 2-0 to take a 1-0 lead in their best-of-seven first-round series.
Brian Gionta scored early in the first and late in the third as Montreal bounced back from some poor defensive performances at TD Garden.
“I thought we had a good first 10 minutes, like we wanted to,” Gionta said. “After that we got a little scrambly but for the most part we did a good job of keeping them on the outside, and not giving them second and third opportunities in the D zone.
“We need to clean some things (up) obviously, but the biggest thing this time of year, you need to find ways to win.”
Price, who recorded his third career playoff shutout, let in all of Boston’s goals in the 8-6 loss Feb. 9 and five in a 7-0 loss on March 24. He took a backseat to Jaroslav Halak in last year’s playoffs, but the popular netminder was traded to St. Louis in the off-season.
Price credited his teammates with making life easier in the Montreal crease Thursday.
“Our guys played great defence,” said Price, who started all four games of Boston’s four-game sweep of Montreal in 2009. “We played a pretty perfect road game. If we were to write down on paper how we wanted to start the series, I think that would be it right there.
“We came in here with a plan to come out to a good start in this game and a good start in the series and we did that.”
Boston’s Brad Marchand did have a partial breakaway in the first, but Price stopped a weak backhand attempt.
The Habs got in the shooting lanes all night, with both James Wisniewski and Brent Sopel blocking four shots.
“I could mention every guy on our hockey team, from Andrei Kostitsyn to Brent Sopel,” Price added. “Everybody’s willing to sacrifice their body for the team.”
Sopel stopped a big chance from Boston’s Andrew Ference in the second period when the Bruins had 18 shots. His goalie noticed.
“I let him know every time he blocks a shot,” Price said. “When I’ve got guys who are willing to sacrifice any part of their body to keep the puck out of the net and reaching me, I’ll let them know for sure, because that’s encouraging and that’s good for our hockey team.”