MONTREAL – British Columbia native Carey Price wanted nothing more than to exact revenge on the Vancouver Canucks.
The 23-year-old did just that, making 35 saves, including 20 in the third period, to lead the Montreal Canadiens to a 2-0 victory on Tuesday night that ended the Canucks’ six-game winning streak.
Early last season Price went into Vancouver and was swamped 7-1. When the Canucks returned the visit later in the season, Montreal won 3-2 but with the since-departed Jaroslav Halak in goal.
“It was a lot better this year,” the Vancouver native said. “It’s a different year.
“I really wanted to win this one and the guys knew it.”
Defencemen Andrei Markov and Roman Hamrlik each scored his first goal of the season for Montreal (9-5-1). Hamrlik’s third-period goal was the first in five games with a man advantage, while the Canadiens penalty killers held the Canucks’ league-best power play to 0-for-4.
Price was not busy until late in the third frame, then held the fort when the Canucks went on full attack to pick up his second shutout of the season. Montreal fired 29 times on Roberto Luongo.
The Canucks (8-4-2) had not lost in regulation time in seven games in a row since a 6-2 loss to Minnesota on Oct. 19. They were shut out for the first time this season.
“We had some tough games against them, especially in their building, and for Carey to get a shutout was nice,” said another B.C. product, defenceman Josh Gorges.
Luongo was pulled for an extra attacker with 2:30 left and, in the dying seconds, Price had the puck and thought for a split second about going for a goal, but dished it off instead.
“That would be pretty cool,” Price said. “But nowadays the pressure is up the middle. You’d need to get a lot of wood on it.”
Canadiens coach Jacques Martin called it a “chess match” in which he was matching lines closely all night. He had the defence pair of Hamrlik and Jaroslav Spacek along with Tomas Plekanec’s line against Vancouver’s high-flying line of Daniel and Henrik Sedin with Alex Burrows and they got few scoring chances and only two shots, both by Daniel Sedin.
Daniel Sedin said poor execution by his team was partly to blame.
“Price played a good game, but I thought he was seeing the puck,” said Sedin. “We didn’t have enough guys in front of the net and we weren’t hungry enough, especially on the power play.
“We need to make quick passes. That’s the way to break pressure, but we were throwing it along the boards. That’s not how to do it.”
The Canucks looked disjointed and seemed to lack energy for most of the game as they opened a five-game road trip that takes them to Ottawa on Thursday and Toronto on Saturday before stops in Buffalo and Pittsburgh.
The Canadiens got the start they wanted when Markov scored his first in five games this season as he followed in to slip Brian Gionta’s rebound past Roberto Luongo 6:53 into the game.
Then followed long stretches of scrappy hockey, with neither team creating many chances.
The Canadiens’ league-worst power play was outshot 2-1 during a four-minute advantage early in the second frame after Andrew Alberts sent Mathieu Darche head over heels with a high stick.
But with Alberts off again for delay of game, Hamrlik was at the right side of the net to bang in Michael Cammalleri’s bank-shot off the end boards 4:39 into the third.
“They do a lot of things well,” Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said of the Canadiens. “They get in skating lanes and block a lot of shots. They deserved to win.”
Notes—Vigneault was seeking his 300th career win, against the team he got his NHL start with in 1997. . . Canucks defenceman Dan Hamhuis returned after missing eight games with a foot injury, bumping Keith Ballard from the lineup. . . Montreal forward Dustin Boyd went unclaimed on waivers but there was no word on whether he will be sent to the minors. He was a healthy scratch along with Ryan O’Byrne and Alexandre Picard.