Carey Price’s previous trip to Vancouver ended with a sore hand. This time the Montreal Canadiens’ goalie left with a souvenir puck.
Playing in front of at least 50 family members and friends, the Anahim Lake, B.C., native made 12 of his 37 saves in the third period, and the Canadiens snapped a decade-long drought in Vancouver with a 3-2 win over the Canucks on Tuesday night.
It was a decided improvement over Price’s last trip to his home province early last season, which ended with him getting pulled after giving up seven goals. He then punched a hole in the wall of the visiting locker-room.
The year before that, with even more supporters in attendance, Price sat out behind Jaroslav Halak before getting a token appearance in the third period of another one-sided loss.
“I put a lot of mental preparation into this one,” Price said. “I remember last year and not getting the opportunity to play before that and it really meant a lot to me coming in here. I think everyone in this locker-room realized that and really battled for me.”
Canadiens defenceman Paul Mara made sure to grab the puck after the final buzzer and present it to Price after he was mobbed by his teammates.
“I really wanted that puck. That was the only one I’ve wanted all year,” Price said. “I’ve watched the Canucks my whole life being from B.C., and getting an opportunity to play against them and actually win here is pretty special.”
Elsewhere in the NHL it was: Toronto 2, N.Y. Islanders 1; Minnesota 4, Edmonton 1; Boston 3, Calgary 1; Phoenix 3, Philadelphia 2 (OT); N.Y. Rangers 4, Carolina 3 (SO); Columbus 4, Nashville 0; San Jose 4, Detroit 3; New Jersey 1, Dallas 0; and Colorado 4, St. Louis 3.
At Vancouver, David Desharnais and Brian Gionta scored 67 seconds apart early in the first period. Andrei Kostitsyn scored the winning goal against the flow of play midway through the second, ending a 12-game drought despite being demoted to the fourth line. And Price made a handful of game-saving stops in the third as Montreal won in Western Canada for the first time in three years, and the fifth time in 30 visits.
“It was nice to get it here for Carey,” defenceman Hall Gill said.
Coming off a 4-0 loss in the outdoor Heritage Classic at Calgary on Sunday, and with only one win in seven games (1-4-2), the Canadiens switched all four forward lines and stressed defensive play. It paid off as they roared to a 14-1 shot advantage in the first 10 minutes in a building where they had dropped seven straight, dating to November 2000.
Montreal got goals from three lines, with Desharnais opening the scoring on a breakaway 6:07 in. Gionta doubled the lead just over a minute later on a rebound of P.K. Subban’s point shot.
“Obviously things had gotten stale,” Gionta said of the shake-up.
Mikael Samuelsson and Henrik Sedin scored power-play goals, and Roberto Luongo made 22 saves as the Canucks lost at home in regulation for the fifth time this season (21-5-5). Vancouver’s lead atop the NHL is down to one point over Eastern Conference-leading Philadelphia, and five ahead of Detroit in the West.
“We knew we were going to meet a team that was on edge and they proved it the first 10 minutes,” Canucks coach Alain Vigneault said. “They threw everything they had at us. They were first on the puck. They completely controlled the game.”
At Toronto, Phil Kessel’s goal with less than five minutes to play earned the Maple Leafs a win over the New York Islanders.
Toronto has gone 2-0-1 in its last three games despite scoring just four goals, largely because of the solid play of James Reimer.
The rookie goalie made 28 saves against the Islanders, denying Jack Hillen with his glove just before Kessel netted the winner.
At St. Paul, Minn., Pierre-Marc Bouchard scored in a three-goal third-period outburst for the Wild in a victory over Edmonton.
Martin Havlat, Kyle Brodziak and Jared Spurgeon also scored for Minnesota, which has beaten Edmonton 15 straight times at home.
That ties the Nashville Predators’ home dominance of the Columbus Blue Jackets for the longest current streak in the NHL, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.
At Calgary, Milan Lucic scored two goals and Tim Thomas made 28 saves as Boston beat the Flames.
Brad Marchand had the other goal for the Bruins. Curtis Glencross replied for the Flames.
At Philadelphia, Shane Doan scored an overtime power-play goal as Phoenix won its eighth straight game by beating the Eastern Conference-leading Flyers.
At Raleigh, N.C., Wojtek Wolski scored the tying goal with 1:50 left in regulation then had the only goal in the shootout to rally the New York Rangers past the Hurricanes.
At Columbus, Ohio, Steve Mason made 20 saves for his 18th NHL shutout and Rick Nash scored two of the Blue Jackets’ four third-period goals against Nashville.
At Detroit, Joe Thornton scored his 300th career goal while Devin Setoguchi had two as San Jose held on to beat the Red Wings.
At Dallas, Nick Palmieri scored with 5:37 left and Johan Hedberg stopped 19 shots for his 17th NHL shutout as New Jersey extended its season-high winning streak to eight by beating the slumping Stars.
At St. Louis, Erik Johnson scored the go-ahead goal against the Blues, who traded him three days earlier, and Colorado broke a 10-game losing streak.