Carey Price isn’t back in golden form, but he’s getting there.
The Montreal Canadiens goaltender has won three of his four games since returning from a lower-body injury that kept him out from the end of the Olympic break until March 15.
“The past couple of games things are getting back to normal,” Price said Saturday night after beating the Toronto Maple Leafs. “It’s a work in progress. When you’re out of action for just about three weeks, it’s all about timing and getting a feel for the game.”
Price missed eight games with the injury that he said he suffered while helping Team Canada win gold at the Sochi Olympics.
Since returning, he has allowed 13 goals in four games, which statistically is also a work in progress. But the results are there as the Habs have gone from a precarious spot without him to a solid third place in the Atlantic Division.
“I’m feeling pretty good, these guys have been playing well in front of me and giving me pretty good looks,” Price said.
Price could make his fifth straight start Monday when he and his teammates visit the archrival Boston Bruins, though coach Michel Therrien would not confirm that Saturday in Toronto. Therrien did note that the Habs are “playing with a lot of confidence” with Price in net.
That especially seems to be the case against the Bruins. Price shut them out at Bell Centre on Dec. 5 and in his career against them is 17-8-3 with a 2.50 goals-against average and .919 save percentage.
Overall, the Habs are 5-2 against the Bruins this season and last. A March 12 loss made it unfair to say Montreal has Boston’s number, but there’s no arguing it has had more success than most teams.
“I think you’ve got to give a good team a lot of respect, but you can’t give them too much respect,” Price said. “Obviously we respect what they’ve accomplished so far this season, but you can’t take it to the point where you give them a lot of room out there. You’ve just got to play them tough.”
The Bruins might be the toughest opponent around, riding a league-best 12-game winning streak into Monday. They last lost March 1 against the Capitals and have already clinched an Eastern Conference playoff berth.
“We still have to play our hockey, really focusing on the little details going into the playoffs, and not getting satisfied and complacent,” captain Zdeno Chara said after the Bruins clinched in Denver. “We just still have to push our team to the best, maximum results.”
Boston has outscored its opponents 46-17 as part of the third-longest win streak in franchise history. That kind of dominance obviously affects how Price and the Habs approach facing the Bruins.
“I think when you’re facing a good hockey club you play a little bit more scared, I suppose,” he said. “You have to be prepared when you play a good team because they’re going to smoke you if you don’t. Obviously Boston’s a really exceptional team all season.”
The Bruins have also had strong play from backup goaltender Chad Johnson over their streak. Starter Tuukka Rask has only allowed 11 goals in his seven victories, while Johnson has allowed six in his five starts.
Johnson said staying in the moment has a lot to do with Boston’s streak.
“We don’t really worry about how many we’ve won or who we’re playing in one day or two days,” he said. “We just worry about who’s next. That’s sort of where our mindset is.”
With files from The Associated Press.
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