(SportsNetwork.com) - Carey Price will try to continue a magnificent run between the pipes when he leads the Montreal Canadiens in Tuesday's road clash with the Nashville Predators.
Price already was being mentioned as the favorite for the Vezina Trophy and a leading candidate for the Hart before recording shutouts in each of his last two outings.
Montreal's franchise goaltender now boasts a 40-15-4 record, 1.86 goals against average, .938 save percentage and nine shutouts on the season. He leads the league in GAA and Nashville's Pekka Rinne is the closest competitor at 2.09. Price also is first in the NHL in wins, save percentage and is tied with Pittsburgh's Marc-Andre Fleury for the lead in shutouts.
No goaltender has won the Hart Trophy as most valuable player since Jose Theodore claimed the award for the Canadiens in 2001-02, but Price is certainly making a strong case to end the goalie MVP drought.
Price stopped all 31 shots sent his way in a 4-0 over Carolina on Thursday and then made 29 stops to help Montreal beat San Jose, 2-0, on Saturday.
Montreal has won three straight and four of its last five and enters Tuesday's action two points ahead of Tampa Bay for first place in the Atlantic Division. Each club has nine games left in the regular season and the Lightning play this evening against visiting Florida.
The Habs completed a perfect two-game homestand with the win over the Sharks. Tomas Plekanec scored what turned out to be the game-winner late in the first period, while Brendan Gallagher added an empty-net goal late in regulation.
Price, meanwhile, stopped 13 shots in the first and 12 in the second before only needing to make four stops to complete the shutout. The nine white- washings is new personal best for the 27-year-old.
"That's not an easy team to play against," Price said. "You can't say enough about those guys. Every game, they put on their work boots."
Montreal is kicking off a two-game swing tonight and will visit Winnipeg on Thursday. The Habs own a solid 22-12-2 mark as the guest this season.
Rinne also earned a shutout in the Predators' last trip to the ice this past Saturday. He turned aside all 24 shots in a 3-0 home win over the Buffalo Sabres, helping Nashville win for just the third time in 12 games (3-8-1).
It was the fourth shutout of the season for Rinne and his first since Dec. 9 in Colorado.
Taylor Beck notched a power-play goal in the second period to open the scoring, while Craig Smith and Mike Fisher lit the lamp in the third. Ryan Ellis and Matt Cullen added two assists each for the hosts.
"It was nice to see the change in the third period. We were able to capitalize," said Nashville head coach Peter Laviolette.
Nashville snapped a five-game home losing skid, which stretched back to a 5-2 decision over the Avalanche on Feb. 24. Nashville still owns a stout 27-7-2 home record on the season.
The Predators are second in the Central Division with 96 points, leaving them one behind first-place St. Louis and two ahead of Chicago. The Blues visit Pittsburgh this evening, while the Blackhawks are idle.
Montreal has won two straight and three of the last four meetings against the Predators overall and has claimed two in a row in Music City.
Rinne is 3-1-1 with a 1.20 GAA in five lifetime outings versus the Habs, while Price has a 2-3-0 record and a 2.17 GAA in five career starts against Nashville.