Price blanks Bruins 2-0 as Canadiens win opener
BOSTON – Carey Price returned as Montreal's starting playoff goalie with his third postseason shutout, Brian Gionta scored twice and the Canadiens opened the series with a 2-0 win over the Boston Bruins on Thursday night.
Price started just one of the Canadiens 19 playoff games last year when they were seeded eight but reached the Eastern Conference finals where they lost to the Philadelphia Flyers. Jaroslav Halak started the others but was traded to the St. Louis Blues in June.
This season, Price started 70 games and on Thursday he turned aside 31 shots.
Gionta scored at 2:44 of the first period on a pass from Scott Gomez from the left boards. Gionta and Matthew Darche both got behind the Bruins defense with Darche directly in front of goalie Tim Thomas and Gionta on the right side of the crease. Darche let the puck go by and Gionta put it in between Thomas' left side and the post.
Gomez also assisted on Gionta's other goal at 16:42 of the third period.
The game was played cleanly without any fights between the teams that had several physical confrontations during the regular season.
In Boston's 8-6 win at home on Feb. 9 there were 45 penalties for 182 minutes. On March 8 in Montreal, the Canadiens won 4-1, a victory overshadowed by Zdeno Chara's hard hit that drove Max Pacioretty into a stanchion between the team's benches. Pacioretty suffered a severe concussion and a cracked vertebra. Chara was penalized but not suspended by the NHL and Montreal police announced an investigation.
It was a disappointing playoff start for the Bruins after a disastrous end to their postseason last year. They won the first three games over the Flyers in the Eastern Conference semifinals. But Philadelphia forced a seventh game in which they rallied from a 3-0 deficit to a 4-3 victory.
One of the Bruins best stretches Thursday came after killing a penalty midway through the second period. The fired numerous shot at Price, few of them challenging and several stopped by Montreal players before reaching the net.
At 11:45 of the period, Patrice Bergeron had a clear shot from 15 feet on the left but put it into Price's midsection.
Price's outstanding performance was a major change from his last two games in Boston in which he allowed 13 goals. He let in all of Boston's goals in an 8-6 loss on Feb. 9 and five in a 7-0 loss on March 24. And he was the losing goalie in all four games in the opening playoff round in 2009 when Boston swept Montreal.
Notes: Montreal was 4-2 against the Bruins in the regular season with one win coming in overtime. ... The Bruins' poor power play continued in the postseason. They were ranked 20th in the regular season, scoring on 16.2 percent of their power play opportunities.