Canadiens' Price makes 36 saves, blanks Jets

The SportsXchange

WINNIPEG, Manitoba -- The Montreal Canadiens made things relatively easy for their goalie through two periods Tuesday night, but in the late going, he returned the favor.

Carey Price stopped 36 shots but saved the best for last, making some brilliant stops in the final period as the Canadiens defeated the Winnipeg Jets 3-0 at MTS Centre.

The victory capped the Canadiens' 3-1 road trip in Western Canada, raising Montreal's overall record to 4-2-0.

Left wing Brandon Prust and defenseman P.K. Subban each scored his second goal of the season, and Daniel Briere added into an empty-net goal with just over a minute left in the game.

Price made 14 saves in the final period to preserve his first shutout of the season, but the 26-year-old goalie refused to take sole credit for blanking the Jets in their own barn.

"Anything I didn't see, we blocked. Any rebounds I let out, we cleared. That's really the equation for a shutout," Price said. "I like the way they played for me all three periods. We did an excellent job of not allowing ourselves to get outworked and not putting out anything less than 100 percent."

Montreal heads home for five games, beginning with a battle against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Thursday night.

Winnipeg (3-4-0) is now 1-2 on the current six-game homestand. The Jets host the red-hot St. Louis Blues on Friday night.

Price has three of the Canadiens' four wins this season.

"I'm just trying to make everything as simple as possible, be strong positionally and get some help from my defense and forwards," he said. "That was a tough game and the guys really battled. You have to give the guys in front of me a lot of credit."

Montreal coach Michel Therrien said his club started strong and gave the Jets fits.

"We were ready to play," he said. "We wanted to dictate the pace. We wanted to surprise them with our intensity, and we got an early two-goal lead."

When the Jets found their legs midway through the game, that's when Price really shined, Therrien said.

"Our team was missing some energy, but when we had some breakdowns, Carey Price was outstanding again for us," the coach said. "It's good for him, good for his confidence. Right now, I think Carey is in a good zone."

The Canadiens dominated play at the outset, hemming the Jets in their own end for a two full minutes until Prust tucked in a rebound off the back wall past goalie Ondrej Pavelec to give the visitors a 1-0 lead at 2:06.

The Jets didn't register their first shot until about seven minutes in, a harmless blast from outside the Montreal zone by defenseman Zach Bogosian, prompting a derisive cheer from the frustrated crowd.

Things went from bad to worse for Winnipeg at 11:28 when Subban's rocket from the point beat Pavelec cleanly for a 2-0 Montreal advantage.

Canadiens left wing Max Pacioretty went down with what appeared to be a knee injury late in the first period and did not return.

The Jets tightened up defensively in the middle period and pushed the puck deep a number of times. However, they threw only a few minor scares into Price, shooting from well out and creating very little traffic in front.

Right wing Michael Frolik, obtained from the Chicago Blackhawks during the offseason, had Winnipeg's best chance with a nifty deke that Price blocked with his pad with time winding down in the second period.

The Jets pressed to hit the score sheet in the final period, outshooting the Canadiens 14-6, but were stymied repeatedly by Price.

Winnipeg coach Claude Noel said it was difficult for his team to generate much offense early when Montreal gained possession off just about every draw.

"It'd be good if we could start with the puck. We were about 35 percent in faceoffs in the first period," Noel said. "Quick starts for me are at the beginning, and then momentum builds ... or you find yourself on your heels.

"Give them credit. They moved the puck around. They moved it quick."

The empty-netter was Briere's first goal and third point of the season after signing with Montreal as a free agent in July.

Pavelec made 22 saves for Winnipeg.

NOTES: Canadiens RW Brian Gionta missed Saturday's 4-1 victory over the host Vancouver Canucks when he returned to Montreal after his son suddenly fell ill. However, with the youngster on the mend, Gionta rejoined the team in Winnipeg on Monday and played his 700th career game Tuesday night. ... Rookie D Jacob Trouba, 19, began the night second on the team in average ice time this season at 23:27, behind only D Dustin Byfuglien, who was averaging 24:28. Trouba was a minus-2 in 23:14 Tuesday. ... Montreal recorded its sixth consecutive win against the Jets/Atlanta Thrashers franchise, and its ninth victory in the past 10 meetings. The Habs dominated the original Winnipeg franchise from 1979-96 before the Jets moved to Phoenix, registering a 31-10-5 record.
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