NEW YORK – In Ottawa, Carey Price made 40 saves to backstop the Canadiens to a 5-4 OT win over the Senators.
“Well, it was big, obviously,” Price said. “We were in a situation to win a hockey game and it really felt good to get that one capped off.”
PK Subban got the game-winner with just 23 seconds gone in the extra session. But his credit for the win went to his goalie.
“Listen, I know he’s my teammate and everything, but I’m hard-pressed to find another goalie that’s better than him right now in the world,” Subban said. ” … Just watch the tape. It’s pretty incredible.”
The Senators had taken a 4-3 lead into the third period and were playing well but the Canadiens picked up a goal from Tomas Plekanec to tie the match at 4-4.
“I don’t think there was much needed to be said,” Price said. “We’ve got a lot of leadership in this room, a lot of experience, and everybody in this room realized that our effort wasn’t quite good enough, and we took it upon ourselves to make it right and we took advantage of our opportunities.”
Plekanec also had a shorthanded goal to start the game.
“It was Carey Price’s game,” Plekanec said. “It definitely feels good. He deserves that, but we didn’t as a team in front of him.”
In St Louis, the Los Angeles Kings used a three-goal third period to rip the Blues, 4-1.
The dagger to the Blues was a shorthanded goal by Trevor Lewis, his second goal in 2:17 that gave the Kings a 3-1 lead and sucked the air out of the arena and the Blues.
“I really had to work for that first one, but I got it, so it feels good and it’s a big win,” said Lewis. “It felt good. It’s been a while.”
The shorthanded goal came as a result of a good forecheck and the mishandling of the puck against the far boards by St Louis goalie Jaroslav Halak. He then tried to send the puck around the boards but Lewis picked it off and raced behind the net to wraparound the shot into an open cage for the 3-1 lead.
“Unfortunately for me the puck stayed on the boards and I just couldn’t pick it off the board,” Halak said. “You know, the trapezoid, I didn’t want to play the puck. I think I should have, I guess. I made a mistake at the worst possible time, when the game was on the line for us.
“I’ll take the blame for this one. It’s unacceptable to make a mistake like that, especially in the third period.”
The Kings came out on a mission to stop a long road losing streak in one of the toughest buildings in the league.
“Their best players came to play big,” Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said of the Kings. “Their best players were the best players on the ice. Their top players had to play [Thursday] from the goalie out. Their top defensemen had to play, their forwards had to play, and they did. They came up big.
“It was a big game, it was a game that meant quite a bit. Both teams were full, their goalie was back. Their best players were their best players and that’s what was the difference in the hockey game. They rose to the occasion. We didn’t. … I’m kind of getting sick of watching it. If we’re going to figure this out, we’re going to have to get more people coming up a lot bigger.”
In New York, 86 shots on goal were taken in the Rangers game with the Detroit Red Wings. Of those, only Mats Zuccarello’s deflected pass crossed either goal line in New York’s 1-0 win over the Wings.
“I was passing to [Benoit] Pouliot, and it hit a stick and went in,” Zuccarello said. “It was just luck.”
For the Rangers, the better part of the earlier 2013-14 season on Broadway had been a mystery in goal. Martin Biron retired rather than accept assignment to the AHL and rookie Cam Talbot played exceptionally well when number one netminder, Henrik Lundqvist, was still trying to find his game. And that was most of the season.
That is until the last two to three weeks. The puck may now be a beach ball for Lundqvist again who has stopped all 38 shots the Wings put on net Thursday night.
“I knew [Howard] was going to play real well and not give up a lot of goals. I just tried to go in with the approach that maybe one or two goals, that’s going to be it tonight,” Lundqvist said. “We played so well as a team on both ends. We created a lot of chances, but Jimmy played really well.”
With time running out, one puck almost crossed the line on Lundqvist after hitting the post and dropping to the crease. But Lundqvist reacted quickly to smother the biscuit before it moved over the line.
“You don’t get a reaction [from the crowd], so you know it’s behind you somewhere. So you don’t want to make too big of a move,” Lundqvist said. “It was right there. It’s nice to get some puck luck after a few tough bounces. We worked so hard. They had a few chances, but overall we played so well. It was a good goalie game, I guess.”
The entire night was a back-and-forth affair with neither team giving much.
“I thought our guys worked hard, and we had outstanding goaltending from Howard, which was really positive. They got outstanding goaltending from Lundqvist,” Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. “Even 6-on-5, I thought we made a really good play and got it behind him but didn’t score. You don’t get a lot of moral victories in the NHL. For me, the evaluation process for our team is how hard we play and how organized we are. I was pleased with that.”
Lundqvist has improved greatly over the recent schedule and he has now yielded two goals or less in his last five games, a stretch that has seen him post a 4-1-0 record. The Rangers media corps released a bit of history on the shut out for Lundqvist. He is the Rangers goalie to shut out the Red Wings since John Davidson on Nov. 27, 1976.
NY Rangers 1, Detroit 0
Nashville 4, Philadelphia 3 (SO)
Montreal 5, Ottawa 4 (OT)
NY Islanders 2, Tampa Bay 1 (SO)
San Jose 3, Florida 0
Los Angeles 4, St. Louis 1
Minnesota 4, Edmonton 1
Boston 4, Dallas 2
Colorado 2, New Jersey 1 (SO)
Winnipeg 5, Calgary 2
Phoenix 1, Vancouver 0
THE PUCK STOPS HERE
Three goaltenders posted shutouts on Thursday, while several others had noteworthy performances:
* Henrik Lundqvist made 38 saves to earn his third shutout of the season and help the Rangers improve to 7-2-1 in their last 10 games, including a 3-1-0 mark on their four-game homestand. Lundqvist has 48 career shutouts, all with the Rangers, one shy of the franchise record held by Ed Giacomin.
* Lundqvist outdueled Red Wings goaltender Jimmy Howard, who yielded only one goal while making a season-high 47 saves. Howard has recorded 40 or more saves in three of his past four appearances, posting a .957 save percentage over that span.
* Mike Smith made 29 saves to pick up his first shutout of the season and help the Coyotes snap a four-game losing streak. Smith led the NHL with 13 shutouts over the past two seasons, including a career-high eight in 2011-12, his first season in Phoenix.
* Sharks goaltender Alex Stalock stopped all 24 pucks he faced to earn his first career shutout (14 GP). He is 6-2-0 with a 1.80 goals-against average and .938 save percentage in 11 appearances this season.
* Jonathan Quick made 28 saves to help the Kings improve to 16-4-0 in their last 20 meetings with the Blues dating to the start of the 2011-12 season (regular season and playoffs). Quick is 4-1-1 with a 1.32 goals-against average, .947 save percentage and one shutout since being activated from the injured reserve list on Jan. 4.
* Semyon Varlamov recorded 33 saves and denied both shootout attempts he faced to lead the Avalanche to their 30th victory of the season, matching the 2000-01 club as the fastest team in franchise history to reach 30 wins (47 games). Varlamov has not suffered a regulation loss since Dec. 10, posting a 10-0-5 mark since that date.
* Kevin Poulin made 29 saves and stopped all three attempts he faced in the shootout to help the Islanders improve to 8-2-0 in their last 10 games. Poulin is 6-1-0 with a 2.49 goals-against average and .913 save percentage over his past seven appearances; he had four victories, a 3.25 goals-against average and a .892 save percentage in his first 16 outings of 2013-14.
* Darcy Kuemper posted 20 saves to lead the Wild to their 20th victory over the Oilers in their past 22 meetings at Xcel Energy Center. Kuemper improved to 3-1-0 with a 1.23 goals-against average, .957 save percentage and one shutout over his past four starts to help the Wild begin 2014 with a 6-2-0 record.
WORTH THE WAIT
A pair of players ended long droughts to score game-winning goals on Thursday:
* Kings forward Trevor Lewis (2-0—2) registered his first goals of the season to snap a 53-game drought dating to March 28, 2013. It also marked Lewis’ first career multi-goal game in the regular season, following a two-goal performance in the Kings’ Stanley Cup-clinching victory over the Devils in Game 6 of the 2012 Final.
* Wild defenseman Nate Prosser scored his first career game-winning goal to snap a 67-game drought dating to Feb. 7, 2012. He also posted a career-high +3 rating in 20:09 of ice-time, his second-highest total of the season.
CELEBRATING IN STYLE
Two players celebrated their birthdays in style on Thursday:
* Avalanche forward Matt Duchene scored the shootout-deciding goal while playing a season-high 25:51 as he celebrated his 23rd birthday.
* Wild forward Jason Zucker scored his fourth goal of the season while celebrating his 22nd birthday. Zucker’s goal came eight seconds into the third period, setting a franchise record for the fastest goal to start any period at Xcel Energy Center.
PRICE, SUBBAN LIFT CANADIENS IN SEESAW AFFAIR
Carey Price made a season-high 40 saves and P.K. Subban scored 23 seconds into overtime to lift the Canadiens over the Senators in a seesaw affair. Montreal recorded the game’s opening three goals before Ottawa countered with four consecutive tallies. Tomas Plekanec netted the equalizer midway through the third period, setting the stage for Subban to score his third career overtime goal and first game-winner since April 5, 2011, his rookie season.
Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson (1-2—3), Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds (1-2—3) and Predators captain Shea Weber (1-2—3) led all players with three points on Thursday . . . The Jets improved to 2-0-0 under head coach Paul Maurice, outscoring opponents 10-3 . . . The Wild played their 1,000th regular-season game in franchise history (457-400-143) . . . Islanders captain John Tavares collected an assist to move into sole possession of second place in League scoring (21-36—57 in 48 GP) . . . Loui Eriksson registered one shot on goal in 15:16 of ice-time in his return to Dallas, where he spent the first seven seasons of his NHL career . . . Blues forward T.J. Oshie converted his first career penalty shot . . . Lightning captain Martin St. Louis recorded his 21st goal of the season to extend his point streak to six games (4-3—7) . . . Senators forward Kyle Turris scored for the fourth consecutive game (4-1—5) . . . Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman played in his 300th NHL game . . . Slovakia announced that Bruins captain Zdeno Chara will carry its flag during the opening ceremonies of the 2014 Olympic Winter Games . . . Steve Begin announced his retirement from the NHL following a 15-year career. The 35-year-old forward compiled 56-52—108 and 561 penalty minutes over 524 games with the Flames, Canadiens, Stars, Bruins and Predators.