The night Carey Price got his mojo back?

November, 5, 2009

There is a time in a season when a player has that moment that changes everything.

I wonder whether Carey Price had his Thursday night in Boston. His 42-save performance lifted the Montreal Canadiens to a 2-1 shootout win over their rivals.

Hey, I know the Bruins were missing Marc Savard, Milan Lucic and David Krejci, and I know how their offense has dried up mightily in the last little while.

But Price delivered a dynamite effort in enemy territory as the Bruins launched everything but the kitchen sink at him. And that's why I consider this game meaningful for Price. This is the team that drilled him for 15 goals in a four-game sweep this past spring, leaving him heading into the summer sporting a 4.11 goals-against average and .878 save percentage for his playoff report card. Stinky stuff, indeed.

Price came into Thursday night's game with his job as the starter far from assured, given that Jaroslav Halak has outplayed him so far this season. But Montreal coach Jacques Martin said earlier in the day that Halak "wasn't 100 percent," so Price got a second straight start after giving up five goals in a home loss to Atlanta on Tuesday night.

Not only was he outstanding Thursday night but he looked confident.

"His intensity and determination inspired his teammates," Martin told French Canadian TV network RDS after the game.

By the time the netminder had flashed the leather with a great glove save on Blake Wheeler in the shootout, you could see the Carey Price of old breaking out. Well, Carey Price of old as in two years ago, his rookie season. He boasted a 2.56 GAA and .920 save percentage in 2007-08 and looked very much the part of future franchise goalie. But that was followed last season by a 2.83 GAA and .905 save percentage amid rumors he was enjoying life outside the rink just a little too much in one of North America's great towns.

We were all willing to cut him a break. "He's only 22" was the common refrain in the preseason. But since stealing two points in Toronto on opening night this season and stoning the Sabres in Buffalo in the next game, Price hasn't looked very good, a skid that began with a seven-goal barrage by the Canucks in his native British Columbia on Oct. 7.

On Thursday, he earned only his third win of the season and his first since Oct. 3 at Buffalo. In between his last previous win and Thursday night, he had six straight losses in his six starts and 24 goals allowed.

So although I know Thursday night was just one game, it might end up being more significant. It might be the night Price got his mojo back.

Pierre LeBrun

ESPN Senior Writer



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