Fortunately for the Montreal Canadiens, P.K. Subban did a convincing impression of Carey Price on Monday night.
Subban made two dramatic goal-line saves and the Canadiens beat the New Jersey Devils 3-2 to extend their point streak to seven games.
”To be honest with you, I don’t think I’ll be taking Price’s job anytime soon,” said Subban, who won the Norris Trophy last season as the NHL’s outstanding defenseman. ”He’s got that pretty locked down. The amount of times that he’s bailed me out, I don’t mind stepping in there.”
Subban got his outstretched stick on a Jaromir Jagr shot from inside the crease, denying the star forward of a sure goal during a scoreless game. He later shut the door on Damien Brunner, crashing into the net and blocking the shot to keep the Canadiens in front 2-1 at the start of the third.
”As far as I’m concerned, he’s playing his best hockey. His focus is at the right place,” Canadiens coach Michel Therrien said of Subban. ”He’s doing a fabulous job for the team. We’re putting him out there against top players game in and game out. And he loves that challenge. And it’s not a coincidence that we’re having success, that we pick up wins.
”He’s certainly one of the best defensemen right now.”
Alex Galchenyuk, Rene Bourque and Max Pacioretty scored for the Canadiens (16-9-3). Subban also had his team-leading 20th assist and five blocked shots, and Price made 28 saves.
Steve Bernier and Michael Ryder scored for the Devils (11-12-5), and Montreal native Martin Brodeur stopped 14 shots.
Brodeur thought it was tough to get into the game when he wasn’t being kept busy.
”Usually when I don’t have any shots, what helps me is that I’m used to playing the puck,” he said. ”When I get no shots, I’m able to stay in the game. But when I get no shots, and I can’t play the puck, the games are long.
”It’s tough to get going. Not before the third period that I felt good, and I started making some saves.”
Ryder tied it at 2 with a slap shot that got past Price at 4:42 in the third. But Galchenyuk responded five minutes later, picking up his seventh goal after Alexei Emelin’s shot landed on his stick.
It was New Jersey’s first regulation loss at the Bell Centre since 2008.
Sustained pressure by the Devils in the Canadiens’ zone led to Bernier’s second goal in as many games, putting New Jersey in front at 11:13 of the first period. The Quebec City native was left all alone in front of the net and beat Price on his blocker side by deflecting an Anton Volchenkov shot from the point.
The Canadiens tied it at 8:49 of the second when David Desharnais made a no-look, behind-the-back pass to Bourque, who scored his sixth goal.
With Dainius Zubrus in the box for interference, Pacioretty made it 2-1 with a power-play score at 16:49 off a cross-ice pass from Andrei Markov.
The game was the first of a home-and-home series against the Devils. The teams face off again on Wednesday in New Jersey.
NOTES: The Canadiens have earned 13 points from their last seven games. . . . The Devils were without Adam Larsson (lower body), Stephen Gionta (ankle) and Ryan Clowe (head). . . . Ryan White and Francis Bouillon were healthy scratches for Montreal. . . . Montreal has allowed two goals or fewer in its past 11 games.