The Montreal Canadiens lost the Eastern Conference finals to the New York Rangers last season, but Carey Price’s series ended in Game 1 after a collision with Chris Kreider.
Price will be back between the pipes on Saturday night as the conference-leading Canadiens face Kreider and the Rangers for the first time since being ousted from the playoffs.
Price was integral in getting Montreal to the East finals last season, going 8-3 with a 2.15 goals-against average through the first two rounds of the postseason. He would only last two more periods after suffering a lower-body injury when Kreider crashed into him in a 7-2 defeat in Game 1.
New York (4-3-0) went on to take the series in six games before falling to Los Angeles in five in the Stanley Cup Final.
Price, who is 5-1-0 with a 2.96 GAA this season, isn’t dwelling on the incident with Kreider or losing the series to the Rangers.
"It’s not about focusing on individuals on a team, it’s about trying to win the game," Price said. "That’s the only thing we have to focus on.
"They’re a good hockey club. There’s a reason they were in the Stanley Cup finals last year. They got great goaltending, and they play as a unit. It’s definitely going to be a good challenge for us."
The Canadiens (6-1-0) have overcome all but one challenge so far as they sit atop the East looking to conclude this four-game homestand unbeaten. David Desharnais kept the run going Tuesday, scoring 56 seconds into overtime to complete a 2-1 victory over Detroit.
Montreal outshot the Red Wings 15-5 after the second period and tied it with 3:09 to play.
"I think this group is experienced enough to know that winning isn’t easy. It comes at a price," said Price, who had 27 saves. "As soon as you start getting content is when you start sliding. We want to be an elite team in this league, and we know what it’s going to cost to do that."
Production from Alex Galchenyuk is helping. The center has seven points, getting at least one in six of seven games while scoring a goal in each of the last two.
He had two goals against New York in the playoffs, netting the overtime winner in Game 3.
Like the Canadiens, the Rangers enter this meeting on a three-game winning streak after rallying for an overtime victory Tuesday. They forced the extra session by scoring twice in the third period before Kevin Klein found the back of the net for the first time this season to beat New Jersey 4-3.
"We never got down," Klein said. "We knew we could come back. We kept pushing forward, scrapping for the puck."
Rick Nash, who scored in the third period Tuesday, is second in the league with eight goals as he tries to put last season’s disappointing postseason behind him. He had three goals in 25 games, all against Montreal.
The attention of Canadiens fans, however, may be on Kreider, who had eight points in the East finals and has six so far this season.
"I would think now that the series has gone by, everyone is calmer and cooler," Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said of the incident between Kreider and Price. "Everybody on both teams, and anybody watching, knows that was just a pure accident. It’s unfortunate it happened. I’m sure everyone knows it was a pure accident."
The Canadiens, Senators and Maple Leafs will stage coordinated pregame ceremonies to honor the Canadian soldiers who lost their lives earlier this week.
A gunman killed a soldier at Ottawa’s war memorial Wednesday, then stormed Parliament before being shot dead. On Monday, a soldier was killed when a man drove a car into him at a federal building near Montreal.