Carey Price continues to flirt with history, and his stellar play has the Montreal Canadiens in the thick of the race for the Presidents’ Trophy.
Pekka Rinne and the Nashville Predators are still trying to find their elite form that’s been missing this month with the playoffs around the corner.
Price and the Canadiens visit Rinne and the Predators in an expected matchup of two of the league’s top goaltenders Tuesday night.
Montreal (46-20-7) has won three in a row despite being outshot 48-13 in the third period in that span, relying heavily on Price, who totaled 60 saves in back-to-back shutouts of Carolina and San Jose. He needs one shutout to become the first Montreal goalie with 10 since Ken Dryden in 1976-77, and his 40 wins are two shy of the club record held by Dryden and Jacques Plante.
Price has gone 15-5-2 with a 1.39 goals-against average and seven shutouts in his last 22 starts. His 1.86 GAA on the season is a career low and the best by a goalie with at least 50 starts since 2002-03, when Marty Turco posted a 1.72 mark for Dallas and Roman Cechmanek recorded a 1.83 for Philadelphia.
"I never would have thought as a kid or pictured myself in a situation like this," Price said. "I’ve been blessed immensely and I’ve been helped a lot to get where I am. I have a lot of people to thank."
Price’s dominance has Montreal tied with the New York Rangers and Anaheim for the most points in the NHL despite the team ranking 23rd with 2.6 non-shootout goals per game. The Canadiens hold a two-point edge over Tampa Bay for first place in the Atlantic Division.
They haven’t finished with the most points in the league since recording 129 in 1977-78.
"Our objective is to qualify for the playoffs in a very competitive league, and to finish in a good position to give ourselves home-ice advantage," coach Michel Therrien told the team’s official website. "(The Presidents’ Trophy) isn’t something we’re obsessing over. We’ll continue taking games one at a time and see where we finish."
Price had been 1-3-0 against Nashville before stopping 36 shots in a 2-1 overtime home win Jan. 20. P.K. Subban scored on a power play at the 4:08 mark of the extra period.
Rinne ranks second in the league with a 2.09 GAA, but he’s gone 3-7-1 with a 2.41 mark in his last 11. He has fared well against Montreal, however, going 3-1-1 with a 1.20 GAA in five starts.
The Predators (44-21-8) held a six-point lead over St. Louis for first place in the Central Division in February, but a 3-8-1 mark in their last 12 has allowed the Blues to move a point ahead of them. Nashville squandered third-period leads in losses to Minnesota and Anaheim before Rinne made 24 stops in a 3-0 victory over Buffalo on Sunday, ending a five-game home skid.
The shutout was the Predators’ first in 24 games and marked the third time in the past 12 the club reached the three-goal mark. The 43 shots were its most since it had 46 in a 5-2 loss to the Ducks on Feb. 5.
"We have given up (a lead) the past couple of games, so we said we have to put our foot on the gas and close it out nicely," forward Taylor Beck, who scored his second goal in three games, told the team’s official website.