How’s this for irony?
On the day Jaroslav Halak was traded for the third time this season, Carey Price made 48 saves to beat the Bruins.
Price turned in the best playoff performance by a Canadiens goaltender since Halak stoned Washington and Pittsburgh.
That was in 2010.
A lot has happened since.
Halak has bounced from St. Louis to Buffalo to Washington to the Islanders.
And Price has pushed his record, in the Olympic Games and the 2014 playoffs, to 10-0.
Getting number 11, on Saturday afternoon at the TD Garden, might be problematic if Price’s teammates don’t play better.
In his postgame press conference, Michel Therrien stressed what he saw as the Canadiens’ positives in their 4-3 overtime conquest of the Bruins:
• Price’s extraordinary performance
• a power-play that produced two goals
• the “very productive game” of P.K. Subban, who scored both PP goals, including the OT winner.
• Lars Eller and Rene Bourque, both of whom the coach praised for their forechecking tenacity and ability to protect the puck.
• a reconstituted fourth line of Brandon Prust, Dale Weise and Travis Moen drew the OT penalty on Matt Bartkowski that opened the way for P.K.’s winner.
It’s a short list. Therrien could have added the defensive pairing of Francis Bouillon and Mike Weaver, the game-saving defensive play of Brendan Gallagher and the courage of david Desharnais, who spent the game crashing into and bouncing off of Zdeno Chara.
The Eller-Bourque-Brian Gionta continued the fine play that began in the Tampa Bay series. They were the Canadiens’ best line – by a lot.
Another positive: The Canadiens played with discipline, taking just three minor penalties. And they killed off two shorthanded situations against a Boston power play that was deadly against Detroit.
Therrien acknowledged, however, that the Canadiens had played “like a team that hadn’t played in 10 days.”
Maybe it took 80 minutes to shake the rust off. After being dominated for long stretches of the game, the Canadiens outshot Boston 4-1 in the first four minutes of the second OT period, leading up to P.K.’s game-winner.
But the full-game possession stats told a grim story:
In addition to the 51 shots they had on Price, the Bruins missed the net 17 times. The Canadiens blocked 30 shots. That adds up to 98 shot attempts for the rampaging home team.
The Canadiens had 33 shots on Tuukka Rask, whose save percentage was .879, to Price’s .941. The Canadiens had 11 misses, and Boston blocked 14 shots. The total attempts: 58.
98-58? That’s the final score when the harlem Globetrotters play the Washington Generals.
The Bruins hit the goalpost twice. A puck behind Price miraculously glided along the line and stayed out.
The Bruins had innumerable excellent looks at goal from uncontested slot positions. They skated freely through the neutral zone and exerted long periods of pressure against feeble backchecking in the Canadiens’ zone.
Boston won 58 per cent of faceoffs (51-37) and outhit the Canadiens 56-45. They Bruins effectively bottled up the Canadiens’ (theoretically) top line to the extent that Thomas Vanek was bumped down to the fourth line – a demotion Therrien would not discuss during his postgame remarks. Max Pacioretty was also invisible for most of the game.
The Andrei Markov-Alexei Emelin pairing struggled against the Bruins aggressive forecheck. They were better, however, in OT.
The Canadiens, as a team, will have to better on Saturday.
But they’ve retaken home-ice advantage.
And Price is looking positively Halakian.
• Interesting stat from my man Mike Ziegler: Daniel Brière has assisted on both of the OT goals the Canadiens have scored in these playoffs.