Canadiens’ Joel Armia, who scored a hat trick, celebrates Montreal’s win with goalie Carey Price, who made 28 saves Friday night in New York.
Julie Jacobson /
NEW YORK — On Friday morning, Carey Price had his first look at a viral video of him hugging a young fan who had recently lost his mother to cancer.Friday night, Price put on a performance that will probably earn him even more fans, making 28 saves in the Canadiens’ 4-2 win over the New York Rangers as they held onto the first wild-card playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.“Obviously, it was a touching moment for the young guy,” Price said about 11-year-old Anderson Whitehead, who met Price after a morning skate last Saturday in Toronto. “But leading up to the game, we had a big, important game for us tonight.”That’s what Price was focused on and the Canadiens needed their goalie to be at his best as they got off to a slow start, trailing 1-0 after the first period on a deflected shot by the Rangers’ Vladislav Namestnikov.“Oh, my God, he was huge,” Canadiens defenceman Jordie Benn said about Price. “That makes me giggle on the bench. When he’s on, he is on. It’s fun to watch.”Benn also likes to watch the replays of Price’s big saves on the giant screen.“Every time,” Benn said with a smile under his bushy beard. “You got to re-live it again. I’ll probably go on Instagram and watch them all night now.“Tonight it definitely wasn’t pretty, but thanks to Pricey we got two points and we just got to learn from our first period,” Benn added. “Teams that are so-called out of it are coming hard. They got nothing to lose. So we just got to be ready to go.”The Canadiens will need to be ready to go again Saturday when the Pittsburgh Penguins visit the Bell Centre (7 p.m., SNE, SNO, SNP, SN360, TVA Sports, TSN 690 Radio). Will Price be ready to play again if coach Claude Julien calls on him?“It’s always a big question,” Price said. “We’ll re-address it in the morning. But I’m sure.”When asked if he’s feeling the best physically that he has all season, Price grinned and said: “Oh, yeah.”Price has now started 12 of the last 13 games and came on in relief of Antti Niemi during the first period of the only game he didn’t start.“You kind of fall into a groove,” Price said. “You just put your work boots on every day and try and do your job. I think, obviously, taking a couple days off of practice helps.”Brendan Gallagher scored his team-leading 28th goal of the season for the Canadiens and Joel Armia had a hat trick, with his final goal into an empty net, giving him 10 goals on the season.“I don’t think he lacked confidence (offensively),” Julien said about Armia. “He was getting chances and they weren’t going in. But tonight, two big goals and the empty-netter. He’s been a good player for us this year. Something that we don’t have a lot of. A big forward that protects the puck well, is strong, hard to get the puck off him. Excels along the walls, a big body. He’s got a good shot and he showed that tonight. So hopefully that’s the confidence that’s going to help him hopefully score some more for us.”Price said watching the video with the young fan was an emotional experience for him and the goalie was surprised it went viral.“It’s always nice to have intimate moments with somebody and it’s up to the family to share it,” Price said. “That’s fine. … Obviously, he’s going through a tough time. I’m a compassionate person and he touched me a lot. I’m just glad to help out in some small way.”Price helped his teammates out in a very big way against the Rangers.