What a difference a year makes for Price

TERRY KOSHAN, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 11:02 PM ET

MONTREAL — Carey Price would rather not think about last year because it’s, well, so last year.

The Montreal Canadiens goaltender stoned the Maple Leafs on Saturday night before a raucous crowd at the Bell Centre, making 30 saves for his fourth shutout of the 2010-11 season.

That’s four more than he had a year ago, when he struggled badly and became a whipping boy for the club’s fickle fans. Now, they love the 23-year-old again.

“It’s a complete 180 from then,” Price said. “Just not going to take it for granted this year. Keep working at it. We want to keep winning and do it all year.”

The victory was the 12th for Price, who has recorded a shutout in three of his past six starts. In battling Jaroslav Halak for the No. 1 job in 2009-10, Price had 13 wins. Halak, of course, was traded to the St. Louis Blues, and Alex Auld certainly won’t be threatening Price for the starter’s job.

Price has been showing the kind of cool confidence he had when fans across the country got to know him during the 2007 world junior championship. Now 23, Price then led Canada to a gold medal at the tournament in Sweden.

“He is playing extremely confident and he deserves a lot of credit,” Canadiens captain Brian Gionta said. “His work ethic and maturity is really paying off.”

Price had the Leafs muttering to themselves all night. He made four saves on Phil Kessel, but no save was bigger than the glove stop he made on Kris Versteeg during the second period. Soon after, Jeff Halpern scored a short-handed goal on a smart deflection of a Jaroslav Spacek shot that wound up being the winner.

“When you see a shutout posted, it usually means good defence and great team play, and that’s all there is to it, really,” Price said.

“I just have to make myself big and my guys are right there with me. You know you are playing well defensively when you are posting goose eggs.”

A pre-game video tribute to the late Pat Burns hit home for Gionta, who won the Stanley Cup in 2003 with the New Jersey Devils, with Burns as his coach.

“It was touching,” Gionta said. “When you win a Cup you bond with everybody on that team, and it is no different with the head coach. He did a great job and we owe him a lot.”


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