LOS ANGELES (AP) — The mark Carey Price has made in his 12 seasons with the Montreal Canadiens was scribbled in two lines of black marker on a dry erase board in the visitors’ locker room, signifying the goalie’s special place in the team’s 101-year history.
The top line read “J Plante, 314,” referring to Hall of Famer Jacques Plante and his 314 wins in 556 games with the club. And right below was “C Price, 314,” after he tied Plante’s franchise record by making 26 saves Tuesday night in a 3-1 victory over the Los Angeles Kings.
“I’m very proud of the accomplishment so far, but I don’t feel like I’m anywhere near the end of it so I’d like to obviously continue to have success in this league and continue to push the envelope,” said Price, who reached 314 wins in 611 appearances for Montreal.
Brendan Gallagher extended his scoring streak to four games, Shea Weber had a goal and an assist, and Jordan Weal scored in his Canadiens debut as Montreal won its third straight road game.
Matt Luff scored and Jonathan Quick stopped 21 shots for the Kings, who lost for the 11th time in 12 games overall.
It wasn’t clear that Price would be available for this game when he missed practice Monday because of illness. There were no indications he had been under the weather when he stopped Jeff Carter on a breakaway at 7:22 of the second period after being handed a 1-0 lead on Gallagher’s goal 3:11 into the first period.
Price also came up with a key pad save on Alex Iafallo’s shot at 18:41 of the second and smothered a dangerous rebound after Weal made it 2-0 at 10:07 earlier in the period.
Weal, acquired in a trade from Arizona at the Feb. 25 deadline, and Gallagher didn’t realize what Price had achieved until it was put in writing.
“We’re not the brightest team, though,” Gallagher joked. “I mean, it’s pretty cool when you think about it.”
“I haven’t got to see it firsthand until I’ve been here and it’s impressive,” Weal said. “Even in practices, you see a great save two, three, four times a practice, and you’re just like, ‘Huh, I get it. I get why this guy is one of the best.’ It’s a treat to watch and a treat to have him back there backstopping us.”
Weber made it 3-0 just 49 seconds into the third period on a one-timer from Phillip Danault for his 10th goal.
Price was in position to earn his 44th career shutout until Luff got his eighth goal on a shot through traffic at 11:03, a big moment for the 21-year-old forward who grew up a fan of the Canadiens in Oakville, Ontario.
“I mean, scoring on him was pretty cool,” Luff said. “But I’d trade my goal for a win tonight.”
The win was more than historic for Price. It was critical for the playoff hopes of the Canadiens, who remained tied with Pittsburgh for the first Eastern Conference wild card, two points ahead of Columbus.
Weber wasn’t ready to share his thoughts on Price’s accomplishment just yet, realizing how important Price’s continued success would be for those postseason aspirations.
“It’s big, and it’s going to be even bigger when he breaks it,” Weber said. “I’m superstitious, so I’m just going to wait to talk about it until he gets one more win.”
NOTES: Weal got his fifth goal of the season in 48 games with Montreal, Arizona and Philadelphia. … Montreal C Jesperi Kotkaniemi was scratched for the first time this season. Canadiens coach Claude Julien felt the rookie was tired and played Weal instead. … Los Angeles D Alec Martinez returned after missing eight games because of an upper-body injury. … Mete had two assists for his first career multipoint game.
Canadiens: Visit the San Jose Sharks on Thursday night.
Kings: Host the St. Louis Blues on Thursday night.
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