MONTREAL — Carey Price said he was happy to finish what he started.
“It’s nice to stay in there,” Price said after he made 32 saves Thursday night to give the Canadiens a 3-2 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning at the Bell Centre.
The victory snapped a three-game losing streak, but it also marked the end of a three-game stretch in which coach Michel Therrien felt compelled to yank his starting goaltender.
On this night, Therrien said he was happy with his No. 1 guy.
“Carey Price was an enormous factor in this game,” said Therrien. “I’m satisfied and proud of Carey Price tonight. He bounced back with the key saves. He was lucky at times, but you need some luck, you need some breaks to win hockey games. You need breaks and you need calls at the right time and we got that tonight.”
Price would be the first to admit that he had some luck on his side. He made a great save when Richard Panik pounced on the rebound of a shot by Alex Killorn late in the first period, but he said the tone for the game was set earlier in the period.
“I felt my luck changed a little tonight,” said Price. “I think earlier in the period, they had a wide-open net — it might have been Purcell — and he hit the post. We got the bounces we’ve lacked in the past week. We were fortunate to get those bounces in the first period.”
Sami Salo also hit a post in the first period while Vinnie Lecavalier rang a backhander off the crossbar. Price said he had to reward his posts.
“I have to take them out to dinner,” Price said. “They had a good game.”
Price has taken some heat in the past week but said it goes with the territory when you’re a goaltender.
“You have to be told that you’re never bad as you are or as good you are, and you can’t shoulder all the blame yourself,” said Price. “When things aren’t going your way, you have to make an honest effort to change things.
“It’s easy to pick on a goaltender, but there are five other guys out there. I know one thing: My kids aren’t going to be goalies. They’ll play baseball maybe.”
The Canadiens’ power play struggled until the final minute when Brian Gionta scored the game winner at 19:13. He scored in front after Tampa goaltender Ben Bishop made the stop on a drive by Yannick Weber.
“Our big problem on the power play was our entries,” said Gionta. “When we dumped it, we weren’t able to get the pressure. It was frustrating, but you need to stick with it.”
Gionta said it was important to snap the losing streak.
“This win was good for our confidence,” said Gionta. “When you lose a few tough games, you lose that little edge and it’s nice to get it back.”
Therrien put Max Pacioretty with Gionta and Tomas Plekanec and said he was pleased with the result.
“I thought the lines played well and Pacioretty played well,” said Therrien. “It was good effort after playing last night. We emptied the tank out there.”
The Canadiens’ other goal was scored by rookie Alex Galchenyuk, who is making the most of his limited ice time. He played only 8:21 but scored for the fourth time in the past five games.
“It doesn’t matter how much ice time I get, I just have to go out there and do my best,” said Galchenyuk. “I know the team’s winning and it’s all good. I just go out there and do the little things and the goals and assists will come.”
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