MONTREAL (AP) — Move over Jacques Plante and Ken Dryden. Make room for Carey Price at the top.
A brilliant season that has made the Montreal Canadiens goalie a candidate for the Hart Trophy also has put him into the team record book. Price notched his team-record 43rd victory of the season on Thursday night as the Canadiens beat the Red Wings 4-3 in overtime on a goal by Lars Eller.
Price surpassed the mark of 42 wins by Plante (1955-56 and 1961-62) and Dryden (1975-76).
“I definitely have lot of respect for what they accomplished in their careers,” said Price, the NHL leader in every key goaltending statistic this season, including wins. “They went on to win Stanley Cups and that’s my ultimate goal.
“(The record) crossed my mind, but at the same time, I focused on what I needed to do. That’s what got me where I am.”
Andrei Markov, Jeff Petry and Tomas Plekanec also scored for Montreal (49-22-10), which played its final home game.
Tomas Tatar, Pavel Datsyuk and Darren Helm scored in regulation for the Red Wings (42-25-14), who reached the post-season for a 24th consecutive season despite the defeat. Detroit qualified by earning a point while Boston lost to Florida.
“It’s a weird scenario,” said Detroit defenseman Niklas Kronwall. “We battled hard, but there wasn’t a lot of room out there.
“We found way to get a point and that was big for us. That got us in (the playoffs).”
When Eller’s shot from the left side trickled through Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard’s equipment and into the net at 1:21 of extra time, the Canadiens mobbed Price.
Fans stood and cheered, some chanting “MVP,” as he was interviewed on the ice after the game. Then rearguard Alexei Emelin sneaked up and gave him a cream pie in the face.
“He got him pretty good. Pricey’s usually sharp in seeing those things coming,” said teammate P.K. Subban.
“It was shaving cream, it didn’t taste too good,” said Price, who made 24 saves while a shaky Howard stopped 22.
Now coach Michel Therrien must decide whether Price or backup Dustin Tokarski will play when Montreal ends its regular season Saturday night in Toronto. The Canadiens need a point to clinch first place in the Atlantic Division ahead of Tampa Bay.
“I’m very proud of Carey,” said Therrien. “To set a Canadiens record is phenomenal. We’re talking about a team that has been around for more than 100 years.”
The Red Wings started strong and got the opening goal when Datysuk stripped the puck from Brendan Gallagher and fed Tatar streaking to the net for a high shot past Price at 10:19.
Markov got it back when David Desharnais won a faceoff and the Russian defenseman scored on a one-timer from the point at 17:36.
The teams traded goals again in the second, as Petry joined a rush and flipped Torrey Mitchell’s pass between Howard’s pads at 6:24.
Datsyuk quickly countered for Detroit, skating into the slot and scoring on a low shot at 8:07.
Helm picked off a cross-ice pass by Markov and scored on a short-handed breakaway 3:34 into the third to give Detroit a 3-2 lead.
Brendan Smith played a puck with his hand while seated on the bench, giving Montreal a two-man advantage midway through the period, and the Canadiens capitalized as Plekanec scored his 25th goal from a bad angle to tie it at 11:39.
Notes: A moment of silence was held for Montreal scoring star Elmer Lach from the 1940s and 1950s defenseman Dollard St. Laurent, who both died this week. . . Montreal was without scoring leader Max Pacioretty, who will miss the final two games of the regular season with an upper-body injury. … Detroit was without Erik Cole, Justin Abdelkader and Tomas Jurco.
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