It turned out to be the right move, despite Halak’s heroics in carrying the Canadiens on his back to the Eastern Conference final that year before losing to the Philadelphia Flyers in five games. While Price went on to earn a reputation as the best goalie in the world with the Canadiens — winning a Hart and Vézina trophy, along with Olympic and World Cup of Hockey gold medals with Team Canada — Halak has bounced around between St. Louis, Washington, the New York Islanders and Boston, signing a two-year, US$5.5-million contract with the Bruins on July 1 this year.
But Halak is still a very good goalie.
Monday night, Halak was back at the Bell Centre and it shouldn’t come as a surprise that he put an end to Price’s five-game winning streak as the Bruins beat the Canadiens 4-0. Joakim Nordstrom, Colby Cave, David Krejci and Brad Marchand scored for the Bruins, while the Canadiens were shut out for only the second time this season.
Since the trade, Halak has a 5-0-0 record in games he has played against Price. Monday’s win moved the Bruins (18-12-4) into the No. 1 wild-card playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, one point ahead of the Canadiens (17-12-5), who now have the second spot. It was not the early Christmas present Canadiens fans were hoping for in the final home game of 2018.
Price can’t be blamed for the loss as the Canadiens were outshot 35-22 and simply outplayed by the Bruins. Halak picked up his third shutout of the season while improving his record to 10-5-2. With Price and Montreal long in his rear-view mirror, Halak is now battling Tuukka Rask for the No. 1 job with the Bruins — and winning.
Nordstrom opened the scoring for the Bruins at 2:21 of the first period on an early Christmas gift from Michael Chaput. The Canadiens’ fourth-line centre was carrying the puck out of his own zone along the boards with no danger in sight when, for some reason, he decided to throw it up the middle and put it right on Cave’s stick just inside the blue line. Cave passed it to David Backes, who then fed Nordstrom in the high slot and he beat Price with a quick shot to the stick side.
That was all the Bruins would need, but they ended up putting three more pucks past Price while the Canadiens couldn’t beat Halak even once.
The Canadiens’ next game is Wednesday night, when they visit the Colorado Avalanche (8:30 p.m., SN, SN360, RDS, TSN 690 Radio).