|Brian Gionta scores one of his two goals on the night against Ryan Miller and the Sabres. Photo: The Gazette|
In a post-game interview, Habs goalie Carey Price admitted to 'easing up' on the Sabres only goal.
The Buffalo Sabres' Jordan Leopold scored what turned out to be a mostly meaningless goal late in the third period as the Canadiens defeated the Sabres 3-1 at the Bell Centre in Montreal. Some of Price's detractors claimed that he was screened or had eased up on the shot, ruining what would have been his league-leading fifth shut-out of the season. But after the game, he set the record straight:
"To tell you the truth," said Price during the locker room scrum, "even though Gio was having a great game with those two goals, with about two minutes left to play this little voice in the back of me head started to tell me to feel a little sorry for the guy. I mean, here he was having his best game of the month, maybe of the season, but with yet another shut-out I would have ended up once again overshadowing my captain. So I 'whiffed' on that shot to ensure that he got named first star," Price said, wearing a grin as wide as the prairie sky.
"My mom always told me that I was handsome enough to be an actor."
The Montreal goalie's plan worked like a charm. In the three-star fan balloting, Gionta was named first star, while Price grabbed the second-place honours.
"It was great to see Gio skating around the ice, tossing those pucks to the crowd. All month he's only had two measly third-place finishes in the three-star balloting. I've been first four times, in addition to four second-place finishes, and will undoubtedly win the Molson Cup for the second month in a row. No one can catch me in the standings, so I figured that it was someone else's turn to sign some of those damned pucks."
But Price admits that he almost regretted his decision to allow the Sabre goal.
"Yeah, at the end of the game when (Tom) Pyatt was busting in towards the empty net," (the Sabres had pulled Miller for an extra attacker) "I saw Gionta head for the slot, and got real worried that he would get the pass to give him the easy hat-trick. That for sure would have for gotten him the first star without my help. Thank God that Pyatt has the passing ability of a Hyundai Pony, or I would have looked really foolish in giving up my shut-out."
When asked about his goaltender's good nature, Gionta said, "Good on him. That's what makes him a team guy. It's great to be named the first star, help or no help. But next time maybe he can figure out a way to get (Scott) Gomez the first star. Now THAT would be something."