MONTREAL (AP) — Carey Price knew the barrage of goals had to end — sometime.
And with a little help from his goalposts, the Montreal Canadiens' goalie put a stop to it Thursday night with a solid, 32-save performance in a 3-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning.
"I feel pretty good," said Price, whose team was coming off a season-high three straight regulation defeats in which they gave up a total of 18 goals.
Price, who has been stellar for most of the season, had been pulled from consecutive starts for the first time in his career while letting in 12 goals on only 53 shots, while backup Peter Budaj let in the other six.
"It was a bit of a tough week, obviously, when you get 18 goals scored on you in three games," Price said. "It's tough, but as a professional, you have to keep battling through it.
"I spoke to my dad about it and he said there's no short cut. If there was, someone would have figured it out by now. The only way is to keep working."
Brian Gionta's second goal of the game with 47 seconds left to play was the winner for Montreal, which also got a goal from Alex Galchenyuk in sweeping its three-game season series with the Lightning.
Richard Panik and Vincent Lecavalier had goals for Tampa Bay, which is winless in five and has only one victory in eight games. The Lightning ended a four-game road trip.
Thursday was Montreal's first win since clinching a playoff spot last week and it put them back into first place in the Northeast Division, two points ahead of Boston, which has two games in hand.
The apathy the Habs have shown of late was there at times, but at least they managed to stop the bleeding.
The Canadiens had given up nine goals in the first period of their three previous games, but Price's posts came to his rescue this time as Teddy Purcell, Sami Salo and Lecavalier all hit the iron in a scoreless opening 20 minutes.
Price then made some brilliant saves, including one in the second when he managed to thwart Martin St. Louis from in close.
That got the 21,273 at the Bell Centre, who had been on his back, chanting his name.
"It's tough as a goaltender here," Price said. "It can be nerve-racking, but I've got a lot of experience dealing with this type of situation.
"You just have to take a step back, relax, put in some honest work. Usually bad times don't hang around too long."
Canadiens coach Michel Therrien looked almost as relieved as his goaltender.