Final

Series (Game 1 of 1)

Montreal leads 1-0

Game 1: Thursday, March 6th
Canadiens4Final
Coyotes2

Canadiens 4

(37-22-9, 83 pts)

Coyotes 2

(34-29-5, 73 pts)

9:00 PM ET, March 6, 2008

Gila River Arena, Glendale, Arizona

1 2 3 T
MTL 0 1 34
ARI 0 1 12

C. Price (Canadiens - G): Saves: 37, Save Pct.: .949

M. Hanzal (Coyotes - C): Goals: 0, Assists: 0

A. Kovalev (Canadiens - RW): Goals: 0, Assists: 3

Canadiens continue their dominance of Coyotes

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Talk about a hot goaltender.

Playing with a sunburned face, Montreal's Carey Price stopped 37 shots to lead the Canadiens to a 4-2 victory over Phoenix on Thursday night.

Price said he got sunburned during a four-hour fishing trip on nearby Bartlett Lake during the Canadiens' stay in the Phoenix area this week.

"I wasn't feeling that hot, but all of a sudden we all got back into the van to go back to the hotel and we just started burning," Price said. "We were out on the water, so all the light's reflecting off the water."

Coach Guy Carbonneau said he wasn't concerned the sunburn would affect Price, who wore a headband to prevent his mask from irritating the burned skin. Price was eager to atone after giving up six goals in a 6-4 loss at San Jose on Monday.

"I don't think anything would have kept him out of the game tonight," Carbonneau said. "We needed a big performance from Carey, and we got that. After the performance he had the other day in San Jose, he wanted to come back and play well. If it wasn't for him, I don't think the game would have gone this way."

Saku Koivu, Andrei Markov and Sergei Kostitsyn scored third-period goals as the Montreal Canadiens rallied from a 2-1 deficit.

Alexei Kovalev had three assists and Christopher Higgins added two more for the Canadiens, who are 6-0-3 against the Coyotes since 1998.

The Canadiens moved into a tie for first place in the Eastern Conference.

"We want to play better, but tonight was a huge two points," Carbonneau said.

Phoenix, chasing its first playoff berth since 2002, entered in 10th place in the Western Conference. The Coyotes came out with plenty of energy, firing the game's first eight shots at Price, who kept Montreal in the game until its offense awoke.

"We had a lot of rubber at him," Phoenix coach Wayne Gretzky said.

Montreal took a 1-0 lead at 6:03 of the second period when Tomas Plekanec took a pass near the goal line, wheeled and fired a low wrist shot past Mikael Tellqvist. It was Plekanec's 27th goal, and Kovalev picked up his 500th career assist.

Four minutes later, Phoenix tied it at 1-1 after Montreal's Maxim Lapierre drew a 4-minute double-minor for high-sticking. Shane Doan tipped Ed Jovanovski's blast from the blue line.

Lapierre was still in the box when Doan sailed in on a breakaway a minute later, but Price blocked stopped his point-blank shot. Price and Doan are cousins.

"He got one, but I couldn't let him score two," Price said. "We kind of smiled at each other after the breakaway. It's a lot of fun. At least we got the best of each other."

Doan wasn't laughing afterward.

"To give up the lead in the third period, when we had just worked to get it, that's pretty disappointing and frustrating," he said.

Phoenix took a 2-1 lead at 3:54 of the third period when Zbynek Michalek picked up a turnover along the left boards and fired a shot from the faceoff circle, beating Price under the crossbar.

But penalties undid the Coyotes.

The Canadiens tied it three minutes later on Koivu's power-play goal after Joel Perrault was called for hooking.

Montreal went ahead on Markov's power-play goal at 10:07, which came after Derek Morris was sent off for roughing. Markov took a feed from Kovalev in the slot and beat Tellqvist. Markov also had an assist.

"To the point where we were up 2-1, I thought we were playing maybe our best game all season," Gretzky said. "We got a little bit undisciplined."

Kostitsyn clinched it with a goal on a 2-on-0 breakaway at 18:19.

Game notes


Phoenix's last victory over Montreal came on Dec. 9, 1998. Montreal is 6-0-3 against the Coyotes since then. ... The Canadiens had not played in the desert since March 5, 2004. ... Phoenix had 30 shots through two periods -- three fewer than it had mustered in its previous two games. ... Price said he caught a couple largemouth bass during his fishing expedition. "Not very big, though," he said.

Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press

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