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Price is right in the Canadiens’ run to NHL semifinal round

(AP) — Don Nachbaur couldn’t help but reflect back on the cool, calm way Carey Price carried himself as a 16-year-old upon hearing the Montreal Canadiens’ goalie provide a short, to-the-point answer following his latest playoff shutout.

“It’s fun,” Price simply said with a grin in referring to the pressure of preserving a 1-0 win during a 30-save outing in Game 2 of Montreal’s second-round playoff series against Winnipeg.

As efficient in the crease as he is with his responses, Price was no different in 2003-04 during his first full season with the Nachbaur-coached Tri-Cities Americans of the Western Hockey League.

“The hockey part did all the speaking,” Nachbaur recalled.

“What really struck me was how off-the-charts calm he was when he played the game. That’s a quality you can’t teach,” he added. “He’s probably like a duck. I don’t know if he’s swimming below that surface. But he sure doesn’t show it.”

Nothing appears to be rattling the Vezina and Hart Trophy-winner in helping Montreal advance to the semifinals following a four-game sweep of Winnipeg. The Canadiens will face the winner of the West Division final, in which Vegas holds a 3-2 series lead over Colorado.

It’s a surprising run for Price and the Canadiens, who entered the playoffs considered after-thoughts following an injury- and distraction-filled season in which Montreal’s 24-21-11 record was the worst among the 16 postseason qualifiers.

Yet the Canadiens are the last Canadian team standing, and on a 7-0 run during which they’ve not trailed since 4-0 loss to Toronto in Game 4 of their first-round series. After allowing 10 goals in Montreal falling behind 3-1 to the Maple Leafs, Price has allowed just 11 since, with his steady, rebound-smothering demeanor feeding the team’s burgeoning confidence.

“He gives us a chance to win every game, always has a save that has us like, `Oh, come on,'” Phillip Danault said. “He gives us wings.”

That’s what is expected from the face of the Canadiens and team’s highest-paid player, who has on occasion been unable to deliver during his 15 seasons in Montreal.

That was especially the case this spring, when critics focused their attention on Price, who is in the fourth season of an eight-year, $84 million contract. The 33-year-old went 12-7-5 and missed much of the last month of the season with injuries, including a concussion that sidelined him for the final 13 games.

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