The Hockey News player of the week for the period of March 29-April 4 is Montreal Canadiens goaltender Jaroslav Halak.
In the thick of the playoff race, the Canadiens started the week with a loss as Carey Price took to the net, so when Halak was returned to the crease April 2 against Philadelphia the team’s playoff lives were at stake.
In a tightly fought contest against a team they were tied at 82 points with, Halak turned aside all 35 Flyer shots in Philadelphia, earning his fourth shutout of the season in a slim 1-0 win that put the Habs sixth in the conference.
The very next night the Canadiens returned to Montreal to face their divisional rivals and the leaders of the Northeast, Buffalo.
In another hard-fought contest, Halak faced 29 shots and again turned aside every one for the first back-to-back shutout performance of his career. With the 3-0 win Montreal moved up to 86 points, four clear of the ninth-placed New York Rangers.
The Habs, 39-32-8, sit sixth in the Eastern Conference with three games to play. Halak, who has taken the No. 1 job from Price, has a 26-12-3 record on the season to go along with an impressive 2.31 GAA, .927 SP and five shutouts.
Both Halak and Price are restricted free agents July 1.