Aaron Ekblad’s stick almost cost him a glorious scoring opportunity in overtime Tuesday, but instead the broken twig sent a slow-moving puck on goal and the changeup somehow eluded the world’s best goaltender.
Of all the ways to hand Carey Price his first loss of the campaign, the Florida Panthers did it thanks to a broken stick. Go figure.
The Canadiens’ goaltender entered Tuesday’s game against the Cats with a sparkling 10-0-0 record, 1.40 goals-against average and .957 save percentage, once again asserting his dominance as the league’s best goaltender and arguably still the most valuable player any club has, but there was no way Price would go the entire campaign without suffering a loss. Thing is, though, that when he finally did lose a game, many would have assumed it would have taken a perfect shot in order to put the final nail in Price’s perfect record’s coffin.
Instead, it took a trickling puck due to a broken stick.
Leading up to what was one of the stranger plays of the season to this point, the Panthers controlled the puck in the Canadiens’ zone midway through the overtime — Montreal and Florida had battled to a 3-3 tie through regulation — when it came back to Aaron Ekblad on the back end. Ekblad loaded up a shot, unleashed what should have been a cannon of a shot, watched helplessly as his stick broke and then was shocked, as was just about everyone else, to see the slow-moving puck beat the world’s best goaltender:
The breaks on that one, no pun intended, go both ways. For Ekblad to have the puck somehow elude Price on what should have been a simple stop is near unimaginable, and for the puck to change direction ever-so-slightly off of Montreal defenseman Nathan Beaulieu’s skate and head right for the corner of the net seemed so unlikely given the speed the puck was moving.
Alas, this is how Price’s perfect record fell, not with a bang but with a broken-sticked whimper, and it’s also how Montreal suffered their first loss on home ice of the campaign.
It’s not as if the Canadiens won’t recover from such a loss, though. They dominated the Panthers for most of the game and, really, the result of the contest could have been much different were it not for Florida netminder Roberto Luongo.
As for Price, he remains in the top three of save percentage, goals-against average, wins and is tied for fourth in the league in shutouts. One loss — and an odd one, at that — won’t come even close to slowing him down.
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