There was a certain full-circle type feeling Thursday at Bell Center.
The night started by honoring a goalie, Rogie Vachon, who will be inducted to the Hockey Hall of Fame next week in Toronto.
It ended by honoring Montreal goalie Carey Price — named the game’s No. 2 star — and perhaps a future Hall of Famer. He is 9-0-0 this season.
Things often seemed to align quite neatly for Montreal on these special nights as the Canadiens defeated the Kings, 4-1. Montreal is 9-0 at home this season. Price faced 24 shots and rarely had to rely on his star abilities.
Still, the incredible save was there when he needed it.
“Great players make good plays,” Kings winger Dustin Brown said. “I thought we made it much more difficult on him in the third, but then we were chasing the game.”
Price was 8:03 from recording his second shutout of the season when winger Tyler Toffoli scored a power-play goal in the third period, his fourth goal of the season. Kings center Anze Kopitar lamented a couple of quality missed opportunities against Price, in particular a brilliant glove save by the down but not out goalie in the third period.
“I don’t know how he did it, but he did it,” Kopitar said. “The first one I beat him but managed to hit the post. The second one, it was obviously a highlight-reel save.
“Probably see that for a while on TV.”
Said Price: “Just threw a hand up and got lucky. It’s just one of those things where you get lucky once in a while.”
The Kings couldn’t muster much of an offensive attack until the third period. Montreal’s speed gave them fits and they misfired on the power play until Toffoli’s goal cut Montreal’s lead to 3-1. Defenseman Alec Martinez was a minus-four. Defenseman Jake Muzzin and center Jeff Carter, each a minus-two, were on the ice for Montreal’s first two goals.
Apparently the offense stayed behind in Toronto. The Kings defeated the Maple Leafs, 7-0, on Tuesday.
“We had seven goals last game,” Coach Darryl Sutter said. “I said after the game, one was enough.”
Montreal had balanced scoring, with four goals from four players. Max Pacioretty, who had two assists, was the only player with a multi-point performance.
“Some of our faster players weren’t on their game tonight,” Sutter said. “That’s a really good hockey club…Four-line deep team. It’s pretty obvious why they’re now 9-0 at home: combined score going into tonight’s game was 28-11. Which meant every game was 4-1. That’s what tonight’s score was.”
Three of the nine home wins were one-goal games, but you get his drift.
The pregame ceremony for Vachon was a pitch-perfect touch, coming in a game between the Kings and Canadiens, the two franchises most associated with the legendary goalie.
Vachon, who started his NHL career here, became the latest member on Montreal’s ring of honor at the Bell Center. His name, number and picture went up next to Pat Burns, who passed away in 2010, coached in Montreal and was inducted to the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2014.
“It’s really absolutely mind-boggling,” Vachon said. “You’re talking about 100 years of hockey in Montreal and there’s only 46 numbers up in the rafters. So being part of it, it’s just part of history.”
Naturally, he was asked about Price. Vachon spoke about how the game and the position has changed, dramatically since his day, and got off a good line.
“I know one thing, I probably wouldn’t have been drafted,” Vachon said. “If you’re not 6-4 or 6-5, forget it.”
When: Friday, 4:30 p.m PST.
On the air: TV: FS West; Radio: 790.
Update: The Senators have taken a page out of the Kings’ playbook — or maybe it’s the other way around. Ottawa is a combined 4-0 in overtime and shootouts.