MONTREAL - Michel Therrien was at a loss to say anything new about the remarkable season that goalie Carey Price is having.
"Carey was Carey again," was all the Montreal Canadiens coach could say on Saturday after Price made 29 saves to post his second shutout in a row and his ninth of the season in a 2-0 victory over the San Jose Sharks.
Price posted his league-leading 40th victory of the campaign and became only the third Canadiens goalie to reach 40 wins after legends Jacques Plante and Ken Dryden, who share the team record of 42.
The 27-year-old, coming off a 4-0 win over Carolina on Thursday night, also tied Bill Durnan for fourth all-time among Canadiens goalies with 34 career shutouts.
"I never would have thought as a kid or pictured myself in a situation like this," said Price, the runaway league leader in nearly every goaltending statistic. "I've been blessed immensely and I've been helped a lot to get where I am. I have a lot of people to thank."
Tomas Plekanec scored in the first period and Brendan Gallagher added an empty-net goal with 14 seconds left in the third period as Eastern Conference leading Montreal (46-20-7) won its third game in a row. This all despite being outshot by a total of 48-13 in the third period of the those games.
Antti Niemi made 27 saves for San Jose (35-29-8), whose chances for a Western Conference playoff spot were set back.
The Sharks outshot Montreal 11-4 in the final period, and Logan Couture looked to have the tying goal on his stick with San Jose playing with an extra attacker in the last minute. But his shot hit the knob of Price's stick and stayed out.
Asked how he stopped it, Price grinned and said "I don't know, but it felt lucky. I got the end of my stick on it. Sometimes you just get fortunate."
The Sharks felt they played well enough to win, but defenceman Marc-Edouard Vlasic said "Price made the difference.
"We played well. We had chances."
Montreal was down one defenceman after a Vlasic shot hit Tom Gilbert in the mouth late in the second. It was a second game in a row that Gilbert got a puck in the face and this time he did not return. Therrien had no news on the severity of the injury.
The remaining five defencemen dug in and helped keep the Sharks off the scoresheet.
"You've got to give those five guys credit," said Price. "That's not an easy team to play against.
"They have a grinding, fast-paced style of hockey. Every game (the Montreal defencemen) put on their work boots and they block shots, with their face if need be."
The Canadiens had been shut out in their previous three meetings with the Sharks, including a 4-0 loss in San Jose on March 2. Plekanec ended a sequence of 215 minutes without a goal against them at 18:46 of the opening period.
Criss-cross passing on a rush into the San Jose zone saw Alex Galchenyuk feed Plekanec for a goal from a tight angle.
Notes — Defenceman Jeff Petry returned after missing a game with an illness. . . Two of Montreal's minor league defence prospects are out with injuries. Davis Drewiske had wrist surgery is gone for the remainder of the season. Jarred Tinordi has an upper-body injury and will be re-evaluated in three weeks.