BOSTON -- Between the second and third periods of Game 7 Wednesday night, Montreal goaltender Carey Price, not necessarily the most vocal of figures in the Canadiens room, delivered a simple message.
Stay in the moment, never mind the past, don't look too far into the future.
At the time, the Canadiens had given up a late second period power-play goal to Boston forward Jarome Iginla that cut the Montreal lead to 2-1.
The Canadiens were starting to look like they might be wearing down.
But Price's teammates took his words to heart as they scored a power-play goal of their own in the third period and Price once again meant the difference, stopping 29 of 30 Bruins shots as the Canadiens knocked off the Presidents' Trophy winners in Game 7 and advanced to the Eastern Conference finals against the New York Rangers with Game 1 set for Saturday afternoon in Montreal.
"I took a penalty, we gave up a goal. I was expecting to come in and see him a little bit down on himself. That wasn't the case at all. He was more confident than I've ever seen him before," said Montreal forward Max Pacioretty. "He spoke up and said something like only live in the moment don't worry about the past. I don't know if that's the difference in his game this year from every other year but I'm speechless with how he's playing."
Veteran center Daniel Briere, another player who had a significant impact on this game, admitted he was a bit surprised to hear Price's words of encouragement.
"He was right. But to hear it from one of your leaders, a guy whose saved us many, many times throughout the year, the playoffs, the series, is an eye-opener and everybody kind of listened," offered Briere.
The low-key Price downplayed his comments.
"At this time of year it's easy to let your emotions get carried away, especially in a situation like tonight. I thought our guys, I don't even think they really needed for me to say anything. I thought we were a really composed group the whole series," Price said.
The netminder also pointed out that the Habs haven't really accomplished anything yet this spring.
"We're halfway there," he said.
We beg to differ.
To come up with this kind of effort in closing out a series that had more twists and turns than the Mississippi River says a lot about this Montreal team, most notably its maturity and its belief in itself in the face of widespread skepticism.
A year ago, an inexperienced Montreal team collectively lost its marbles against the seventh-seeded Ottawa Senators and was gone after five games. While Montreal looked efficient in sweeping Tampa in the first round this spring, the Lightning were without their top goaltender, Ben Bishop, so it was a little tougher to gauge where the Habs were as the second-round series against the Bruins began.
Boston, meanwhile, was a team that many had picked to return to what would have been their third Stanley Cup final since 2011. They were deep, physical, experienced and boasted a top-flight goaltender of their own in Tuukka Rask. And the theory was that there simply wasn't as much competition in the Eastern Conference as there was in the West.