After the Bruins shut down the Habs in Game 5 to take a 3-2 series lead, it looked like the Bruins would simply take the next step. But it didn't happen. The Canadiens struck early in Game 6 and went on to win 4-0. Then in Game 7, they got another early goal from Dale Weise off a delightful Briere pass across the front of the Bruins goal and the die was cast.
"We were just tenacious I think the whole series. We didn't give up at any point. These guys they laid it all on the line and got rewarded for it," said Price, who is 8-3 this spring with a .926 save percentage.
As the two bitter rivals finally began to disentangle themselves from an often rancorous series, there was much discussion of respect, who had earned it and what it meant.
"I thought we competed hard against a bigger team, a stronger team, a more experienced team. People were saying 'don't poke the bear,' but I thought they gave us many reasons to keep competing in the series. That's a character win for us. That's a character series win for us," said defenseman P.K. Subban, a lightning rod of emotion on and off the ice in this series.
"Especially for the guys who have been here, for the guys who were here for the run in 2010, who were here when we lost Game 7 (in 2011 against the Bruins), they were just sick of it. Sick and tired of people disrespecting us and not giving us the credit that we deserve. I think we earned a lot of respect today."
Speaking of respect, Montreal head coach Michel Therrien deserves a boatload of credit for his team's resilience. Even when emotions got high in this series -- and they continued to be high right through to the end of Game 7 with reports of trash talking after the game -- Therrien kept his team pointed in the right direction, something that didn't happen in the Ottawa series a year ago.
"You know what? To be able to do that accomplishment, to beat the Boston Bruins in their building, I believe those guys earned some respect. The respect you got to earn and I think tonight those guys earned it," Therrien said.
Whether the Bruins underestimated the Canadiens or not is moot at this point. But a team that is built for the playoffs was on its heels early in Game 7 and could never quite get the Canadiens to hold still long enough so they could deliver the knockout blow.
"I don't think we can say that we were probably playing our best hockey in this series," Boston captain Zdeno Chara noted.
The big man personally was not at his best Wednesday as he took two holding penalties in the first period and had zero shots on goal. He had just two assists in the seven games.
"I mean I would lie to you if I say it's not disappointing, especially after the season we had," Chara said. "For sure our goals, which were much higher than obviously finishing in the second [round], so of course it's disappointing."
Briere grew up a Canadiens fan, learning to hate the Bruins at an early age. And he was part of a Philadelphia team that stormed back from a 3-0 series deficit to beat the Bruins in this same building in Game 7 in 2010.
In some ways, he illustrates what has galvanized this Montreal Canadiens team.
Signed as a free agent in the offseason, he has endured an up and down season and was a healthy scratch in Game 5. But he set up the crucial first goal of Game 7 and then scored the insurance goal that broke the Bruins' backs with 2:53 left in regulation.
"Every player wants to participate. Everybody wants to be part of the team, to have a chance to help out obviously. It's a role I'm probably not used to as much as I've been in the past few years. But it doesn't matter. It's not about me. It's about helping out and moving forward and keeping the winning streak," Briere said.
He knew he wasn't likely to get much playing time with the Canadiens nursing a one-goal lead in the third period, but he said he kept telling himself, stay ready, stay ready.
"Stay within the game and stay ready in case they need you. I finally had my chance and it paid off," Briere said.