Price of Canadiens MVP choice entering Stanley Cup Final

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Carey Price is the most valuable player of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs entering the Stanley Cup Final, according to a panel of 13 NHL.com staff members. 

The Montreal Canadiens goalie received 37 of a possible 78 points in the voting and was first on 11 ballots. 

The Canadiens, the final team to qualify for the 2021 postseason, play the defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning in the Stanley Cup Final. Game 1 is at Tampa Bay on Monday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, SN, TVAS).

At the conclusion of the Stanley Cup Final, a panel of voters from the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association selects the playoff MVP, who receives the Conn Smythe Trophy. 

Price was the only Canadiens player to receive votes from the NHL.com panel. The other three vote-getters were from the Lightning: center Brayden Point (17 votes), goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy (16) and forward Nikita Kucherov (8).  

Video: Carey Price‘s best saves of playoffs

Price and Montreal held the Vegas Golden Knights to 13 goals in six games in the Stanley Cup Semifinals, including nine in the final five games. The Golden Knights ranked third in the NHL with 3.39 goals per game during the regular season.

“Obviously, ‘Pricey’ was the whole measure of our series,” Canadiens forward Phillip Danault said.

Price is 12-5 in the playoffs and 11-2 in his past 13. He has a .934 save percentage, second to Vasilevskiy. His 2.02 goals-against average is third, behind Jack Campbell of the Toronto Maple Leafs (1.81) and Vasilevskiy (1.99), and has allowed two goals or fewer in eight of his past nine games.

Point leads the playoffs in goals with 14, which equals the total of the top three goal-scorers for Montreal (forward Tyler Toffoli and center Nick Suzuki each has scored five, forward Cole Caufield has scored four). Point is second in points with 20, behind Kucherov (27), and leads with seven power-play goals. 

“It’s playoff time, and personal stats don’t mean anything,” Point said. “It’s about wins. … It doesn’t happen without teammates. I’ve had a lot of goals these playoffs that have been great setups or tap-ins, so it’s been a group effort.”

Point’s streak of scoring a goal in nine straight playoff games ended in a 1-0 victory against the New York Islanders in Game 7 of the semifinals on Friday. It was one short of the playoff record set by Reggie Leach for the Philadelphia Flyers in 1976.

“He’s a goal-scorer,” Leach said of Point. “He doesn’t get himself into trouble and he doesn’t get himself tied up too much. That’s the big thing about good goal-scorers.”

Video: Brayden Point’s best plays of playoffs

Vasilevskiy (12-6) finished third in the voting but leads the playoffs in save percentage (.936) and shutouts (four) and is second in GAA. He has a shutout in the final game of each of the first three series won by the Lightning, against the Florida Panthers, Carolina Hurricanes and Islanders. He has not lost consecutive games in these playoffs. 

Kucherov, who has scored 27 points (five goals, 22 assists) in 18 games, was fourth in the voting. His 1.50 points per game through 18 games has only been accomplished once since 2000-01. Center Evgeni Malkin averaged 1.50 points (36 points; 14 goals, 22 assists in 24 games) when the Pittsburgh Penguins won the Cup in 2009.

Results (3-2-1 voting): Carey Price, Montreal Canadiens, 37 points (11 first-place votes); Brayden Point, Tampa Bay Lightning, 17; Andrei Vasilevskiy, Lightning, 16 (2); Nikita Kucherov, Lightning, 8.

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