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Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price salutes the crowd following their 4-3 victory over the Detroit Red Wings during overtime in NHL hockey action Thursday, April 9, 2015 in Montreal.The Canadian Press

Conspiracies, it is said, are devilishly hard to prove.

The facts of this case are in dispute, although at least a couple of things can be established conclusively.

Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price was, in fact, pied in the face with a foam-laced towel after setting a new single-season franchise record with his 43rd win of 2014-15.

Might the substance have been shaving cream?

"Oh, it was shaving cream. It didn't taste good," said Price, who had vestiges of the attack still caked in his scraggly beard and his left ear.

There is incontrovertible video evidence clearly identifying the purveyor of said cream pie: one Alexei Emelin, 28, originally of Togliatti, Russia.

"The culprit wasn't someone you'd expect, eh?" grinned notorious mischief-maker P.K. Subban, who ordinarily would be among the first hauled in for questioning.

Then it gets murky.

Who would have ready access to cans of fluffy white goop? Which dastardly criminal mastermind is behind this?

There are conflicting accounts.

"Obviously he got sent by Prusty there, Prusty's all about those things," said Tomas Plekanec, referring to teammate Brandon Prust, 31, of London, Ont.

"It's (Emelin's) comrade for sure, Marky," Price said, referencing defenceman Andrei Markov, 36, a native of Voskresensk, Russia.

Neither Prust nor Markov remained at the scene to be interviewed. We may never know the truth.

At least the motive is clear.

"(Price) is probably not going to talk about it much . . . but we really wanted (the record) for him," said Subban.

To have surpassed Ken Dryden and Jacques Plante in the annals of hockey's most storied team is no small accomplishment (his win total is tied for sixth-best in NHL history).

Price didn't have his parents or sister on hand to share it with, but he did have a childhood friend in the stands called "Big Al." We are assured this is a real person, and no, he played no obvious role in the conspiracy.

The 27-year-old also celebrated the record with 21,287 of the loudest fans in the NHL.

It's become common practice for the first star to do a post-game hero interview with the club's broadcasters (although Price has been the first star so often that a pinch-hitter is often summoned) and when it was time for the big goalie to address the fans, the ovation was too loud for him to be heard.

He doffed his helmet and waved to the crowd, and the crescendo only built.

"A very special moment," said Price, who allowed that he takes great pride in his new record and setting it at home.

It's a nice frill to add to an exceptional year that cemented Price not just as the NHL's best goaltender, but also defined his season as perhaps the most integral to any team's success this season.

"Carey Price deserves the Hart Trophy," said head coach Michel Therrien.

Now, the Habs' coach isn't exactly an impartial observer, but it doesn't require much in terms of lily-gilding to build a case for Price

Assuming he doesn't play in the Habs' final regular-season game in Toronto on Saturday (and why would he, really?) the 2014-15 stats line looks like this: 43 wins, 1.95 goals-against average, .934 save percentage, nine shutouts.

All those numbers are tops in the NHL, his save percentage is 20 points above the league's average.

He has allowed two or fewer goals in an eye-popping 44 of 65 starts. And 33 of those games have come in the 42 starts Price has made since Dec. 6 (he's gone 29-8-5 over the stretch).

And though he gave up three goals in this one and looked mortal on a couple of occasions (he made a grisly puck-handling error behind the net that was millimetres away from being converted into a Detroit goal), the performance takes nothing away from the profound influence Price has had this year.

In Therrien's mind, no other single player has had as dramatic effect on his team.

Price has been abetted by Subban (who recorded a pair of assists to reach the 60-point barrier for the first time) and by a supporting cast that managed to hang up four goals on the scoreboard for the second straight game without top scorer Max Pacioretty, who left last weekend's game with Florida early in the first period.

And while the record-setting win plainly delighted the sellout Bell Centre crowd – as is the custom, a lucky few were ushered down to ice level to receive game-worn jerseys – it won't be something Price dwells on for any length of time.

"You want to reflect on it, but you don't want to get too caught up in looking back. It's been working all season long, the goal-setting looking forward. I don't want to start resting on a good season yet," he said.

It hasn't escaped his notice that in the three years that Plante (who did it twice) and Dryden won 42 games, the Habs came away with two championships.

"They obviously went on to win Stanley Cups, which is my ultimate goal," he said.

It's a little early to start planning parade routes in Montreal, but with a goalie of Price's ilk in the fold, a blooming offence (Lars Eller, who scored the overtime winner, is in playoff form, defenceman Jeff Petry's goal gave him points in six straight games) and suddenly effective power-play (7 goals in 36 chances over the past six games), the Habs can at least feel good about themselves as the playoff threshold is crossed.

If Pacioretty can return to full health by next week, there may even be other opportunities for the unidentified co-conspirators to pounce.