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hockey canadiens 3, rangers 0

Derick Brassard (16) of the New York Rangers skates the puck against Dale Weise (22) of the Montreal Canadiens during the NHL game at the Bell Centre on October 15, 2015 in Montreal. The Canadiens defeated the Rangers 3-0 and for the first time in franchise history, the Canadiens have won five games in a row to start the season.Minas Panagiotakis/Getty Images

Poker players call them tells, and Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price has at least one that hints it could be a big night.

The 6-foot-3 stopper's footwork is a large part of his physical genius, and when he's kicking out pucks pinball-flipper style and skittering around his crease like a water bug, the opposition can consider itself warned.

During a New York Rangers power play midway through the first period of Thursday's home opener at the Bell Centre, Price was making those trademark efficient movements as the Rangers power play zipped the puck around.

He wouldn't be called upon to make any film-at-11 saves on the sequence. Those came later.

The Habs won 3-0.

The best Price saves came late in the second period, when Price stoned his Team Canada teammate Rick Nash, sliding across his crease and making a glove save that seemed only theoretically possible.

The sellout crowd roared mightily; it was the 28-year-old's most spectacular save of the evening, but not his most important one.

That would have come a few moments earlier with his team down two men – Andrei Markov had gone off for hooking, Alexei Emelin soon followed after golfing the puck out of play.

As the Rangers worked the puck around to Derek Stepan on the left wing, Price moved across to parry his shot into the netting. Moments later, he was able to survive a net-front scramble (defenceman P.K. Subban had buried New York's Chris Kreider in the blue paint).

Price even managed to semi-innocently lower the boom on a fore-checking Kreider in the third period – the New York forward is notable among Habs fans for having taken out Price with a feet-first slide in the 2014 Eastern Conference Finals, ending the netminder's postseason.

At the other end of the ice, Henrik Lundqvist was just as good; he thwarted Alex Galchenyuk and Brendan Gallagher in the first, bested Lars Eller on a three-on-one. He turned away Bryan Flynn on a long breakaway in the third. Then he nodded an Alex Semin shot away in the late-going with his mask.

By then the Rangers were chasing the game. Training camp invitee Tomas Fleischmann's second goal of the season had caromed behind the Swedish goalie after a fortuitous rebound in the second.

With just more than two minutes to play, Fleischmann kicked off a play that saw Dale Weise score from David Desharnais's neat pass. Game over. Tomas Plekanec added an empty-netter with 37 seconds left just to make sure. As the Habs demonstrated last year, narrow margins get more comfortable when goaltending is not a question.

Is it possible that Price will be able to maintain his form of a year ago? The better question is whether he may actually improve (he said at the club's golf tournament last month that he feels it's possible).

If omens and symbols are your thing, there were a few on offer on this evening.

In the Montreal Canadiens' annual attempt to reinvent the introduction of the current year's roster, former captain Guy Carbonneau was on hand to pass the ersatz flaming torch – a nod to John McRae's poem In Flanders Fields, which is stencilled on the wall of the Habs' room – to newly-elected captain Max Pacioretty.

Carbonneau, in case anyone has forgotten, was the last Montreal captain to be called upon by NHL commissioner Gary Bettman to hoist the Stanley Cup (that was in 1993).

The fans, perhaps buoyed by brand new seats and roomier surroundings – the Bell Centre is in the midst of a $100-million facelift – loved it.

On second thought, maybe the atmosphere was a function of the fact the home club kicked off the home portion of its schedule on the heels of a four-game winning streak.

The last time that happened: 1977. Montreal staged a Cup parade that year, same as they did the two other times they opened a season 4-0.

It's early to draw conclusions on what the Habs might be this year; it's never too early for fan-fuelled exuberance to bust through giddy enroute to ecstatic.

Montreal has never started the season with five successive wins. Until now. Asked before the game if it was any kind of an objective, coach Michel Therrien said, "this is exactly where you don't go … so I'm not going there."

It was, let's face it, a timid position to take given who he has in net.