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Indian Country Today

The remarkable playoff run for First Nations hockey star Cary Price and his Montréal Canadiens has come to an end.

The defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Canadiens in Wednesday’s game 5 and captured the Stanley Cup. Tampa Bay won the series 4-1.

Price, a veteran NHL goaltender and Ulkatcho First Nations, led the team to its first Stanley Cup Final since the franchise won it all nearly 30 years ago.

Montreal was the last team to clinch a playoff spot, with the worst record of the 16 qualifiers, and became the last team eliminated while making its deepest playoff run in 28 years.

“A lot of guys banged up,” interim coach Dominique Ducharme said. “But they bled. They fought. They never quit.”

For all the grit and perseverance the Canadiens displayed in overcoming a 3-1 first-round series deficit to Toronto and with Ducharme sent into self-isolation after testing positive for COVID-19, Montreal came up short against a sturdier and more accomplished opponent.

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Tampa Bay was just too much for the Canadiens, who relied again on Price to keep them in a game — and the series. He finished with 29 saves.

Price blamed himself, saying: “At the end of the day I don’t think I played well enough at the start of the series.”

The Canadiens’ loss extended Canada’s Stanley Cup drought, which dates to Montreal last winning its 24th title in 1993.

In the playoffs, Montreal looked nothing like the team that closed the season 0-3-2 while missing Price and Gallagher to injuries.

More AP NHL coverage can be found here.

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The Associated Press contributed to this report.