NEWARK, N.J. -- Carey Price's record in the shootout this season has been an issue for the Montreal Canadiens. He's won only one of six shootouts and he's stopping less than 50 percent of the attempts against.
So, when New Jersey Devils left wing Zach Parise was standing at the center-ice faceoff circle getting ready for a potential game-tying penalty shot with 49.4 seconds left in regulation on Saturday, you could only imagine what Price was thinking.
"All I knew is I knew to stop it," Price said. "I was due for one."
He was right. Price, who had never faced Parise in a shootout or penalty shot, read the move, stuck out his left pad, and stopped the backhanded shot to help preserve a much-needed 2-1 victory for the Canadiens.
Price finished with 28 saves, none bigger than the one on Parise. Tomas Kaberle added a pair of assists in his Canadiens' debut and Erik Cole's goal early in the third period proved to be the winner as Montreal picked up just its second win in its last eight games (2-2-4).
The Canadiens last three losses have come in the shootout, with Price in net for all of them.
"I kind of had an idea of what (Parise) was going to do because I've seen him do that move before," Price said. "I just tried to be patient on it and let it happen. And, obviously I was pretty excited to finally get one of those to stay out of the net."
Parise was awarded the penalty shot after Montreal defenseman Josh Gorges was called for covering the puck in the crease. Video replays showed Gorges with his hands over top the puck, though Price said initially he thought Gorges was just making a fence around the puck. Gorges didn't think he was in the wrong either because he argued vehemently and had to be restrained from going after referee Dean Morton, who made the call from behind the net.
Price said he even took off his glove to try to squeeze his hand in between the puck and Gorges' hands so he could be the one covering it, but Morton, who was looking through the mesh at the top of the net, blew his whistle and pointed at center ice, indicating the penalty shot.
Parise said he was looking to go five-hole, but after pumping his leg he missed the shot.
"That's the gist of it," he added. "There's not really much else. I didn't get it back across far enough, so it was kind of an easy save for him."
"It was a big save, no doubt," added Habs coach Jacques Martin. "That preserved the win, but I liked the way we played. I thought we had a strong start and after the first period I think we did a really good job limiting the scoring chances and did a good job of support."
Martin and the Habs were particularly impressed with the instant impact Kaberle had on their struggling power play, which came into the game ranked 28th in the NHL after connecting just once of 36 chances over the previous nine games.
Kaberle, who was acquired from Carolina on Friday specifically to help the power play, looked in control as the quarterback and helped set up Max Pacioretty's goal 1:07 into the second period. He had a clean entry into the zone and found Cole, who kicked the puck to his stick and tipped a pass over to Pacioretty for a one-timer from above the left hash marks that beat Martin Brodeur high and to the glove side.
Devils center Adam Henrique was in the penalty box for a delay of game penalty he picked up just 24 seconds into the period.
"I never knew how good his patience was back there on the blue line," Pacioretty, who scored his 11th goal of the season, said of Kaberle. "He can really quarterback a power play and that's what he did today. He's going to help us out a lot."
Kaberle, who met up with his new team Friday night, also picked up an assist on Cole's game-winning goal with 14:43 left in the third period to finish with two assists for the third straight game. He now has 11 assists in 30 games this season.
"You have to jump in and you have to be ready," Kaberle said. "I tried to keep it simple out there. At the end of the (day) it's two points and that's what is most important for us."
The Devils found some life late when Petr Sykora and Mattias Tedenby helped set up Nick Palmieri for his fourth goal of the season with 6:26 left. Raphael Diaz then gave New Jersey a power play with 1:55 to play by picking up a roughing minor on David Clarkson, but Price sandwiched the penalty shot save around three others to preserve the win.
"It's tough, but the game wasn't lost on that play," Devils coach Pete DeBoer said of the failed penalty shot. "That's the key, we had opportunity to grab control, especially early, and we didn't."
Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl