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Canadiens overwhelm Rangers; Price injured

by Dan Rosen /

NEW YORK -- Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price was injured Wednesday, overshadowing a 5-1 win against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden.

Price did not start the third period because he had a reoccurrence of the lower-body injury that kept him out of the lineup for nine games from Oct. 30 through Nov. 19. Price, who won the Hart Trophy and Vezina Trophy last season, was playing his third game since returning.

Montreal coach Michel Therrien said he didn't have an update on Price beyond confirming it was the same injury and saying he won't play against the New Jersey Devils at Prudential Center on Friday. Price wasn't scheduled to play in that game.

Rookie backup Mike Condon made 11 saves in relief of Price, and the Canadiens helped him by scoring three times in the third period, including twice within the first 1:29 and again at 9:06.

Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist was pulled after the fifth goal. He allowed five goals on 24 shots.

Montreal (17-4-2) is 10-1-0 in the regular season against the Rangers since Feb. 19, 2013. New York (16-4-2) lost at home for the first time since Oct. 18, ending a streak of nine consecutive wins here.

"We are very, very happy with the way we played," said Montreal captain Max Pacioretty, who had a goal and an assist. "They're probably not happy with the way they played, and you can look at it that way. … All things considered, with [Condon] having to step in and guys being put in great situations to succeed, it's a very satisfying win, and hopefully we can use it as a momentum- and confidence-builder."

Not only did the Canadiens recently play those nine games without Price, Wednesday was their first without first-line right wing Brendan Gallagher, who is out at least six weeks after needing surgery to repair two fractured fingers on his left hand.

Devante Smith-Pelly was given first crack at playing on the top line with Pacioretty and Tomas Plekanec. He had the first two-goal game of his NHL career, and that line finished with seven points, including three assists from Plekanec.

"I like playing with him a lot," Pacioretty said of Smith-Pelly. "I played with him a couple shifts last year here and there, a couple games too. I think you know what you're going to get with him, and for myself that's what I enjoy, because you kind of take the brain out of the game. I tend to overthink things, so when I play with him I know he's going to keep it simple. If I get an opportunity to blow the zone or get open, I know he's going to put it in an area for me."

Smith-Pelly scored at 2:25 of the second period off a feed from Pacioretty to give Montreal a 2-0 lead. He scored 17 seconds into the third period off a pass from Plekanec to make it 3-1.

Alex Galchenyuk and Pacioretty also scored in the third period. Sven Andrighetto scored his first goal of the season in the first period.

"To have success, first of all you need depth, and when you use the depth and the guys get an opportunity, they have to make sure they do a good job," Montreal coach Michel Therrien said. "Obviously, Smith-Pelly did a great job with [Plekanec] and [Pacioretty]. That was a good line for us. They got some good opportunities, good looks. I really appreciate not only that line, but the way the whole team played."

There was less appreciation from Rangers coach Alain Vigneault about how his team played.

"We didn't obviously answer the bell for the challenge we had tonight," he said.

It was particularly frustrating for Vigneault because for all the success New York has had this season, a 3-0 loss to the Canadiens at Bell Centre on Oct. 15 has stuck with him. Vigneault, in fact, seemed to be challenging the Rangers on Wednesday morning. Asked about their previous game against the Canadiens, he said the Rangers "got a lesson in hockey."

It sounded like he felt the same way Wednesday, particularly because two of Montreal's goals came off of turnovers and two were a result of blown coverage in front of the net.

"When you make the type of mistakes we made tonight, they are going to make you pay for it," Vigneault said. "That's what happened."

The Rangers had the game within reach and Price out of the net at the start of the third period. They had a chance until defenseman Ryan McDonagh gave away the puck in the defensive zone and Plekanec found Smith-Pelly for Montreal's third goal 17 seconds into the period.

"It's just a terrible decision by me at the start of the period there, thinking I could chip it by [Plekanec] and get going," McDonagh said. "I've got to know that's his strong side and that's where their second forechecker was coming from. You can't start a period like that."

Galchenyuk made it 4-1 at 1:29; after picking off an errant pass by Rangers defenseman Marc Staal he carried the puck into the zone, appropriately waiting for his linemates to get onside, and eventually beat Lundqvist on a short-side wrist shot from the lower part of the left circle.

Pacioretty's goal that made it 5-1 came on the power play.

"I think we got a little bit rattled at times and frustrated with ourselves because of the pressure they were putting on us, forcing us into some giveaways," McDonagh said. "That's uncharacteristic of us, but at the same time that's a good team and they're playing really well right now and you've got to give them some credit too."

The Canadiens didn't have forward Alexander Semin for most of the third period; he did not return because of a lower-body injury after taking one shift in the third.


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