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Price returns, helps Canadiens hold off Islanders

by David Satriano / NHL.com

NEW YORK -- Carey Price made 33 saves in his first game in three weeks to help the Montreal Canadiens defeat the New York Islanders 5-3 at Barclays Center on Friday.

Price, who made his first start since Oct. 29, missed nine games with a lower-body injury and said he felt rusty.

"It's a good league, and when you're out of action for three weeks, it's going to cost you a little bit," Price said. "But tonight the guys played very well in front of me, put some pucks to the net. It's a tough game, back-to-back games, but [we] came in here and got a good road win."

Montreal lost 3-2 at home to the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday.

Price faced double-digit shots in each period, including 15 in the second.

"Carey was Carey Price," Canadiens coach Michel Therrien said. "Even though he didn't play for the last few weeks, the way he performed, you couldn't tell. He was a true leader for us again tonight."

Defenseman Jeff Petry had his first NHL two-goal game for Montreal (15-4-2). Petry, who went from the Edmonton Oilers to the Canadiens at the NHL Trade Deadline last season, was more interested in talking about Price.

"[Price] looked like he was right on top his game. He played well and made some big saves for us," he said. "Having a full camp and starting the season off with the team has helped me get to know everybody, to get to know the system."

New York (10-7-3) had won two straight but trailed 3-1 in the first period.

"Any time you give up a few couple-goal leads, especially to a team like Montreal with a good goaltender, [it's tough]. We can't have a start like that," Islanders captain John Tavares said.

Petry scored 2:52 into the first period to give Montreal a 1-0 lead. Brian Flynn's shot hit goalie Jaroslav Halak and the rebound came to Petry. Alexander Semin, who was in the lineup in place of Torrey Mitchell (day-to-day, lower body) assisted on the goal for his first point in six games.

Brock Nelson tied the game 1-1 with his seventh goal of the season at 11:57. Tavares' shot from the slot appeared to get tipped on its way to Price, who stopped it before Nelson poked it behind him. The Canadiens used a coach's challenge for goalie interference, but the call on the ice was upheld.

Tomas Fleischmann scored 35 seconds later to give the Canadiens a 2-1 lead, and Nathan Beaulieu made it 3-1 at 18:17, beating Halak with a wrist shot. Halak, who allowed three goals on 11 shots, was pulled after the first period; backup Thomas Greiss started the second and finished with 15 saves on 16 shots.

Beaulieu and Petry started the game for the Canadiens on defense and combined for three goals and an assist and were plus-6.

"To be quite honest, that was our best pairing tonight," Therrien said. "They skated well, they moved the puck, they were responsible. They played really well both sides of the ice, offensively and defensively. I really appreciate the way those two played together."

Islanders defenseman Travis Hamonic, who played his first game since it became public that he has requested a trade because of personal reasons, scored his first goal of the season 39 seconds into the second period to make it 3-2. It was his first goal since March 21, 2015 against the New Jersey Devils, a span of 28 games.

"It felt like a normal hockey game for me," Hamonic said.

Islanders coach Jack Capuano credited Hamonic for how he has handled the situation.

"You don't have to be a team or a scout from an opposition to know what Travis Hamonic can do. He's one of the best players on the ice night in and night out," Capuano said. "I don't think [the trade talk] affects our team. ... He played another great game tonight, and it shows you the strong character that he has, it's not affecting his play. It's team-first mentality. He is doing everything he can to win hockey games."

Petry scored his second at the end of a Canadiens power play at 14:49 of the period to give Montreal a 4-2 lead. His shot from the slot was deflected by Islanders forward Josh Bailey.

Price made several big saves in the third period, including stopping defenseman Nick Leddy after he skated into the zone past two Canadiens and took a wrist shot on an Islanders power play.

Nelson scored his second of the game at 7:25 of the third to pull the Islanders within 4-3.

"It's tough to play catchup in this league," Hamonic said. "They are obviously a really good team. We had a handful of minutes in the first period that probably wasn't up to our standard. We battled back and played a really good game in the second half, but the scoreboard showed we just couldn't tie it up."

The Islanders' best chance to tie it came with 8:07 remaining. Matt Martin took a one-timer off a pass from Cal Clutterbuck that went past Price, but the entire puck never crossed the goal line.

Brendan Gallagher scored an empty-net goal with 19 seconds left.

The Canadiens go for the season sweep when they host the Islanders at Bell Centre on Sunday. Montreal defeated New York 4-1 on Nov. 5.

"It will be the third time in a few weeks playing these guys and we owe them," Islanders forward Kyle Okposo said. "It should be a good game."

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