Carey Price has been one of the primary reasons for the Montreal Canadiens’ success, and he’s on the verge of a milestone victory.
Price looks to pick up his 200th win in his 400th NHL game as Montreal seeks a fifth consecutive victory Friday night on the road against the banged-up New Jersey Devils.
The Canadiens (24-11-2) enter 2015 two points behind Atlantic Division-leading Tampa Bay, but they have two games in hand. Price is tied for second in the league in wins with 20 and ranks seventh in goals-against average at 2.19.
He’s won six of his last seven starts with a .956 save percentage, not allowing more than two goals in that stretch. Price got Tuesday night off as Montreal beat Florida 2-1 in a shootout to extend its winning streak to four.
"He’s still considered a young goaltender, but he’s already at the top of his game in his position," coach Michel Therrien told the team’s official website of the 27-year-old Price. "With him, you see a leader, and a mature and controlled player. He’s always in position. You don’t really see spectacular saves from him, because he’s where he’s supposed to be. He makes it look easy because he’s so good at reading the play. He’s receptive and he always wants to get better. That’s what impresses me the most about a guy like Carey Price."
Price is 4-2-0 with a 1.85 GAA in his last six starts in New Jersey, where the Canadiens will make their fourth stop in a stretch of five straight road games.
Brendan Gallagher scored against the Panthers for his third goal during the winning streak.
"The guys showed a lot of character. We still consider ourselves a young team and the guys keep finding ways to win with their grit," said Therrien, whose club has won seven of eight. "I give them a lot of credit, especially playing a second game in 24 hours against a tough opponent."
Montreal had won four of five against the Devils before Adam Henrique and Jaromir Jagr had a goal and an assist apiece in New Jersey’s 4-1 victory Jan. 14 in the most recent meeting.
The Devils (13-19-7) are 2-6-3 over their last 11 and have dropped two of three since firing Peter DeBoer last Friday and going with a trio of coaches behind the bench, including general manager Lou Lamoriello.
New Jersey fell 3-1 at Detroit on Wednesday. Joe Whitney gave the Devils a short-lived lead in the second period when he recorded his first NHL goal in his second game since behind called up from the AHL.
The Devils had a season-low 13 shots, one in the third period.
"We had the game being played the way we wanted to play it," Lamoriello said. "Unfortunately, we had to kill some penalties and we had to use two of our defensemen too much. We got tired."
They were missing eight players due to injury or illness, then lost forward Steve Bernier when he crashed into the boards after an attempted check. Lamoriello initially thought the injury could be serious, but X-rays on Bernier’s hip and left leg came back negative.
Lamoriello said each injured player participated in Thursday’s optional skate, but he didn’t specify who could return for this contest. He said each player is considered day to day.
Cory Schneider made 25 saves Wednesday and could be in net again. His only start against the Canadiens was a 4-3 shootout loss Dec. 4, 2013.