Price, Canadiens halt Blue Jackets’ streak at 6
MONTREAL — The Montreal Canadiens turned to an old formula to end the Columbus Blue Jackets’ six-game winning streak with a 3-1 victory on Monday night at Bell Centre.
They got a lead and goaltender Carey Price took care of the rest.
Price made 37 saves in his second game back from injury and Brendan Gallagher, Jonathan Drouin and Andrew Shaw scored as the Canadiens (10-12-3) won consecutive games.
Price had a 36-save shutout Saturday in a 3-0 win over the Buffalo Sabres after missing 10 games with a lower-body injury.
“He battled for us, competed for us. He made some big saves,” Shaw, who closed out the win with an empty-net goal, said. “It’s great to have him back. He’s healthy. He’s hungry. He’s excited.
“He’s been our best player for sure the last two games. He’s making those big-time saves. I think we’re still relying on him too much. We’ve got to be playing better in front of him, but we know he’s got our back.”
Sergei Bobrovsky, who had won the six previous games, made 25 saves for Columbus. Rookie center Pierre-Luc Dubois scored for the Blue Jackets (15-8-1).
The Canadiens played a fourth game without top defenseman Shea Weber, who is out with a lower body injury, but Price said he likes the way other defensemen have stepped up.
Jeff Petry had another strong game, playing 29:05 and adding an assist on Drouin’s goal. It was the second time in the past three games Petry has topped 29 minutes.
“The guys are playing hard. We’ve got some guys playing some pretty big minutes,” Price said. “We’re obviously missing a big piece of our defense, but the guys are doing pretty good jobs.”
Blue Jackets defenseman Zach Werenski said he can see a difference in the Canadiens with Price back in goal.
“He made some huge saves for them. It’s definitely a difference when he’s back there,” Werenski said. “I think they play way more comfortable, but we have to find a way to get more than one goal past him.”
With the Canadiens leading 2-0 in the second period, Dubois scored his fourth goal at 16:08. After Blue Jackets forward Josh Anderson, one of the up-and-coming power forwards in the NHL, made a strong move to the net against Montreal defenseman Joe Morrow, Dubois skated in and knocked a loose puck in off Price’s pad.
Anderson’s right foot made contact with Price’s right pad on his original charge to the net and Canadiens coach Claude Julien used his coach’s challenge for goalie interference, but it was ruled a goal.
The Canadiens scored on their first two shots of the game as Gallagher gave them a 1-0 lead at 3:11 of the first period with a shot along the ice from the right wing circle. Drouin scored on the power play at 8:10.
“We can’t start like that,” Blue Jackets forward Boone Jenner said. “It hurts us when you go down two. In the second and third, we did a lot better, but it comes back to that start.”
Columbus coach John Tortorella was dismayed by his team’s start and the uncharacteristic goal given up by Bobrovsky.
“We played a 40-minute hockey game and you can’t do that. It’s just a lousy first goal,” he said. “You don’t see that very often with Bob.
“I was hoping our team could pick up Bob. The first period we just didn’t compete. After that, I thought we played a good 40 minutes, but we don’t find a way to beat Price and they win the game.”
Bobrovsky has held the opposition to two goals or fewer in his past eight games.
If the Blue Jackets were going to pick up Bobrovsky, as Tortorella suggested, the power play would have been a good place to start, but the Blue Jackets went 0 of 5, and are 1 of 28 in the past 11 games.
“We were close,” Werenski said. “I think we did everything but score, a lot of shots, a crossbar. It’s coming. I think tonight was a positive sign on the power play.”
Tortorella said he’s done talking about the power play struggles.
“We had 10 chances on the power play,” he said. “Didn’t score. I am tired of dissecting our power play. We had 10 chances on the power play.
“Tonight’s problem was we didn’t finish. We developed a lot of scoring chances on it. This is my last night that I’m speaking on the power play because I’m tired of talking about it. Yeah. I’ll leave it at that.”
NOTES: Canadiens D David Schlemko hasn’t played this season after hand surgery but could return Wednesday when the Canadiens host the Ottawa Senators. ... Also out for Montreal were RW Ales Hemsky (concussion), RW Nikita Scherbak (knee), LW Artturi Lehkonen (lower body) and G Al Montoya (concussion). ... Montreal D Brandon Davidson was a scratch. ... C Alexander Wennberg traveled with the Blue Jackets but missed his sixth game with an upper-body injury. LW Matt Calvert missed his 10th game with an upper-body injury. ... Scratched for the Blue Jackets were D Scott Harrington and LW Markus Hannikainen.