NHL

Carey Price's season debut spoiled as Islanders shut out Canadiens in victory

Carey Price made his long-awaited return to the Montreal Canadiens but Ilya Sorokin and the New York Islanders had the last laugh. Sorokin made 44 saves to record the shutout while Zach Parise, Noah Dobson and Brock Nelson scored and the Islanders grabbed a 3-0 win over the Canadiens.

Montreal goalie had been sidelined since last season's Stanley Cup final

Islanders goaltender Ilya Sorokin, left, makes a second period save against Canadiens' Michael Pezzetta, one of his 44 stops in a 3-0 win on Friday in Montreal. (Graham Hughes/The Canadian Press)

The Montreal Canadiens lost but the Bell Centre crowd acclaimed Carey Price in his return from the second he jumped on the ice for warmups all the way to the final buzzer.

Price gave up two goals on 20 shots in Montreal's 3-0 loss to the New York Islanders but fans kept cheering following every save.

"It was a lot of fun. It made me feel really, I guess, wanted," Price said. "It was definitely emotional but I was able to stifle that and stay focused because I wanted to play well tonight."

Canadiens part-owner Micheal Andlauer gave his season tickets to Price's family in order for them to be able to watch the goaltender up close.

"It didn't feel quite normal but pretty close," Price said. "Definitely having my family here and being able to see them in warmups."

"They were able to sit by the zamboni gate in the second period so that was a lot of fun for me."

WATCH | Islanders ruin Price's return with shutout victory:

Islanders spoil Carey Price's return with shutout victory over Canadiens

2 months ago
Duration 0:57
Zach Parise scored the game-winning goal as the New York Islanders blanked the Canadiens 3-0 in Carey Price's long-awaited return to the Montreal net.

The Canadiens (20-44-11) fought to get Price a win in his first start of the year. The netminder only faced eight shots in the first period but said he felt "an overwhelming sense of focus."

"It was almost ideal just to be able to take the game in without being swarmed at the start," Price said. "The guys played great tonight, I thought we deserved a better fate. I gotta tip my hat to the guy at the other end."

Ilya Sorokin saw most of the action playing on the second night of back-to-back games. He made 44 saves to record the shutout while Zach Parise, Noah Dobson and Brock Nelson scored and New York (35-30-9) grabbed the win.

Islanders coach Barry Trotz said The 26-year-old wasn't scheduled to play but a non-COVID illness hit Semyon Varlamov forcing Sorokin back in. Sorokin had blocked 30 shots by the second intermission, more than his 22-save tally in Thursday night's 6-3 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins.

Trotz wasn't surprised to see his netminder play the way he did.

"Because he's played that way all year," Trotz said about Sorokin. "So I wasn't concerned. We feel pretty fortunate that we go into most games feeling our goaltender can match any goaltender on the other side, even Carey."

With his seventh shutout, Sorokin set an Islanders record for most shutouts in one season. Trotz believes that if the Islanders weren't all but eliminated from playoff contention, he would get Vezina trophy considerations.

If you look back at some of the earlier games, he probably should have another four," he said. "We gave up by not defending the right way or making just a catastrophic mistake in the last minute of games that he had a shutout."

Being in Montreal, Mike Bossy's hometown, getting a win seemed a fitting tribute for the prolific goal-scorer following his passing.

After two scoreless periods, the Islanders broke the ice which led to their victory.

"It was a fitting place to be," Josh Bailey said about being in Montreal. "We were certainly motivated to play well and try to get a win for him."

WATCH | Canadiens hold moment of silence for Islander great Mike Bossy:

Canadiens hold moment of silence for Islander great Mike Bossy

2 months ago
Duration 1:40
With the New York Islanders visiting, the Montreal Canadiens held a moment of silence for Islander legend and Montreal native Mike Bossy, who died at age 65 after a long battle with lung cancer.

Corey Schueneman turned the puck over in the offensive zone, leading New York on the rush. Matt Barzal combined with Parise at 4:25 of the third period for New York's first goal of the game.

"As a team, when you're here on a day like today," said Parise of Bossy's passing. "The impact he had on the organization, I think there was definitely extra motivation for us to get the win regardless of how we did it.

"It wasn't the best game we played all year but we hung in there, had great goals and I think it was just really important for us to get a win on a day like today."

The floodgates opened for the visitors at 6:09 when Dobson beat Price with a shot from the right faceoff circle.

Nelson added the late empty-netter, sealing the Islanders' 3-0 win.

Price's long-awaited return

Price, who hasn't played since Game 5 of the 2021 Stanley Cup final on July 7, spent months recovering from off-season knee surgery.

He was forced to pause his rehabilitation after voluntarily entering the NHL's player assistance program last fall. He has previously said he entered the program for substance abuse.

In January, Price spoke with the Montreal media for the first time in six months and said he was hopeful he could return to the lineup before the end of the season, but admitted there was a possibility his career could be in jeopardy.

"There's a saying that champions are built when no one is looking," St. Louis said Friday. "A player's success, for the fans, is judged on the ice, but the player has to do a lot of things to be successful on the ice — often alone, when no one is watching or cheering him on."

Price, from Anahim Lake, B.C., has spent his entire 14-season NHL career with the Habs. The seven-time all-star was named the NHL's most valuable player and top goaltender in 2015.

Montreal sits in last place in the National Hockey League with seven games remaining and has surrendered a league-high 287 goals this season.

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