The Islanders goaltender made 44 saves and the shutout in a 3-0 victory for the New Yorkers at the Bell Centre.
Price was solid on his return to the game, but he was let down by his offense. He stopped 17 shots, but the Canadian (20-44-11) was shut out for the sixth time this season.
The Habs’ star goaltender was playing his first game since July 7 due to knee surgery and at least three setbacks in his rehabilitation for various reasons.
The Canadian’s defense was watertight in front of Price during the first two periods, but the Islanders ended up showing opportunism.
Zach Parisé, Noah Dobson and Brock Nelson, in an empty net, managed to hit the target in the third period for the Islanders (35-30-9).
The Canadian will be back in action on Saturday night, when the Washington Capitals will be the visitors.
Few reasons to celebrate
Price received a warm welcome from fans ahead of the game. They chanted his name for over a minute, until announcer Michel Lacroix interrupted them for the start of a brief tribute to Mike Bossy.
The Montrealer, Islanders legend and one of the best snipers in NHL history, died Friday at the age of 65.
Price easily stopped the Islanders’ first shot 3:32 into the game, a weak shot from Kyle Palmieri that he deflected with his right pad.
The Canadian came alive on a power play, but Nick Suzuki’s multiple attempts failed.
Price made a tough first save with less than five minutes left in the first period. He used his shield to block a shot from Anders Lee’s slot.
Both goalies continued to close the door in the second period. Sorokin was vigilant in front of Christian Dvorak early in the engagement, then Cole Caufield, a little later. Sorokin also frustrated fellow Russian Alexander Romanov late in the second period.
For his part, Price made a nice shield save against Jean-Gabriel Pageau early in the second period. He only faced four shots in the engagement.
Joel Armia threatened early in the third period, but Sorokin resisted again.
The Islanders opened the scoring moments later at 4:25. It took a three-for-zero attack for them to beat Price. Parise completed the sequence by lifting the disc over the goalkeeper’s right pad.
Dobson doubled the Islanders lead 1:44 later. He beat Price with an unstoppable shot, which hit the post before crossing the goal line.
The Canadian increased the pressure thereafter, but he botched several opportunities to enter the score. Rem Pitlick notably reached the post after a nice individual push.
Nelson nailed the coffin for the Habs by scoring in an empty net with 1:39 left on the clock.
A long rehabilitation
Interim head coach Martin St-Louis confirmed Price’s presence at the end of the morning practice.
It’s good to see that he is here today, that he is there and that he will be able to play. It will give the team a boost of energy. I can not wait to see itunderlined St-Louis.
Forward Michael Pezzetta and defender Corey Schueneman had also been inserted into the Canadiens’ roster, taking over from Tyler Pitlick and Jordan Harris.
Then, at the start of the afternoon, the Canadiens indicated that they had assigned goalkeeper Cayden Primeau to his school club, the Laval Rocket.
Price hasn’t played since July 7, 2021, when the Canadiens surrendered to the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Finals.
The 34-year-old British Columbian underwent knee surgery on July 23 and was expected to recover in time for the start of the season on October 13. The Habs, however, announced on Oct. 7 that Price had enrolled in the NHL Player Assistance Program and the NHL Players’ Association and would be out for at least 30 days.
Price later admitted that he made the decision to deal with a substance abuse problem.
Upon his return to the team entourage in early November, Price had to start his rehabilitation all over again. His fitness program was then halted in early 2022 when the team was affected by an outbreak of COVID-19.
Price said on January 31 that he was hopeful of playing by the end of the season, but he admitted there was a possibility that his career could be in jeopardy.
There’s a saying that champions are built when no one is watching.said St. Louis.
A player’s success, for fans, is judged on the ice, but the player must do many things to be successful on the ice, often alone, when no one is watching or cheering them on.added the coach.
Price had to take a step back again recently, in March, due to another illness. However, the big day has finally arrived.
It was a daily assessment. That’s why we couldn’t give a timeline, explained goalkeeper coach Éric Raymond. We never knew how he was going to feel. This time around, we were waiting to see how his knee was doing every day. It was better, so he can play.
He worked hard to play that game. He lived through many disappointments and overcame many hardships, added Raymond. All along, I admired him. I saw a goalkeeper who wanted to play hockey, who was hurting not being able to help the team, not being able to live his passion.
The Canadiens have had a miserable season in his absence. He was last in the NHL heading into Friday’s games with a 3.81 goals-against average.
The Canadiens’ first-round pick in 2005, fifth overall, Price has a career record of 360-257-79 with a 2.50 GAA and .917 save percentage. His 360 career wins rank him first in team history.