The extra work Carey Price did with goaltending coach Stéphane Waite appears to be producing dividends.
Price, whose season can best be described as inconsistent, ended a three-game personal losing streak with a solid 26-save performance as the Canadiens defeated the Ottawa Senators 3-1 Tuesday night at the Bell Centre. He lost his shutout bid when Artem Zub beat him with a shot to the blocker side with 1:32 remaining in the second period.
The victory snapped a five-game losing streak for the Canadiens and provided interim head coach Dominique Ducharme with his first NHL win. Montreal has a 2-1-2 record against the last-place Senators who have given them a difficult time this season.
For the first half of the game, Price was locked in an improbable goaltending duel with Joey Daccord.
Over the years, a variety of nondescript goaltenders have arrived at the Bell Centre and raised the level of their games.
It was Daccord’s turn to join the club Tuesday.
He stopped the first 20 shots the Canadiens fired at him, but ran into trouble midway through the second period when a couple of high-sticking penalties gave the dormant Montreal power play a chance to wake up.
After Erik Brannstrom went off for high-sticking Jonathan Drouin, Brendan Gallagher opened the scoring with a trademark Gallagher goal. Jeff Petry passed to Corey Perry at the side of the net and the veteran set up Gallagher in front of the net with a no-look drop pass.
Gallagher not only scored his seventh goal of the season, but he also earned the Canadiens another four-minute power play when Erik Gudbranson hit him in the face with a high stick as the puck went into the net. Ottawa managed to kill off the first half of the double-minor, but Petry scored his seventh goal of the season on a slapshot that beat Daccord high to the far post. Jesperi Kotkaniemi, who had an outstanding game, and Tomas Tatar assisted on the Petry goal.
Tyler Toffoli completed the scoring with an empty-net goal for his 13th of the season.
Going into the game, the Canadiens had scored only two power-play goals in 25 opportunities over their past 11 games. They went 2-for-3 against the Senators. The Montreal penalty-kill had a perfect night, as it went unscathed through six minutes of Ottawa power-play time.
Nondescript is the best way to describe Daccord, who finished Tuesday’s game with 30 saves.
The 24-year-old Boston native was drafted in the seventh round in 2015 and he is the only NH L player to come out of Arizona State, an NCAA orphan that is currently paying its entire COVID season on the road against Big Ten teams.
His only two complete games this season were in the AHL, where he gave up five goals in each of his two starts against the Laval Rocket.
The Canadiens are home for their next two games against the Winnipeg Jets Thursday and Saturday.
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