MONTREAL (AP) — Goaltender Carey Price produced a 36-save gem in his return from an injury for the Montreal Canadiens.
Price, who is headed to the All-Star game this week, saw his team outshot 25-4 through the first 30 minutes only to bounce back with a strong second half and pull out a 2-1 overtime win over the Nashville Predators on Tuesday night.
“You don’t want to be looking up at the scoreboard halfway through the game and seeing four shots on net,” said Price, who returned after missing two games with an upper-body injury. “But we wound up with 27 shots, so we started getting pucks on net. I think we grabbed more momentum after that.”
Alex Galchenyuk tied the game in the third period and P.K. Subban got the winner 4:09 into overtime, both on the power play, as Montreal (29-13-3) won a second game in a row and third in its last four.
Mike Ribeiro finally beat Price on Nashville’s 26th shot at 12:10 of the second period, but Montreal turned the tables. Final shots were 37-27 for Nashville, which was without injured star goalie Pekka Rinne for a third game.
“We’re not going to play perfect every game,” said Price. “As long as we can rope-a-dope a bit when we’re not playing well and stay in the game, at least we give ourselves a chance to get that big goal and start grabbing momentum. We’ve been able to do that this year.”
It was the first time in 14 occasions this season that the Central Division-leading Predators failed to win coming off a defeat. They lost 5-2 to Detroit on Saturday.
“The first half of the game belonged to the Predators,” said Montreal coach Michel Therrien. “They played well and showed why they’re a top team in the West.
“I don’t think we started the game with the right attitude, but we regrouped well. That’s what’s important.”
Nashville scored just after Ribeiro missed an open side after a perfect feed from Filip Forsberg. Price lost his stick on the play, and was beaten by a point shot from Seth Jones that Ribeiro deflected in front of the net.
The Canadiens tied it with Craig Smith sitting out a holding call at 2:02 of the third when Subban, a moment after hitting a goalpost, fed Galchenyuk for a re-direct from the edge of the crease past Carter Hutton.
It was Smith again who was sent off for tripping in overtime, and Subban ended it with a blast from the point for his 11th goal of the season. It was Montreal’s seventh power-play goal in its last four games.
“Every game is different,” said Subban. “You have to know there are going to be tough games where you don’t have your legs and you’re not first on the puck all the time.
“So you have to be smart and put the puck in the right places and support each other. It’s a long season, but these games mean something for team morale.”
It was a big game for Subban, who had a goal and an assist and led his team with 22:51 of ice time.
“P.K. took charge tonight,” said Therrien. “He was a big leader for us.”
It was the last game for both teams before the All-Star game on Sunday in Columbus.
Price said he is looking forward to the weekend and meeting up with friends from past All-Star games. That includes members of Canada’s gold-medal winning team at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia, starting with Predators defenseman Shea Weber.
“It’ll be fun,” said Price, who will be accompanied by rookie teammate Jiri Sekac. “Obviously, going to a golf course in Florida would be nice, but at the same time, it’s a privilege to represent my team at an All-Star game and I’m happy to go.”
Notes — Ribeiro, who began his NHL career in Montreal, has 12 points in 10 games against the Canadiens. … Tom Gilbert returned after sitting out one game, while Mike Weaver was scratched. … Forward Taylor Beck sat out for Nashville.