ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — The Montreal Canadiens rested star goalie Carey Price against powerful San Jose this week, allowing him to go for the franchise wins record against struggling Anaheim instead.
Judging from the snowman they put on the scoreboard, the Ducks took it personally.
Adam Henrique scored twice, rookie Troy Terry had a goal and two assists, and the Ducks interrupted Price’s pursuit of Jacques Plante’s mark with an 8-2 thrashing of the Canadiens on Friday night.
Corey Perry and Devin Shore had a goal and an assist apiece during the Ducks’ highest-scoring performance of their miserable season. Doing it against a rested Price made the moment even more satisfying for the Ducks, who believe they’re far better than the team that just emerged from two terrible months on the brink of elimination from the playoff race.
“They saved him for tonight, so we kind of took that as a challenge,” Henrique said. “You never want to be the team that somebody thinks they can come into your building and win.”
Daniel Sprong and Rickard Rakell also scored and John Gibson made 35 saves for the Ducks, who have won three of four for only the second time since mid-December. Rookie Max Jones even scored his first NHL goal with 10.4 seconds to play.
“We’ve put ourselves in quite a spot, but all we can focus on is the present,” said Cam Fowler, who became the Ducks’ career scoring leader among defensemen with an assist.
Shea Weber had a power-play goal and an assist for the Canadiens, who have lost five of eight. Paul Byron also scored and Price stopped 21 shots as Montreal completed a three-game California road swing with two losses while giving up a whopping 14 goals.
After getting a rare night off Thursday against the Sharks, Price was in position to become the winningest goalie in the Canadiens’ storied history after tying Plante’s record with his 314th win Tuesday in Los Angeles. Instead, Price gave up eight goals in a game for the first time this season behind his befuddled defense.
At least now the 31-year-old former NHL MVP will get the chance to reach the mark in front of his Montreal fans on Tuesday against the Red Wings.
“I think it’s going to sting for a little bit here,” Weber said. “We are fortunate we have some time to digest it and get a little work in before Tuesday, because that was obviously not good enough.”
This blowout loss stalled the Canadiens’ playoff push. Montreal and Carolina are in the two Eastern Conference wild-card spots with 79 points apiece — but the Hurricanes and ninth-place Columbus Blue Jackets, who have 77 points, both have two games in hand on the Habs.
“I think tonight was one of those nights where we dug ourselves a hole, and again, we didn’t seem to be on our game,” Montreal coach Claude Julien said. “A lot of things didn’t pan out tonight for us because of our play. ... The biggest thing right now is that the last couple of weeks we have been on the road. I think it’s cumulative of all that stuff and it kind of caught up with us there.”
Weber trimmed Anaheim’s lead to 3-2 in the second period with the Canadiens’ first power-play goal in seven games since Feb. 23, but Terry and Perry scored later in the second.
Fowler passed Scott Niedermayer with his 265th career point when Terry redirected his shot for a goal. Fowler has spent his entire nine-season NHL career in Anaheim, cracking the roster as an 18-year-old in 2010 and immediately becoming a dependable part of the Ducks’ core.
In his 17th NHL game, Jones got his first goal in the waning seconds.
“The amount of chances I had was ridiculous,” Jones said. “It was unbelievable. To finally get that was a sigh of relief.”
NOTES: Anaheim scored at least eight goals for the fifth time in franchise history. ... Ducks C Ryan Kesler was a late scratch with a hip injury. He missed much of last season while recovering from hip surgery, and has scored just eight points while playing in 60 games this season, including the 1,000th of his NHL career Tuesday at Arizona. The 34-year-old Selke Trophy winner has three seasons and $20,625,000 left on his contract. ... Montreal forward Tomas Tatar sat out with the flu, and D Brett Kulak was scratched for the first time in 33 games since Dec. 20. Jesperi Kotkaniemi was back in the lineup, and D Mike Reilly returned from a five-game absence. ... Sprong was born in the Netherlands, but his family moved to the Montreal area when he was 7 years old to further his hockey development.
Canadiens: Host the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday night.
Ducks: Host the Los Angeles Kings on Sunday night.
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