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Published October 21, 2016
Carey Price eased back into action with the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday night.
Price made 27 saves in his season debut to help the Canadiens beat the Arizona Coyotes 5-2.
"It was nice to get back into the routine and get to play a regular-season game," Price said. "I felt fine. I felt pretty good in the skate this morning. We were skating well and moving the puck. It's always a bonus to put up five (goals)."
Price made his first NHL start since injuring his right knee on Nov. 25, 2015. He also missed the first three games of this season because of the flu.
"For a guy who hasn't skated for a while, because of his flu, he was sharp," Canadiens coach Michel Therrien said. "Very encouraging to see."
Alexei Emelin, Torrey Mitchell, Shea Weber, Alex Galchenyuk and Artturi Lehkonen scored for Montreal (3-0-1).
"He's got such a calming presence," Mitchell said about Price. "He's such a big leader for us. He was joking about not setting the bar too high and getting a shutout in game one, so it was nice to get five goals for him."
Jakob Chychrun and Laurent Dauphin scored for the Coyotes.
Playing for the injured Coyotes starter Mike Smith, backup Louis Domingue allowed four goals on 19 shots before being pulled in the second period. Justin Peters stopped 23 of 24 shots in relief. Arizona dropped to 1-2-0.
"It got away from us in the second period," Arizona coach Dave Tippett said. "We were all right, we competed hard, but there are areas of our game that we still have to clean up. The execution is not what it needs to be. We need all the parts to work to be competitive."
Price wasn't tested much in the first period, stopping all eight shots he faced.
Things weren't as smooth in the second. A sprawled-out Price was helpless against Chychrun at 6:36 for Arizona's first of the night to make it 4-1. The Coyotes scores again with 3:11 left in the period, a short-handed goal after a bad giveaway by Nathan Beaulieu in his own zone.
Montreal put the game out of reach with three goals in less than 4 minutes in the second period.
Mitchell made it 2-0 with a one-timer at 2:07 off a beautiful cross-ice pass from Beaulieu. Weber then scored his first in a Canadiens uniform 2 minutes later with a hard slap shot through traffic.
"It was unbelievable," said Weber of the fans' response to his goal. "I can't describe the feeling. It's really special. Happy to be part of this team."
Galchenyuk dangled around Arizona captain Shane Doan before beating Domingue with a wrister at 5:49 to make it 4-0.
Lehkonen fired home his second of the season to make it 5-2 in the third.
Emelin opened the scoring for the Canadiens at 13:20 of the first period. Using Andrew Shaw as a screen, he beat Domingue with a slap shot between pad and blocker.
NOTES: Price is 8-0-0 in his career against the Coyotes. ... Emelin scored for the first time since March 17. ... Montreal defenseman Zach Redmond broke his foot during practice Thursday morning. He's expected to be sidelined six weeks.
Coyotes: Arizona has four more games left on a six-game trip. The Coyotes are at the New York Islanders on Friday night and will face the New York Rangers on Sunday night.
Canadiens: Montreal is at Boston on Saturday night.