January 02, 2015

The Montreal Canadiens are back to their winning ways and Carey Price is again dealing with a nagging lower-body injury.

Though it's uncertain how much time their star goaltender could miss, Price won't be in net when the visiting Canadiens try for a fourth straight victory Friday night in the opener of a home-and-home series with the New Jersey Devils.

Playing his third game since missing nine in a row, Price left after two periods when he re-aggravated that injury in Wednesday's 5-1 win over the New York Rangers. His right leg appeared to bend awkwardly at one point in the second.

"He tweaked it again," coach Michel Therrien said. "That's why we don't want to take any chance. It's still early in the season, so it's important for us when he plays, he's got to make sure he is healthy.''

The reigning Vezina Trophy winner, who ranks third in the league with a .934 save percentage and sixth with a 2.06 goals-against average, was not expected to start this contest. He also could sit Saturday's rematch at home.

Rookie backup Mike Condon stopped all 11 shots Wednesday.

"It's next guy up," captain Max Pacioretty told the NHL's official website. "You never want to see that happen, especially with Carey, our best player, but (Condon) did a great job in relief."

Condon, who started each game while Montreal (17-4-2) went 5-2-2 without Price, posted a 1.57 GAA while winning six of his first seven starts this season but is 1-2-1 with a 3.45 GAA as a starter since.

"Have a short memory, focus on the things that matter," Condon said. "It doesn't matter about the game you played before, it just matters about being in the moment. Whether it's a bad goal or a nice save, you've got to move on to the next one because there's a lot of games to be played."

With the most points in the NHL, the Canadiens should feel confident no matter who is on the ice. Montreal has totaled 14 goals while beating the Rangers and New York Islanders twice in the last three games.

Pacioretty's scored four times in the last five contests and has five goals with six assists in the last 11. He had a goal and two assists while Montreal went 2-0-1 against New Jersey last season.

The Devils (11-9-1) have scored seven goals and averaged 22.5 shots while losing three of four. New Jersey recorded all but four of its 28 shots after the first period Wednesday but managed only Adam Henrique's team-leading 10th goal in a 2-1 loss to Columbus.

New Jersey's run of a power-play goal in five straight games ended. Montreal has killed 14 of 15 penalties during a 3-0-1 road stretch.

"We've got to bring our best game," said Henrique, who failed to record a point in those three meetings with Montreal last season.

Teammate Patrik Elias didn't have a point but logged almost 15 minutes of ice time Wednesday in his return from missing the first 20 games with a knee injury.

"He looked good, quick, and I thought he was really smart the way he managed his shifts," coach John Hynes said of the 39-year-old Elias. "He had a good work ethic."

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