MONTREAL—After being run into for a second time in one period, the usually cool and calm Carey Price lost it.
The Canadiens’ star goalie. who missed most of last season with a knee injury, rained several blows with his blocker on the head and back of New Jersey forward Kyle Palmieri last night after the Devils’ forward crashed into him in his crease late in the first period of Montreal’s 5-2 victory.
Earlier in the period, he was bumped by Adam Henrique as the Devils’ centre scored a goal.
“I got run over on the first goal and then I took another one and I got fired up, I guess,” said Price, who was assessed a double minor for roughing, although some felt he should have got a match penalty for hitting Palmieri in the head with his blocker.
Price settled down the rest of the way and made 19 saves as the Canadiens (18-6-3) fired a season-high 49 shots at Cory Schneider.
Torrey Mitchell (two), Phillip Danault, Artturi Lehkonen, and Max Pacioretty scored for the Canadiens (18-6-3) in their return from a five-game road trip.
But all the post-game talk was about Price, who is not known for physical outbursts.
“It was nice to see the fire,” said Mitchell. “Everyone thinks he’s just a calm, laid-back guy but he’s competitive.
“All of us in here know that, so it was nice to see him fight back a little bit there.
“Obviously we don’t want him doing that,” Mitchell added. “We want to step in for him.
“But he’s a competitive guy so it was nice to see.”
Coach Michel Therrien said Price showed leadership by sticking up for himself.
The Devils were less impressed.
“Obviously he was upset and frustrated,” said Schneider. “There’s a lot riding on the knee for himself and their team, so I can understand why, after what he went through last year, he’d be pretty upset.
“But I think he got pushed a bit by his own guy there.
“I’m not a fan of goalies throwing blocker punches, especially to a guy on the ice,” Schneider added. “It’s pretty dangerous, especially if you catch a guy in the eye or the mouth with the tip of your blocker.
“It’s a weapon and it can cause some damage.
“He got three or four haymakers in there while Kyle is lying on the ice, prone,” he noted. “But again, it’s the heat of the moment and things happen.
“If a player does that, maybe it’s a misconduct.”
Palmieri, who was dragged away by Jeff Petry as Price kept swinging, called it “just a hockey play.”
“I’ve done it probably 50 to 100 times in my career,” he noted. “You go to the net and either it’s a trip or a push or you lose an edge.
“It’s going to the net,” Palmieri reiterated. “That’s where you score goals.
“You go to the net, try to put a good shot on, and you lose control.
“I don’t know the rule, but any time you’re on the ice defenceless and you’re taking a blocker to the back of the head, it’s not a great situation to be in,” he added.
Henrique scored and set up one by Taylor Hall for New Jersey (12-8-6), which ended a two-game winning run.
Montreal announced that defenceman Greg Pateryn, who took a shot off a foot on Tuesday in St. Louis, will be out about eight weeks with a fractured ankle.
But Nathan Beaulieu (neck) and Zach Redmond (broken foot) returned from injuries.
Redmond, an off-season signing, made his Canadiens’ debut.
Elsewhere in the NHL, the N.Y. Rangers beat Winnipeg 2-1, Philadelphia topped Edmonton 6-5, Vancouver dumped Tampa Bay 5-1, and Calgary edged Arizona 2-1 (OT).
The N.Y. Islanders nipped St. Louis 3-2, Colorado doubled Boston 4-2, Pittsburgh dumped Florida 5-1, Dallas beat Nashville 5-2, and Carolina downed L.A. 3-1.