MONTREAL — Carey Price and Brendan Gallagher returned to the minor leagues on Monday for a one-off appearance in an effort to get up to game speed ahead of the NHL playoffs.
Price and Gallagher, who have both been sidelined with injuries, suited up with the American Hockey League's Laval Rocket in a 2-0 loss against the Toronto Marlies.
Both players were on a conditioning assignment and are expected to rejoin the Montreal Canadiens ahead of Thursday's playoff opener against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
"I really wanted to play a game before the playoffs started, (general manager Marc Bergevin) approached me and asked and told me it was 'totally your call if you want to do it,' and I was all for the idea. You can't simulate game action," said Gallagher.
Price — who missed several games this season with a lower-body injury and a concussion — started off slow on Monday, allowing two goals on four shots in the first 4:11 of the game before finishing with 13 saves on 15 shots in two periods of work. He was scheduled to split time in net with Cayden Primeau, who only faced two shots in the third period.
The star netminder had not played since Apr. 19 when he collided with Edmonton Oilers forward Alex Chiasson.
"He's excited. It's never fun being out of the lineup. He's eager to be back," Gallagher said when asked about Price, who didn't talk post-game.
"The excitement and hunger is there and it's nice to see."
Gallagher, meanwhile, picked up a double minor for high sticking in the third and had two shots on net while playing on a line with Rafael Harvey-Pinard and Jordan Weal.
Gallagher broke his thumb when he blocked a shot by teammate Alexander Romanov against the Oilers on Apr. 5. The winger missed his team's last 21 games of the season.
"I feel good. Injury is now in the back of my head," said Gallagher. "Certain areas (could be better), but I'll blame that more on the lungs. Pretty confident in myself and will be able to jump in with the big boys come playoff time."
Bobby McMann and Stefan Noesen scored while Michael Hutchinson made 39 saves for the Marlies (15-16-2), who won their fourth game in a row.
McMann beat Price glove side from just inside the left face-off circle with a quick wrist shot while on the power play after taking a feed from Justin Brazeau, who was standing on the goal line to the right of the goaltender.
A turnover behind the Laval net led to the puck popping out front of Price for Noesen to slide in blocker side with a backhand less than two minutes later.
Price is 12-7-5 with a 2.64 goals-against-average and a .901 save percentage in 25 games with the Canadiens this year.
Gallagher has 14 goals and 23 points in 35 games this year with the Canadiens.
Price last suited up in the AHL with the Hamilton Bulldogs in the 2007-08 season, while Gallagher dressed for the Bulldogs in 2012-13.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published May 17, 2021.
The Canadian Press