The Canadiens (38-16-5) lead the Eastern Conference despite ranking 23rd in the NHL with 2.56 goals per game. That they are allowing the league's fewest goals-against per game (2.19) has been enough, for now.
"You always wish to score more goals but what's the most important thing is the goals-against," coach Michel Therrien said Monday. "We're pretty solid with that and we want to make sure we're able to win games by 2-1.
"To be able to do that, we have to make sure we play a good checking game, that we're dependable with the puck, not forcing plays. Our players are focusing on that."
This may be another way of saying "if you have Price in the net, who needs goals?"
The 26-year-old who backstopped Canada to gold at the 2014 Winter Olympics leads the NHL with a 1.91 goals-against average and a .935 save percentage.
His numbers are a tad better than Pekka Rinne (2.01 and .927) of the Nashville Predators (40-13-7). The Predators are second in goals conceded per game at 2.27 and sit first overall with 87 points.
Price is slated to be in the net when the Canadiens begin a two-game road trip Tuesday night in St. Louis. They play Thursday in Columbus and return home to face Toronto on Saturday.
Therrien has said repeatedly that it normally takes three goals to win games. His own team is putting that theory to the test.
In their last 20 games, the Canadiens have scored two or fewer goals 13 times but are 12-5-3 in that span. They are 5-1-2 on only 19 goals scored in their last eight contests. Six of those came from Max Pacioretty, the team leader with 29 goals.
Centre Tomas Plekanec, whose empty-net goal clinched a 3-1 win Saturday night over the Blue Jackets, didn't seem concerned about the team's offensive output.
"Everyone wants to score lots of goals, but if you look at the playoffs, not many goals are scored there," he said. "They're tight checking games and it's hard to score."
Secondary scoring in particular seems to be lacking. Pacioretty's line with David Desharnais and Brendan Gallagher has been the only consistent producer of late.
It should help that Alex Galchenyuk, with 16 goals this season, will return after missing two games due to illness. Therrien has moved the slick 21-year-old over to right wing with Plekanec and digger Lars Eller.
"Most of the goals he scores come when he's on the right side," said Therrien. "We're confident that a talented offensive player can be a threat on the right side.
"It's something we'll try. I'm not saying he's going to stay there. But this is the time of the year to make experiments."
They may also have winger P.A. Parenteau back soon, although not likely for Tuesday night. Parenteau has missed the last 16 games and 19 of the last 21 with a concussion. He skated on his own Monday but is to make the road trip.
Also joining the team will be defenceman Sergei Gonchar, who suffered an upper body injury when checked into the boards by Toronto's David Clarkson last week. He wore a no-contact jersey at practice.
Rearguard Alexei Emelin, injured last week against Ottawa, will stay behind.
Two players who got into fights against Columbus, Christian Thomas and Jarred Rinordi, skated with full face masksSuggest a correction