(CP) — With a big round of cuts looming on Monday, two Montreal Canadiens rookies made a case for surviving at training camp a little longer.
Matt D’Agostini improved his chances of sticking in the NHL by scoring two goals, including the overtime winner, and Carey Price made 22 saves in his first start of the NHL preseason to lead the Canadiens to a 3-2 win Friday over the New York Islanders.
Price, who turned 20 last month, was named the most valuable player of the 2007 Calder Cup Playoffs after backstopping the Hamilton Bulldogs to their first AHL championship. D’Agostini had 21 goals and 28 assists in 63 regular-season games for Hamilton in 2006-07, and added 13 points in 22 playoff matches.
"I felt all right about my game," said Price, the fifth overall pick in the 2005 draft. "The guys helped me out a lot letting me see the puck and clearing away the garbage."
"He made the saves when he had to," Canadiens head coach Guy Carbonneau said. "That’s what’s important."
Carbonneau said the Canadiens will make "just about all" of their cuts on Monday as the Bulldogs open their AHL training camp Tuesday, and Montreal will play two more preseason games next Thursday and Saturday.
Carbonneau added that Price will "probably" get another start this preseason, suggesting he will likely survive Monday’s cuts.
"I’m hoping for a lot more (starts)," Price said.
As far as D’Agostini, Carbonneau was encouraged by Friday’s performance not only because of the two goals, but by how the rookie played without the puck.
"He has to be a reliable player and has to push someone away, that’s why we have training camp," Carbonneau said. "He’s not too far."
D’Agostini corralled a puck off the end boards and scored off an accurate shot to the top corner at 1:45 of overtime to give the Canadiens the win.