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Carey Price sees promise in Canadiens despite 3-1 loss to Hurricanes

Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price, left, makes a save against Carolina Hurricanes' Eric Staal during second period NHL pre-season hockey action in Montreal, Saturday, September 21, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

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Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price, left, makes a save against Carolina Hurricanes' Eric Staal during second period NHL pre-season hockey action in Montreal, Saturday, September 21, 2013. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes

MONTREAL - Carey Price feels that the Montreal Canadiens are really starting to jell.

Price made 24 saves in the Canadiens 3-1 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday. Still, the veteran goaltender likes what he sees from Montreal so far this pre-season.

"It's coming along," said Price. "The guys are getting a little more comfortable with each other. We've been working quite a bit.

"It's all positive."

It was Price's first full pre-season game. He played well despite taking the loss and felt more confident as the game wore on.

"I felt a little bit on my heels at first. Started to settle in probably later on in the second period," said Price. "I started handling the puck better."

But by then it was too late; the Canadiens were already down 3-0, and they would only find a late consolation goal.

Montreal was repeatedly frustrated by Anton Khudobin's superb play in Carolina's net. Khudobin, who played 14 games with Boston last year and is slated to become the Hurricanes' backup goalie this year, stopped 41 of 42 shots.

"We did this result all together as a team," said Khudobin. "But that many shots and one goal is pretty good too."

Hurricanes head coach—and former Canadiens assistant coach—Kirk Muller was impressed by his goalie.

"We're just getting to know him and obviously we're excited to bring him into the organization," said Muller. "The nice thing is he has a lot of structure to his game and he's a real competitor. He's been a great addition so far.

"We actually feel we've got a pretty strong one-two punch with our goalies."

Carolina opened the scoring at the end of the first period when Drayson Bowman fired home his first goal of the pre-season.

Price misplayed a clearance behind his net, leaving the puck for Eric Staal, who passed it to a wide-open Bowman. Price blamed the goal on an unlucky bounce off the boards, and miscommunication with defenceman Andrei Markov.

Jeff Skinner added to the Hurricanes' lead early in the second—the eventual game-winner—and Carolina put the contest out of reach at the end of the period when Nathan Gerbe fired a shot past Price on the power play. It was the Habs' fourth penalty of the period.

Rookie Michael Bournival, who's Montreal's leading scorer this pre-season, scored the Canadiens' only goal late in the third period.

Montreal outshot Carolina 42-27 on the heels of a dominant third period. But it was not to be.

This was Montreal's second game in two nights against the Hurricanes. The Habs beat Carolina 6-0 in a lopsided match in Quebec City on Friday.

The Hurricanes, who have played four pre-season games in as many nights, showed no sign of fatigue after Friday's game.

The Canadiens' next game is on Monday when they host the New Jersey Devils.

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