- Associated Press - Saturday, December 23, 2017

CALGARY, Alberta (AP) - It had been so long for Byron Froese that he wasn’t sure how to celebrate.

Froese scored for the first time in 22 months and had an assist to help the Montreal Canadiens beat the Calgary Flames 3-2 on Friday night.

“It feels really good,” the 26-year-old Froese said. “From the celebration, you could see, I couldn’t think about anything else but to raise my hands.”

Nicolas Deslauriers and Brendan Gallagher also scored and Carey Price made 21 saves in his 12th straight start since returning from a lower-body injury. The Canadiens are 8-3-1 since Price returned.

Froese opened the scoring midway through the first period when he deflected Jordie Benn’s point shot past Mike Smith for his first goal since Feb. 20, 2016, when he was with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Froese then assisted on Deslauriers’ goal in the second.

The line of Froese, Daniel Carr and Deslauriers make up three of Montreal’s top four scorers for December with 23 combined points.

“You can’t call them a fourth line anymore because they’re not playing like one,” Montreal coach Claude Julien said. “They’ve been doing that for a while. They just play the right way. They’re extremely solid and strong along the walls in both ends.”

Froese has one goal and six assists in eight December games. He had just two goals and five points through his first 72 NHL games.

“Once we had that little bit of success that first game with Carr and (Deslauriers), you grip the stick a little bit looser and feel more confident and more comfortable,” Froese said.

Gallagher gave the Canadiens a 3-0 lead in the third, before the Flames made it close on goals by Micheal Ferland and Matthew Tkachuk.

“There’s no system for outworked,” Flames coach Glen Gulutzan said. “We’ve put together a good string of games, but the one that irks you the most is the ones when you get out-battled and that’s tonight and I’m not happy.”

NOTES: Smith made 32 saves for Calgary. … Montreal D Shea Weber (foot) returned after missing one game.

UP NEXT

Canadiens: At Edmonton on Saturday night.

Flames: At San Jose on Thursday night.

___

For more NHL coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/NHLhockey


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