The Canadiens held an optional skate on Thursday morning at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard in preparation for their tilt against the Arizona Coyotes at the Bell Centre.
- Twelve players elected to hit the ice, including goaltenders Carey Price, Al Montoya and Charlie Lindgren, forwards Alex Galchenyuk, Brian Flynn, Daniel Carr, Phillip Danault and Artturi Lehkonen, and defensemen Greg Pateryn, Alexei Emelin, Mikhail Sergachev and Andrei Markov.
- Following practice, head coach Michel Therrien confirmed that Price would get the start in goal on Thursday night after overcoming a severe case of the flu that cost him the first three games of the year. Montoya will serve as Price's backup. For his part, Lindgren has been assigned to the AHL's St. John's IceCaps.
"Carey met with team medical staff, with Dr. [David] Mulder, after the morning skate, and together we made the decision that he was ready to come back and play," said Therrien, who will see Price go up against Coyotes netminder Louis Domingue in his first regular-season start since November 25, 2015. "We're really happy about it. I know that he wanted to play and he's feeling good enough to do it. We're really excited."
Video: Michel Therrien confirms Price's return
- Meanwhile the Canadiens won't make any additional lineup changes to the group that went up against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the home opener on Tuesday. That means that Mikhail Sergachev will play a second straight game on the back end, while Greg Pateryn and Zach Redmond will both be healthy scratches on D. Daniel Carr will also be a healthy scratch up front.
- With respect to Sergachev, the 18-year-old defenseman spent plenty of time working with assistant coach Jean-Jacques Daigneault during Thursday morning's optional skate trying to hone several aspects of his game leading up to his third outing of the young season.
Video: Mikhail Sergachev on playing his second straight game
"Last game, [Phil] Kessel beat me up the wall, so I've got to put my stick [in the right place] and play the right way. We're talking about D zone coverage and about my stick, because I've got a long stick and I have to use it more. I think I'm getting better every game and every practice, so I'm learning stuff," mentioned the Russian rearguard, who is hoping to see more ice time than the 8:30 he logged against the Penguins.
"I've been talking to the coaches about that and I think I'm going to play more. It depends on penalties. I'm not playing on the PK or power play, so it just depends on that and it depends on how well I'm going to play," added Sergachev, who will go in search of his first career NHL point once again on Thursday night.
The Canadiens' bench boss says the decision to give Sergachev his second straight start is based on providing him with another opportunity to get accustomed to the quickness of the NHL game.
"There aren't a lot of 18-year-olds in the NHL. We're playing against a good team, one that's very talented and very tough to play against because of their speed. So, it's another game in a process for Sergachev. We want to give him as much experience as possible," explained Therrien, whose squad will be tasked with slowing down the likes of Coyotes young guns Max Domi, Anthony Duclair and Laurent Dauphin, among others.
Meanwhile, Sergachev's parents, Aleksandr and Liudmila, and his 12-year-old sister, Anna, will once again be in attendance to watch the Canadiens' most recent first-round selection patrol the Canadiens' blue line.
According to Sergachev, they certainly enjoyed being in the crowd on opening night.
"They liked the atmosphere and everything else. They liked the game because it was their first NHL game and I was playing, so they were pretty happy," said Sergarchev. "They were the ones who put me in hockey, so they were pretty nervous."
- Puck drop is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. EST. The game will be broadcast on Sportsnet 360 and RDS, as well as on TSN 690 and 98.5 fm.
Probable lineup against Arizona:
Pacioretty - Galchenyuk - Gallagher
Lehkonen - Plekanec - Radulov
Byron - Desharnais - Shaw
Danault - Mitchell - Flynn
Beaulieu - Weber
Markov - Petry
Emelin - Sergachev