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Game Day: Capitals @ Canadiens

Paul Byron returns to the lineup on Monday to face Washington

by Montreal Canadiens @CanadiensMTL /

BROSSARD -- The Canadiens practiced at the Bell Sports Complex on Monday in preparation for their game against the visiting Washington Capitals.

- A total of 25 players hit the ice for the morning skate, including injured Habs Alex Galchenyuk, Andrei Markov, Andrew Shaw, and Paul Byron -- with the latter receiving some good news following practice.

"Byron will play tonight, and the others are close," confirmed Michel Therrien. "They're day-to-day. They'll be reevaluated by the medical staff tonight."

READ: Paul Byron gets green light against Washington »

Brendan Gallagher, David Desharnais, and Greg Pateryn were the Habs absent in Brossard.

Daniel Carr meanwhile will be a healthy scratch opposite the Caps.

- The Habs return home from a seven-game stretch on the road to play a first game at the Bell Centre since Dec. 22 on Monday, as well as a first in the new year.

Despite the recent rash of injuries, the Habs also hold the distinction of being undefeated in 2017 after picking up 10 of a possible 14 points on the road -- an encouraging sign, to be sure.

"The team's playing great, and it seems like every time a guy goes down, another guy is ready to step up. I think last year, it was obviously pretty disappointing with what happened, but it was also a lesson learned for a lot of us," acknowledged Byron of the 2015-16 campaign, in which the Habs missed the playoffs after losing 348 man-games to injury. "We can't just sit here in the room and wait for one guy to come back and make everything better. It's a team effort and everyone's got to step up and bring something to the group."

Video: Byron on returning to the lineup

Andrei Markov for his part swears he saw the success coming all along.

"It's not like anybody is surprised, right?" cracked the 38-year-old veteran. "We've had a few injuries, but other guys are stepping up and playing their best games. If we stick to the system and play together, we get results."

- Nikita Scherbak will play his first career game at the Bell Centre on Monday, and will have a hard act to follow after lighting the lamp in his NHL debut on Saturday.

"I'm still a little bit nervous. I feel much better after playing my first game, but still a little nervous," admitted the 21-year-old forward. "It's obviously nice to get my first goal in my first game though, so I feel more confident now."

Video: Scherbak on playing his first game at the Bell Centre

Likewise, Mr. and Mrs. Scherbak will also benefit from Saturday's experience in actually catching their son live from across the pond.

"They were struggling before the game [to tune in]," recalled the former first-round pick with a laugh. "I was trying to explain how NHL Network works to my mother for two hours. She doesn't speak English."

- Speaking of Russians, Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin has a chance to tie Habs legend Maurice Richard's career 544 goals mark on Monday -- just a little extra incentive for the Canadiens to keep the 31-year-old superstar off the scoresheet.

"It's crazy. It would be weird for him to do that in this building, so we'll try to shut that down," underlined Nathan Beaulieu. "He's obviously a pretty special player, and he's always a threat when he's on the ice. Every time he comes to this building, we keep a close eye on him. He's big and he's physical, he's a competitor who's done a lot of things in this league, and I'm sure he'd like to get that extra one tonight -- but we know what to do."

- Carey Price should get the start in goal against Washington. The 29-year-old holds a 6-9-4 record with a 0.900 save percentage and 2.97 goals against average opposite the Caps.

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