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Canadiens defenceman Roman Hamrlik out with flu, Brisebois steps in @NHLdotcom

MONTREAL - Defenceman Roman Hamrlik missed morning practice with a flu and was not in the Montreal Canadiens lineup Tuesday night against the Ottawa Senators.

Patrice Brisebois took Hamrlik's place in the lineup. "We sent (Hamrlik) back home," said coach Guy Carbonneau. "He was sick all day.

"We have Briser (Brisebois) who can step in, and we want him back at 100 per cent because our schedule's going to be busy in the next two or three weeks. We also want to keep him away from the other players."

It was the first game Hamrlik missed since signing a four-year deal as a free agent last summer with the Canadiens.

While veteran Cristobal Huet was to start in goal against Ottawa, rookie goalie Carey Price took part in his first skate since he was recalled from Hamilton of the AHL on Monday.

Price may be the starter Thursday against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Price is 3-0 against the Leafs this season.

"It's a possibility," Carbonneau said. "We sent him (to Hamilton) to get his confidence back and also because he wasn't playing that much. Obviously, if we brought him back, it's for him to play."

Forward Alex Kovalev escaped league discipline for a forearm to the jaw that staggered New York Rangers winger Ryan Hollweg on Sunday. Hollweg picked up a one-game suspension for a hit from behind later in the game on Montreal rookie Sergei Kostitsyn.

Kovalev said he did nothing wrong.

"What happened on the hit is he just ended up being just a bit shorter than me," said Kovalev. "He saw me coming and decided to (try to) get the penalty out of it, but it didn't work for him.

"I thought it was a clean hit. He's just a little shorter than me. That's why his face (was) at the same height as my elbow or my arm or whatever you call it."

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