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Canadiens welcome Prust back against Blue Jackets

by Craig Merz

COLUMBUS -- Montreal Canadiens coach Michel Therrien saw enough in practice to know that it would be unwise to keep left wing Brandon Prust out of the lineup any longer.

That's why Prust, who has missed the past 10 games because of a shoulder injury, will play Friday against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Nationwide Arena.

Therrien said Prust went against defenseman Douglas Murray in 1-on-1 drills Thursday before the team flew to Columbus.

"He felt pretty good," Therrien said after the team's morning skate Friday. "There's no reason for him to be out of the lineup. He battled hard [Thursday] in practice and he's feeling good this morning."

The Canadiens (9-8-2) will welcome Prust's return. They lost a 2-1 shootout to the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday and are 1-2-2 in the past five games.

"He's intense," Therrien said. "We certainly missed his leadership on the ice and off the ice, so it's a good move for us."

Prust has two goals and an assist in eight games but will not be the only change against the Blue Jackets.

Goaltender Peter Budaj will make his fourth start (2-1-0, 1.34 goals-against average, .953 save percentage) with Carey Price scheduled to start Saturday against the New York Rangers. Budaj has a career record of 7-5-0 with a 2.20 GAA against Columbus.

"He's been so strong for us," left wing Max Pacioretty said. "His attitude off the ice and away from the rink helps motivate guys to get the win for him. You see a guy like that work every day and you want to do what you can when he gets in."

In another move, center David Desharnais will return to the lineup on the fourth line after being a healthy scratch Tuesday.

Therrien may need one further revision because right wing Brendan Gallagher missed practice Friday because of the flu and will be a game-time decision.

Columbus (6-10-2) did not skate Friday after losing 3-2 in overtime at Boston on Thursday for a second overtime loss in three days. Columbus is 1-5-2 in its past eight games and coach Todd Richards must decide if he will stick with Sergei Bobrovsky in goal or turn to Curtis McElhinney as he likes to do in the second of back-to-back games.

"We definitely want to jump on them early," Pacioretty said. "You want to try and take away their confidence early."

The Blue Jackets are expected to have left wing Nick Foligno back for a second straight game. He has missed a total of eight games to be with his wife after complications following the birth of their child a month ago.

Their daughter, Milana, underwent corrective heart surgery a week ago and Foligno dedicated his goal against the Bruins to her.

"It was nice to get back with the guys and start battling for some wins," he said after the game. "It was also nice to get that goal. It was for my daughter, for sure, for all she's battling right now."

Columbus could be without defenseman Dalton Prout, who suffered a knee injury that prompted Richards to replace him with David Savard at Boston.

Expected lineups for the Canadiens and Blue Jackets on Friday:


Alex Galchenyuk - Lars Eller - Brendan Gallagher

Brian Gionta - Tomas Plekanec - Michael Bournival

Brandon Prust - Daniel Briere - Max Pacioretty

Rene Bourque - David Desharnais - Ryan White

P.K. Subban - Andrei Markov

Josh Gorges - Francis Bouillon

Douglas Murray - Raphael Diaz

Peter Budaj

Carey Price

Scratched: Travis Moen

Injured: Alexei Emelin (knee), Davis Drewiske (shoulder), George Parros (head)


Brandon Dubinsky - Ryan Johansen - Cam Atkinson

RJ Umberger - Artem Anisimov- Marian Gaborik

Blake Comeau - Derek MacKenzie - Mark Letestu

Nick Foligno - Michael Chaput- Jared Boll

Fedor Tyutin - Jack Johnson

Ryan Murray - James Wisniewski

Nikita NikitinDavid Savard

Curtis McElhinney

Sergei Bobrovsky

Scratched: Sean Collins, Dalton Prout

Injured: Nathan Horton (left shoulder surgery), Matt Calvert (abdominal surgery), Boone Jenner (lower body)

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