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Goaltender Price to start for Canadiens

by Arpon Basu

MONTREAL -- The Montreal Canadiens will have goaltender Carey Price back in net for the first time since the return from the Olympic break when they host the Ottawa Senators at Bell Centre on Saturday.

Price has missed eight games with a lower-body injury he aggravated while playing for Canada at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. The last time Price played was the gold-medal game in Sochi when he made 24 saves in a 3-0 win against Sweden, extending his Olympic shutout streak to 164:19.

"Price is playing, it's excellent news," Canadiens coach Michel Therrien said. "He had a good day [Friday] and he felt good [Saturday] morning."

The Canadiens struggled in Price's absence, going 3-4-1 with 28 goals allowed, but Therrien said the results had no bearing on the timing of Price's return.

"It has nothing to do with our record," Therrien said. "Carey feels ready to play and he will play [Saturday] night."

Price took part in a 90-minute practice Friday, his first since the injury in which he participated in all drills with no limitations. He showed no ill effects when forward Brendan Gallagher crashed his crease during one particular drill, shoving the wing out of the way.

Price has a 26-17-5 record this season with a 2.33 goals-against average and .925 save percentage. The Canadiens are 9-8-2 in games where Price was not the goalie of record.

Price was enjoying a strong run with the Canadiens before leaving for Sochi, going 3-0-0 with a 1.00 GAA and a .971 save percentage in his final three games before the Olympic break. He continued that strong play in Sochi with a 5-0-0 record, 0.59 goals-against average and .972 save percentage, and was named the tournament's top goaltender by the International Ice Hockey Federation directorate.

"We're talking about the best goalie in the National Hockey League today," Canadiens forward Daniel Briere said. "Everyone saw what he did with the Canadian team at the Olympics. He's the type of player that can be a game-changer."

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