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Round 1

Canadiens get Shea Weber back for playoff opener

Defenseman to return for Game 1 against Rangers after missing past four games with injury

by Sean Farrell / NHL.com Correspondent

BROSSARD, Quebec -- Defensemen Shea Weber and Jordie Benn each will be in the lineup when the Montreal Canadiens begin their Eastern Conference First Round series of the Stanley Cup Playoffs against the New York Rangers at Bell Centre on Wednesday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

Weber missed the last four regular-season games because of a lower-body injury, and Benn missed the last six with an upper-body injury. 

"I feel good," Weber said. "I got some good work in last week and it was good to be back out there with the guys today."

Canadiens defenseman Alexei Emelin will not be in the lineup. He missed the final two games of the regular season because of a lower-body injury he sustained in a 2-1 win at the Buffalo Sabres on Wednesday. Emelin and defenseman Brandon Davidson, who has the flu, were the only Canadiens missing from practice Monday.

 

[RELATED: WEBER, CANADIENS DYNAMIC ON DEFENSE | SERIES PREVIEW]

 

Montreal last faced New York in the postseason in the Eastern Conference Final in 2014, a series won by the Rangers in six games.

"I still remember the feeling I had leaving Madison Square Garden, walking off as they were celebrating and they were going on to the Stanley Cup Final," right wing Brendan Gallagher said. "And walking down the tunnel, it's a long tunnel, a long walk, and I remember thinking, you know, you just want to get back, you want to have one more shot at it. And I think when we go back there for playoff time, you know, it's a cool atmosphere and I think all those memories will come back, and hopefully we can erase them and replace them with some good ones."

Video: Canadiens vs Rangers First Round Preview

The Canadiens, who missed the playoffs last season, went 16-7-1 in 24 games after coach Claude Julien replaced Michel Therrien on Feb. 14. Montreal's six-game winning streak began a 14-3-1 run from Feb. 25 to April 3, when they clinched first place in the Atlantic Division with their fifth straight win, 4-1 at the Florida Panthers.

Goalie Carey Price, defenseman Andrei Markov and forwards Max Pacioretty, Alexander Radulov and Tomas Plekanec were rested and did not make the trip for the 3-2 overtime win at the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday.

"Well it's a luxury because we all know that as the playoffs move on we're going to have some challenges, that's a given," Julien said. "It's like that every year with every team, so when you can start off fairly healthy, which is what we are right now, I think it's huge. And there's some teams that probably aren't in that same position we are, but we're glad that we're able to manage it that way and that we're lucky and fortunate enough to have that situation."

Left wing Alex Galchenyuk, who began the season as the No. 1 center, remained on a line with center Steve Ott and right Andreas Martinsen at practice because Julien stuck with changes he made to his third and fourth lines Saturday.

"In my estimation it's not who you play with, it's how you play, and I think we need some scoring from all the lines," Julien said. "(Galchenyuk) can provide us with that with that line, some scoring, so we can at least be a scoring threat on all four of our lines, so that's the main goal of the whole thing.

Dwight King replaced Galchenyuk, who scored his NHL-leading fifth overtime goal Saturday, on the third line with center Andrew Shaw and right wing Artturi Lehkonen.

Video: OTT@MTL: Weber hammers home PPG with big slapper

"Game 1 is coming up and everybody's got to contribute and bring something to the team, and that's where everybody's head is at," Galchenyuk said.

Shaw believes the move is a good opportunity for Galchenyuk.

"He's going to be playing against different (defensemen), he's going to be playing against different forwards," Shaw said. "I feel like he's going to have the puck a lot and that's something he's really good with. He makes plays, he's confident with the puck, he makes great moves, and it's going to free up some room for him out there.

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