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Price is a go as Canadiens open against Leafs

by Arpon Basu
TORONTO -- After being held out of practice a day earlier because of a virus, Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price will be in net when his team faces the Toronto Maple Leafs to begin the 2010-11 NHL season Thursday night.

Price did not address the media after the morning skate, but he looked sharp on the ice.

Canadiens coach Jacques Martin said the decision on whether or not Price could go ultimately fell on his shoulders. After speaking with his No. 1 goalie, Martin decided Price was fit enough to play.

"He's getting his strength back, so I felt he was ready to go," Martin said.

Teammates said Price was dead to the world Wednesday as the team wrapped up its mini-training camp in Clermont, Que., and headed to Toronto. Despite his illness, Price did take some time to sign some autographs for fans outside the team bus.

"It was good to see him get a little color back in his face," defenseman Josh Gorges said. "He looked good today, he looked strong."

Thursday night's game will be the first taste of this storied rivalry for several players on both teams, but perhaps no one will live it quite like Canadiens rookie defenseman P.K. Subban.

Subban grew up in Toronto as a die-hard Canadiens fan and this will be his first NHL game in his hometown.

"It's great to come back home," said Subban, who fulfilled 13 ticket requests for the game. "Habs vs. Leafs, it doesn't get much better than that. I'm just a fan of the rivalry. I'd love to be a part of that. It's a great rivalry to be a part of, and not many hockey players can say they had the opportunity to experience it."

On the Leafs side of things, offseason acquisitions Kris Versteeg and Colby Armstrong will be among those also getting their first look at what this rivalry is all about.

"It's definitely nice to be in a place that has excitement like this," Armstrong said. "On opening night, to have a rivalry like this is a pretty cool experience."

The Leafs are looking to avoid a repeat of last season's start, when they had to wait until their ninth game before getting a win.

But only six of the Leafs who will be playing in Thursday's opener were in uniform on opening night a year ago, so there is a sense of optimism in the Toronto room.

"It's well-documented how we finished (in the standings) last year," defenseman Mike Komisarek said. "Everyone in here wants to make sure we change that."

Notes: John Mitchell is a healthy scratch for the Leafs.... Lars Eller will jump into Michael Cammalleri's spot on Montreal's top line with Tomas Plekanec and Andrei Kostitsyn while Cammalleri serves his one-game suspension for slashing New York Islanders rookie Nino Niederreiter in the Canadiens' last preseason game... Canadiens defensemen Andrei Markov and Roman Hamrlik remain out of the lineup with knee injuries, but both skated with the team Thursday morning... Toronto native Mike Zigomanis will play his first regular season game in a Leafs uniform centering the fourth line.
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