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Price starting for Canadiens

by Dan Rosen
MONTREAL -- It's Carey Price's turn to see if he can swing momentum back to Montreal's side in this best-of-seven series against the Washington Capitals.

Price will make his first start of the playoffs Wednesday night (7 p.m. ET, TSN) when the Canadiens and Caps play Game 4 at Bell Centre. Washington leads the series, 2-1, and can give itself a chance to close it out at home Friday by beating Price tonight.

"When he's hot he's one of the best," Capitals defenseman Mike Green said of Price. "He's so calm and it doesn't seem like anything affects him, so we have to make sure we get guys going to block his vision, to create traffic in front of him so he can't see it. That's the only way we'll score."

Price poses a different threat than the dispatched Jaroslav Halak, who was pulled from Game 3 after giving up three goals on four shots in a span of 7:27 in the second period.

Price is bigger than Halak -- 6-foot-3 vs. 5-foot-11 -- so he covers more of the net. According to Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau, Price is also "a really good puck handler whereas Halak is an average puck handler, so that makes a big difference."

"We can't make soft dump-ins," Capitals left wing Brooks Laich said. "We have to make sure we get them around the boards hard."

Montreal coach Jacques Martin didn't reveal much when asked why he is going with Price over Halak. The players, who have defended Halak in recent days, saying he's the reason they are even in the playoffs, expressed their excitement that Price will be in net.

"We love it, we're excited," Habs left wing Michael Cammalleri said. "Not to take anything away from Jaro because he's done a great job and he can still do a great job for us, but we're excited about Carey.

"If you're asking me, I think Carey Price is a top goaltender and I'm a huge Carey Price fan. I'm excited about him being in the net."

Price, who made 21 saves in relief of Halak in Game 3, has a fairly decent history against the Capitals. He's 3-1-2 lifetime against them, and in 2007 he beat some of the current Capitals' in the AHL's Calder Cup Final as the goalie for the Hamilton Bulldogs, who beat the Hershey Bears in five games.

Boudreau was the coach of the Bears that year and Tomas Fleischmann, David Steckel and Jeff Schultz played for him.

"The big difference is when we were in the Calder Cup he wouldn't have said anything because there is no media as compared to this," Boudreau said of Price. "I didn't know him at all except he stopped everything we shot at him, but his demeanor, when you see him doing interviews now, he always seems to be calm and never rattled. There is no difference in his demeanor (on or off the ice)."

Price hasn't started a game since March 31, so the Capitals' goal is to get to him early and try to plant the seed of doubt in his mind. However, as Laich said, they try to do that against any goalie.

"Well, if you're going to shoot from the blue line or red line he's going to save it," Alex Ovechkin said. "If we're going to shoot from the blue line we have to make some screens in front of him. It's going to be a very interesting and very tough game for us."

Montreal will make at least one other change for Game 3 as well.

Defenseman Ryan O'Byrne confirmed that he will make his first appearance of the series after being a healthy scratch for the first three games. Who sits in his place remains a question mark?

Jaroslav Spacek has not skated since Monday night and Martin said he'll be a gametime decision. Even if Spacek plays, it's possible the Habs still dress seven defensemen and use Marc-Andre Bergeron in a forward position.

"It's been tough watching three games," O'Byrne said. "You want to be out there to help your teammates so it's a chance for me to play physical, play strong in front of the net and just do what makes me successful. I can't go out there to try to get a hat trick, obviously. That's not my game."

Washington may also have a change on its blue line. John Erskine or Tyler Sloan -- possibly both, even -- could be in.

Shaone Morrisonn and Joe Corvo both skated today after not skating Tuesday and although Boudreau said he doesn't anticipate any changes, Morrisonn confirmed to the Washington Post that he's a game-time decision.

"As far as I know we don't have any injured defensemen," Boudreau said.

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: drosennhl

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