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Canadiens’ Carey Price hoping to make return against Coyotes

After his first full practice with the Canadiens since the pre-season, it appears Carey Price could be set for his first regular season start in nearly 11 months.

Carey Price hasn’t suited up in regular season action for the Montreal Canadiens in almost 11 months, but the 330-day wait for his return looks as though it could be over come Thursday night.

Price, 29, has been on the shelf since the start of the season, missing the first three games of the new campaign while battling the flu, but he told media Wednesday that he’s close to being ready for his return. Price didn’t confirm he would return Thursday, but he said “it’s getting close.”

"It's day by day,” Price said Wednesday, according to NHL.com’s Arpon Basu. “Everybody’s probably had the flu before, so you kind of know it takes a couple of days to get your energy back, especially when you're playing sports.”

According to Basu, Price said that over the course of his battle with the illness, he lost about seven pounds and was sapped of his energy, but after practicing by himself for 40 minutes on Monday and getting a full skate in with the entire team on Wednesday, it appears Price’s recovery is headed in the right direction.

Price’s return to the crease would mark his first appearance in goal for the Canadiens since Nov. 25, 2015, an outing that ended with Price leaving the net after 40 minutes of play and not returning to action for the remainder of the season. During the contest, Price suffered an MCL sprain in his right knee, and though he fought hard to get healthy throughout the campaign, he was eventually shut down by the Canadiens with only games remaining in the 2015-16 season.

It won’t be Price’s return to action altogether, though, as he did see one game of pre-season action and play the entire World Cup of Hockey for Canada. It was during the World Cup that Price proved he hasn’t missed a step with his extended absence, posting a 5-0-0 record, 1.57 goals-against average and .957 save percentage in the best-on-best tournament.

In Price’s absence, the Canadiens have turned to veteran backup Al Montoya, who has played admirably in his three starts to begin the year. The only blemish on Montoya’s record through the first three games is a shootout loss to the Ottawa Senators, and he has mustered a 1.30 GAA, .962 SP and shutout the defending Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins in Montreal’s home-opener on Tuesday.

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