Carey Price will start for Habs as Islanders face elimination

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Carey Price was the first goalie off the ice on Friday morning and Montreal’s head coach has confirmed he will start against the Islanders tonight.

Before the regular season, Price, 34, who has played for the Canadiens for 14 seasons, voluntarily entered the NHL/NHLPA player assistance program to address his mental health. He said in a statement in November that he’d let himself “get to a very dark place” and entered a residential treatment facility for substance use.

That was also during his fight to come back after offseason surgery.

“You know, it’s always been my goal, ever since I got back here,” Price said in late January. “Obviously, I’ve had a couple of setbacks that weren’t foreseen. It’s been a frustrating process, no doubt, but at the end of the day, I’ve got to take care of it. And, you know, moving forward, I’m starting to skate again, so hopefully I’ll keep on progressing and be able to get back into uniform pretty soon.”

Carey Price returns for the Canadiens

The Canadiens are dead last in the Eastern Conference and lead only the Arizona Coyotes in the league standings by two points. They have also lost three straight with a 3-6-1 record in their past 10 games.

While the team is looking forward to the end of the season, they will be getting a huge emotional boost with Price making his debut.

“You see all the work an athlete does. The success of a player is judged on the ice, but there’s so much an athlete has to do off the ice to have success on it,” Martin St. Louis said per Eric Engels. “With what Carey has been through and the work he’s put in, it’s fun to have him here today.”

Coming off a humbling 5-1 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday, the Canadiens will kick off a four-game homestand with games against the Islanders and Capitals on consecutive nights.

Montreal, which has eight games remaining in what has been a disastrous campaign after reaching the Stanley Cup Final last season, will have strong odds to win the draft lottery.

“I think this team is mentally tired — and I get it,” St. Louis said. “They had a tough, tough season, and then coaches change and I’m asking them a lot and implementing so many things. So there’s a lot going on for them in terms of handling all that mentally and stuff.”

Montreal is 12-13-4 since St. Louis took the coaching reins, but the loss to Columbus left a bitter taste.

Islanders on the brink

The New York Islanders will look to regroup from a disheartening loss and try to keep their slim playoff hopes alive when they visit the Montreal Canadiens on Friday night.

The Islanders (34-30-9, 77 points) are 15 points behind the Washington Capitals in the chase for the second Eastern Conference wild-card spot with nine games remaining.

It would take a miracle finish, not to mention a stunning Washington skid, for the Islanders to reach the Stanley Cup playoffs, but they can keep that one-in-a-million chance alive by beating the Canadiens (20-43-11, 51 points).

New York is coming off a 6-3 road loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday, a result made worse with the Penguins scoring two empty-net goals. Still, the first order of business in Montreal will be a much better start.

“First period we were soft. We were too easy to play against,” Islanders coach Barry Trotz said. “We gave up odd-man rushes, we got beat off the walls, we were just playing shinny, and you can’t do that.”

The Islanders have dropped three of their past five games.

–Field Level Media contributed to this report