Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price exited practice early Friday, which caused some concern, especially since it was less than 24 hours after his return from a brief injury absence.
But Montreal coach Claude Julien said the early departure should not be viewed as a problem and that Price is expected to be in goal Saturday night when the Canadiens host the slumping Nashville Predators.
On Thursday, Price returned from missing three games with a lower-body injury, delivering a 33-save performance in a 2-0 home win over the Vancouver Canucks.
After Price's early exit from practice, Julien knew the questions were coming.
"None whatsoever," Julien said after practice when asked about his concern for Price.
"He left the ice. It had zero to do with the (lower-body) injury. He was a little bit light-headed. The trainers talked to me. We were basically done with our practice, so I said, 'Take him off.' I don't see any issues for tomorrow because I know that's the next question."
As for what might have caused Price's exit, Julien didn't seem to know.
"Could be flu, could be little flu symptoms, could be anything," Julien said. "I'm sure it's happened to all of us at some point; a little light-headed. He played last night and who knows? Is it related to maybe not eating well enough this morning? Who knows?"
Price is 8-2 in his last 10 starts and 16-10-4 overall with a 2.75 goals-against average and a .908 save percentage.
Julien's other option is Antti Niemi, who is 6-4-1 with a 4.01 goals-against average. He stopped a season-high 45 shots in his last appearance -- Monday's 3-2 overtime win at Dallas.
Whoever is in net will try to keep the good times rolling for the Canadiens, who are one point away from becoming the fourth team to get 50 points in the Atlantic Division.
The Canadiens are 5-1 in their last six games and 11-5 in their last 16 contests since losing five straight from Nov. 19-27.
Nashville defenseman P.K. Subban will be making his third return to Montreal since being traded for defenseman Shea Weber following the 2015-16 season.
Subban, who was activated from injured reserve Dec. 27 after missing 19 games with an upper-body injury, scored his third goal in Friday's 4-3 overtime loss at Detroit on a night when the Predators allowed the first 10 shots on goal.
The Predators salvaged a point when Ryan Johansen scored the tying goal with 76 seconds left in regulation but let the second point slip away when Detroit's Dylan Larkin beat Pekka Rinne late in overtime. Rinne made 35 saves, but coach Peter Laviolette described his team's effort as "awful."
"We lost every 50-50 puck battle," Laviolette said.
"Our goaltender was incredible tonight, the way he played the game. We had three or four guys that showed up to compete on some pucks, and we had 15 that didn't. You're never going to win that way. It's impossible. It's very, very, very disappointing how soft we were."
The Predators began a season-high six-game road trip by blowing a 2-0 lead. They fell to 2-5-2 in their last nine games. Nashville also is 1-8-3 in its last 12 road games.
Nashville continued to play without Filip Forsberg, who missed his 16th straight game with a hand injury. Forsberg leads the Predators with 14 goals; his return could occur sometime on the road trip after he practiced in a white non-contact jersey on Thursday.
Nashville is 9-2-4 in its past 15 meetings with Montreal.
Updated January 5, 2019