Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price is "pretty confident" he will play at least one of the team's final 18 regular-season games as he continues his recovery from a three-month absence with a lower-body injury.
Price addressed the media Thursday afternoon, shortly after taking shots from Canadiens forward David Desharnais in full equipment for the first time since aggravating a lower-body injury during a Nov. 25 game against the Rangers in New York.
"I don't know when I'll be back at practice. I'm continuing the process and slowly progressing," Price told reporters at the Habs' practice facility in Brossard, Que. "The last couple of weeks I feel I've turned the corner, and skating in full equipment shows that."
Price added he felt "great' after the workout with Desharnais and noted it has not been his goal not to return this season.
"I want to get out there as quickly as possible," he said. "It's not a matter of [the team] protecting me."
Price also discussed being named Wednesday to Team Canada's 16-man preliminary roster for the World Cup of Hockey in September at Toronto.
The NHL's reigning MVP and top netminder had been skating in a track suit in recent weeks and there had been talk the Canadiens might shut down Price for the balance of the season.
He has played in only 12 of Montreal's 64 games this season, compiling a 10-2-0 record with two shutouts, 2.06 goals-against average and .934 save percentage.
After a 19-4-3 start to the season, the 30-28-6 Canadiens are six points back of Pittsburgh for the second wild-card playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, and the Penguins have two games in hand.