TORONTO — Canada's opener at the World Cup of Hockey was the first meaningful game for goaltender Carey Price in almost 10 months.
He played like he was in prime mid-season form.
Price stopped 27 shots for the shutout in a 6-0 victory over the Czech Republic on Saturday night at Air Canada Centre. He made an excellent save after Ondrej Palat tipped a shot in the opening minute and delivered when needed the rest of the way.
"It was definitely nice to get a few shots off the get-go," Price said. "I started to get a feel for the game. Obviously as the game went on I started to feel more comfortable.
"I thought our team play was very good tonight."
The Czechs couldn't maintain their early pace and started to fade after the midway point of the first period. Price stopped 12 shots in the first, made seven saves in the second and eight stops in the third period, few of the laborious variety.
Price missed most of last season with a knee injury and only returned to game action last week in exhibition play. He looked rusty in a 4-2 loss to the United States but was sharper in a 3-2 overtime win over Russia a few days later.
"I don't try to overthink things and overcomplicate things," Price said. "I think that's something I've improved on over the last couple of games. It just comes down to preparing the right way and just letting your instincts take over.
"It's definitely nice to kick one out in the first minute and start feeling good, just let it roll from there."
Canada will play the United States on Tuesday night before closing out the preliminary round Wednesday against Team Europe.
The 29-year-old Price helped Canada win gold at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. The six-foot-three 216-pound native of Anahim Lake, B.C., was named top goaltender at the Games.
"He's got a calmness about him," said head coach Mike Babcock. "The way he prepares, the way he is in the room. The guys are comfortable with him and he doesn't turn nothing into something. That's a great skill for a goalie.
"He just seems to be comfortable if he doesn't get any shots or any chances and then he's there to make the big save."
Price also won gold for Canada at the world junior hockey championship in 2007.
He made his NHL debut with the Montreal Canadiens in 2007-08. He won the Vezina Trophy (top goalie) and Hart Trophy (MVP) in 2015.
Price had a 10-2-0 record last season with a 2.06 goals-against average and .934 save percentage.
Corey Crawford served as Price's backup Saturday night. Braden Holtby is Canada's third goaltender.
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