September 16, 2016

TORONTO (AP) Canada is turning to Carey Price to start the World Cup of Hockey.

Coach Mike Babcock designated Price as Canada's starter Saturday night against the Czech Republic .

Price has always been the presumed No. 1 for Team Canada. The lone question was the 29-year-old's readiness after a long layoff. He started and completed two of Canada's three exhibition games, including his first game action in nearly 10 months last week.

He looked predictably rusty in that 4-2 loss to the Americans, allowing three goals on 24 shots. Babcock said the performance ''wasn't Carey-like'' for obvious reasons: Price hadn't played since late November after a knee injury cost him nearly all of last season with the Montreal Canadiens.

Babcock was satisfied with Price's second start, against Russia. The 2015 Vezina Trophy winner stopped 24 shots in a 3-2 overtime victory.

''It's just about getting minutes played and getting a few shots and getting the tempo of the game going,'' Price said Friday.

His backup for the opener will be Corey Crawford, and not Braden Holtby, the 2016 Vezina Trophy winner.

More pressing for Babcock in the waning minutes of training camp, however, were matters up front and on the power play.

Babcock was happy with how John Tavares looked alongside Ryan Getzlaf during training camp, but was still debating whether Steven Stamkos or Corey Perry was a better fit at right wing. A prospective top unit of Sidney Crosby, Patrice Bergeron and Brad Marchand looked good in exhibition play, as did the pairing of Jonathan Toews and Logan Couture.

The Canadians looked dominant in winning two of their three tournament exhibition games. They had a 129-74 shots edge, including 99-52 at even strength. Canada fired more than 40 shots twice, including a 48-shot barrage against Russia in the pre-tournament finale.

Still, the games were tight and Babcock said he believes that is how the tournament will be, too.

''We've got nothing to lose,'' Czech forward Michael Frolik said. ''Just play hard, make sure we're ready and go after them.''

Canada is seeking its second straight World Cup title, albeit 12 years after the last one in 2004.

Tomas Plekanec led the Czechs with three goals in three pre-tournament games. Ondrej Palat, Michal Kempny and Ales Hemsky each had three points.

''With Canada there is going to be lots of pressure on them for sure,'' defenseman Roman Polak said. ''Home building and everything, in Toronto. They're going to be desperate to win. If (we) have a good start and maybe we score a goal (early), it could be a different story.''

Jaromir Jagr declined an invitation and Tomas Hertl and David Krejci are sidelined by injuries.

''We're more confident than we were at the beginning when everybody was saying that we're underdogs,'' Polak said. ''We could be a good surprise in the tournament and we can start tomorrow against Canada.''

Notes: Canadian defenseman Shea Weber sat out the final practice Friday but is expected to play against the Czechs. ... Czech forward Vladimir Sobotka was expected to be available after injuring his shoulder in a loss to Russia in the pre-tournament opener.

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