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Montreal Canadiens' goaltender Carey Price, left, talks with fellow goaltender Nathan Lawson during second period pre-season NHL hockey action against the Dallas Stars in Montreal Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2011. (Graham Hughes)
Montreal Canadiens' goaltender Carey Price, left, talks with fellow goaltender Nathan Lawson during second period pre-season NHL hockey action against the Dallas Stars in Montreal Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2011. (Graham Hughes)

Habs fall in preseason opener Add to ...

Well, you were all warned - Carey Price said beforehand it could get a little ugly, and so it did.

“I still don’t feel good, I still need to work on a lot of things throughout these games. (Tuesday) night might not go that great,” he said on Monday.

One of the key principles of business consulting is managing expectations, so sign the Montreal Canadiens goalie up for an MBA.

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In his first preseason action against the Dallas Stars, Price yielded for the first time after just 3:12.

Former Hab Mike Ribeiro was covered by two Canadiens defenders but his soft wrist shot wriggled between Price’s arm and body, slid invitingly into the crease and Brenden Morrow snapped it home.

On a Dallas power play a little under four minutes later, Price saw an Adam Pardy wrist shot from the point slither through his pads, 2-0 Stars.

And just 2:16 after that, it was time for former Hab Michael Ryder to open his Stars scoring account on a broken play, scoring through a thicket of legs.

That’s when the scattered boos began to rain down - they were presumably for Ryder, although with this crowd one never knows.

By the time Price left the game at the midway point, he had given up four goals on 13 shots (Krys Barch benefited from a Hal Gill turnover at the side of the net to tuck in a second-period shot).

Not great, but not as bad as last year’s four goals on eight shots against Boston in his first preseason game.

And everyone knows how last year turned out.

No one’s reputation will either be made or shattered in preseason, least of all Price’s.

At least his team staged a rally before he exited the game.

With Montreal down 4-0, Erik Cole scored his first goal in Montreal colours from a nifty pass by Tomas Plekanec. The crowd predictably went berserk.

Barely 1:32 they were on their feet again as Andrei Kostitsyn - who was dominant throughout the contest - wired a trademark wrister over Andrew Raycroft’s glove (Price would be credited with an assist, so the game wasn’t a complete write-off).

Then former Star Jeff Woywitka, another of this summer’s free-agent acquisitions, got into the act, finishing off a lengthy sequence in the Dallas zone where the Habs did a passable imitation of the 1976-77 Canadiens (that would be the team that only lost eight games all year).

Alas for the home fans, Ribeiro tipped a shot past Nathan Lawson on a late second-period power-play to give Dallas a 5-3 lead.

Then Matt Fraser finished off an odd-man rush in the dying moments to make it 6-3.

But exhibition games are never really about the score.

Initial impressions in a week where the Habs will play six games in seven nights may well be worth very little in a few weeks' time, but here goes anyway.

Defencemen Woywitka and Raphael Diaz caught the eye among the Habs newcomers, as did Cole, who should prove a handful with his new linemates Tomas Plekanec and Mike Cammalleri.

Russian rearguard Alexei Yemelin showed some offensive skills in addition to his evident defensive-zone talent (he threw a hip-check that sent Dallas’s Tomas Vincour spinning to the ice), but like Diaz, it may take time for him to get used to defending the smaller North American ice surface.

Up front, Swedish youngster Andreas Enqvist didn’t hurt his prospects of landing the job as 13th forward.

Players like Brock Trotter, Aaron Palushaj, Brian Willsie and Mike Blunden, all of whom are also vying for that role, showed flashes but will have more work to do to convince the coaches of their worth.

Former first round draft pick Jarred Tinordi grew into the game, but made some positional mistakes that betrayed his youth and inexperience.

Follow on Twitter: @MrSeanGordon

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