MONTREAL - Michael Del Zotto will make his season debut Saturday night in Montreal, and he should stabilize a Flyers defense that has struggled in the first three weeks.

General manager Ron Hextall confirmed Friday that Del Zotto will be activated for the game.

Sidelined by a knee injury suffered in the preseason, Del Zotto could replace Nick Schultz and be paired with Shayne Gostisbehere.

"He's a big part of this team," goalie Michael Neuvirth said. "He works extremely hard and blocks shots and I'm really excited to have him back."

The Flyers (6-5-1) will take a three-game winning streak into Saturday. They have allowed 3.58 goals per game, which entering Friday placed them 29th in the 30-team NHL.

In Thursday's 3-2 shootout win over the Islanders, however, the Flyers tightened their defense considerably.

Del Zotto, 26, is a "veteran guy and obviously we have two young guys playing back there, inexperienced guys," Hextall said, referring to Gostisbehere and rookie Ivan Provorov. "He's a veteran guy who skates well and moves the puck well, so he'll be a nice addition."

As he gets into game shape, Del Zotto is expected to log more minutes than any Flyers defenseman.

"Everything is dictated on how you do," Hextall said. "If Michael comes back and plays well, he's going to get more minutes. If he comes back and doesn't play well, it's just like every other player" as far as how much time he plays.

Del Zotto led the Flyers with an average of 23 minutes, 24 seconds of ice time per game before injuring his left wrist last February and undergoing season-ending surgery.

The Flyers will be facing a Montreal team that took a 9-0-1 record into its game Friday in Columbus. Backup goalie Al Montoya started for the Canadiens in that game, meaning Carey Price will get the call Saturday. Price has gaudy numbers: a 6-0 record with a 1.17 goals-against average and .964 save percentage.

Heading into Friday, Montreal had the league's stingiest defense (1.30 goals per game) and the fourth-best offense (3.40 per game).

The Flyers were third in the NHL, averaging 3.42 goals per game.

On Oct. 24, Price and his teammates defeated the visiting Flyers, 3-1, in a game that was closer than it looks. Brendan Gallagher snapped a 1-1 tie by scoring a power-play goal with 6:52 left, and the Canadiens later added an empty-net goal.

Steve Mason was the goalie in that game, but Neuvirth has made the last three starts.


Andrew MacDonald might go on the long-term injured reserve list to make room for Del Zotto, salary-cap wise.. . .Jake Voracek entered Friday second in the league with 50 shots on goal.. . . Matt Read already has six goals after scoring just 11 all last season.. . . The Flyers will be playing their third game in four nights.. . .Entering Friday, Claude Giroux was tied for second in the NHL with 13 points.. . . In Montreal's first 10 games, defenseman Shea Weber had four goals, 10 points and a plus-14 rating.. . .The Flyers Wives Carnival, which aids several local causes, will be held Sunday at the Wells Fargo Center from 1:30 p.m. to 6 p.m. Fans can get autographs and photos with players, coaches, and alumni members, and there will be many activities, including a shot-on-goal game.