Montreal Canadiens first-round pick Carey Price, right, hopes to lead Canada to its third world junior title. ((Jeff McIntosh/Canadian Press))

Goaltender Carey Price will start for the Canadian team in the opening game of the world junior hockey championship against host Sweden on Tuesday (1 p.m. ET), coach Craig Hartsburgsaid.

Price was a surprise first-round pick (fifth overall) of the Montreal Canadiens in 2005 and plays for the WHL's Tri-City Americans.

The 19-year-old teenager from Williams Lake, B.C., is enjoying his finest junior season to date. Price is 12-7 for the Americans with a 2.75 goals-against-average and a .904 save percentage.

The Canadians' other goaltender is Leland Irving, of Swan Hills, Alta., who is a member of the Everett Silvertips of the WHL.

Canada looked sluggish in its exhibition game against Sweden on Friday. The Canadians let a two-goal lead slip away as the Swedes rallied for a 3-2 win.

"We need to be better," coach Hartsburg said following the loss. "We need to play our game.

"In this one, we got off track. We took too many penalties. We got a little sloppy at times. The big thing is, we have to get everybody on the same page."

While the Canadians are the two-time defending world junior champions, they will have to excel on the Olympic-size ice in Europe, where they haven't won a title since defeating the Americans in 1997 in Geneva, Switzerland.

Still, Canada remains a heavy favourite with Hartsburg, who takes over from Brent Sutter, returning 11 of the 12 players eligible to play at this year's tournament in Sweden.

Canada will be joined in Group A by the United States, Sweden, Slovakia and Germany. Group B consists of Russia, Finland, Switzerland, Czech Republic and Belarus.

With files from the Canadian Press