Patrick Chan was all smiles after easily winning the men's short program Friday night at the Canadian figure skating championships in Saskatoon. ((Paul Chiasson/Canadian Press))

Patrick Chan is back with a vengeance.

A month after faltering during his worst performance of the season, Chan returned to the Canadian figure skating championships in Saskatoon Friday night in grand form.

The Toronto skater dominated the men's short program en route to first place with a season-best score of 88.89.

"I'm not going to complain. Seriously, that is the best program I've ever done," Chan said. "I just have to do the exact same thing and I'll be a medal contender at the worlds [in March], I would say."

Calgary's Vaughn Chipeur stands in second with 71.89 points, while Kevin Reynolds of Coquiltam, B.C., is third at 70.00.

Skating to Walter Taieb's Tango de los Exilados, Chan took command from the start by nailing a previously difficult triple Axel.

Motivated on his brilliant beginning, the defending Canadian champion calmly landed his triple flip-triple toe combination before ending with a solid triple Lutz jump.

"I was super excited to see that number — 88 is just great," Chan said.

Landing the triple Axel had to be especially satisfying to Chan, who failed to land the jump in both the short and long programs at last month's Grand Prix final in South Korea. Chan, winner of two Grand Prix events this season, crashed to earth in Goyang City, finishing fifth in the competition.

"The Axel, it was kind of like, 'phew ... now triple flip, triple toe, now I have to get back to it,"' Chan said. "But I think everyone, even the crowd, was relieved because they knew what I was going through."

The Canadian was humbled by his poor showing, calling the overall experience "a punch in the ego."

But Chan, who turned 18 on New Year's Eve, rebounded on Friday night by treating the Saskatoon crowd to an outstanding performance. He will take a sizeable advantage into Sunday afternoon's free skate (CBCSports.ca, Bold, 5:30 p.m. ET).

With files from the Canadian Press