Habs' Budaj gets nod for four-pointer against Leafs
Published Friday, February 28, 2014 4:10PM EST
Last Updated Friday, February 28, 2014 4:36PM EST
The Montreal Canadiens, who have quietly taken nine of their last possible 10 points, will once again have the pride of Banská Bystrica, Slovaki between the pipes Saturday as Peter Budaj will once again sub for Carey Price for the matchup against the Toronto Maple Leafs in Montreal.
Price, who suffered a lower-body injury upon his return from winning gold for Canada in Sochi, will be missing his third straight game.
Coach Michel Therrien told media Friday that Price’ s recovery is progressing at an encouraging pace and that he’d likely be back in nets for the West Coast road swing next week.
“Carey will be back when he’s 100 percent. There’s no point in putting him into the fray at this time of the season, even though these are important games. With the treatment he’s getting, we’re confident that he’ll come back in a short time frame,” said Therrien about Price, who was present and not wearing any bandages or carrying crutches.
Budaj’s start Saturday marks the first time he has played three games in four nights since April 2012.
“There are about 20 games left in the regular season and you want to get every possible point,” said Budaj. “This is playoff-style hockey and points will be hard to come by.”
Budaj stopped 28 of 30 shots in an OT loss against Detroit Wednesday and 27 of 32 shots against the Penguins Thursday and bested Pens' goaltender Marc-André Fleury in the overtime shootout, turning back all Pittsburgh shooters.
The Leafs, who are 6-2-2 in their last 10 and now sit in fourth place in the Atlantic Conference, would tie the Canadiens with 73 points with a regulation time win. Conversely, with a win, the Habs would have a four point lead over Toronto.
“I’m expecting a very intense game, like always against the Leafs. It’s always special to play them especially on a Saturday night, so it’ll be fun,” said Therrien.
Therrien praised the Canadiens' five-on-five play Thursday and said that the Leafs’ dangerous powerplay should be sufficient incentive to stay out of the penalty box.
Michaël Bournival was back at practice Friday for the first time after suffering a concussion against the Vancouver Canucks three weeks ago. He was sporting a no-contact jersey and there is no timetable for his return.
“My daily progress will dictate whether I’ll be able to take the trip to California next week,” said Bournival, whose had no previous concussions. “I felt good today and am happy with the progress and hoe that it will continue tomorrow.”
Defenceman Davis Drewiske who has yet to play a game this season due to a shoulder injury was on the ice after missing time for family reasons.
Jarred Tinordi, Daniel Briere and Francis Bouillon were also among the 11 on the ice at practice.
Brandon Prust skated on his own before the session.
Ryan White, who missed the game in Pittsburgh with flu-like symptoms, was also absent from practice.
-With a file from The Canadian Press