MONTREAL -- The Montreal Canadiens will have to soldier on without top goalie Carey Price.
After Price left Game 4 of the club's 3-2 OT loss
to the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday, the Habs confirmed Thursday morning that the lower-body injury suffered by the goalie will keep him out
for the balance of the series with Montreal facing elimination Thursday night (CBC, CBCSports.ca
, 6:30 p.m. ET)
That means backup Peter Budaj, who was shelled for five goals by the Senators in a January game, will have to come off the bench to make the start in Game 5 at the Bell Centre with the Habs facing a 3-1 deficit in the series
Budaj posted an 8-1-1 record during the regular season.
"I am confident in Peter Budaj," coach Michel Therrien told reporters at the team's practice facility in Brossard, Que. "Every time we needed him, he performed well."
Though Price hasn't been at his best in the last six weeks, losing him is a crushing blow. He left the game only moments after Ottawa winger Cory Conacher tied it up in the dying seconds, and this will be a new experience for Budaj.
He has never started a playoff game. In five career appearances, he has a 0-1 record with an .887 GAA. Robert Mayer will dress as the backup.
Price won't be the only one missing for the Habs. Brandon Prust and Ryan White won't be around either. Captain Brian Gionta will undergo surgery
for a bicep injury Friday and is done for the season. All this will make for a challenge for the Habs, who will play callup Michael Blunden.Budaj has 'gotten better'
Craig Anderson played parts of two season with Budaj in Colorado, and the Ottawa goalie is well aware of the ability of his counterpart.
Anderson said Budaj is a competitor.
"Guys get better, they evolve and work on their game," said Anderson Thursday morning. "He's definitely gotten better.
"That's been the history of goalies in the last few years. Guys who haven't played who end up getting in there and standing on their head. I would expect him to come in, play well and give his team a chance to win.
"We don't know how it's going to play out but at the same time we can't focus on who is in net. We have to focus on our game."
4th win the toughest?
Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson isn't expecting the Habs to just say farewell
to the season easily.
"Getting the fourth [win in a series] is the toughest one and it is hard," said Alfredsson. "The other team is on the brink and they're going to give everything they have. They know their season is done if they don't win.
"For us it's a matter of matching that desperation. They've played good games. We need to up our own game and play better to start than we did in Game 4."
Coach Paul MacLean said the Senators want to close this out.
"We're desperate to win a playoff series. We haven't done that since I've been here," said MacLean.Spezza skating
The Senators could see Jason Spezza again this season depending on how far they go in the playoffs.
The centre has resumed skating with more purpose and the next step is for him to get back to practice with the team on a regular basis. He had back surgery in January and hasn't played since.
Club officials were hopeful he'd return before the playoffs, but Spezza suffered a setback. Until recently, he had been skating without putting much effort into it.
There was good news on the injury front for the Habs as well. Centre Lars Eller, hit by defenceman Eric Gryba in Game 1, skated by himself in Brossard for the second straight day. There is no timetable for a return.
MacLean responded to comments by P.K. Subban that the Habs are "the better team."
"Who was that? Player 76? He's right. They're the No. 2-seeded Montreal Canadiens and we're the No. 7-seeded Senators," said MacLean.
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