ABOVE: Habs fans cautiously optimistic team can win without Carey Price
TORONTO – Following the loss of the Montreal Canadiens “best” player, the Habs will turn to Peter Budaj and Dustin Tokarski to fill the void left by injured goaltender Carey Price.
Coach Michel Therrien made the devastating announcement after a morning skate Monday, saying Price will be out for the remainder of the Eastern final against the New York Rangers, if not longer.
“Carey Price won’t be able to play, not only for tonight but for the rest of the series,” said Therrien. “[We’re] really disappointed. He’s our best player.
Price appeared to injure his knee when New York’s Chris Kreider ran into him skates-first in the second period of Game 1. Price was slow to get up, but finished the rest of the period before being benched in the third.
Peter Budaj, who relieved Price, did not instill confidence in Habs fans by allowing three goals on eight shots, as the Rangers routed Montreal 7-2.
WATCH: Carey Price appears to be injured after Rangers forward Chris Kreider collides with the Habs goalie in Game 1
While Therrien has not named who will play Game 2, Budaj has been the regular backup and was the first off the ice during the Habs’ morning skate, usually an indication of the starter.
The 31-year-old played 24 games for Montreal this season posting a record of 10-8-3 with a .909 save percentage and a 2.51 goals-against.
But, Budaj has been shaky in the post-season. In seven playoff games, he is 0-2-0 with an .843 save percentage and 5.13 goals-against average.
Montreal’s third option is 24-year-old Tokarski, who has played just 10 games in the NHL, posting a 2.93 goals-against average, and a .902 save percentage. He has appeared in three games, winning twice, and stopped 88 of 93 shots, for a .946 save percentage.
However, Tokarski hasn’t played in the NHL since posting a shutout on Mar. 16 against the Buffalo Sabres, and he hasn’t seen any action in net since Apr. 19 with the AHL Hamilton Bulldogs.
Montreal swept the Tampa Bay Lightning in the first round of the playoffs before defeating the Boston Bruins in a stunning seven game series.
Price has been solid in net for the Canadiens during the season and was Canada’s starting netminder leading the team to a gold medal at the Sochi Olympics.
*With files from the Canadian Press
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