BROSSARD, Que. – The Montreal Canadiens will give struggling goaltender Carey Price a rest when they face the first-place team in the NHL’s Eastern Conference.
Veteran backup Peter Budaj will get the start when the Canadiens try to stop a two-game losing run against the Penguins in Pittsburgh on Wednesday night.
Coach Michel Therrien explained the move Tuesday by saying he has “two good goalies” and likes to use them both.
Budaj, who signed a two-year contract extension last week, is on a career-high seven-game winning streak.
Therrien admitted that Price is going through a rough patch at the moment, but so is the entire team. He said he has not lost confidence in his No. 1 goalie.
“Every player and every team has to overcome adversity at some point in a season,” Therrien said. “There’s nothing wrong with that. It’s how you react to it that’s important.”
Price, who was not available to the media, was pulled from consecutive games for the first time in his career when he got the hook in a 5-1 loss Saturday in Toronto and in a 7-3 defeat on home ice to Philadelphia on Monday night.
He let in nine goals on 33 shots over the two games, including three on four shots against the Leafs and six on 29 against the Flyers.
Therrien had a meeting with the team before a one-hour workout at the team’s practice facility. The Northeast Division-leading Canadiens (26-11-5) have not lost three straight games in regulation time this season.
But Therrien feels the team has let down its guard after clinching a playoff spot last week in Buffalo.
“At the start of the season we wanted to surprise people because not many people believed in us,” he said. “We did that, and one reason was because we played with desperation.
“Since we clinched a playoff spot, we lost that sense of urgency. We’ve got to get it back. But I’m not worried because I know that when this team plays with desperation we are very competitive.”
The Canadiens may also have some lineup changes.
Defenceman Yannick Weber skated in a pairing with Davis Drewiske, taking over from rookie Nathan Beaulieu. Weber has not played since he injured a knee March 7 in Carolina, but has been ready to return since March 27.
Another Swiss defenceman, Raphael Diaz, practised with the team for a second day in a row but in a no-contact jersey. He is on the mend from a concussion.
Physical winger Brandon Prust is expected to be back after sitting out one game to rest up minor injuries.
He was replaced against the Flyers by Ryan White, who had a meeting with the NHL disciplinary committee on Wednesday to explain his hit to the head that knocked out Philadelphia defenceman Kent Huskins.
Winger Michael Ryder didn’t skate, but is expected to play.
The Canadiens lost their first two meetings this season with Pittsburgh, by 7-6 in overtime in Montreal on March 13 and 1-0 in Pittsbugh on March 26.
Price was in the net for both games.