Canadian fans heading to the Bell Center Monday night with hopes of seeing Carey Price make his season debut in goal will be disappointed.
Head coach Martin St. Louis confirmed after Monday’s morning skate at the Bell Sports Complex in Brossard that Samuel Montembeault will start in goal against the Winnipeg Jets (7 pm, SN, RDS, TSN 690 Radio, 98.5 FM) with Cayden Primeau as his backup.
The Canadiens called up Primeau from the AHL’s Laval Rocket on Sunday after Jake Allen suffered a lower-body injury in the first period of Saturday night’s 3-2 loss to the Maple Leafs in Toronto.
Price has been sidelined since having knee surgery last July to repair a torn meniscus, followed by a 30-day stint in the NHL/NHLPA player assistance program that started in early October to deal with substance-use issues.
Price took part in Monday’s morning skating and when asked afterward when the goalie might be ready to play, St. Louis said: “I’ll let you guys know when he is.”
The coach added: “I don’t talk to him about that. Carey has been in the NHL for a long time and has experience. I trust him. When he tells me: ‘I’m ready,’ he I will say: ‘OK, he will play.
The Canadiens only have nine games left in the season after facing the Jets.
Allen had started in goal for each of the last six games and 11 of the last 12. Before that, he missed 25 games with a lower-body injury.
When asked if the lower-body injury Allen suffered Saturday night in Toronto was the same one he suffered previously, St. Louis said: “I don’t think it’s the same one and I have no idea how long he’s going to be out. Sorry.”
Montembeault replaced Allen at the 13:32 mark of the first period in Toronto after the starting goalie was injured making a save shortly before Auston Matthews opened the scoring for the Leafs. Matthews scored again 27 seconds later on the first shot Montembeault faced.
“He got on a run here and gave us some really good minutes,” St. Louis said about Montembeault’s performance this season with Price and Allen dealing with injuries. “He hasn’t played as much of late with Jake being in the lineup. He jumps in (against Toronto), gives up the first shot against the hottest guy in the league. But he just really plays well after that and settles down and gives us a chance to get back into this game. It’s been impressive. I think he’s shown that he can play in the NHL and play well.”
Montembeault has a 7-14-6 record this season with a 3.61 goals-against average and an .896 save percentage. Allen is 9-20-4 with a 3.30 GAA and a .905 save percentage.
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