The Canadiens practised at noon Thursday in Florida before boarding a flight for Ottawa, where they will face the Senators Friday night (7 p.m., CBC, RDS, TSN Radio 690).
After practice coach Michel Therrien announced that Peter Budaj will start in goal against the Senators. In 22 games this season, Budaj has a 9-8-2 record with a 2.41 goals-against average and .910 save percentage.
The Canadiens learned after practice that defenceman Douglas Murray has been suspended for three games by the NHL for his elbow to the head of Tampa Bay’s Mike Kostka during Tuesday’s 3-1 loss to the Lightning. Kostka has been diagnosed with a concussion. Murray will forfeit $23,076.93 in salary.
Jarred Tinordi practised in Murray’s spot with Mike Weaver as his partner and later in the day the Canadiens announced they had called up defenceman Nathan Beaulieu from the Hamilton Bulldogs. In 54 games with the Bulldogs, Beaulieu has six goals and 19 assists. He has two assists in 16 games with the Canadiens this season.
Josh Gorges, who is out with a broken hand, skated with strength and conditioning coach Pierre Allard before practice and is aiming to return to the lineup on April 9 in Chicago, which will be the final game of Murray’s suspension.
In his last start on March 24, Budaj backstopped the Habs to a 2-1 shootout win over the Bruins in Boston.
“It doesn’t matter what happened on any given day in practice, what matters is what’s going to happen in the game, so you can’t really live based of memories,” Budaj told reporters after Thursday’s practice. “The win against Boston was a big win for our team, but since then we’ve played many good games. We’ve got to regroup after the game against Tampa and go out and get two points against Ottawa. I’m excited about the start. I’m glad I get a chance to play. It’s going to be a good game. Every game against Ottawa is. We’re looking forward to it.”
Here’s how the lines and defence pairings looked at Thursday’s practice:
The Canadiens will return home after Friday’s game and face the Detroit Red Wings Saturday night at the Bell Centre.
In other news, David Desharnais is the Canadiens’ nominee for the Bill Masterton Trophy that goes to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey. After picking up only one assist in his first 17 games this season, Desharnais racked up 48 points (15 goals, 33 assists) in his next 57 games. Five Canadiens have won the Masterton award in the past: Claude Provost (1968), Henri Richard (1974), Serge Savard (1979), Saku Koivu (2002) and Max Pacioretty (2012).
Meanwhile, Habs prospect Zachary Fucale took home two trophies from the QMJHL awards banquet Wednesday night. The Halifax Mooseheads goaltender, who was selected by the Canadiens in the second round (36th overall) of last year’s NHL draft, won the Jacques Plante Trophy for posting the league’s best goals-against average (2.26) and the Paul Dumont Trophy as the personality of the year. Another Habs prospect, centre Jeremy Gregoire, won the Marcel Robert Trophy as the scholastic athlete of the year. Former Habs defenceman Patrice Brisebois and current assistant coach Gerard Gallant were inducted into the QMJHL Hall of Fame.
(Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)