BROSSARD, Quebec -- The Montreal Canadiens left a lot of star power behind when they left for Chicago on Tuesday.
Goaltender Carey Price and defensemen Andrei Markov and Alexei Emelin will not face the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday (7:30 p.m. ET, TSN, RDS) after coach Michel Therrien decided to leave them behind to rest a week before the start of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The Canadiens remain in a battle with the Tampa Bay Lightning to stay in second place in the Atlantic Division and have home-ice advantage in the first round of the playoffs. Entering play Tuesday the Canadiens have a four-point lead; the Lightning play the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday.
"Nothing has changed for us," Therrien said. "We're going to Chicago to win. We want to play good hockey; inspired, solid hockey. We want to continue preparing for the playoffs and win the most games possible."
Peter Budaj will get the start in goal for the Canadiens and rookie defensemen Jarred Tinordi and Nathan Beaulieu will be in the lineup. Tinordi was paired with Mike Weaver and Beaulieu with Francis Bouillon during practice Tuesday.
The Canadiens also will have defenseman Josh Gorges in the lineup Wednesday. He'll go back to his usual spot to the left of P.K. Subban on what will be Montreal's top defense pair in the absence of Markov and Emelin. Gorges returns after a 15-game absence due to a broken left hand. He'll have the final three games of the regular season to get ready for the playoffs and provide some stability to Subban's pairing, which has seen a revolving door of defensemen on the left side.
"The fact Josh is back, he worked extremely hard to be back at this time," Therrien said. "He needs a lot of credit for his hard work to make sure he's back for the last three games. He's had a lot of success with P.K. so I'm confident they'll have the same success."
The game against the Blackhawks is the first of a back-to-back for the Canadiens, with a game against the New York Islanders at home Thursday.
Therrien confirmed Price will start in goal Thursday, but would not confirm if other veterans would be rested.
Three other Canadiens players didn't make the trip to Chicago with the team.
Forwards Brandon Prust (upper body) and Travis Moen (concussion) still are not ready to return, though Prust is skating. Defenseman Douglas Murray also stayed behind to serve the final game of his three-game suspension for his illegal check to the head of Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Michael Kostka. He will be eligible to return Thursday.
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