OTTAWA – After arriving from Tampa on Thursday night, the Canadiens held an optional practice at the Canadian Tire Centre on Friday morning in preparation for their game against the Senators.
Both goaltenders and 17 skaters, including George Parros, Lars Eller, Andrei Markov, Brian Gionta, Jarred Tinordi, Michael Bournival, Mike Weaver, Josh Gorges, Brendan Gallagher, Tomas Plekanec, Douglas Murray, Nathan Beaulieu, Daniel Briere, Rene Bourque, Ryan White, Alexei Emelin, and Alex Galchenyuk took part in the morning skate.
Gorges skated with his teammates for the first time on Friday morning since being sidelined following the game in Anaheim on March 5 with a hand injury.
Tinordi will slide back into the lineup against the Sens after being a healthy scratch against the Panthers and Lightning following the NHL’s decision to suspend Murray for three games for his hit on Michael Kostka on Tuesday night.
“I respect the decision. I made a mistake and I have to pay for it. Obviously, I’m disappointed, too. It’s an important time of the year and I’ll be sitting in the stands not helping the team get important points,” admitted Murray, who reached out to Kostka via text message to apologize to the Lightning defenseman for the hit. “I had no intention to hurt him and I had no intention to hit his head. I made contact with his head and I made a mistake, so I apologized.”
Called up following the announcement of the three-game suspension to the hulking blue-liner, Beaulieu practiced with the big club for the first time since being sent back to Hamilton prior to the Olympic break. He won’t be in the lineup against the Senators on Friday, but after earning his third recall from the farm this season, the 21-year-old rearguard is ready to pounce on any chance he gets to impress the Habs brass in person.
“For sure I was disappointed. I wanted to be here, but it would be a problem if I wasn’t upset. I used it as motivation to work hard and eventually get back up here,” confessed Beaulieu, who has two assists in 16 games with the Canadiens this season. “I just have to play like I did before. I’m happy to get the opportunity and if I get the call, I’ll make the most of it. Consistency is the biggest thing. Putting games together is the thing I’m focused on trying to do most. That’s what my goal is here.”
While Beaulieu will be watching the Ottawa game from the pressbox, with just four games left after Friday night before the playoffs kick off, Michel Therrien has confirmed that he’ll be looking to give his rookie blue-liner an opportunity to find his groove down the stretch.
“The goal is to make sure he’s ready,” confirmed Therrien. “For sure we’ll get him into a game, but I can’t tell you right now exactly when that will be. We’ll make sure that when he does play, he’s ready. If we think he’s ready to help us from now until the end of the season or into the playoffs, that’s when we’ll put him in the lineup.”
Facing the Sens for the first time since the epic comeback effort of March 15 that saw the Habs rally back from a 4-1 deficit with five minutes remaining in regulation to beat Ottawa 5-4 in overtime, the Canadiens will be searching for a less dramatic two points in the nation’s capital. Since that game, the team has compiled a 7-2-0 record in the nine games that followed, and Briere is hoping Friday will help keep the team’s confidence levels rolling.
“That’s the game that kind of turned it around for us. It’s a game where we were a little bit on a slide, we weren’t feeling good about ourselves, and we were wondering where we were going a little bit and then those last five minutes kind of turned the whole season around,” described the Gatineau, QC native. “We were battling with teams just trying to get into the playoffs and we’re battling for home ice now. That was definitely a turning point.”
Peter Budaj will get his 20th
start of the season when he faces the Senators on Friday night. The 31-year-old netminder has faced Ottawa just once in his regular season career to date. SEE ALSO:Words from the room Game preview: MTL @ OTT New and used skates drive Murray suspended three games for illegal check Getting the call