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The understudy

by Staff Writer / Montréal Canadiens

BROSSARD – With the Canadiens’ starting netminder out with the flu, Peter Budaj will step into a starring role on Saturday night.

Coming off a pair of wins in Tampa and Sunrise, FL, Carey Price was slated to get his 12th start of the season against the Flyers, when the flu bug struck the night before the game. Replacing the NHL’s league-leader in wins between the pipes won’t be easy, but Budaj can count on getting plenty of backup from his supporting cast during his search for his first win of the campaign.

“Buds has played well for us when he’s been in there and then we go and make mental mistakes and mental errors and we’re not sharp,” admitted Josh Gorges, who currently leads the Canadiens with 37 blocked shots. “We have to do a better job in front of him and help him out a lot more than we have.”

Carey Price makes a save against the Panthers

The Slovak netminder will be looking to improve on his 0-1-1 record in his third start of the season, having previously been saddled with a 5-1 loss in Ottawa before suffering a 5-4 loss in a shootout to Buffalo after stopping 36 of the 40 shots he faced.

“We owe it to Buds to get him the win,” stressed Max Pacioretty. “He obviously doesn’t get too many looks at starts and we’ve let him down the few games he has started. We owe him a win and hopefully we’ll be able to go out and do that for him.”

Both of Budaj’s starts this year have come in the second game of back-to-back outings for the Canadiens, both on road ice. Michel Therrien is looking forward to giving his backup goalie a chance to show what he can do with a fresh team in front of him in the friendly confines of the Bell Centre.

“Every time we’ve used Peter, it’s been in a situation where we’ve played back-to-back games. That’s not an easy position to be in for him,” explained the Habs bench boss. “We have to concentrate on playing the way we’re supposed to play; to play a tight game and not give up too many scoring chances.

“We also have to take advantage of our own opportunities when we get them,” added Therrien, whose team is coming off a 1-0 shootout win over the Panthers on Thursday. “The first two games Peter played this year, we got away from our game plan. In the Buffalo game, everything was under control but for whatever reason we weren’t able to pull out a win. We’re coming back from a good road trip where we played solid hockey. That’s the way we need to start tonight’s game.”

Robert Mayer has been called up from Hamilton and will backup Budaj against the Flyers. Game time is 7:00 p.m. at the Bell Centre.

Shauna Denis is a writer for

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