BROSSARD, Quebec -- Carey Price worked diligently for four months to play at least one more game with the Montreal Canadiens this season.
He did not reach his goal.
The Canadiens announced Wednesday that Price would not play the final two games of the regular season and disclosed he sustained a sprained medial collateral ligament in his right knee Nov. 25 against the New York Rangers.
The original diagnosis was that Price would miss a minimum of six weeks, a timeline that was stretched a number of times until the decision was made to shut him down after a meeting Tuesday with general manager Marc Bergevin and the Canadiens medical staff.
"Since the start of this injury I said I wouldn't come back until I was 100 percent and comfortable being in there, having absolutely no doubts in my mind," Price said. "We just ran out of time at the end of the season. I was really close. But at this point of the year, with nothing on the line, it made more sense to end it right now."
The Canadiens have two games remaining, Thursday against the Carolina Hurricanes and Saturday against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Price estimated he might have needed another two weeks in order to return, but has no doubt he will be ready to play for Team Canada at the 2016 World Cup of Hockey, which starts Sept. 17, and for the Canadiens in 2016-17.
But that did not diminish the disappointment he feels over what amounted to a lost season for Price and the Canadiens, who will not play in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the second time in nine seasons.
"During this whole process we were always optimistic," Price said. "We'd see progress, then we'd plateau. We'd see progress, then we'd plateau again. It was definitely frustrating, but nobody felt that more than I did."
The Canadiens did not reveal any details on Price's injury before Wednesday, when their head physician Dr. Vincent Lacroix provided the following explanation in a statement:
"The MCL provides support to the inside of the knee and is essential for stability and knee function. Acute, isolated MCL injuries are managed without surgery. Rehabilitation treatments lead to full functional recovery. The recovery process can be long in the case of an elite netminder such as Carey, due to the high demand placed on this anatomical structure by modern goaltending techniques. Although Carey has made excellent progress and is very close to being able to return to competition, he has not presently been cleared to do so. He is expected to make a full recovery over the offseason."
Lacroix also said that Price's injury was different than the one he sustained Oct. 29 at the Edmonton Oilers, one that kept him sidelined for three weeks, and also different than any previous injury he had.
Neither Price nor coach Michel Therrien would go into the specifics of what the initial injury was, other than Therrien specifying it was a knee injury.
Price returned from that injury Nov. 20, played again Nov. 22, then sustained the sprained MCL on Nov. 25, in his third game back.
Price said this injury and the one from October were unrelated, and the length of time he was out had more to do with being a goalie than anything else. He also appeared to suggest the original timeline of six weeks was not realistic.
"As you saw, at one point I was skating around shooting pucks just like a forward would," he said. "And that was after what? Six to eight weeks. Unfortunately for a goaltender you demand a lot more out of your MCL, and I had hurt my MCL before and I felt it after three months. So in my mind I already had a pretty good idea that was going to be the case."
The prior MCL injury Price referred to also was in his right knee. It happened in Game 1 of the 2014 Eastern Conference Final when New York Rangers forward Chris Kreider collided with him, knocking Price out of the series.
Now Price will go into this offseason much like he did in 2014, hoping to come back stronger in the fall.
"It was a frustrating process," Price said. "It was definitely the most challenging year of my career. But I learned a lot of things about myself, about nutrition, about preparation for practices. And those are all things I can use moving forward."
The Canadiens were 16-3-2 and leading the Eastern Conference on Nov. 25. Since then they're 19-34-4, their 42 points in that span the fewest in the League.
The Canadiens also announced defenseman P.K. Subban would miss the final two games of the season because of a neck injury sustained March 10 against the Buffalo Sabres when he collided with teammate Alexei Emelin.
Subban was taken off the ice on a stretcher and taken to a hospital but was released later that night with what the Canadiens called a "non-serious" neck injury. He will have missed the final 14 games of the season.
"At the end of the day the doctor said until I have 100-percent mobility and 100-percent pain-free, I'm not cleared to play," Subban said. "So if you choose to play that's your prerogative. Ultimately as a player who wants to play a long time, I'm going to use the doctor's knowledge and judgment to make a decision as to whether I'm going to play or not."
Subban, the 2013 Norris Trophy winner, leads the Canadiens and is fifth in the League with an average ice time of 26:21 per game. He finished the season with 51 points in 68 games.
He said he is unsure if he will be available to play for Canada at the 2016 IIHF World Championship, which starts May 6. He was not named to Team Canada for the World Cup on the initial roster which came out last month.
Price, who has been named to Team Canada, will not play in the World Championship because he and his wife Angela are expecting their first child April 29.
The Canadiens said defensemen Mark Barberio (concussion) and Victor Bartley (groin/broken foot), and forward Lucas Lessio (right knee) would miss the final two games.