Whether they viewed it as plainly "reckless" or merely something that was done "accidentally on purpose," the Montreal Canadiens were not at all pleased with the play that left them without their most important player for the remainder of the NHL's Eastern Conference finals.
Canadiens goaltender Carey Price suffered a knee injury in a second-period collision with New York Rangers winger Chris Kreider during Game 1 that will sideline him for the rest of the best-of-seven series. With the Rangers holding a 2-0 lead on Saturday in Montreal, the 23-year-old forward embarked on a breakaway that failed to produce a goal but may have still altered the outcome of the series. Kreider let loose a wrist shot that went wide of the net before sliding into Price, skates first. Kreider appeared to lose his balance after a Montreal defender hit his legs with a stick.
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The Canadians' goaltender, who helped Canada win the gold medal at the Sochi Olympics, appeared to be in pain but stayed in the game for the remainder of the second period. He did not return for the third as the Rangers coasted to a 7-2 win and a 1-0 series lead.
A day later, Canadiens players and coaches remained upset about the incident.
“I don’t think Kreider ran him, but he didn’t do anything to avoid him,” former Ranger Brandon Prust told the New York Daily News on Sunday. “He went skates up first and he didn’t do anything to turn his body or minimize (the contact). Whether it’s on purpose or accidental, he ran him pretty hard. Everybody thinks it was accidental, but we call it accidentally on purpose.”
Montreal coach Michel Therrien announced on Monday that Price would miss the rest of the series and lamented that his team lost its "best player" on such "a reckless play."
"That's the truth," Therrien said, reported The Associated Press. "And Kreider, that's not the first time he's going at goalies. So we end up losing our best player, but our group faced a lot of adversity throughout the course of the season. We have the attitude to respond really well, and that's what I'm expecting."
Despite the disapproval expressed by his opponents, Kreider insisted he is not a dirty player.
"I think I am a clean player," Kreider said ahead of Game 2, according to Blueshirts United. "I don't go out with the intent of hurting anyone, ever."
Correction: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated the score at the time of the collision.
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