It was Carey Price’s decision to stay in for all seven Wild goals

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The Montreal Canadiens have one of the best goalies in the NHL in Carey Price, but there’s no denying his struggles over the last few weeks.

Since a Dec. 22 home loss to the Minnesota Wild, Price has give up three goals or more in six of his last seven outings.

Last night’s 7-1 loss to the Wild wasn’t only on Montreal’s star goaltender. They were bad from top to bottom, but that’s hardly shocking when you consider it was their third game in four nights, while Minnesota had been off since Sunday’s win in Anaheim.

With the Wild nursing a 4-0 lead after two periods, many people wondered whether or not Price would be pulled in favor of Al Montoya for the start of the third frame.

But pulling him is easier said than done.

As you may remember, the 29-year-old gave Michel Therrien the ultimate glare when he was yanked from a home game against San Jose, after he allowed four goals on 18 shots back on Dec. 16.

This time, the Canadiens coaching staff had a chat with Price during the second intermission, and he let them know that he wasn’t interested in coming out of the game.

“I’d rather just stick it out,” he said, per the Montreal Gazette. “Nobody else has the opportunity to get pulled from a game.”

Pulling or not pulling goalies also became a hot topic in Montreal in the hours and days after a 10-0 shellacking at the hands of the Blue Jackets earlier this season.

In that one, backup goalie Al Montoya was left in for each of Columbus’ 10 goals. Therrien never gave him the option to come out of the game because there was no point in putting their starter into a game they had no chance of winning.

Montoya might not have had the option to decide whether he wanted to keep playing or not, but Price certainly did last night.

“(Goaltending coach) Stéphane Waite went to talk to him after the second period and we discussed it with the coaching staff,” said Therrien. “Carey wanted to stay in there and I respect that decision and even more I appreciated the fact that he wanted to stay in there. It was a tough night and we’re all in this together and we’re all suffering as a team, It’s that simple.”

We’ll see if he and the team can get back on the rails in a home date with the Rangers on Saturday night.

Report: Blue Jackets RFA Anderson in contact with Hockey Canada about 2018 Olympics

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The preseason is well underway and Josh Anderson is still without a contract.

Anderson, who scored 17 goals and 29 points last season for the Columbus Blue Jackets, is one of two remaining restricted free agents without a new deal. The other is Andreas Athanasiou of the Detroit Red Wings.

While there were reports this summer about Athanasiou potentially going to the KHL for this season, John Shannon of Sportsnet reported on Thursday that Anderson’s representatives have reached out to Hockey Canada’s staff about the 2018 Olympics. 

Anderson’s entry-level contract, with an AAV of just over $894,000, expired at the end of last season.

Meanwhile, here is the latest on this ongoing contract situation.

Making an impression: Sergachev has ‘NHL written all over him’

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Mikhail Sergachev has, over the summer, stated his belief he can play in the NHL this season.

He had a small taste of NHL action last season, appearing in four games for Montreal — the team that selected him ninth overall in 2016 — before getting sent back to junior and then being traded in June to Tampa Bay, as part of a blockbuster involving Jonathan Drouin to the Habs.

Well, Sergachev made a statement Wednesday in his preseason debut for the Lightning.

He scored once. He also played more than 22 minutes, which led all Lightning players on the night. That included time on the power play and penalty kill. If he was looking to make a favorable impression, to show that he belongs at the NHL level when the regular season begins, this seems to be another step in that direction.

“You watch this kid skate, shoot, stickhandle, he’s got NHL written all over him,” Tampa Bay’s associate coach Rick Bowness told the Tampa Bay Times. “Now we’ve got to give him experience. How much can he handle?”

There is competition on the blue line, with eight defensemen under contract in Tampa Bay for this season. That includes Sergachev, who is still only 19 years old. After getting sent back to junior last season, he recorded 43 points in 50 games with Windsor and then won the Memorial Cup that spring. That said, he’s made it a point of saying going back to junior “is not an option” for him.

Related:

Looking to make the leap: Mikhail Sergachev

Report: Lupul will have ‘independent medical exam’

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Joffrey Lupul issued a statement Wednesday, saying he wouldn’t seek a second medical opinion after the Maple Leafs announced he didn’t pass his training camp physical.

A day later, reports have surfaced that the 33-year-old forward will, in fact, undergo another, independent medical test.

That is according to James Mirtle of The Athletic:

Earlier this week, Lupul made accusations against the Maple Leafs on Instagram.

“I’m ready … just awaiting the call,” Lupul wrote in the comments section of the Instagram post, per a screen grab. “haha failed physical? They cheat. Everyone lets them.”

Lupul, who didn’t pass his physical for a second year in a row, issued an apology yesterday. But those comments — which have since been deleted — seem to have grabbed the attention of the league.

Darren Dreger of TSN added to that, saying it’s the NHL pursuing a second medical opinion on this matter.

“The National Hockey League has that right to pursue the second opinion. That’s exactly what they’re engaging in right now,” Dreger reported Thursday.

“The reasoning behind it is because of the comment that Lupul made on social media. I’ll go back a year ago. The league didn’t step in a year ago but Lupul stayed quiet at that point. So they want to make sure — ‘They’ being the National Hockey League — that the medical evaluation from the Toronto Maple Leafs is 100 per cent above the board.”

Team USA won’t include NHL draft-eligible prospects at 2018 Olympics

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BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) General manager Jim Johannson has ruled out the possibility of the U.S. men’s hockey team having NHL draft-eligible prospects competing at the Winter Olympics in February.

Johannson tells The Associated Press he doesn’t view anyone from the 18-and-younger pool of prospects capable of cracking the projected lineup of non-NHL players, many of whom are opening this season playing in Europe.

USA Hockey’s assistant executive director says he’s also targeting a number of established college players, and would not rule out keeping a spot or two open for members of the U.S. team competing at the World Junior Championships this winter.

Johansson spoke in Buffalo, New York, on Thursday, where he is attending USA Hockey’s sixth annual All-American Prospects game. The game features the top 42 U.S.-born players eligible to be selected in the NHL draft in June.