Injured goaltender Carey Price skated in full gear before team practice on Tuesday but the Canadiens resisted the temptation to bring him back for their crucial Game Five against the New York Rangers in Montreal later in the day.
The Canadiens, who trail the Rangers 3-1 in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference finals, have been without their top goalie since he appeared to injure his right knee in the series opener and they must win on Tuesday to stave off elimination.
"That's just part of the process about making a comeback," Montreal coach Michel Therrien told reporters after Price's morning workout at the Bell Sports Complex.
"But he's not playing the game. He's not going to play in this series."
Price was the first Canadiens player out on the ice on Tuesday and practiced in full equipment with goaltending coach Stephane Waite and athletic therapist Graham Rynbend.
He took a few soft shots and then left after about 30 minutes, well before his team mates arrived on the ice for their game-day skate.
Price, who helped lead Canada to the gold medal in the Sochi Winter Olympics, suffered his injury after colliding with New York forward Chris Kreider during the second period in Game One.
Kreider lost his footing and crashed feet-first into the Montreal goalie, who was left writhing in pain while clutching his right knee.
Price played through to the end of the period but gave up four goals and did not return to the ice as the Rangers went on to win 7-2. He has not played since and Dustin Tokarski has started in his place for the last three games.
(Reporting by Mark Lamport-Stokes in Los Angeles; Editing by Julian Linden)