Coach Michel Therrien called a report that Carey Price will miss the rest of the season "speculation" and said the Montreal Canadiens star goalie is working hard to return to action.
Price has been out since suffering a lower-body injury Nov. 25 against the New York Rangers. He was expected back in early January, but does not appear close to a return, although he has been skating most days without his goaltender equipment the past two weeks.
Montreal's La Presse reported Friday that Price has a torn medial collateral ligament in his right knee and will miss the rest of the season. It quoted a source saying the team won't admit that because of fears fans will give up on the season.
"There's going to be a lot of speculation," Therrien said after the team's morning skate ahead of its game Friday night against the Buffalo Sabres. "We know what's going on with Carey.
"It's taking more time than we expected, but he's working extremely hard and putting in a lot of hours to make sure he makes a comeback. And it's not to make sure he looks good this summer on the beach. It's to come back and play for the Montreal Canadiens."
Price, who backstopped Canada to a gold medal at the 2014 Winter Olympics, wants to play for Canada at the World Cup of Hockey in September, the report said.
He won the Hart and Ted Lindsay trophies as the NHL's top player as well as the Vézina as top goaltender last season, and he was chosen Canada's male athlete of the year.
Shortly after his injury, the Canadiens went into a 5-20-1 tailspin, although they had three wins in a row going into the game in Buffalo with Ben Scrivens in goal.