The Montreal Canadiens suffered another pair of key losses as forwards Daniel Briere and Brandon Prust were knocked out of Saturday’s 2-1 loss to Nashville.
Briere, 36, was skating in Nashville’s end when Predators forward Eric Nystrom caught him with a blindside hit early in the second period:
Nystrom wasn’t penalized on the play, and the Canadiens later announced that Briere would not return.
But that wasn’t it for injured Canadiens.
In the third period, Prust got tangled with Preds defenseman Victor Bartley and crashed hard into the end boards. Like Briere, Prust also left the contest and failed to return.
If the two are lost for any length of time, it’ll hurt a Montreal team already decimated by injury. George Parros (concussion), Alexei Emelin (knee) and Douglas Murray (lower-body) only just returned to post-practice skating, while forward Max Pacioretty is out three weeks with a hamstring ailment.
The Montreal Canadiens gave captain Brian Gionta their blessing to return to Montreal on Friday to address the “personal reasons” that have been a distraction for him early this season.
The Canadiens will face the Canucks in Vancouver on Saturday, so it’s possible that he could still play. Still, the Montreal Gazette’s Dave Stubbs believes Gionta’s next game will be a road contest against the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday.
Gionta has been able to play in all four of Montreal’s games so far, scoring a goal and an assist.
The 34-year-old’s $5 million cap hit and salary expires after this season.
The Montreal Canadiens have played just two games, but their youngest line is proving to be the most productive.
Alex Galchenyuk, Brendan Gallagher, and Lars Eller helped spur the team to victory over Philadelphia Saturday night, but their combined efforts have them leading the team in scoring.
It all starts with the 24-year-old Eller whose two goals and three assists see him evolving as a real offensive threat. After acquiring him in the Jaroslav Halak trade in 2010, their patience is paying off.
At 19 years old, Galchenyuk, the third overall pick in the 2012 draft, burst on the scene last season showing glimpses of what made him one of the top prospects in that draft. His four assists have him becoming the team’s top playmaker and the 21-year-old Gallagher is cashing in with the goals.
Should Danny Briere and Max Pacioretty (recently injured) hit their stride offensively, Montreal could be a dangerous goal-scoring team if the “kid line” continues to produce like this. Obviously it’s early in the year, but Habs faithful have to enjoy seeing this evolution.
One of the Canadiens’ notable free agent pickups will be out for the foreseeable future.
Veteran defenseman Douglas Murray, signed in August on a one-year deal, will be out for the next 4-6 weeks with an upper-body injury, according to TVA’s Renaud Lavoie.
The injury is just the latest to hit the Montreal defense. Two weeks ago, the club announced that Davis Drewiske had suffered a shoulder injury that would shelf him for a month; prior to that, the club had lost physical Russian rearguard Alexei Emelin, who is still in the process of recovering from offseason ACL surgery.
Murray, 33, split last season between San Jose and Pittsburgh, scoring six points in 43 games (and three in 15 playoff games). He was acquired by the Penguins at the trade deadline and saw an uptick in minutes (17:09 average TOI in San Jose; 18:30 in Pittsburgh) before falling back to around 15 minutes per night in the postseason.
This upper body ailment was the second injury Murray suffered during the exhibition campaign. Two weeks ago, he was listed as day-to-day with a lower body issue.
The Montreal Canadiens have signed goaltender Zachary Fucale to a three-year entry-level contract.
The NHL club made the announcement on Saturday. Fucale is the Canadiens’ second-round pick, 36th overall, from this year’s draft and is currently at Habs training camp.
Fucale was a key member of the Halifax Mooseheads in their run to a Memorial Cup championship this spring. He posted a 3-1 record for the Mooseheads in the tournament. The 18-year-old puck stopper also posted a 16-1 record in the QMJHL post-season.