The Montreal Canadiens were able to withstand the loss of the NHL's best goalie, Carey Price, for nine games while remaining comfortably atop the Atlantic Division. But the Habs' resolve will now be tested again as they have lost arguably their second-best forward, Brendan Gallagher, indefinitely.
Gallagher is out for the foreseeable future after undergoing surgery Monday to repair fractures suffered to two fingers on his left hand in Sunday's 4-2 win over the New York Islanders. Check out the video if you have a strong stomach as one of his finger looks just gruesome after. The injury happened in the second period, when the Isles' Johnny Boychuk teed up a shot that Gallagher blocked with his hand. The right winger has nine goals and 10 assists this season and was plus-7. He had appeared in 166 consecutive games, last missing a game in November 2013 due to the flu. It's likely that he misses at least six weeks.
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Gallagher, not a big guy at 5-foot-9, is one of those typical hard-nosed hockey players, but why use your hand? If Price is the team MVP, Gallagher is the club's heart and soul.
"He's always gone down like that," teammate Max Pacioretty explained. "Last year, I stood up (to block a shot) and I got one in the finger and broke my finger. There's no real technique of how to do it properly. I think it's just a matter of bad luck."
For now, the Habs are going to replace Gallagher from within -- getting off to such a hot start gives Montreal the ability to not panic and make a trade to replace Gallagher's production. The Canadiens remain +350 Eastern Conference favorites at Bovada and +800 to win the Stanley Cup, behind only Dallas (+650).
Some other injuries of note:
Winnipeg goalie Ondrej Pavelec was placed on injured reserve Monday with a significant knee sprain that will keep him out until at least December. He was hurt in the second period of Saturday's loss over Arizona when Pavelec collided with the Coyotes' Shane Doan. But it wasn't Doan's fault as he was pushed by Jets defenseman Mark Stuart. Pavelec is 5-6-1 with a 2.82 goals-against average and .906 save percentage. Michael Hutchinson will become the No. 1 goaltender for now.
Minnesota star Zach Parise hasn't played since Nov. 5 due to a knee injury and is inching closer to a return but it's not likely to be this week.
Senators goalie Andrew Hammond, who now backs up Craig Anderson, is still recovering from a concussion and Coach Dave Cameron said Hammond's recovery has "stalled" so he could be a while.
The Blues welcomed back center Paul Stastny on Monday night after missing 16 games with a broken right foot. Stastny is a six-time 20-goal scorer and had been out since he was hurt in the second period of a 4-3 win over Vancouver on Oct. 16. Stastny played nearly 20 minutes and had one shot Monday in a win over the Sabres.
Games To Watch
Chicago at San Jose, Wednesday: The Sharks are the hottest team in the NHL right now with a six-game winning streak. What's amazing is all those came on the road in a perfect trip through the Eastern Conference (best Sharks trip ever). The Sharks have the league's best road record at 10-3-0 but are only 3-5-0 at home. They erased a 3-1 third-period deficit against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Sunday and won going away 5-3. What's more impressive is all that was without forward Logan Couture, who remains sidelined with a fractured right fibula. He's not likely to be back this week but has started skating. This is game No. 4 of a six-game trip for the Blackhawks, who have dropped two straight. They have to go to Anaheim on Friday and the Kings on Saturday. I believe your clear Calder Trophy favorite right now is Chicago's Artemi Panarin, who has seven goals and 14 assists. He leads all rookies in assists, points, primary assists (eight), power-play points (five) and rookie forwards in average ice time per game at 19:11. This is the first meeting of the season between Chicago and San Jose. The Sharks are -110 on BetOnline.
Los Angeles at Tampa Bay, Wednesday : This was the matchup that ESPN's Barry Melrose picked as the Stanley Cup Finals. L.A. is +1200 on Bovada to win the Cup and Tampa +1400. The Kings might be a bit flat as this concludes a tough five-game road trip in which Los Angeles is 2-2. Tampa has climbed back over .500 with back-to-back home wins over Stanley Cup contenders the New York Rangers and Anaheim Ducks. The Bolts put up five goals on the Ducks on Saturday, including two from Steven Stamkos. The Lightning had just 21 goals over their previous 13 games. Tampa Bay played without injured forwards Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat, Cedric Paquette and Jonathan Drouin. All are day-to-day except for Palat, who could miss three to five more weeks. The Lightning are -115 favorites.
Vancouver at Dallas, Friday: There are no games on Thanksgiving. The Stars might be pulling away in the Central Division as they have won five in a row entering Tuesday. Dallas scored at least three goals in all five. The Stars are outscoring opponents 31-17 in the third period this season. Vancouver is slumping, having dropped five of six. It lost in Dallas on Oct. 29, 4-3 in overtime. Jamie Benn scored the winner.
New Jersey at Montreal, Saturday: The Devils were supposed to be one of the NHL's worst teams this season but they are 11-5-0 since a 0-3-1 start when they were outscored 13-6. Goalie Cory Schneider is playing like a Vezina Trophy winner and Coach John Hynes is a Jack Adams Award candidate. This is the back end of a home-and-home between these teams so we might not see the Habs' Price and Schneider on Saturday.
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