BROSSARD, Quebec -- Montreal Canadiens captain Brian Gionta is expected to play his team's final preseason game Thursday night against the Ottawa Senators, thereby assuring he will be ready to start the season on time Oct. 1 against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Gionta underwent surgery to repair a torn biceps muscle in his left arm in May and there was some question at the beginning of camp on whether or not he would be able to play on opening night.
While nothing is set in stone, both Gionta and Canadiens coach Michel Therrien said Tuesday that the plan is to have him play Thursday night.
"You can see Brian trained very hard this summer to make sure he would be ready for training camp. He followed his rehab plan to the letter," Therrien said. "When we started training camp, Thursday was the date we were looking at to get him into a game. We want him to play, and obviously he wants to play."
Gionta practiced on what will be his regular line on the right wing with Tomas Plekanec and Rene Bourque on Tuesday, his third day of full contact practice after being cleared by team doctors on Sunday.
Gionta will stay home as his teammates travel to Ottawa on Wednesday for the front end of the home and home before making his preseason debut the next day.
"I would definitely prefer to [play a preseason game]," Gionta said. "So the hope is to play on Thursday, then have a couple of days to get ready for Oct. 1."
Therrien revealed Tuesday that two other injured members of the Canadiens likely will not be back before the end of the preseason schedule.
Forward George Parros, who was also cleared for contact Sunday as he recovers from offseason rotator cuff surgery, is unlikely to play in either of the two final preseason games for the Canadiens, Therrien said. He said Parros should be ready to play next week, though it would be surprising to see him dressed against Toronto on Tuesday.
Therrien also said he would be surprised if defenseman Douglas Murray (lower body) were able to play this week, and it's unclear what the timetable would be for his return.
Should Murray miss the start of the regular season it would open a door for rookie hopeful Jarred Tinordi, who has played in all five Canadiens preseason games and has impressed with his physical presence and poise.