MONTREAL -- Ales Hemsky will return to the Edmonton Oilers lineup tonight after an 11-game absence due to a shoulder injury, but it appears the Montreal Canadiens will be without the red hot Andrei Kostitsyn.
Hemsky is expected to line up next to Shawn Horcoff and Ryan Smyth, bumping Ryan Jones off that line and sending Magnus Paajarvi to the press box.
"He sure adds a lot to the team," Smyth said. "He's a special player, he's good offensively and he's a power-play guy so that will help. Any time you get a veteran back in the lineup it adds another element."
One of those elements may be some added freedom for the Oilers' much-heralded kid line of Taylor Hall, Jordan Eberle and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, who have been regularly facing difficult opposition on the road.
"With Hemsky coming back in the lineup it gives us that extra look," Eberle said. "Teams are going to have to pick which line they want to focus on. It comes back to depth. It's something that every championship team has, and I feel we have it."
Oilers defenseman Cam Barker will also return after missing three games with a shoulder injury, but coach Tom Renney wouldn't say who will sit out but Colten Teubert remained on the ice for extra work after the morning skate, suggesting he’ll be the one sitting.
Kostitsyn's probable absence for the Canadiens couldn't come at a worse time as he had racked up 4 goals and 2 assists over his past seven games.
Coach Jacques Martin said he will probably dress seven defensemen if Kostitsyn can't play, with Yannick Weber lining up as a forward and rookie Alexei Emelin drawing in on the blue line after sitting out six straight game as a healthy scratch.
Probable lines for tonight:
Michael Cammalleri – Tomas Plekanec – Erik Cole
Max Pacioretty – David Desharnais – Brian Gionta
Mathieu Darche – Lars Eller – Travis Moen
Michael Blunden – Petteri Nokelainen – Yannick Weber
Josh Gorges – P.K. Subban
Hal Gill – Raphael Diaz
Alexei Emelin – Jaroslav Spacek
Taylor Hall – Ryan Nugent-Hopkins – Jordan Eberle
Ryan Smyth – Shawn Horcoff – Ales Hemsky
Ryan Jones – Eric Belanger – Sam Gagner
Ben Eager – Anton Lander – Lennart Petrell
Ladislav Smid – Tom Gilbert
Cam Barker – Theo Peckham
Corey Potter – Jeff Petry