BLUE JACKETS (7-16-3) at CANADIENS (11-11-5)
TV: RDS (HD), FS-O (HD)
Last 10: Columbus 4-4-2; Montreal 4-4-2
Season series: This is the only meeting of the 2011-12 season between these clubs. In the most recent matchup, then-Columbus goalie Mathieu Garon stopped 29 shots against his former team en route to a 3-0 victory at Nationwide Arena on Nov. 2, 2010. Derick Brassard
, Rick Nash
and Kyle Wilson scored the goals.
Big story: The big offseason acquisition of forward Jeff Carter
hasn't exactly gotten off to a rousing start in Columbus through 26 games. Carter was out of the lineup on Friday with a left ankle sprain and is listed as day-to-day, according to coach Scott Arniel. The 6-foot-3, 200-pound Carter, who has 3 goals and 8 points in 15 games, had missed 10 games earlier this season with a fractured right foot. He hasn't scored fewer than 33 goals in any of the last three seasons. Carter was traded by the Flyers to Columbus the day before the 2011 NHL Draft for wing Jakub Voracek and a first- and third-round draft choice.
Blue Jackets: While the setback to Carter was a disappointment for the Blue Jackets in a 6-3 loss to the Edmonton Oilers on Friday, there was some positive news in that forward Kristian Huselius
was activated from injured reserve after missing the first 25 games of the season with a pectoral injury. The left wing, who saw time with center Antoine Vermette
and Nash, finished with a minus-2 rating in 19:27 of ice time. Huselius had missed 68 of the Blue Jackets' last 90 games after suffering a high ankle sprain early last season, a groin injury at midseason and a late hip injury that ultimately required surgery.
"It was nice to be out there," Huselius told reporters after the game. "It's hard. It's going to take some time to get up to speed."
Canadiens: General manager Pierre Gauthier told reporters before Saturday's game against the Los Angeles Kings that defenseman Andrei Markov
will have minor arthroscopic surgery on his right knee, delaying his return once again. Markov, who had been cleared to play in late November, is now expected to return to the lineup after Christmas. Gauthier said the prognosis is that Markov will be able to return in three weeks or longer depending on what is found during the surgery.
The Canadiens, meanwhile, scored a 2-1 victory over the Kings on Saturday behind a 26-save performance by goalie Carey Price
, ending a four-game losing streak. Tomas Plekanec
and Andrei Kostitsyn
scored goals for the Canadiens.
Who's Hot: Derek Dorsett
scored twice for the Blue Jackets on Friday and has 3 goals in his last four games. … Kostitsyn has 4 goals and 6 points over his last seven games for the Canadiens.
Injury report: For the Blue Jackets, Carter (left ankle sprain) is day-to-day and defenseman Radek Martinek
(concussion) is out. … The Canadiens are without defensemen Markov (knee) and Chris Campoli
(hamstring) and forward Ryan White
(lower body). Forward Scott Gomez
(lower body) and defenseman Jaroslav Spacek
(upper body) are day-to-day.
Stat pack: The Blue Jackets are 2-13-1 when either Carter or defenseman James Wisniewski
is out of the lineup. … Canadiens defenseman Josh Gorges
logged a team-high 26:08 of ice time against the Kings, while fellow blueliner Hal Gill
amassed a game-high 8:16 of penalty-kill time.
Puck drop: The Canadiens lead the League with 450 blocked shots, a big reason the club has allowed just 12 power-play goals in 110 opposing chances this season. The team owns the third-best penalty-killing unit in the NHL (89.1 percent).