BROSSARD - The Canadiens will welcome both Andrei Markov and David Desharnais back to the lineup on Tuesday night when they play host to the Buffalo Sabres at the Bell Centre.
Markov missed the last 19 games with a lower-body injury sustained on December 17 in Washington against the Capitals.
The veteran defenseman will be paired with fellow countryman Nikita Nesterov on the back end, who'll be making his Canadiens debut after being acquired in a trade with the Tampa Bay Lightning last Thursday.
"We want to put Nesterov in a situation where he's capable of performing and communicating, so pairing him with Markov is a good way for him to learn the way we play," said head coach Michel Therrien. "There are a couple of details that are different from what he's used to...That's why we decided to pair them together."
Video: Nikita Nesterov on his first game with the Canadiens
For his part, Nesterov is wholeheartedly on board with plying his trade alongside the Canadiens' No. 79, who will surely help him get accustomed to Therrien's system in short order.
"Marky talked to me a lot and helped me. I think we have good chemistry together. I'm so excited [about playing with him]. It's good for me," said Nesterov, who has a good idea of what he'd like to showcase to the Bell Centre faithful on Tuesday night. "I need to play well defensively, make a good first pass, be physical and not make mistakes - maybe even get up ice and score."
Desharnais, meanwhile, returns to the lineup after being sidelined for 24 games with a knee injury that happened all the way back on December 6 in St. Louis.
"I'm very excited. It's the first time that I've ever been out of the lineup for so long with an injury. It will be fun to come back," said Desharnais. "After two months, it felt like it was two years. Even this morning, sometimes you doubt yourself a little and say - "Am I ready to return?" But, it comes back just as quickly and I feel good."
Speaking of "feeling good," Jeff Petry wasn't feeling well enough to hit the ice for the morning skate after coming down with the flu. He'll be re-evaluated over the course of the afternoon and a decision on his playing status will come later on tonight. If Petry is unable to play, Greg Pateryn will take his spot in the lineup.
During his post-practice press conference, Therrien also expanded upon the health status of Alex Galchenyuk, who will miss his third consecutive game on Tuesday night after re-aggravating a knee injury on January 21.
"He felt good on the ice this morning. He should skate with the team on Wednesday and we'll see from there. When players are ready to come back, they know it. If the medical staff gives him the green light and the player feels both physically and mentally ready to play, he'll play. That's the way it works," said Therrien. "He could play on Thursday, Saturday or Sunday. I don't have all of the answers. We'll see."
Video: Michel Therrien on the return of injured players
The Canadiens also assigned defenseman Zach Redmond to the AHL's St. John's IceCaps on Tuesday.