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Cammalleri out through weekend

by Dave Lozo
NEW YORK -- The Montreal Canadiens don't expect leading goal scorer Mike Cammalleri back until after the weekend at the earliest, according to coach Jacques Martin.

There were some reports that said Cammalleri could return Saturday when the Canadiens host the Toronto Maple Leafs. But he didn't travel with the team to New York for Tuesday night's game with the Rangers (7:30 p.m., VERSUS), and Martin didn't want to put a time table on Cammalleri's return this morning at Madison Square Garden.

"They're not practicing with the team yet, so until they start practicing with the team it's difficult to say when they'll be back," Martin said of Cammalleri and defenseman Marc-Andre Bergeron, who has been out since Feb. 4 with a left knee injury. Cammalleri has missed 14 games after he hurt his right knee in a game against the Ottawa Senators on Jan. 30.

The Canadiens have seen an unexpected improvement in their offense without Cammalleri, whose 26 goals are still tops on the team despite his long absence. After averaging about 2.5 goals per game with Cammalleri, they are scoring nearly 3.3 a game without him.

They are also 10-4-0 without Cammalleri in the lineup, and that surge has them in a tie for sixth place in the Eastern Conference with the Philadelphia Flyers.

"I think different guys step up, fill the role," said right wing Brian Gionta, who has 7 goals and 11 points in the Canadiens' 14 games without Cammalleri. "I think we've done a good job since the break. I think that's been the biggest thing -- our consistency throughout the lineup."

Tomas Plekanec, who was a bit of a question mark after suffering an injury in practice Monday, will be in the lineup against the Rangers on Tuesday.

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter at: @DLozoNHL
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