As if a 3-2 loss to the Ottawa Senators
at the Bell Centre wasn't bad enough, the Montreal Canadiens
received some news on Monday night that's going to be extremely difficult to overcome.
Reports emerged just prior to game time that defensemen Andrei Markov
and Mathieu Schneider
would miss significant time with injuries, which could be a massive blow to the team's playoff hopes. Montreal currently sits in seventh place in the Eastern Conference, three points ahead of the New York Rangers
and Florida Panthers
. The Canadiens will visit the Rangers on Tuesday night.
Markov will miss three weeks with what appears to be a knee injury while Schneider will undergo season-ending shoulder surgery. RDS and TSN reported the news prior to the start of the game.
After the loss, though, Montreal GM and interim coach Bob Gainey declined to discuss the severity of the injuries.
"I can't verify that," Gainey said of the pre-game reports, although he did confirm both are out for Tuesday's game in New York.
Considering their value to the power play, the Canadiens realize just how damaging the injuries to Markov and Schneider are. It forced defenseman Josh Gorges
to play more than 25 minutes on Monday night, while Mike Komisarek
was on the ice for a season-high 26:21. The Habs went 0-for-4 on the power play against the Sens. They had scored 13 times in 35 opportunities over their last six games, which featured Markov and Schneider playing the points.
"They're big-time players, but when the puck dropped tonight the 20 guys that came to play, our focus was on the game," Gorges said. "We can't sit and worry about who's not in the lineup. If I had my choice, would I want them in the lineup playing beside us? Of course, but that's out of my control."
scored the tying and winning goals in a 38-second span during the third period for the Senators, who mustered only five shots in the final 20 minutes. Ottawa has won two in a row after dropping four of five.
"It's always a challenge coming into this building, it's a pretty good rivalry," said Sens forward Mike Fisher
, who set up Heatley's tying goal. "We haven't let up even though we're out of the picture, and it's always nice beating Montreal, there's no question."
and Doug Janik
skated in place of Markov and Schneider, although O'Byrne was benched for the entire third period. Janik received only 2:09 of ice time in the third.
"We started the third with the idea of playing with fewer players, using experienced players and players who had played well to that point of the game," Gainey said. "It's never easy for a player like Janik, playing his first game with his new teammates in a game that was so important to us."
After a scoreless first period, Chris Campoli
gave Ottawa a 1-0 lead with a power-play goal at 10:56 of the second. With Glen Metropolit
in the box for hooking, Nick Foligno
sent a nice backhand pass to Campoli, who beat Jaroslav Halak
for his 11th goal of the season.
But Montreal managed to head into the second period with a 2-1 lead despite recording only five shots on goal in the second. Alex Kovalev
tied the game when he beat Alex Auld
for his 25th tally at 12:46 before Mathieu Dandenault
redirected Roman Hamrlik
's shot past Auld with 3.8 seconds left.
Heatley tied the game for the Sens 11:23 into the third when he took a pass from Fisher and beat Halak in a crowd to make it 2-2. He then quickly scored what proved to be the game-winner as Jesse Winchester
took Janik out with a hit in the neutral zone to give Heatley the space to beat Halak with a shot from the left circle for his 37th goal of the season.
"It was only a matter of time before Ottawa scored the way we were playing in the third, we spent a bit too much time in our end," Gainey said. "We played against a good team tonight with a team missing two good players, and that was the result."
Material from wire services was used in this report.