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Canadiens' Gallagher practices, could return on trip

by Arpon Basu

BROSSARD, Quebec -- Montreal Canadiens right wing Brendan Gallagher practiced with his teammates Saturday for the first time since fracturing two fingers on his left hand on Nov. 22.

Gallagher did not travel with the Canadiens to face the Washington Capitals on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; NHLN, CBC, CITY, TVA Sports, CSN-DC), but coach Michel Therrien did not rule out a return over the course of their current road trip.

The Canadiens will travel to face the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday and the Florida Panthers on Tuesday before the 2016 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic against the Boston Bruins at Gillette Stadium on Jan. 1.

"It's a possibility," Therrien said when asked if Gallagher will join the Canadiens on the trip. "I know he's got to meet the doctor again in the next few days, and they'll take a decision from there."

Gallagher skated with his teammates in a non-contact jersey, but it was the first time he was cleared to handle pucks. Gallagher had shot a few pucks in his first on-ice session, but he said he wasn't allowed to do so.

The fractured fingers are on his top hand when he shoots, and Gallagher reported no discomfort following practice when he shot or handled the puck.

"It was fun to see him practice with his teammates," Therrien said. "He's been skating on his own for about 10 days, so that starts to feel a bit long. He's reached another step of his rehab, and it seems to be going very well for him."

The Canadiens announced defenseman Tom Gilbert will miss at least the next four games with a lower-body injury he sustained in a 2-1 loss at the Minnesota Wild on Tuesday, meaning he will not play in the Winter Classic.

The Canadiens also said they have asked forward Zack Kassian not to report to St. John's of the American Hockey League for the time being, and that he and his agent have agreed.

Kassian, who was suspended without pay while he was in Stage 2 of the NHL/NHLPA Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program, was reinstated on Dec. 15 and immediately placed on waivers by the Canadiens. Kassian cleared waivers on Dec. 16 and was assigned to St. John's, which played that night in Albany but did not have another game until Saturday.

The NHL's holiday roster freeze will be lifted Monday at 12:01 a.m.

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