PITTSBURGH - Canadiens defenceman Andrei Markov was helped off the ice with an apparent right leg injury after being rammed by Penguins forward Matt Cooke during the first period of the Eastern Conference semifinal playoff game.
Markov was skating toward a loose puck in the corner when Cooke levelled him with a hit that was not penalized at 11:46. Markov's glove flew high as he dropped to the ice. As several players held and grabbed each other at mid-ice, Markov remained down for several minutes before being helped to a runway leading to the Montreal dressing room.
Markov was putting no weight on his right leg as he left the ice.
The Canadiens lost their best defenceman in the first game of the regular season when Markov had tendons sliced in his left foot by the skate of goalie Carey Price, costing him 35 games.
The Canadiens had a 14-20-3 record this season with Markov out of the lineup, and it was 25-13-7 when Markov was healthy. Prior to this season, the Canadiens had a 6-19-3 mark in games Markov missed since the NHL lockout.
Pittsburgh ended up with a power play because two Canadiens drew roughing penalties.
On March 7, Cooke's blindside hit badly injured Bruins forward Marc Savard, who sustained a severe concussion.