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Canadiens' Mitchell returns to lineup against Sharks

by Sean Farrell / NHL.com

SHARKS (14-14-1) at CANADIENS (20-8-3)

TV: RDS, SNE, CSN-CA

MONTREAL -- Montreal Canadiens center Torrey Mitchell will return against the San Jose Sharks at Bell Centre on Tuesday.

Mitchell missed 10 games because of a lower-body injury he sustained on Nov. 19.

"You miss one game you feel behind the eight-ball, never mind three weeks, so I'm just going to keep it simple (Tuesday) and hopefully have success," Mitchell said after the morning skate at the Canadiens' suburban practice facility.

Mitchell had five goals and five assists in 20 games, mostly anchoring a fourth line with Brian Flynn and Devante Smith-Pelly that Montreal coach Michel Therrien used often against opponents' top lines.

"The grit that he brings to our team, it's big, so we've been missing it but we're happy to get him back," defenseman P.K. Subban said. "That being said, he's going to have to work himself back into the mix slowly. It's not easy coming back like that but it's all up to us to support him and help him, talking to him in the (defensive) zone and making sure he's aware out there, but he's a veteran, he's been through it before. We're really happy to have him back now."

Flynn, who will play his 200th game, will move from center to right wing.

"I'm comfortable with Brian and I think we have good chemistry together," Mitchell said. "He's easy to play with so I think that's going to help me. He's fast and he's very, very smart. Whether he has the puck or not, he's always in the right spot and he's quick, so he can play with anybody and I'm happy he's playing with me."

With Smith-Pelly sidelined because of a lower-body injury, Sven Andrighetto will be Mitchell's left wing.

Goalie Dustin Tokarski will make his third straight start for the Canadiens. He had 25 saves Saturday when Montreal ended a four-game losing streak with a 3-1 victory against the Ottawa Senators -- it was his first win since March 17.

The Canadiens have not scored a power-play goal in their past five games.

"I'm not too worried about it," Subban said. "We've been moving the puck well, that's the most important thing. Momentum is the most important thing out of your power play so obviously we'd like to get some goals. Our power play could be clicking, but then we're not playing well 5-on-5 or defending well, and if that's the case then it doesn't matter how good your power play. For us, it's all about the process and that's a part of it. It'll come."

San Jose forward Logan Couture did not travel with the Sharks, who are on a six-game losing streak heading into a five-game road trip.

Couture, who has been limited to five games because of injuries, had surgery to repair a bleeding artery in his right thigh Thursday, an injury he sustained during a 4-3 loss at the Edmonton Oilers on Wednesday.

It was Couture's second game after missing two months with a broken fibula.

"When teams are missing key guys, look at their records. The good teams," San Jose coach Peter DeBoer said Tuesday. "Look at Chicago's record early when Duncan Keith's out of the lineup. I don't think it's an accident Carey Price goes down and you lose a few in a row. That's the NHL, and the teams that can survive that and keep their heads above water and hope it doesn't happen again usually come out the other end. So we're in that mode. We haven't had him for the entire season, and I think we're learning to try and win without him there, but he'll definitely be a welcome addition back."

DeBoer has put center Joe Thornton between right wing Joe Pavelski and left wing Tomas Hertl.

"(Hertl's) got to create room for those guys," DeBoer said. "He's a big body. He plays a possession game, which is how they want to play in the offensive zone. He's got to get to the front of the net. You know pucks are going to get there with those two guys so there's going to be opportunities to score some goals if you go to those dirty areas and win some battles. So that's what we're looking for."

Here are the projected lineups:

SHARKS

Tomas Hertl - Joe Thornton - Joe Pavelski

Melker Karlsson - Patrick Marleau - Joel Ward

Joonas Donskoi - Chris Tierney - Tommy Wingels

Matt Nieto - Dainius Zubrus - Mike Brown

Paul MartinBrent Burns

Marc-Edouard VlasicJustin Braun

Brenden DillonDylan DeMelo

Martin Jones

Alex Stalock

Injured: Logan Couture (right thigh), Ben Smith (concussion symptoms)

Scratched: Barclay Goodrow, Matt Tennyson

CANADIENS

Max Pacioretty - Tomas Plekanec - Paul Byron

Lars Eller - Alex Galchenyuk - Dale Weise

Tomas Fleischmann - David Desharnais - Daniel Carr

Sven Andrighetto - Torrey Mitchell - Brian Flynn

Andrei Markov - P.K. Subban

Alexei Emelin- Jeff Petry

Nathan Beaulieu - Tom Gilbert

Dustin Tokarski

Mike Condon

Injured: Carey Price (lower body), Brendan Gallagher (hand), Devante Smith-Pelly (lower body)

Scratched: Greg Pateryn, Jarred Tinordi, Charles Hudon

Status report: Nieto returns after missing two games because of a lower-body injury. Goodrow was recalled from the San Jose Barracuda of the American Hockey League, and Smith was returned to the Sharks from his conditioning assignment with the Barracuda on Tuesday. Gallagher skated for a second straight day Tuesday. Canadiens forward Zack Kassian was placed on waivers Tuesday after the NHL and NHL Players' Association announced he was returned to available status and has entered the follow-up care phase of the Substance Abuse and Behavioral Health Program.

Who's hot: Marleau has 13 points in his past 13 games (seven goals, six assists). Galchenyuk has 10 points (five goals, five assists) in 11 games. Weise had two assists Saturday.

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