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At the Rink: Canadiens at Flyers

Center Couturier, goaltender Mason return for Philadelphia

by Adam Kimelman @NHLAdamK / Deputy Managing Editor

PHILADELPHIA -- Center Sean Couturier and goaltender Steve Mason will return to the lineup for the Philadelphia Flyers against the Montreal Canadiens at Wells Fargo Center on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET; CSN-PH, RDS, SNE, NHL.TV).

Couturier had missed three games before the All-Star break because of a lower body injury; the Flyers (21-18-8) went 1-2-0 in his absence.

He practiced Monday for the first time since sustaining his injury, and said after the morning skate Tuesday that he didn't feel restricted in any movement on the ice.

"I feel pretty good," Couturier said. "Everyone's coming off a four-, five-day break. I think it eases a little bit the adaptation. If you're coming in and you're playing every two days, guys are at a high pace, maybe it's a little tougher to get back into it. I feel good and hopefully I can help the team tonight."

Flyers coach Dave Hakstol said having Couturier in the lineup will help all phases of the game.

"He's an important player to this team," Hakstol said. "He does a lot of things at both ends of the rink for us. Now he's coming off of a little bit of a break. He's got to probably go out and keep things simple and basic. … So hopefully he can go out and give us that positive performance tonight."

Couturier will play on a new-look second line with Sam Gagner at left wing in place of Michael Raffl. Brayden Schenn remains at right wing.

"He [Gagner] is a guy that historically has provided offense in this League," Hakstol said. "I think there's a fine line for us. We won't do anything where we think we're going to give up a whole lot more. But we're looking for different ways to provide a little bit more offense. I think when you look at it there's a good chance that [Gagner] can help us there."

Mason will start in goal for the first time since Jan. 21. He missed the Flyers' last game before the break, a 4-3 overtime defeat of the Washington Capitals, because of a lower-body injury.

"I feel OK," Mason said. "Today went through practice and no real issues. I'm not overly concerned about it. We've done a good job managing it. Was fortunate the break happened when it happened and gave it a little bit of time. Just trying to prepare to play a lot of hockey here. If we didn't have those days I think it would have just kept lingering and lingering. It was a fortunate time that the four days were coming up. I had a point where it was starting to feel a little bit worse. Nice break to have."

Goalie Anthony Stolarz was recalled from Lehigh Valley of the American Hockey League on Tuesday to replace Michal Neuvirth as Mason's backup. Neuvirth is expected to miss 7-10 days because of a lower-body injury. He leads the League with a .933 save percentage.

'He [Neuvirth] is a big part of our team," Hakstol said. "I think as is the case with any injury somebody else has to step up and do the job. Tonight [Mason] is the guy that's getting the start. He's played very well for us. He needs to go out and do that tonight."

The Canadiens (24-22-4) returned from the break with some changes to their top forward lines. David Desharnais will center Max Pacioretty and Dale Weise, and Tomas Plekanec will be between Alex Galchenyuk and Brendan Gallagher.

Pacioretty and Desharnais have played together in the past, and the hope is that chemistry can help get the Canadiens' offense started.

"Those two guys [Pacioretty and Desharnais] got success in the past and we certainly hope that they have the chemistry back," Canadiens coach Michel Therrien said. "We tried it early on in the season and the result wasn't quite there. But we hope now those two together with Dale Weise, that could be a line that could put up numbers and put up some momentum as well."

The Canadiens need to build momentum after a disastrous eight weeks before the break. In 25 games since Dec. 1 the Canadiens went 6-18-1 and fell three points behind the Pittsburgh Penguins for the final wild card into the Stanley Cup Playoffs from the Eastern Conference.

"It was nice to just get away and not think about hockey [during the break]," Pacioretty said. "We're right back in the thick of things now. It's going to be a big race; 32 games left and we have to take then one game at a time and hope the results come."

Here are the projected lineups for each team:

Alex Galchenyuk - Tomas Plekanec - Brendan Gallagher
Max Pacioretty - David Desharnais - Dale Weise
Tomas Fleischmann - Lars Eller - Devante Smith-Pelly
Lucas Lessio - Torrey Mitchell - Brian Flynn

Andrei Markov - P.K. Subban
Nathan Beaulieu - Jeff Petry
Mark Barberio - Tom Gilbert

Mike Condon
Ben Scrivens

Injured: Carey Price (lower body), Paul Byron (lower body), Daniel Carr (knee)
Scratched: Alexei Emelin, Sven Andrighetto, Greg Pateryn

Jakub Voracek - Claude Giroux - Wayne Simmonds
Sam Gagner - Sean Couturier - Brayden Schenn
Chris VandeVelde - Pierre-Edouard Bellemare - Ryan White
Michael Raffl - Scott Laughton - Matt Read

Michael Del Zotto - Shayne Gostisbehere
Nick Schultz - Mark Streit
Evgeny Medvedev - Radko Gudas

Steve Mason
Anthony Stolarz

Injured: Michal Neuvirth (lower body)
Scratched: Jordan Weal, R.J. Umberger, Brandon Manning

Status report: Gilbert will return to the lineup after missing 14 games because of a lower-body injury. He'll play in place of Emelin, who will be scratched because he missed practice Monday because of a travel issue. "We believe Tom is ready to play," Therrien said. "Been a long injury. He's more than ready. He's working hard. We hope that his experience is going to help our defensive squad." … Umberger will be a healthy scratch for the second time. He has zero goals in 32 games this season; his last goal was Jan. 27, 2015, a span of 50 games.

Who's hot: Subban has one goal and three assists in his past two games. … Gostisbehere has one goal and five assists during a four-game point streak.

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