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Struggling Alex Kovalev given time off by Montreal Canadiens @NHLdotcom

BROSSARD, Que. - Struggling veteran Alex Kovalev has been given some time off by the Montreal Canadiens.

General Manager Bob Gainey said Tuesday he met with Kovalev to tell him he won't be on the team's trip this week for games Wednesday night in Washington and Thursday night in Pittsburgh.

His status for a home game Saturday against Ottawa remains uncertain.

Gainey said Kovalev is not suspended and will still be paid. He said the right-winger appears to be tired and has not been playing well of late.

The Canadiens also sent slumping winger Sergei Kostitsyn to AHL Hamilton and recalled physical forward Gregory Stewart, at the request of coach Guy Carbonneau and his staff.

The moves came a day after Montreal sent a pair of draft picks to Atlanta in exchange for veteran defenceman Mathieu Schneider, who practised with the team Tuesday.

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