Habs healing, but Markov will miss Game 6

May, 10, 2010
MONTREAL -- Montreal defenseman Andrei Markov will not play in Monday's do-or-die Game 6 against Pittsburgh, but fellow defenseman Hal Gill skated in full equipment after the morning skate and is a game-time decision despite suffering a cut to his leg in Saturday's Game 5.

"It's Game 6, it's Montreal, it's going to be fun," Gill said after taking a brief turn on the ice, when the bulk of the players had finished their morning routine.

Gill missed most of the third period of Game 5 because of a cut he suffered on the back of his leg after getting tangled up with Chris Kunitz. He then had to spend almost all of Sunday trying to get from Pittsburgh to Montreal, arriving late Sunday night. He said it would be a "team decision" regarding his status for Monday's game. Coach Jacques Martin said the decision would be made after the pregame warm-up.

Gill played a significant role in the Canadiens' shutting down Alexander Ovechkin and the Washington Capitals in the first round, and then keeping Penguins captain Sidney Crosby from scoring through the first five games of this series.

The Canadiens trail the Pens 3-2, though, and must win Monday to force a second straight seventh and deciding game.

"It's encouraging. It shows a lot of character on his part to get back last evening and get some treatment this morning," Martin said.

As for Markov, who suffered a knee injury in Game 1 of this series, Martin said he will not play even though he has been on the ice the past couple of days. On Monday, he skated in full equipment before his teammates took the ice for the morning skate.

"His condition is indefinite," Martin said of Markov. "He's ruled out for tonight."

One piece of good news was that Jaroslav Spacek, out since early in the first round with what is believed to be an inner ear/vertigo problem, is expected to play Monday night, although Martin also listed him as a game-time decision.

Taking tough times in stride

It almost seems as though the Canadiens need a good, healthy dose of adversity before they can play their best this spring. They were down 3-1 to Washington and won four straight. They have trailed 1-0 and 2-1 in the Pittsburgh series, and each time came back to tie. Now they need another win Monday to stay alive.

"I don't know if you need adversity, but I know that we need to elevate our game tonight and that's what we're prepared to do," Martin said Monday morning.

"I know we have a lot of character in our hockey club. We've faced adversity before, through the season, through the first round. We'll be prepared to compete tonight."

With all the uncertainty over who will or won't be in the lineup for Game 6, forward Glen Metropolit admitted it's hard to ignore.

"It kind of creeps into your mind a bit," he said. "But at the same time, it gives someone else an opportunity to step up and play more minutes. Guys have been stepping up pretty good."

And then there is the "nothing to lose" mantra that has been so successful for the Habs thus far.

"I keep saying it all along," said Mike Cammalleri, the Canadiens' best forward in these playoffs. "They're supposed to win, and we're not. So we're going to go play the best game we can and see if we can't play the best game we've played, and I think the results will take care of itself."

Powering up

The Penguins' power play ranks first in both goals (14) and percentage (30.4) among remaining playoff teams. Rookie Mark Letestu, who earned his first NHL playoff point in Game 5, saw some time on the power-play unit during the morning skate. Coach Dan Bylsma said Letestu, who had 55 points in 63 games with the Penguins' AHL affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, has more to offer than just being a fourth-line checker.

Foreign tongues

Because of the intense interest in this series from media in both official languages (French and English) and the large number of French Canadiens in the Penguins' lineup, the team's PR staff has been splitting scrums into both English and French.

Which brings us to the line of the morning, which came when defenseman Jordan Leopold, who hails from Golden Valley, Minn., announced to reporters that he would be conducting interviews only in French.

As far as we can tell, Leopold's knowledge of the French language begins and ends with "oui."

Scott Burnside

ESPN Senior Writer



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