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EDMONTON (AP) The Montreal Canadiens are having a tough time defensively with Andrei Markov injured. A long stint without Sheldon Souray certainly wouldn't help the Edmonton Oilers' blueline.
After a humbling defeat, the Canadiens continue to look for ways to make up for Markov's absence Saturday night when they visit the Oilers, who could also be without one of their best defensemen.
Montreal (2-2-0) lost Markov in its season opener Oct. 1, when the veteran was cut on the leg by goaltender Carey Price's skate in a 4-3 win at Toronto. Markov had surgery to replace damaged tendons and will be out until at least February.
The Canadiens won their next game, 2-1 at Buffalo last Saturday, but have given up 11 goals in losing their next two. They fell 4-3 at Calgary on Tuesday and 7-1 at Vancouver the next day.
"You don't win any battles for loose pucks you're not going to win too many hockey games," Canadiens coach Jacques Martin said. "To win games you have to show a lot more determination."
Josh Gorges has done his best to make up for the loss of Markov. He ranks among the NHL's leaders with 14 blocks and has also chipped in offensively, earning an assist and a game-winning goal against the Maple Leafs.
Gorges and the rest of Montreal's defensemen, though, had a terrible effort against Vancouver. Yannick Weber, a 21-year-old rookie called up to replace Markov, was minus-3. Price, who was outstanding in his first two games, stopped 25 of 32 shots before being pulled with 8 minutes remaining.
"It's terrible. We didn't do a good job for him the first two games and he stood on his head, he was Superman," Canadiens winger Mike Cammalleri said. "We've all been on road trips before. We're pro athletes. We've got to come with better than that."
Montreal concludes a five-game trip against an Edmonton team that might be without Souray. The defenseman suffered a mild concussion in the second period of the Oilers' 4-3 shootout loss to Calgary on Thursday night.
Souray is a strong defensive presence who had 23 goals and 30 assists for Edmonton (1-1-1) last season. His status for Saturday's game is uncertain.
Veteran defenseman Steve Staios may not play either after missing Edmonton's last contest due to a concussion. He was injured in a 5-4 win over Dallas on Tuesday night and finished the game but felt groggy the next day.
The Oilers, though, did get some good news, as captain Ethan Moreau returned after missing a game due to an infected ankle. The winger, who had a career-high 133 penalty minutes last season, adds toughness with Souray and Staios injured.
Even with Moreau back, Edmonton lost to Calgary for the second time. The Oilers dropped their season opener against the Flames 4-3 last Saturday.
"I guess it gives some adversity to deal with early in the season because those are two of the toughest losses you are going to see all year, I hope," Moreau said.
Edmonton went 1-0-1 against Montreal last season, losing the last matchup 4-3 in overtime March 10. The Oilers have won six of their last seven home games against the Canadiens, scoring five goals or more in four of the last five meetings.
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|Mar 11 '10||EDM 4 at MTL 5 - SO||A. Kostitsyn|
|Oct 10 '09||MTL 2 at EDM 3||P. O'Sullivan|