Brendan Gallagher returns to practice, Condon to start vs. Capitals

Montreal’s Brendan Gallagher headed right to the locker room after taking a hard shot off his left hand.

MONTREAL — Winger Brendan Gallagher skated for the first time with teammates on Saturday since breaking two fingers on his left hand last month.

Gallagher suffered the injury on Nov. 22 after blocking a shot against the New York Islanders. He underwent successful surgery on the hand two days later.

The 23-year-old was wearing a blue jersey at practice, meaning he wasn’t allowed to take part in contact drills. He took a few shots on Montreal’s goaltenders, and had previously said he was hoping to return in time for the Winter Classic on Jan. 1 against the Boston Bruins.

In 22 games this season, Gallagher has nine goals and 10 assists.

Defenceman Jeff Petry returned to Canadiens practice after missing the last two games before the NHL holiday break and will play Saturday night when Montreal visits the Washington Capitals. Petry suffered his injury after taking a hit from Dallas Stars forward Jamie Benn on Dec. 19.

Fellow defenceman Tom Gilbert, who is recovering from a lower-body injury, will miss Saturday night’s game against the Capitals. The Canadiens later specified that Gilbert will miss the team’s next four road games. He will be re-evaluated at the start of January.

Mike Condon will start in net for Montreal, which will try and snap a five-game losing streak against Washington. The Habs have just one win in their last 10 games.

The Canadiens also announced that after speaking with forward Zack Kassian‘s agent, the club asked Kassian not to report to their AHL affiliate, the St. John’s IceCaps.

Kassian was placed on waivers Dec. 15 – which he later cleared – after the NHL and the NHL Players Association announced that he had completed stage two of its substance abuse and behavioural health program and was now in the followup care phase.

He was placed in the program following an early morning single-car accident on Oct. 4 in which he suffered a fractured foot and broken nose. Two others in the vehicle suffered minor injuries.

The Canadiens acquired Kassian from the Vancouver Canucks for veteran Brandon Prust this summer. He has yet to play a regular season game for Montreal.

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