Canadiens' Gallagher, Niku enter COVID-19 protocol, are currently symptom-free

Montreal Canadiens forward Brendan Gallagher (11) skates during the second period of an NHL hockey game against the Buffalo Sabres. (Jeffrey T. Barnes/AP)

Montreal Canadiens forward Brendan Gallagher and defenceman Sami Niku have entered the NHL's COVID-19 protocol, the team announced Thursday.

The team added that both players "are being monitored closely by team doctors and following the guidelines and protocols set by the NHL."

Head coach Dominique Ducharme said both are symptom-free at the moment. Each player will need to quarantine for the next 10 days unless they test negative Thursday and Friday, in which case they could return from protocol.

Gallagher and Niku are the only Canadiens players currently in protocol. Marc Bergevin, the team's former general manager who was fired on Nov. 28, tested positive nearly two weeks ago.

Gallagher has 10 points through 23 games this season, while Niku has three points in nine games in his first season with the Canadiens.

Ducharme also announced that Mathieu Perrault (eye), Brett Kulak (lower body) and Chris Wideman (upper body) will all return to the lineup as the Canadiens host the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday night.

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