Kovalev returns to Bell Centre Tuesday night

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The Canadiens will be back in action Tuesday night when former Hab Alex Kovalev and the Florida Panthers visit the Bell Centre.

The Panthers signed the 39-year-old Kovalev to a one-year contract on Friday and he scored a goal and added two assists Saturday in a season-opening 5-1 win over the Carolina Hurricanes. Kovalev’s linemate, 19-year-old Jonathan Huberdeau, also had a goal and two assists. The centre on their line is Peter Mueller, the eighth overall pick at the 2006 NHL entry draft, who picked up an assist.

 “You can tell he’s a talented kid,” Kovalev told The Associated Press about Huberdeau, the No. 3 pick at the 2001 NHL draft. “He’s really patient with the puck. He can hold on to it. Pretty strong on his feet and it’s really fun to play with a player of that type. You know if you give it to him, you’ll get the puck back. You’re not worried about helping him out. He’s strong enough to make the plays. That makes the job easier.”

About himself, Kovalev said:  “I can still stickhandle. I can still skate. I can still make plays. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be here. I’d be wasting my time and someone else’s time. I know I can match anybody in this locker room. I can still play this game. That’s why I’m here.”

You can watch Kovalev and the Panthers in action Monday night when they visit the Ottawa Senators at 7:30 p.m. on RSE and RDS before heading to Montreal to face the Habs Tuesday in a 7:30 p.m. start.

Tickets for the 22 Canadiens’ remaining home games after Tuesday went on sale Sunday and a team official told The Gazette’s Brenda Branswell they were selling at a similar pace as last year.

Some games are sold out, said Donald Beauchamp, the Canadiens’ senior vice- president, communications and community relations. There were still some tickets available for a number of games, Beauchamp said late Sunday afternoon. For more ticket info, click here.

The question Canadiens fans are asking is how many games will unsigned restricted free agent P.K. Subban play for the Canadiens.

Writes Jack Todd in his Monday Morning Quarterback column:

“Sunday, while his teammates were recovering from a bruising loss to Toronto, Subban was in T.O., taking in the Lakers game from the front row. The Lakers need all the help they can get — but the Canadiens need Subban more.”

Todd adds: “Does it matter that Subban is still unsigned? Well, for you Tomas Kaberle fans (both of you) it was great: Kaberle wasn’t all that bad. For those who hope the Canadiens will make you forget last season’s 15th-place finish with a playoff push, not so much.”

Read Todd’s entire column by clicking here.

Tomas Plekanec took the blame for the Canadiens’ season-opening 2-1 loss to the Maple Leafs Saturday night, saying the loss “is on me.”

Plekanec was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct at 7:14 of the second period when he stopped short of Ben Scrivens and treated the Toronto goaltender to a snow shower.

“I don’t think it even hit him,” Plekanec said. “But it wasn’t a smart thing to do and I’ll know better next time.”

Read more by clicking here.

Read Dave Stubbs’s column on the opening-night loss and the pregame torch ceremony by clicking here.

Meanwhile, the San Jose Sharks are exploring the possibility of signing former Canadien Scott Gomez, who became an unrestricted free agent last week when the final two seasons of his seven-year, $51-million contract were bought out by the Canadiens.

“We look at it that he’s 33, he’s won two cups,” Sharks general manager Doug Wilson told the San Jose Mercury News. “A very versatile player.”

Gomez travelled to Calgary with the Sharks for their season-opening 4-1 win over the Flames on Sunday, but a decision on his future with San Jose might take another few days. Read more by clicking here.

(Photo by J Pat Carter/Associated Press)

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