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Habs prepare for life without Pacioretty as Devils come to town

Montreal Canadiens' Andrei Markov (79) celebrates his goal with teammate Max Pacioretty (67) over the Florida Panthers during first period NHL action in Montreal, January 22, 2013.

CHRISTINNE MUSCHI/REUTERS

And it was all going so well, Habs Nation.

Two victories in the team's first three games, with the wins coming through assured, balanced performances, with everyone healthy.

Now the Canadiens go into a rare Sunday evening game (6 p.m., RDS) against the Stanley Cup-finalist New Jersey Devils without their biggest offensive threat and with a possible hole on their blue line.

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Winger Max Pacioretty, the Habs' leading scorer last year, had emergency surgery to remove an inflamed appendix on Saturday night, and will miss three or four weeks of action.

Defenceman Tomas Kaberle took a puck in the face in practice on Saturday, he's expected to be a game-time decision.

The Devils, meanwhile, roll into town as winners of their first three games.

A win would give them their first 4-0 start since 1995-96.

As ever, New Jersey is led by 40-year-old goalie Martin Brodeur, a Montreal native, who always seems to pull out great performances in his home town.

Brodeur has yielded just three goals through his first three starts, posting a save percentage of .958.

Montreal's Carey Price is only fractionally behind him at .953, and has given up only one even-strength goal to this point in the season, in garbage time during a comfortable 4-1 victory in Washington on Thursday.

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Another player with Montreal ties will be making his Bell Centre debut. Rookie winger Stefan Matteau, who played the first part of the season with Blainville-Boisbriand of the QMJHL, is the son of former New York Ranger Stéphane.

The 2012 first-rounder – picked 25 slots after the Canadiens'18-year-old phenom Alex Galchenyuk– may even get to make his Montreal bow on the top line with Ilya Kovalchuk and Travis Zajac.

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About the Author
National Correspondent

Sean Gordon joined the Globe's Quebec bureau in 2008 and covers the Canadiens, Alouettes and Impact, as well as Quebec's contingent of Olympic athletes. More

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