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The Montreal Canadiens are holding their breath that a new injury to top defenceman Andrei Markov's right leg is not too serious.

Markov was helped off the ice at 14:50 of the third period of Montreal's 7-2 win over Carolina on Saturday night after a collision with Hurricanes' star Eric Staal.

He appeared to injure his right knee - the same knee that needed surgery this summer after he hurt it during the playoffs.

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Coach Jacques Martin only called it a lower-body injury and said more would be known in the next few days after evaluation by team doctors.

"It wasn't fun to see him go down," said centre Tomas Plekanec. "He's a great player, but we'll see what it is."

Markov and Staal were chasing a puck into a corner of the Montreal zone when they crossed in front of each other and their knees collided. Markov's right leg appeared to twist awkwardly and he threw off his gloves as he tumbled into the boards.

The 31-year-old, who is due to become an unrestricted free agent in July, has been plagued with injuries in recent seasons.

In the opening game of last season, he suffered a deep skate cut to a foot and was out until Dec. 19.

Then, in the second round of the playoffs against Pittsburgh, he collided with the Penguins Matt Cooke and tore ligaments in his right knee that required surgery. He returned Oct. 30 and was in only his seventh game back when he hurt the leg again. He has a goal and two assists this season.

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