MONTREAL — The Carolina Hurricanes were in a scrambling mode Monday.
The Canes came to Montreal to face the Canadiens on Monday night missing three regulars out with injuries – forward Jeff Skinner and defensemen Joni Pitkanen and Tim Gleason. Then, after the morning skate at the Bell Centre, center Tim Brent left the ice early and then was ruled out of the game because of a lower-body injury.
Center Riley Nash already had been recalled from the Charlotte Checkers, the Canes’ AHL affiliate. But a distress call had to be made Monday as center Jeremy Welsh was hastily called up.
Pitkanen and Gleason, both out with lower-body injuries, were placed on injured reserve, retroactive to Feb. 12. Canes coach Kirk Muller said Monday that he hoped Skinner, the team’s second-leading scorer, could return to the lineup for the Thursday home game against Winnipeg.
Skinner has an upper-body injury but has no concussion issues. He was at practice Friday but did not practice Sunday and did not make the trip.
“We knew before the season started that teams would face these situations,” Muller said Monday. "It’s an opportunity for guys to step in and do a job. You can’t make any excuses. We’ve just got to find ways to win.”
Muller said he planned to juggle the lines during Monday’s game, looking at different combinations. The only line that figured to stay intact was the top line of center Eric Staal and wingers Jiri Tlusty and Alexander Semin.
Tlusty was named the NHL’s third star of the week Monday for his play last week. Tlusty had four goals, two assists and a plus-6 rating in wins over the New York Islanders, New Jersey Devils and Toronto Maple Leafs.
Canes defenseman Jay Harrison said one key to maintaining momentum in the shortened NHL season would be a team’s ability to withstand and weather injuries, whether a player is out for a game, a week or a month.
“The fact that games are closer together this season increases the risk of injury,” Harrison said. “It will increase the impact of injuries, as well, and I think there will be a degree of good fortune. Teams who have guys who can come in and fill roles quickly adds another element to it.”
Eric Staal noted the players called up from the Checkers “know our system and you have to think they’re comfortable and have some confidence.”
That includes Nash, 23, who is coming off a career-best four-point game for the Checkers on Saturday and has 20 points in the last 18 games for Charlotte. Nash, who played his sixth NHL game Monday, is in his third full professional season.
“I think more of an onus has been put on different guys with guys being called up (by the Canes). I’m trying to make the most of that opportunity,” Nash said of his scoring binge.