PITTSBURGH - Canadiens defenceman Andrei Markov was helped off the ice with an apparent right leg injury after being rammed by Penguins forward Matt Cooke during the first period of the Eastern Conference semifinal playoff game.
Just after letting go of a pass up ice Markov was drilled by Penguins super-pest Matt Cooke with a clean hit at 11:46., sending the Canadiens defenceman sprawling awkwardly into the boards.
Markov remained on the ice for several minutes as Scott Gomez went after Cooke at centre ice. Markov was eventually helped off the ice, putting no weight on his right leg.
"I didn't even see it," Gomez said. "When you see a teammate go down, it's one of those things. You react."
Canadiens head coach Jacques Martin provided no update on Markov's condition, saying he will be evaluated on Saturday.
"First of all we don't (know) if we've lost him yet, we just didn't have him tonight," said Marc-Andre Bergeron, who moved back to defence from forward when Markov was hurt. "I don't think I need to say how much Andrei means to this team."
The Canadiens lost their best defenceman in the first game of the regular season when Markov had tendons sliced in his left foot by the skate of goalie Carey Price, costing him 35 games.
The Canadiens had a 14-20-3 record this season with Markov out of the lineup, and it was 25-13-7 when Markov was healthy. Prior to this season, the Canadiens had a 6-19-3 mark in games Markov missed since the NHL lockout.
Pittsburgh ended up with a power play because two Canadiens drew roughing penalties.
On March 7, Cooke's blindside hit badly injured Bruins forward Marc Savard, who sustained a severe concussion.