Canadiens' David Savard sidelined indefinitely after courageous shift in Buffalo

Veteran defenceman suffered upper-body injury as he blocked three shots in less than a minute while penalty-killing in victory over Buffalo.

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The injuries just keep coming for the Canadiens.

The team announced Tuesday morning that veteran defenceman David Savard is out indefinitely with an upper-body injury.

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The Canadiens have already lost forward Kirby Dach for the season after he tore the ACL and MCL ligaments in his knee during the second game of the season, while defenceman Kaiden Guhle remains day-to-day with an upper-body injury. The injuries come after the Canadiens set an NHL record last season with 751 man-games lost to injury.

Savard was injured during the third period of Monday’s 3-1 road win over the Buffalo Sabres during a heroic shift he put in on a penalty-kill.

With the Canadiens leading 2-1, Sean Monahan took a tripping penalty at 10:16 of the third period. On the ensuing power play, Savard blocked a one-time slapshot by Tage Thompson with his left hand, knocking the stick out of his hand. While Savard was favouring his hand, forward Jake Evans gave him his stick. Nine seconds after the first block, Savard blocked another Thompson one-timer with his right foot and it knocked the blade out of his skate. Savard was on his hands and knees, trying to push off with his one remaining skate blade, and was able to get back up on his feet and block yet another Thompson shot before goalie Jake Allen made a glove save to stop the clock. This all happened in a 48-second span.

Evans had to drag Savard to the bench before he went to the locker room.

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The Canadiens, who have a 3-1-1 record, called up defenceman Gustav Lindström from the AHL’s Laval Rocket on an emergency basis to replace Savard for Tuesday’s game against the New Jersey Devils at the Bell Centre (7:15 p.m., TSN2, RDS, TSN 690 Radio, 98.5 FM).

“It’s unbelievable,” the Canadiens’ Brendan Gallagher told reporters in Buffalo after Monday’s game when asked about Savard’s shift. “It take a lot of courage. He’s been doing it for a long time. I can’t really explain how it makes the guys on the bench feel to have a guy like that on your team. Kudos to him and we’re lucky to have him.”

Savard finished the game with five blocked shots and one assist in 16:54 of ice time.

“That just sends a message to the team that he’s willing to do whatever it takes,” Evans told reporters in Buffalo about Savard’s effort on the penalty-kill. “I was out there with him and I honestly wanted to block one for him. He’s just a huge part of this team and a big leader. If he’s hurt, guys will step up and do whatever it takes to win games for him so when he’s back we’re in a good spot.”

Allen also had high praise for Savard after Monday’s game.

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“It’s tough to put into words what he does for this team — off the ice, on the ice,” the goalie said. “Those three blocks tonight, sacrifice, commitment to the team. He’s team-first all the way. Hopefully he’s OK. I have no idea the extent of what’s going on. But, obviously, taking a Thompson one-timer is not going to be easy — but sacrifice. I think when you see that you just want to try to find a way for him to get out of that and put the best foot forward.

“Kudos to him for standing there on one foot trying to find a way to balance yourself,” Allen added about Savard’s effort after losing a skate blade. “It’s not easy. Just trying to get a job done for the team, so that’s team-first.”

Heading into Tuesday’s game, Savard and fellow defenceman Mike Matheson were tied for the team lead with 14 blocked shots. Last season, Savard led the Canadiens with 176 blocked shots and ranked eighth in the NHL despite missing 20 games because of injuries.

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