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Brothers Andrei and Sergei Kostitsyn stay in the spotlight with goals, hits

BROSSARD, Que. - Brothers Andrei and Sergei Kostitsyn of the Montreal Canadiens are drawing attention of late, both for scoring goals and causing havoc on the ice.

The 23-year-old Andrei scored Montreal's only goal with a gritty play in front of the net in a 3-1 loss to the Bruins in Boston on Tuesday night. But he was also the goat as he drew a five-minute boarding major late in the second period for a hit on defenceman Aaron Ward that led to Zdeno Chara's game-winning goal.

Ward left the game with an injury, even though the Canadiens felt the hit was not especially dangerous. The league apparently agreed with them.

Canadiens coach Guy Carbonneau said Wednesday that the team was informed by the NHL that the major penalty would not go on Kostitsyn's record, so he will not be considered a repeat offender if there are any more incidents this year.

"It was a good hit," Sergei Kostitsyn said of his brother's penalty. "I don't know why the ref gave him five minutes. I think (it should have been) only two minutes."

The 21-year-old Sergei had his moment in the spotlight late in last week's 6-2 victory over Toronto, when he and fellow Belarus native Mikhail Grabovski tried to get at each other and were kept apart only with difficulty by the officials. Grabovski drew a three-game suspension for abusing an official, while Kostitsyn somehow escaped sanctions.

These events are happening just as the brothers have got hot on the scoresheet.

In the last five games, Andrei has five goals and four assists, Sergei has two goals and four assists and their centre Robert Lang has five goals and two helpers.

"I like players with emotion," Carbonneau said of the brothers. "I think Sergei has a little more than Andrei, but Andrei doesn't shy away from the traffic and when he plays like that, he can be a power forward.

"He scored because he stayed in front of the net and got a rebound. Then he tried to make a hit and take away the puck, but unfortunately, he took a major penalty. But this is what we want him to do."

The six-foot 210-pound Andrei was chosen 10th overall by Montreal in 2003 but his smaller brother was a steal at 200th overall two years later in the NHL draft.

"Andrei is more shot-oriented and Sergei is more of a setup guy," said Lang, the team leader with 16 goals, two more than Andrei. "Everyone fits in with each other."

The loss was only the second in regulation time in the last 12 games for Montreal, which is 9-2-1 in that span heading into a home game Thursday night against the Nashville Predators.

The Preds are 7-2-1 against the Eastern Conference this season and have yet to allow a goal against a Northeast Division team, winning 2-0 against both Buffalo in December and Toronto on Tuesday night.

Goalie Pekka Rinne's shutout against the Leafs was the fourth in his last 14 games.


KOIVU SETBACK - Captain Saku Koivu practised with his teammates Monday and looked to be on his way to a return from an ankle injury but has had a setback in his recovery. He was not on the ice Wednesday at the Complexe Sportif Bell.

"He tried to skate (Tuesday) and he felt pain, so the doctors told him to rest for a few days before he tries again," said coach Guy Carbonneau. "He's off until Saturday or Sunday and we'll reassess it then."

Carbonneau had no news on when Carey Price, also bothered by an ankle, will resume practice, but he doesn't want his No. 1 goaltender to play in the all-star game Jan. 25 in Montreal unless he is back to full health.

Price was one of four Canadiens voted onto the starting lineup for the all-star game, along with defencemen Andrei Markov and Mike Komisarek and right winger Alex Kovalev.

"If he can't be on the ice this weekend and play Tuesday or Wednesday, I don't see why he'd play the (all-star) game and risk being injured again," Carbonneau said.

Forwards Alex Tanguay and Christopher Higgins and defenceman Mathieu Dandenault are out for the longer term, but enforcer Georges Laraque says he should be back at practice in a week to 10 days after resting his sore back.


FREEDOM OF INFORMATION - The NHL told teams this season they didn't need to divulge details of injuries to their players, but the Montreal Canadiens have found it's better to own up than to let the rumour mill run on.

That's why a few days ago they let it be known that goalie Carey Price's injury was to his ankle and Georges Laraque's was his back. Wild stories had been flying around, mainly on radio phone-in shows and the Internet, about everything from substance abuse rehab to poor conditioning and chronic injuries.

Now the policy is that if an injury is short-term, they keep it confidential, but anything longer than a few days will be disclosed.

"But if the player says 'let them speculate all they want,' we'll sill say it's upper body or lower body," said coach Guy Carbonneau. "The NHL policy is supposed to help and I think in other cities, it does help."

The new policy was a decided at a meeting between Carbonneau, general manager Bob Gainey, assistant GM Julien Brisebois, head therapist Graham Rynbend and the team's media relations staff.


LECAVALIER MANIA - The talk around town is all about Vincent Lecavalier and speculation that the Montreal Canadiens have made an offer to the Tampa Bay Lightning to acquire the star centre.

Names mentioned include Christopher Higgins, centre Tomas Plekanec and defenceman Josh Gorges plus prospects and draft picks.

Gorges said he tries not to let it bother him.

"You have to understand that if you play for Montreal, that's part of the package - there's always going to be rumours," he said. "I thought about it. You wonder 'what if it happened?' But I try to brush it all aside. You can't let it get to you."


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