Pacioretty gets three-game ban

Penguins defenceman Kris Letang shoves Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty into goaltender Marc-Andre...

Penguins defenceman Kris Letang shoves Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty into goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Que., Nov. 26, 2011. (MARTIN CHEVALIER/QMI Agency)

QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:09 AM ET

Montreal Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty was suspended three games Monday for hit that left Pittsburgh Penguins defenceman Kris Letang with a broken nose.

Pacioretty caught Letang with a shoulder to the face just as the defenceman crossed over the Montreal blueline late in the third period, leaving him bloodied on the ice. Letang briefly left the game but came back to score the winning goal in overtime.

Pacioretty wasn't penalized on the play but NHL disciplinarian Brendan Shanahan felt further punishment was warranted.

"Letang makes the decision to sacrifice his body; he must accept the possibility of taking a hit to make the play," Shanahan said. "However, what no player should expect is that his head will be picked and made the principle point of contact on such a hit."

Pacioretty, who will forfeit more than $26,000 in pay, is eligible to return Dec. 6 when the Canadiens take on the Columbus Blue Jackets.

MARKOV CLOSE TO RETURN

Defenceman Andrei Markov is expected to return to the Montreal Canadiens lineup this week when they play three games in California.

Markov, who turns 33 in December, worked out with the Canadiens Monday and practised with the first power-play unit.

Coach Jacques Martin said no date has been set for the star defenceman's return, adding that Markov's condition has improved in recent weeks.

The Canadiens play Wednesday at Anaheim, Thursday at San Jose and Saturday at Los Angeles.

Markov, who is recovering from major surgery on his right knee, played only seven games in 2010-11 and hasn't played yet this season.


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