This Canadiens squad would have been really something in 1909, when a game was composed of two 30-minute periods. No pesky middle frame, inconsiderately added in 1910, during which players could vanish into the foggy mists rising from the soft, natural ice.

There was a bit of levity in the Habs’ Tampa dressing room Saturday night, this team having for the second consecutive game almost magically survived a second period disappearing act en route to a 4-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning.

But the joy was also subdued by the uncertainty surrounding the left shoulder injury suffered midway through the third period by heart-and-soul/blood-and-guts forward Brandon Prust.

Arguably the Canadiens’ best player this season, Prust crashed heavily into the end boards chasing a puck in a bid to avoid an icing call. He left with the help of head athletic therapist Graham Rynbend and didn’t return.

It was an encouraging sign that at 12:55 a.m., 30 minutes after having chartered into Sunrise with his team, Prust was on his Twitter account with the message: “Thanks for all the good wishes. I’ll be back soon,” even with a smiley face attached.

Three hours before Sunday’s game against the Florida Panthers, head coach Michel Therrien declared Prust’s injury a first-degree separation, saying he expected a 10-day absence.

“Brandon is a big part of our success, no doubt about it,” Therrien said. “But all teams face injuries. I’m glad it’s not a major one. It could have been worse, so that’s the good news.”

I had flipped a message to Prust a few hours earlier, joking that “This isn’t a stinkin’ vacation. Put your jersey back on.”



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