Canadiens 4 Coyotes 1.

Officially, this one was over when linemates Saku Koivu, Alex Tanguay and Guillaume Latendresse came out for their curtain call after being named the games’ three stars.

Unofficially, this one was over when Andrei Kostitsyn ended up on the receiving end of a thunderous body check that left number 46 of the Canadiens on the ice for several minutes. A very woozy Kostitsyn needed several hands to help him make his way off the ice, although a stretcher was waiting, just in case. He did not return, and in the process, the air went out of the Bell Centre, changing the complexion of this game, completely.

The question now is: when WILL Andrei Kostitsyn return?

Head coach Guy Carbonneau didn’t have many answers in the minutes following last night’s contest. “I just saw him about five minutes ago and he’s doing better. He was a little dizzy. I guess the next couple of days … I’m sure he’ll have to pass tests … and then we’ll know a little bit more.”

Carbonneau wouldn’t call it a dirty hit, but said it was definitely a blow to the head.

No one felt worse for Andrei Kostitsyn then little brother Sergei, who jumped off the bench to see how big brother was doing in the moments following “The Hit.” Sergei was clearly rattled, to the point where team captain Saku Koivu had to have a talk with number 74, to try and settle him down.

Big Georges Laraque tried to get his mitts on Sauer after the incident, but it was Tom Kostoupolos who got Sauer to drop his gloves since eight minutes later.

For the record, the Canadiens got a pair of goals from Alex Tanguay, singles from Saku Koivu and Robert Lang, as the line of Koivu-Tanguay-and-Latendresse continues to excel. With Chris Higgins ready to return to action any day now, there are some who believe Higgins should be reunited with Koivu. That’s not going to happen. Why would it, with the way the current version of the Koivu line has been playing?

Going into last night’s game, I would have told you that, upon his return, Higgins would find himself skating with Robert Lang and Sergei Kostitsyn, leaving Tom Kostoupolos to find employment on the fourth line. Now, with the injury to Andrei K., all bets are off. If Andrei finds himself on the sidelines for an extended period of time as a result of last night’s hit, look for brother Sergei to replace him on the line with Alex Kovalev and Thomas Plekanec (who just can’t seem to buy a goal in the early going.) We saw the three of them line up together after Andrei went down, and I suspect we’ll see the three of them together again, if necessary.

As for Higgins, when he’s ready to return, and if Andrei isn’t, look for number 21 to skate with Lang and Kostoupolos, leaving T.K. (as his teammates call him) with third-line duties, pending further notice.

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