Souray leads all NHL defensemen with 11 goals, and has eight points in his last four games. The 27-year-old blueliner recorded his first career hat trick and added an assist to lift Montreal to a 5-4 victory over visiting Nashville on Thursday.
The four points was a career high for Souray, who became the first Canadien defenseman to register a hat trick since Vladimir Malakhov accomplished the feat in a 6-3 Montreal win at Carolina on Feb. 1, 1998.
“I call him our MVP,” said Montreal’s Mike Ribeiro of Souray. “He’s been huge for us this year. He’s a leader, and guys look up to him.”
The Canadiens are unbeaten in nine of their last 11 games (6-2-3), and are two games above .500 for the first time since Oct. 23.
Montreal, however, might be concerned with the health of starting goalie Jose Theodore, who left Thursday’s game in the first period because of a badly bruised collarbone. Theodore started despite being struck by Pierre Dagenais’ shot during the pregame warmup.
His status for Saturday’s game is unknown.
“Despite everything, I tried to start the game,” Theodore said. “It probably wasn’t a good decision on my part, but in the heat of the moment you want to play.”
The division-leading Maple Leafs extended their franchise-record points streak to 13 despite more bad injury news in Friday’s 2-2 tie at Washington.
Right wing Darcy Tucker was hit in the foot by a puck in the third period and is listed as day-to-day. The Maple Leafs also learned that Tomas Kaberle’s recent shoulder injury will keep the defenseman out eight to 10 days.
Nieuwendyk did play Friday despite an ankle injury. He had an assist.