NHL Buzz: Matthews back for Maple Leafs against Panthers

Toronto Maple Leafs

Austin Matthews returned to the lineup for the Toronto Maple Leafs when they visited the Florida Panthers on Saturday (CBC, SNO, SNW, SNP, BSFL, ESPN+, NHL LIVE).

The center replaced Jason Spezza after missing three games with an undisclosed injury. He leads the NHL with 58 goals and is two from becoming the first NHL player since Steven Stammos of the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2011-12 to score 60 in a season.

“It’s been a little bit difficult just trying to work through it,” Matthews said Saturday. “I feel comfortable getting back in tonight. These are important games for us coming up, so it’s exciting.

“I think you can always take the positive and the negative. Obviously I don’t like to not play. It’s never fun sitting out, never fun watching games when you wish you could be in there. But you’ve got to take the good with the bad and hopefully that little bit of rest is beneficial. Obviously I’d much prefer to be playing.”

The Maple Leafs (51-21-6) were second in the Atlantic Division, six points ahead of the Lightning, having played one more game. Toronto plays at the Washington Capitals on Sunday.

“We’re just focused on today,” Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said. “[Matthews] feels really good today. We talked about the fact that we do play again tomorrow. He could take the day (off), but he really wanted to play tonight. He feels like he’s ready. He skated yesterday, he didn’t want to bother skating this morning, he feels he’s ready to go.

Jake Muzzin remained sidelined with an undisclosed injury, but Keefe said the defenseman could play Sunday. –Alain Poupart

Boston Bruins

David Pastrnack, Hampus Lindholm and Linus Ulmark returned for the Bruins in a 3-1 win against the New York Rangers.

“They’re all in today,” Boston coach Bruce Cassidy said before the game. “They felt good yesterday, so the plan was to put them into one of the games this weekend. They wouldn’t play back to back, which may be a bit premature, but that was the original messaging I got.”

Pastrnak, a forward who missed eight games with an undisclosed injury, had a goal and an assist.

Lindholm, a defenseman who missed seven games with a lower-body injury, led the Bruins with 24:41 of ice time.

“I doubt Lindholm and Pastrnak will travel [to Montreal on Sunday]. That’s the initial plan. Hopefully they get through today’s game, feeling great, and go back in Tuesday [against the Florida Panthers] for good.”

Pastrnak has scored 73 points (39 goals, 34 assists) in 70 games; Lindholm has four assists in eight games since he was acquired in a trade with the Anaheim Ducks on March 19.

Ullmark, a goalie, had missed three games with a lower-body injury. I have made 30 saves in the win. –Patrick Donnelly

New York Rangers

Andrew Copp and Filip Chytil did not play for the Rangers in a 3-1 loss to the Boston Bruins on Saturday and the forwards are each day to day.

Copp sustained a lower-body injury during the Rangers’ 6-3 win against the New York Islanders on Thursday. He scored a natural hat trick in the first period before he was injured in the third. He did not play in the final 8:05 of the game.

Chytil sustained an upper-body injury against the Islanders. He played 13:01 and did not have a point, his fourth game after missing two with an injury.

Copp has scored an NHL career-high 21 goals and 53 points in 71 games this season, including 18 points (eight goals, 10 assists) in 15 games since the Rangers acquired him in a trade with the Winnipeg Jets on March 21.

Chytil has scored 21 points (seven goals, 14 assists) in 64 games this season.

winnipeg jets

Mark Scheifele and Cole Perfetti likely will not play for the Jets for the rest of the season.

Scheifele, a forward, last played April 10. He has missed five games with an upper-body injury. He is second on the Jets in goals (29) and points (70) behind Kyle Connor (44 goals, 88 points).

Perfetti, a forward, has not played since Feb. 17 with an upper-body injury. He has seven points (two goals, five assists) in 18 games this season.

The Jets, who have four games remaining, have been eliminated from Stanley Cup Playoff contention.

Pittsburgh Penguins

Jeff Carter and Yevgeny Malkin played when Penguins defeated the Detroit Red Wings 7-2 on Saturday.

Carter left late in the third period of a 4-0 win against the Boston Bruins on Thursday because of a lower-body injury. He has one assist in 15:17 of ice time Saturday.

Malkin returned from his four-game suspension for cross-checking Nashville Predators defenseman Mark Borowiecki on April 10. He had two goals in 16:22 of ice time Saturday.

sidney crosby remained the center on the first line and teddy blueger centered the fourth line.

“We haven’t had the semblance of our four center icemen in the lineup together very often this year,” coach Mike Sullivan said before the game. “To have those guys down the middle, we believe we have a strong middle with those four centers that we can roll over the boards.” –Wes Crosby

Ottawa Senators

Thomas Chabot returned to the lineup for the Senators after missing 19 games with a fractured hand.

The defenseman was to play on the top pair against the Montreal Canadiens (CITY, SNE, TVAS, ESPN+, NHL LIVE).

Chabot, who had scored 34 points (six goals, 28 assists) in 55 games and was leading the NHL in ice time per game (26:23), had not played since he was injured against the Columbus Blue Jackets on March 16.

“He’s our best player,” Senators coach DJ Smith said. “He does everything from breaking the puck out to the power play. … He plays the most minutes. We’ve got a lot of good players, but it’d be really hard to continue winning games or to continue doing anything here in Ottawa without him.”

forward Connor Brown (upper-body injury) and defenseman Nikita Zaitev (non-COVID-19 illness) did not play for the Senators. Forward Scott Sabourin played after being recalled from Belleville of the American Hockey League. –Callum Fraser


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