Buzz: Malkin returns to lineup for Penguins against Flyers



Pittsburgh Penguins

Evgeni Malkin will return to the lineup against the Philadelphia Flyers on Monday (7 p.m. ET; ESPN+, NBCSP, ATTSN-PT, NHL.TV).

The center has missed 23 games with a lower-body injury. The Penguins are 16-5-2 since he last played in a 2-1 loss to the Boston Bruins on March 16.

“We work closely with our medical staff and sometimes we have target dates on when we think is the opportune time,” coach Mike Sullivan said. “Obviously those are always subject to change based on the player feedback and whether or not a player is ready or he isn’t ready, but there are certain stages of the return to play process that every player needs to go through in order to put that player in a position to be successful when he does return to play, and ‘Geno’ went through that process, just like every other player does.”

Malkin has scored 24 points (eight goals, 16 assists) in 29 games.

“It’s exciting for me to have another tool out there,” forward Jeff Carter said. “I think for the whole team, it’s something that they’ve been kind of looking forward to, getting everybody back healthy and just kind of seeing what we got here with a full lineup. That’s one guy back, we got a couple more we’ve got to get back and then should be looking pretty good.

Defenseman Mike Matheson is week to week after being hit in the face by a puck during the second period of a 3-0 win at the Washington Capitals on Saturday.

Forward Brandon Tanev skated with contact Monday for the first time since sustaining an upper-body injury April 3 but will not play.

Pittsburgh (34-15-3), which has clinched a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, leads the MassMutual East Division by two points over the Washington Capitals and four over the New York Islanders. The top four teams will qualify for the playoffs. — Adam Kimelman


Washington Capitals

Alex Ovechkin and John Carlson will each be a game-time decision against the New York Rangers (7 p.m. ET; ESPN+, MSG2, NBCSWA, NHL.TV) after each was a full participant in the morning skate. 

Ovechkin has missed the past four games with a lower-body injury the forward sustained against the New York Islanders on April 22. Carlson has missed the past two games with a lower-body injury the defenseman sustained against the Islanders on April 27.

“The biggest thing is their health,” Capitals coach Peter Laviolette said. “…You’ve seen them out there practicing, participating in full, and yet, when you get to a game, it’s a different strain. I feel like there’s more demands on your body, so at that point we’re making a decision as to what’s in the best interest of our team, what’s in the best interest of that player. 

“So while we’d love to have them in the lineup, at this point with a handful of games (five) to go we want to make sure we’re doing the right thing.” 

Ovechkin leads Washington with 24 goals in 43 games and has scored 730 goals in 16 NHL seasons, one from tying Marcel Dionne for fifth in NHL history. Carlson is tied for third in the NHL among defensemen with 42 points (10 goals, 32 assists) in 49 games.

Forward T.J. Oshie won’t play because of personal reasons.

Washington (32-14-5) is second in the MassMutual East Division, two points behind the first-place Pittsburgh Penguins and two ahead of the third-place New York Islanders. Each of the three teams has clinched a berth in the playoffs. — Tom Gulitti


Dallas Stars

Tyler Seguin will be a game-time decision against the Florida Panthers on Monday (7 p.m. ET; BSFL, BSSW+, NHL.TV).

The forward has not played all season after having hip surgery Nov. 2. He was expected to bs sidelined for five months.

Seguin led the Stars in scoring last season with 50 points (17 goals, 33 assists) in 69 games.

Dallas (21-17-13) is fifth in the eight-team Discover Central Division, three points behind the fourth-place Nashville Predators for the final Stanley Cup Playoff berth. The Panthers, Carolina Hurricanes and Tampa Bay Lightning have each already clinched from the division. 


Buffalo Sabres

Michael Houser will make his NHL debut against the New York Islanders on Monday (7 p.m. ET; MSG-B, MSG+2, NHL.TV).

The Sabres are without goalies Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, who sustained a lower-body injury Saturday, Linus Ullmark, who is week to week with a lower-body injury and Carter Hutton, who has missed the past 21 games because of a lower-body injury. Ullmark took part in the morning skate Monday.

Dustin Tokarski, who was not on the ice, is expected to be the backup.

“We’re gathering more information on [Ullmark] to see how he responded and felt with regard to the skate today to see if there’s more reason to be optimistic on him in the next few days,” Sabres coach Don Granato said. “But for right now, again, we’re sorting through some information with Tokarski. We’ll put Houser as the starter and go with that.”

Houser, who was signed as a free agent March 19, has not appeared in a professional game since last season with Cincinnati of the ECHL. The 28-year-old has played the past eight seasons in the ECHL and American Hockey League.

Buffalo (13-32-7) is last in the eight-team MassMutual East Division and has been eliminated from Stanley Cup Playoff contention. — Heather Engel


Toronto Maple Leafs

Justin Holl will not play when the Maple Leafs visit the Montreal Canadiens (7 p.m. ET; TSN2, RDS, SNO, NHL.TV), but coach Sheldon Keefe said he does not believe the defenseman will be out long term. 

Holl left in the third period after being hit in the face by the puck during a 5-1 win against the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday.

“He’s doing well, he’s just feeling uncomfortable today, which is understandable,” Keefe said Sunday. “But we’re not expecting him to miss any significant time.”

Holl has scored 19 points (two goals, 17 assists) in 51 games this season.

The Maple Leafs are first in the seven-team Scotia North Division, nine points ahead of the second-place Edmonton Oilers, and have clinched a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. — Mike Zeisberger


Winnipeg Jets

Adam Lowry is expected to return for the Jets when they visit the Ottawa Senators (7 p.m. ET; TSN5, RDS2, TSN3, NHL.TV).

Lowry has missed four games after being hit in the head against the Toronto Maple Leafs on April 22.

“So he got through (practice) today in a (regular) blue sweater,” coach Paul Maurice said Sunday. “He was good. Felt strong. Moved right. If he feels good tomorrow, then we’ll consider him a player and put some lines back together that we’ve had in the past.”

Maurice said Lowry would go back to center on a line with forwards Andrew Copp and Mason Appleton.

Lowry, who has scored 20 points (eight goals, 12 assists) in 46 games, said Sunday he did not have a concussion from the hit by Toronto forward Alex Galchenyuk. He said his neck was bothering him while he was out but that he’s eager to play Monday.

“You want to get back into the lineup, you want to contribute,” Lowry said. “I know how I’m going to play. I know what I do that makes me effective, and if I’m not doing those things, I’m not going to be an effective player. A couple shifts and I should be right back into it.” 

The Jets are third in the seven-team Scotia North Division, five points behind the second-place Edmonton Oilers and two points ahead of the fourth-place Montreal Canadiens. The top four teams in the division qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs; the Maple Leafs have already clinched. — Tim Campbell


Boston Bruins

Defensemen Brandon Carlo and Kevan Miller will play Monday (7 p.m. ET; SNW, SNP, MSG+, NESN, NHL.TV) or Tuesday in back-to-back games at the New Jersey Devils, but not on the same night, coach Bruce Cassidy said Sunday.

“My guess is Kevan will be tomorrow and Carlo Tuesday, but I have to confirm that with the medical staff because they have a plan in place for both of those players — what’s the best way for them to come out of it the best for Thursday (against the New York Rangers),” Cassidy said. “So I’ll double-check on that.”

Carlo has missed the past 17 games with an upper-body injury he sustained in a 4-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins on April 1. He has scored three points (two goals, one assist) in 23 games. 

Miller missed five games from April 15-22 with an undisclosed injury and 20 games from Feb. 21-April 5 with a lower-body injury. He has played the past five games for the Bruins and has scored four points (one goal, three assists) in 24 games this season.

Boston is fourth in the eight-team MassMutual East Division, one point behind the third-place New York Islanders and eight points ahead of the fifth-place New York Rangers for the final playoff spot. The Penguins, Washington Capitals and Islanders have each already clinched. — Tracey Myers

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