Welcome to the NHL Buzz. Throughout the 2020-21 season, NHL.com will have you covered with the latest news.
Evgeni Malkin will be a game-time decision for the Pittsburgh Penguins when they play the Washington Capitals on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; NHLN, NBCSWA, ATTSN-PT, NHL.TV).
The center hasn’t played since sustaining a lower-body injury against the Boston Bruins on March 16.
“Well, obviously, there’s going to be an adjustment process for ‘Geno’,” coach Mike Sullivan said. “He’s been out for quite a while now. So what we’re going to look for is for Geno to play his game. It’s hard to simulate game intensity, timing, all of those things in a practice environment, so the only way you really get that is by playing in an NHL game with NHL intensity. There will definitely be an adjustment process from Geno’s standpoint but our expectation is that he plays his game, that he keeps the game simple and our hope is that with each game he plays he’s certainly going to get back to his true form that we all love watching.”
Malkin had scored 24 points (eight goals, 16 assists) in 29 games before he was injured. The Penguins are 15-5-2 in 22 games without him and are tied with the Capitals for first in the eight-team MassMutual East Division. Pittsburgh (33-15-3) clinched a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs with a 5-4 overtime win against Washington on Thursday. The Capitals have also clinched a playoff berth.
Sullivan also said forward Brandon Tanev, who has been out since April 3 with an upper-body injury, will be a game-time decision. Forward Evan Rodrigues won’t play Saturday and is day to day with a lower-body injury. — Tom Gulitti
Alex Ovechkin and John Carlson participated in the Capitals morning skate, but coach Peter Laviolette wouldn’t say if either will play against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; NHLN, NBCSWA, ATTSN-PT, NHL.TV).
“We’ve got decisions to make,” Laviolette said. “We’re going to talk and see where everybody is at.”
Ovechkin has missed the past three games with a lower-body injury the forward sustained against the New York Islanders on April 22. After practicing Friday for the first time since he was injured, Ovechkin skated in line rushes Saturday as an extra forward on the fourth line and did not practice with the top power-play unit.
Ovechkin hasn’t missed four straight games because of an injury since missing an NHL career-high six games in a row with a shoulder injury Nov. 4-14, 2009. He 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 missed the Capitals’ 5-4 overtime loss to the Penguins on Thursday because of a lower-body injury. The defenseman also practiced Friday but did not work Saturday in his usual spot at the point on the power play.
The Capitals (32-13-5), who have clinched a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, are tied for first in the eight-team MassMutual East Division with the Penguins, who have also clinched a playoff berth. –Tom Gulitti
New York Rangers
Jacob Trouba could be back in the lineup when the Rangers visit the New York Islanders on Saturday (7 p.m. ET; MSG+2, MSG, NHL.TV).
The defenseman has missed five games with an upper-body injury and has scored 12 points (two goals, 10 assists) in 38 games.
Forward Chris Kreider (lower body) and defenseman Ryan Lindgren (upper body) did not practice Friday. Kreider did not play Thursday.
“As of right now, it doesn’t look like long term,” coach David Quinn said Friday. “It’s day to day, so we hope that’s the case.”
Kreider has scored 30 points (20 goals, 10 assists) in 50 games this season; Lindgren has scored 16 points (one goal, 15 assists) in 51 games.
The Rangers also announced Friday that forward Brett Howden is out for the season because of a fractured foot.
He was injured in a 4-0 loss to the Islanders on Thursday. He scored seven points (one goal, six assists) in 42 games.
The Rangers (26-19-6) are fifth in the eight-team MassMutual East Division, six points behind the fourth-place Boston Bruins for the final Stanley Cup Playoff berth. The top four teams qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The Washington Capitals and Pittsburgh Penguins have qualified from the division. The Islanders can clinch a playoff berth with a regulation win. — Tracey Myers