NHL Buzz: Foligno to debut for Maple Leafs against Jets

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Toronto Maple Leafs

Nick Foligno will debut for the Maple Leafs on a line with Auston Matthews and Mitchell Marner at the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday (7 p.m. ET; SN, TVAS, NHL.TV).

“Might as well jump right in, right?” Foligno said after the morning skate. “I’m looking forward to it, obviously. Great players and it’ll just be fun to be out there with the team. Wherever I’m asked to be, I’ll do my best and I’m looking forward to just having some fun with these guys starting off with them and hopefully we can get a big win tonight.”

Foligno was acquired from the Columbus Blue Jackets in a three-team trade that included the San Jose Sharks on April 11. He was required to quarantine for at least seven days due to COVID-19 protocols after arriving in Toronto because he crossed the United States-Canada border.

Zach Bogosian (upper body) is out at least one week. The defenseman did not finish a 6-3 loss at the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday.

“It’s going to be more than week based on what I’ve seen,” Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said. “They don’t have all the full diagnosis here yet in terms of a timeline.”

The Maple Leafs (28-12-5) are first in the seven-team Scotia North Division, four points ahead of the second-place Jets. The top four teams will qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. — Tim Campbell

 

Washington Capitals

Zdeno Chara will play at the New York Islanders (7 p.m. ET; MSG+, NBCSWA, NHL.TV) after missing his first game this season against the Boston Bruins on Sunday. 

The 44-year-old defenseman practiced Tuesday and said he is feeling better after blocking two shots off his right foot against the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday.

“I feel good enough,” Chara said. “So it’s obviously progress, and I’m back. So that’s what we’re looking for, making that progress and improvements every day.”

Chara’s return is timely for the Capitals with defenseman Justin Schultz remaining in Washington with a lower-body injury. Schultz was injured on hit from Boston forward Taylor Hall in the first period Sunday and missed the remainder of the game.

Forward Michael Raffl will make his Capitals debut after an upper-body injury kept him out four games after he was traded to Washington by the Philadelphia Flyers on April 12. Daniel Sprong is expected to be a healthy scratch.

“It’s just a different type of player,” coach Peter Laviolette said. “I feel like he’s a veteran player. He plays a heavy game, brings some experience, a pretty good checker. We want to get him in and see what he can do. He’s now available, so we’ll take a look at him.”

The Capitals (29-13-4) and Islanders (29-13-4) are tied for first in the eight-team MassMutual East Division. — Tom Gulitti

 

Carolina Hurricanes

Petr Mrazek has a lower-body injury and will not start against the Florida Panthers on Thursday (7 p.m. ET; ESPN+, BSSUN, BSSO, NHL.TV).

The goalie made 33 saves in a 3-2 overtime loss at the Tampa Bay Lightning on Monday. Injuries have limited him to nine starts this season. He is 5-1-2 with a 1.60 goals-against average, .939 save percentage and three shutouts.

Rookie Alex Nedeljkovic will start for the Hurricanes, coach Rod Brind’Amour said. He is 11-4-2 with a 1.87 GAA, .932 save percentage and three shutouts in 17 games.

Brady Skjei is in concussion protocol and won’t play against the Panthers. The defenseman left early in the second period of a 4-1 win against the Lightning on Tuesday after being hit from behind by Tampa Bay forward Blake Coleman with 1:39 remaining in the first. He will be replaced by Joakim Ryan.

 

Pittsburgh Penguins

Kasperi Kapanen will be a game-time decision against the New Jersey Devils (7 p.m. ET; ATTSN-PT, MSG+ 2, NHL.TV). 

The forward participated in an optional morning skate after practicing fully for the first time Wednesday. Kapanen has not played since March 24, when he sustained a lower-body injury against the Buffalo Sabres.  

“I feel good. I feel like myself,” Kapanen said Wednesday. “Once I come back, I just want to kind of start where I left off.”

Kapanen rotated on the third and fourth line during rushes Wednesday. The addition of new personnel, including current second-line center Jeff Carter, could dictate whether Kapanen returns to his spot at second-line right wing, Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said. 

“We’ll make those decisions accordingly,” Sullivan said Wednesday. “Right now, there’s very different people in the lineup that weren’t in the lineup when he previously was playing.” 

Kapanen has scored 21 points (seven goals, 14 assists) in 30 games of his first season with the Penguins. He was traded to Pittsburgh by the Toronto Maple Leafs on Aug. 25. 

The Penguins are third in the eight-team MassMutual East Division, one point behind the Washington Capitals and New York Islanders. The top four teams will qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. 

Forward Brandon Tanev, who is week to week with an upper-body injury sustained against the Boston Bruins on April 3, skated on his own for the first time Wednesday, Sullivan said. — Wes Crosby

 

New York Rangers

Zac Jones will make his NHL debut against the Philadelphia Flyers (7 p.m. ET; ESPN+, MSG, NBCSP, NHL.TV). 

The 20-year-old will replace Jacob Trouba, a defenseman day to day with an upper-body injury sustained in a 6-1 loss to the New York Islanders on Tuesday.

“I’ll be out there trying to help the team any way I can, any way they need me to,” Jones said.

Jones signed an entry-level contract April 13. He was a third-round pick (No. 68) in the 2019 NHL Draft who played two seasons at the University of Massachusetts Amherst and helped it win the NCAA championship.

He scored 24 points (nine goals, 15 assists) in 29 games, second among NCAA defensemen.

“Real heady player, a guy that can really shoot a puck,” Rangers coach David Quinn said. “Plays with a lot of confidence, a lot of swagger. Our organization has been very high on him since the day we drafted him, and he’s done nothing to disprove why we’re high on him. He’s a guy we’re excited to get in the lineup and see.”

The Rangers (23-17-6) are six points behind the fourth-place Boston Bruins in the East. — Dan Rosen

 

Buffalo Sabres

Goalie Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen is expected to make his NHL debut when he starts against the Boston Bruins on Friday.

Dustin Tokarski will start the first of a back-to-back set Thursday (7 p.m. ET; MSG-B, NESN, NHL.TV).

“I think it’s better for ‘UPL’ to see one more night,” Sabres coach Don Granato said,.”It was going to be a split anyway, we felt. Give him another night from the bench. I think that’s good.”

Luukkonen was recalled Tuesday after being added to the taxi squad Saturday. The 22-year-old is 7-5-2 with a 3.60 goals-against average and .888 save percentage in 14 games for Rochester of the American Hockey League this season. 

“I mentioned how important I felt that was, to give him that time to acclimate, sit through meetings,” Granato said. “You see him talking to guys more, older guys more, a mix of guys, a natural progression of that, which I think is a big part of this. … The biggest thing is his comfort level increases every day, so that’s more of what goes into this decision.” — Amalie Benjamin

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