NHL Buzz: Rask to return for Bruins against Islanders

Boston Bruins

Tuukka Rask is expected to return to the lineup against the New York Islanders on Thursday (7 p.m. ET; NESN, MSG+, SN360, NHL.TV).

“Assuming there are no setbacks, he should be ready to go, yes,” Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy said Wednesday.

Rask hasn’t played since he was removed after the first period of a 4-3 overtime loss to the Islanders on March 25 with an upper-body injury. It was his first game since he grabbed his back in a game against the New Jersey Devils on March 7. He is 8-4-2 with a 2.40 GAA, and .907 save percentage in 15 games this season.

Jeremy Swayman and Dan Vladar have started the past six games for Boston with backup Jaroslav Halak having been in NHL COVID-19 protocol since April 5.

“I think Tuukka is going to need his share (of games),” Cassidy said. “As far as the rest part, that depends on his play. How does he feel, where is he at physically but how is his timing, most important? Those are some things we’ll have to look at as we go along. The most important thing for us now is what’s in front of us and that’s Tuukka’s next start, which looks like it’ll be tomorrow. Hopefully we play well in front of him and he gets back into a rhythm.”

The Bruins are fourth in the eight-team MassMutual East Division, four points ahead of the New York Rangers. The top four teams qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. — Tracey Myers


Ottawa Senators

Matt Murray made his first start in more than a month against the Winnipeg Jets on Wednesday (TSN5, RDS2, TSN3, NHL.TV).

The goalie hadn’t played since March 10 because of an upper-body injury sustained in warmups before a game against the Toronto Maple Leafs on March 14. He was 7-12-1 with a 3.84 goals-against average and .880 save percentage in 22 games (20 starts).

“We just want him to be solid and get his groove back,” Senators coach D.J. Smith said. “[New goaltending coach Zac Bierk] has been able to work with Matt for about a week, but that’s not a lot of time for a goalie coach and a player. But that was probably the reason that we did it now, is that he has the rest of the year to work with him and certainly, it’s not just about tonight.”

Ottawa was 5-6-3 without Murray and used four goalies in his absence: Joey Daccord, Filip Gustavsson, Anton Forsberg and Marcus Hogberg.

“It’s about [Murray] throughout the next 13 games, getting his game to where we need it to be, and then carrying it through the summer to work with him, and then into next season,” Smith said. — Callum Fraser


Montreal Canadiens

Carey Price skated for the first time since he aggravated a lower-body injury April 5.

The goalie practiced on his own in Brossard, Quebec, and did not take part in the morning skate. He did not dress for a fifth straight game when Montreal played the Calgary Flames (SN, DRS, NHL.TV).

“It went well, but I don’t have a lot of details,” coach Dominique Ducharme said.

Forward Joel Armia played for the first time since March 20. Armia, who practiced on a line with Nick Suzuki and Tyler Toffoli, missed eight games because of NHL COVID-19 protocol.

“I’m really happy, the first day I came to the rink I think I had a smile on my face the whole day, so it’s really good to be back,” Armia said. “The first four or five days I had some little symptoms, some body aches, but nothing too crazy. So for the most part I felt good.”

Defenseman Ben Chiarot missed his 15th straight game. He took part in the morning skate for the first time since he had surgery after breaking his hand during a fight with Vancouver Canucks forward J.T. Miller on March 10. — Sean Farrell

Dallas Stars

Joel Hanley signed a two-year, $1.5 million contract. It has an average annual value of $750,000.

The 29-year-old defenseman has four assists in 24 games this season. He could have become an unrestricted free agent after the season.

“You never know if this opportunity would come,” Hanley said Wednesday. “But just to be part of the Dallas Stars moving forward is so exciting. The future’s very bright, great leadership and amazing young players. So it’s exciting to be a part of that.”

Signed by Dallas as a free agent July 1, 2018, Hanley has 12 assists in 70 regular-season games with the Stars, Arizona Coyotes and Montreal Canadiens, and two points (one goal, one assist) in 13 Stanley Cup Playoff games.

“You go back to the [playoffs] year, he played really well for us,” coach Rick Bowness said. “That’s continued into this year. He’s just reliable. You know what you’re going to get every shift, every game from him, and that’s huge. When you’re in that role of the third pairing or the seventh/eighth defenseman, the coach has to know what you’re going to give him when you put him on the ice, and we’re very comfortable putting Joel on the ice in pretty much any situation.” — Tracey Myers


Florida Panthers

Carter Verhaeghe is week to week with an upper-body injury.

The forward was injured late in a 4-1 loss at the Dallas Stars on Saturday, coach Joel Quenneville said. He has scored 17 goals this season, second on Florida behind Aleksander Barkov (18), and is third with 35 points. 

The Panthers won 3-2 at the Stars in overtime Tuesday in their first game without him.

Florida visits the Tampa Bay Lightning on Thursday (7 p.m. ET; NBSCN, TVAS, BSFL, NHL.TV).

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