NHL Buzz: Demko to return for Canucks against Flames

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Vancouver Canucks

Thatcher Demko will start for the Vancouver Canucks against the Calgary Flames on Tuesday (10 p.m. ET; SNW, SNP, ESPN+, HULU) after missing 14 games with a knee injury.

Demko, who was injured March 9 against the Winnipeg Jets, rejoined the Canucks at practice last Tuesday.

“I only missed about a month here which is good and just having attention to detail, staying engaged, going through some old videos and staying sharp mentally and obviously it will be a big game for me,” Demko said Monday.

The Canucks have two games left in the regular season and lead the Edmonton Oilers by five points for first in the Pacific Division; Edmonton has three games remaining. The Canucks finish the regular season at the Winnipeg Jets on Thursday before beginning the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

“Still want to get some things accomplished here prep-wise and obviously do my best to be ready for Game 1,” Demko said. “There are certain things you can’t do in practice, so hopefully get some game action here. … You got 10 guys skating in front of you as pucks are coming in, it’s a little different than practice so just getting your visuals dialed in and pace is a big one.”

Demko is 34-13-2 with a 2.47 goals-against average, .917 save percentage, and five shutouts in 49 games this season.

“He’s a top 1-3 goalie in the world,” defenseman Quinn Hughes said. “He makes some saves that he shouldn’t be able to make.” — Kevin Woodley

Florida Panthers

Carter Verhaeghe will return when the Panthers host the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday (7:30 p.m., ESPN, TSN4).

The forward has missed six games since leaving in the second period of a 6-4 loss to the Maple Leafs on April 1 with an upper-body injury. 

Verhaeghe, who returned to practice for the first time on Monday, has 21 power-play points this season (eight goals, 13 assists). Florida is 2-for-20 on the power play in the six games Verhaeghe has missed.

“It is good for us because, when Carter went down, our power play kind of went down,” Panthers coach Paul Maurice said. “We were trying to affix a word to describe him; he is not the catalyst, but he is the fixer.”

Verhaeghe has 71 points (33 goals, 38 assists) in 75 games this season. — George Richards

Winnipeg Jets

Nino Niederreiter could return when the Jets host the Seattle Kraken on Tuesday (8 p.m. ET; TSN3, ROOT-NW+).

The forward has not played since April 1, when he left in the third period of a 4-3 win against the Los Angeles Kings after sustaining a deep cut on his lower leg.

“It was kind of a scary play,” Niederreiter told the Jets website Monday. “I felt something in my leg, but I didn’t know exactly what it was. So, I reached down a couple times and felt some blood. It started getting warm.

“That’s when I knew I had to get off and see what’s up. I got extremely lucky. It nicked my Achilles a little bit. Had to get a few stitches. Glad I’m standing here right now.”

Niederreiter has 33 points (18 goals, 15 assists) in 75 games this season.

Winnipeg (50-24-6) has won six in a row and is second in the Central Division. It will face the Colorado Avalanche in the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, which begin Saturday.

Toronto Maple Leafs

Calle Jarnkrok‘s status for Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs remains uncertain for the Maple Leafs.

The forward has missed the past 15 games with a hand injury sustained in a 6-2 win against the Philadelphia Flyers on March 14.

Jarnkrok was a limited participant in practice Monday, taking part in the penalty-killing portion and pre-practice drills.

“Today was progress for him,” Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said Monday. “… He’s not ready to play yet at this point and hasn’t had a full practice with us yet but it was positive to see him out there and be a little more involved with the different drills before practice began. [His status] for Game 1 is still to be determined. I think he’s more in a day-to-day situation but unfortunately, we are running out of schedule here. We’ll just have to see where is his. He will be travelling with us.”

Jarnkrok has 21 points (10 goals, 11 assists) in 52 games this season.

Forward Max Domi did not practice and will not play when the Maple Leafs play at the Florida Panthers on Tuesday (7:30 p.m. ET; ESPN, TSN4) because of an undisclosed injury.

Forward Bobby McMann will not play in either of the Maple Leafs’ final two games of the regular season because of a lower body injury sustained in a 5-4 overtime loss to the Detroit Red Wings. Toronto also plays at the Tampa Bay Lightning on Wednesday.

“We will see where Max and Bobby both are later in the week,” Keefe said.

The Maple Leafs clinched a berth in the playoffs. They will finish second in the Atlantic Division and play the Lightning or the Boston Bruins. — Dave McCarthy

Boston Bruins

Derek Forbort will report to Providence of the American Hockey League on a long-term injury conditioning loan.

The 32-year-old defenseman has four assists in 35 games with the Bruins this season but has not played since March 2 because of a lower-body injury.

Bruins general manager Don Sweeney had said on March 8 that Forbort was “more than likely” out for the season because of two separate undisclosed injuries.

Forbort, who signed with the Bruins as a free agent on July 28, 2021, has 30 points (nine goals, 21 assists) and a plus-22 rating in 165 with Boston.

The Bruins, who play the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET; NESN, TSN5, RDS2), can clinch the Atlantic Division with a win.

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