NHL Buzz: Mrazek off IR, will start for Blackhawks against Capitals

Chicago Blackhawks

Petr Mrazek was activated off injured reserve and will start in goal against the Washington Capitals at United Center on Tuesday (9 pm ET; ESPN, SN1, SN NOW).

Mrazek has been out since Dec. 3, when he left a game against the New York Rangers because of a groin injury. He also missed eight games because of a groin injury sustained Oct. 21.

“We want to get him back in,” Blackhawks coach Luke Richardson said. “His last game was a really solid game. Unfortunately, just precaution he had to come out with the injury. It’ll be nice to get him back in.”

Mrazek is 2-5-1 with a 4.05 goals-against average and .884 save percentage in nine games.

“I skated five days after the Rangers game, so I’m glad it wasn’t anything serious,” Mrazek said after practice Saturday. “The things I’ve been working on all season long and started in the summer, [I’m] doing it still right now with all the trainers here and with the staff. Hopefully that’s the positive sign, if something happens it’s nothing big, so I just have to keep doing that. [It’s] positive that I’m on the ice that early.”

Forward Tyler Johnson could also play against the Capitals on Tuesday. Johnson is on injured reserve with a left ankle injury sustained during a 4-2 win against the Florida Panthers on Oct. 24. Johnson has six points (two goals, four assists) in six games.

“If he’s ready tomorrow morning, we’re probably going to put him in the lineup,” Richardson said. “We’ll have to reconfigure things, but we want to make sure he got through another day of practice today with no setback. He said he felt pretty good at the end of practice, so tomorrow morning we’ll make that decision. It looks like he’s on the upward mend and should be ready to go.”

With Mrazek coming off IR, goalie Jackson Stauber was assigned to Rockford of the American Hockey League. — Tracey Myers

New York Islanders

Kyle Palmieri practiced for the first time since the Islanders forward sustained an upper-body injury during a game against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Nov. 21.

Coach Lane Lambert said Palmieri and forward Anthony Beauvillier could play at the Boston Bruins on Tuesday. Beauvillier practiced after missing a 3-0 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes on Saturday because of an upper-body injury.

“They skated today, they’ll travel as far as I know right now,” Lambert said. “We’ll just have to wait and see how they make out, but they looked OK at practice today.”

Palmieri has missed nine games. He has nine points (six goals, three assists) in 20 games.

Beauvillier has 11 points (five goals, six assists) in 27 games.

New Jersey Devils

Mackenzie Blackwood will join Utica of the American Hockey League for a conditioning stint before the goalie returns to the Devils.

Blackwood got extended work against the first power-play unit at New Jersey’s morning skate ahead of its game against the New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden on Monday. He missed his 17th game since getting injured during a 4-3 win at the Edmonton Oilers on Nov. 3.

“Mackenzie’s been full-go now,” Devils coach Lindy Ruff said. “He had a couple of really good practices. The plan is to get him down to Utica to play a couple of games and just get him back in game form, and then we go from there.”

Blackwood is 4-2-0 with a 2.79 goals-against average and .880 save percentage in seven games. He was limited to 25 games (24 starts) last season because of a recurring left heel injury.

“You could just feel it right away,” Blackwood said of his knee injury. “Luckily it wasn’t too bad of an injury, it just takes a little bit of time to heal up nice and strong. Getting hurt is frustrating, especially last year having that injury for so long. But I was happy with where my game was at the start of the year and excited to keep trying to build off that. I guess now we hit the ground where I was and build everything from there.

“I’m feeling pretty good. Last week’s been good on the ice, getting back to practice, getting the reps I need. Knee’s feeling good, game’s coming back good. It’s been a good week.”

Vitek Vanecek will start in goal against the Rangers, with Akira Schmidt the backup. — Jon Lane

Minnesota Wild

Ryan Hartman took part in the morning skate Monday, the forward’s first practice since he sustained an upper-body injury against the Chicago Blackhawks on Oct. 30.

But Hartman missed his 19th straight game when the Wild visited the Edmonton Oilers at Xcel Energy Center.

Hartman had been skating on his own for a week.

“He’s out there. That’s very, very positive,” coach Dean Evason said. “He’s out there with the group. He’s cleared to practice with us full time, so we’re very excited about that.

“To pinpoint exactly when he’s going to play, we’re not going to do that. We’re going to see how he progresses here through regular skates with the group.”

Hartman had five points (one goal, four assists) in nine games prior to getting injured. He set an NHL career high last season with 65 points (34 goals, 31 assists).

“A situation like this, where a guy’s coming off a significant injury, we feel you need more time to obviously bump and get some physicality and practice as much as you can,” Evason said. “And obviously the coaches will do some stuff with him after practice today and then we’ll see how he progresses.”

Evason also said he’s a hopeful forward Brandon Duhaimewho has missed eight games because of an upper-body injury, could soon be cleared for practice. — Jesse Pierce

Toronto Maple Leafs

Jordie Benn practiced for the first time since the defenseman sustained an upper-body injury during a 2-1 win against the Devils on Nov. 23.

“I’ve got one probably [conditioning] skate tomorrow morning,” Benn said. “If I feel good there, then we’ll probably be back ready to go.

“I feel good. I’ve been skating by myself the last week and getting better every day. Today it was good to get back out there with the fellows, get bumped around a little bit. It felt good.”

The Maple Leafs play the Anaheim Ducks at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto on Tuesday.

He said the injury occurred on a non-contact play. He was making a pass when he felt discomfort.

Benn has two points (one goal, one assist) in six games. He missed the first 15 games of the season with a groin injury sustained during training camp. He had been skating on a defense pair with Mac Hollowell.

“He seems to be progressing well,” coach Sheldon Keefe said. “Today he got a good practice, which is obviously important for him as it is for any player coming back. I haven’t got a report on exactly where he is at. We’re going to take our time with him with the type of injury he had. We’re pretty content with our defense as it is right now so we’re going to make sure he is absolutely ready to go before he gets in.” — Dave McCarthy

Nashville Predators

Alexander Carrier is week to week because of an upper-body injury.

The defenseman left a 3-2 loss to the Ottawa Senators on Saturday. He had one blocked shot in 7:20 of ice time.

The Predators were down two defensemen for their game at the St. Louis Blues on Monday. Jeremy Lauzon is day to day because of an upper-body injury sustained when he was checked into the boards by Senators center Mark Kastelic.

Defensemen Kevin Gravel and Roland McKeown were recalled from Milwaukee of the American Hockey League.

Seattle Kraken

Eeli Tolvanen was claimed on waivers from the Nashville Predators.

The 23-year-old forward has four points (two goals, two assists) in 13 games this season and last played Nov. 19.

Nashville selected Tolvanen in the first round (No. 30) of the 2017 NHL Draft, and he has 51 points (25 goals, 26 assists) in 135 regular-season games and one goal in seven Stanley Cup Playoff games.

The Kraken also recalled defenseman Gustav Olofsson from Coachella Valley of the American Hockey League. Olofsson last played in the NHL on Nov. 13 and has five assists in 15 AHL games this season.

Seattle plays at the Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday.

Los Angeles Kings

Drew Doughty is day to day because of a lower-body injury.

The defenseman was a late scratch when Los Angeles lost 6-5 in overtime at the Columbus Blue Jackets on Sunday. It was the first game Doughty missed this season.

Doughty is second in the NHL in ice time per game (26:20) behind Cale Makar of the Colorado Avalanche (26:57). He has 17 points (one goal, 16 assists), including seven power-play points in 30 games.


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