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NHL Buzz: Knight makes debut for Panthers

Malkin skates with Penguins; Garland injured for Coyotes

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Welcome to the NHL Buzz. Throughout the 2020-21 season, NHL.com will have you covered with the latest news.

 

Florida Panthers

Spencer Knight made his NHL debut against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday (BBSUN, BBOH, NHL.TV).

The goalie, who was selected with the No. 13 pick in the 2019 NHL Draft, agreed to a three-year, entry-level contract March 31 and was recalled from the taxi squad April 13.

"He's ready for it," Panthers coach Joel Quenneville said. "Looking forward to seeing how he handles it." 

Knight backed up Sergei Bobrovsky in a 4-2 win against the Blue Jackets on Monday, and Quenneville said after the game there was a good chance Knight would start the second half of the back-to-back set.

Knight played two seasons at Boston College, was the 2020-21 Hockey East Goaltender of the Year and helped the United States to a first-place finish at the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship.

"In practice nothing bothers him," Quenneville said Monday. "He's very cool in the net. He's seen a number of different shooters at our level here. It's not the same as a game, but he's seen some good opportunity to play in that meaningful challenge, and [Tuesday] will be fun, getting that first taste in his career."

Florida (29-12-5) was tied with the Carolina Hurricanes for first in the Discover Central Division. The top four teams qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. -- Alain Poupart

 

Pittsburgh Penguins

Evgeni Malkin and Kasperi Kapanen participated in morning skate for the first time since each was injured. 

The forwards, each out with a lower-body injury, wore no-contact jerseys and did not take line rushes prior to the Penguins hosting the New Jersey Devils (ATTSN-PT, MSG+ 2, NHL.TV). Malkin missed his 17th game; Kapanen was sidelined for a 13th straight game.

"It's real encouraging from our standpoint that they're joining the team in practice," coach Mike Sullivan said. "I think it's an essential part in the return to play, getting these guys around their teammates, and also getting them in a read-and-react environment." 

The Penguins have tentative target dates for Malkin and Kapanen to practice fully, Sullivan said.

Malkin scored 24 points (eight goals, 16 assists) in 29 games this season; Kapanen scored 21 points (seven goals, 14 assists) in 30 games. 

The Penguins (28-14-3) were third in the eight-team MassMutual East Division, three points behind the first-place Washington Capitals. The top four teams qualify for the playoffs.

"[Malkin] was flying today. [Kapanen] as well," forward Zach Aston-Reese said. "Those are two guys that are just going to add to our offense. We're excited to get them back soon." -- Wes Crosby

 

Arizona Coyotes

Conor Garland could be out against the Minnesota Wild on Wednesday (9 p.m. ET; BSAZX, BSN, BSWI+, NHL.TV) after leaving practice with an injury.

"He tweaked something, so we'll probably have more stuff later on, if he's in tomorrow or not we'll figure that out," coach Rick Tocchet said.

The forward has scored 32 points (10 goals, 22 assists) in 45 games.

Tyler Pitlick will be out longer term with a lower-body injury, Tocchet said.

The forward did not play in the final six minutes of a 3-2 win against the St. Louis Blues on Saturday and was scratched for a 5-2 loss to the Wild on Monday.

"I don't think he's going to be back to a while," Tocchet said. "I don't know the timeline, but he's not going to be back for quite a while. He's not going to be playing for more than a few games."

Pitlick has scored 11 points (six goals, five assists) in 38 games.

Arizona (20-21-5) leads St. Louis by one point for fourth place in the Honda West Division. The top four teams qualify for the playoffs. -- Alan Robinson

 

Washington Capitals

Zdeno Chara returned to practice Tuesday after he missed his first game of the season, a 6-3 loss at the Boston Bruins on Sunday, because of an undisclosed injury.

"That's a real positive sign," coach Peter Laviolette said. "I just got off the ice, but you saw him in a regular jersey and he looked good through the entire day, so I thought that was a real positive sign."

The defenseman blocked two shots off his right ankle while on the penalty kill late in the second period of a 6-3 win at the Philadelphia Flyers on Saturday but was able to finish the game.

Chara has scored nine points (two goals, seven assists) and is plus-8, averaging 18:24 of ice time in 45 games this season.

Washington (29-13-4) was first in the eight-team MassMutual East Division, two points ahead of the second-place New York Islanders. The top four teams qualify for the playoffs.

The Capitals' next game is at the Islanders on Thursday. -- Tom Gulitti

 

New Jersey Devils

Mackenzie Blackwood did not play against the Pittsburgh Penguins because of a lower-body injury.

The goalie made 21 saves in a 5-3 loss to the New York Rangers on Sunday.

"His [injury] is upper body from the hit he took the other night in the game," Devils coach Lindy Ruff said. "We were unsure of it, and he's unable to go."

Blackwood is 9-15-3 with a 3.10 goals-against average and a .900 save percentage in 27 games this season.

Scott Wedgewood started against the Penguins with Aaron Dell as the backup.

New Jersey (14-24-6) was seventh in the eight-team MassMutual East Division. -- Wes Crosby

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