12-27 Buzz Mark Giordano TOR

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Toronto Maple Leafs

Mark Giordano returned for the Maple Leafs against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Friday (7 p.m. ET; BSOH, SNO).

The defenseman, who has missed 12 games since breaking his thumb in a 2-1 win against the Florida Panthers on Nov. 28, practiced Thursday, one day after taking part in the morning skate prior to a 4-2 loss against the Ottawa Senators. It was the first time Giordano had taken part in a full team workout since the injury.

"I feel as good as can be I think," Giordano said Thursday. "Our staff with off ice training, right through our medical staff and on ice training, it's been a nice one in the fact that I've been able to skate a lot. I really didn't take too much time off the ice, so that's been good, but I feel ready to go. We'll see how everything goes throughout the day, but I feel good."

Giordano has five points (one goal, four assists) and a minus-1 rating in 20 games this season. Toronto is 6-3-3 since his injury.

"His leadership and experience, that in itself I think brings a lot to our group," Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said Friday. "In terms of his game, he's an ultra-competitor so he's going to bring that. I also think there's some puck-moving ability there in all three zones that can help us as well. We'll see. We have to get him back in game mode here. … You can't replace the type of experience and leadership that Gio brings, so it's nice to have him back." -- Dave McCarthy

Washington Capitals

Max Pacioretty could make his debut for the Washington Capitals when they host the Nashville Predators on Saturday.

The forward, who has not played this season while recovering from a torn Achilles tendon, took line rushes with Evgeny Kuznetsov and Matthew Phillips on Thursday but won't play at the New York Islanders on Friday (7:30 p.m. ET; MNMT2, MSGSN). Neither will defenseman Ethan Bear, who signed a two-year contract Thursday.

"They both will not be in the lineup. Getting closer and closer by the day," Capitals coach Spencer Carbery said Friday. "We'll see about tomorrow, just based on how practice goes today and their post-pregame skate work that they get through, and then we'll see for tomorrow at home against Nashville."

Pacioretty participated in his first full-contact practice with the team on Dec. 19, and Carbery had said he expected him to make his debut shortly after the NHL holiday break. Pacioretty played in five games with the Carolina Hurricanes last season before tearing his Achilles for the second time. He signed a one-year, $2 million contract with the Capitals on July 1 that includes another $2 million in performance-based incentives.

"We'll see what happens. One day at a time," Pacioretty said Friday. "We're heading in the right direction, so I'm excited about that. … This is what I've done for 30 years of my life. So, when I wasn't doing it, I was missing it. It makes you realize how much you love the game, and I'm definitely enjoying it right now, even just being a part of practices and even bag skates and whatnot. You realize that this is what I was born to do, so I'm just enjoying it."

Pacioretty has 645 points (326 goals, 319 assists) in 855 regular-season games over 15 NHL seasons, including six seasons with at least 30 goals.

"My family, my kids, my wife, and my parents have been a tremendous support, and you realize how much you want to do this for them as well," he said. "It's not just for me to go out there and play hockey and do what I love. It's for them as well. My kids...all the boys play hockey, so they want to see dad get back out there, and that's what I'm working towards."

Washington has scored 75 goals this season, second-fewest in the NHL and its 52 goals at 5-on-5 are the third worst.

"We're looking for scoring anyway we can find it 5-on-5, and he has proven in the past that he's been able to contribute in that department," Carbery said Thursday. "He will be a welcomed addition. You have to take it with a grain of salt, he's missed a lot of time, so we have to be patient and let him work his way back into game speed, game pace, game shape." -- Stefen Rosner

Columbus Blue Jackets

Sean Kuraly hopes to return to the lineup soon after an incident against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Dec. 23 resulted in the Blue Jackets forward going to the hospital.

The forward had the blade of his stick get stuck in the boards and the butt end jabbed him in the upper body.

Kuraly did not play in a 4-3 overtime loss at the New Jersey Devils on Wednesday and is not playing against the Maple Leafs on Friday (7 p.m. ET; BSOH, SNO).

"I think we're doing about day to day right now and just trying to progress every day," he said Friday. "They call it a contusion of some sort, whether it's the lung, the ribs or the abdomen. I think it's tough to pinpoint."

Kuraly was sandwiched in a check between Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews and defenseman Jake McCabe when he temporarily went down behind the Toronto net. He got up, then hunched over and skated to the bench before collapsing in the tunnel to the locker room.

Kuraly said it took medical personnel about 10 minutes to ascertain he was not in serious trouble.

"It was a very unique kind of pain and I think that's what caused the concern and the scares," Kuraly said. "Obviously, I was struggling to breathe a bit but, yeah, it's a different feeling."

Forward Jack Roslovic returned Friday after missing 21 games because of a broken ankle. He entered Friday with eight points (two goals, six assists) in 14 games this season. -- Craig Merz

Seattle Kraken

Andre Burakovsky could return when the Seattle Kraken host the Philadelphia Flyers on Friday (10 p.m. ET; NBCSP+, ROOT-NW).

Burakovsky has had three separate injuries in the past year, tearing his groin in a 4-0 loss at the New York Islanders on Feb. 7, and missing the remainder of the 2022-23 season and the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

He returned for the start of the 2023-24 season, playing six games before crashing shoulder-first into the boards and sustaining an upper-body injury in a 4-1 loss to the New York Rangers on Oct. 21.

The forward missed 20 games before returning from that injury in a 2-1 loss to the New Jersey Devils on Dec. 7, but got hit by defenseman Kevin Bahl in that game and left with a different upper-body injury that has kept him out of the lineup for the past nine games.

Burakovsky, who has three assists in seven games this season, was a full participant at the morning skate on Friday and was activated off injured reserve. Devin Shore was skating as a healthy scratch after the practice, which likely indicates Burakovsky will play.

Forward Jaden Schwartz skated in a regular jersey on Friday for the first time since sustaining an upper-body injury in a 4-3 loss at the Chicago Blackhawks on Nov. 28. He was expected to be sidelined six weeks.

"Schwartz is definitely not available today," Kraken coach Dave Hakstol said Friday. "'Burky' is closer, but like I said, they're both on different pathways." -- Darren Brown

Ottawa Senators

Mathieu Joseph, Thomas Chabot and Rourke Chartier each are expected to return from their injuries on an upcoming road trip, which begins on Tuesday.

"As far as the [return] dates, I don't have the dates exactly," interim coach Jacques Martin said. "I think they need to get in some practice time, get their timing [back], especially the ones that have been out for an extended period of time. But I think it's encouraging to see them on the ice and be part of the team. So, I would expect that hopefully they're back at some point during our road trip."

Joseph, a forward, practiced in a no-contact jersey Friday for the first time since sustaining a lower-body injury in a 5-4 loss to the Dallas Stars on Dec. 15. Chabot, a defenseman who has missed 11 games with a leg injury, and Chartier, a forward who has missed five games with a concussion, each continue to practice in no-contact jerseys.

"I think [Chartier] is a concussion issue, so I don't have as much information," Martin said, "but the other two, I think Chabot I think would probably be closer than Joseph."

The Senators (13-17-0) host the New Jersey Devils on Friday (7 p.m. ET; RDS, TSN5, MSGSN2) and the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday before a five-game road trip that begins at the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday. -- Callum Fraser

Buffalo Sabres

Zemgus Girgensons could return from injury when the Sabres host the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday (5 p.m. ET; BSOH, MSG-B).

The forward has missed 16 games with a lower-body injury sustained Nov. 24 against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Buffalo is 5-9-2 in those games.

"He looked good," coach Don Granato said Friday. "I think there's a good chance he'll be in tomorrow."

Girgensons has two goals and is averaging 14:26 of ice time in 20 games this season.

"Compete, energy," Granato said of what Girgensons brings. "Hard, direct game that makes room for others, that makes room for your skill. You've got to work and compete first to open up lanes, you've got to wear on another team a little bit to open up lanes. Where we've got ourselves in trouble is thinking we can play skill first and not wear a bit on the other team, and Zemgus absolutely helps us in that regard." -- Heather Engel