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NHL Buzz: Ekman-Larsson to miss at least two games for Coyotes

Miller practices with Canucks, will make season debut at Flames; Reinhart could play for Sabres at Flyers

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Arizona Coyotes

Oliver Ekman-Larsson is day to day with a lower-body injury and will miss at least the next two games, coach Rick Tocchet said Sunday.

The defenseman had three assists in a 5-3 win against the San Jose Sharks on Saturday, but he was attended to by trainers after he was hit into the boards by Evander Kane with 10:48 remaining in the third. The Arizona captain did not play a shift following the hit.

"He won't be making the trip to Vegas, so that's unfortunate," Tocchet said. "But we're going to have to step up right now, so it's something we'll deal with.

"He's a physical player, Kane, and that's one of those things (where) you finish your check. It's an unfortunate situation. It's 5-2 and you hate to see that happen, but it is what it is. There's nothing you can do about it."

The Coyotes will play four straight games against the Vegas Golden Knights this week, with the first two being played on the road Monday (10 p.m. ET; NBCSN, ATTSN-RM) and Wednesday before returning to Arizona for two more on Friday and Sunday.

Tocchet said either Kyle Capobianco, who was a healthy scratch the first two games, or Jordan Gross, who is on Arizona's taxi squad, would replace Ekman-Larsson on Monday. 

 

Vancouver Canucks

J.T. Miller rejoined the Canucks at practice in Calgary on Sunday and is expected to make his season debut against the Calgary Flames on Monday (9 p.m. ET; ESPN+, SN1, SNP, NHL.TV).

Miller, who led Vancouver with 72 points (27 goals, 45 assists) in 69 games last season, missed the first three games of the season because of NHL COVID-19 protocols. He will play on the top line with Elias Pettersson and Brock Boeser as well as on the top unit of the power play, which is 0-for-11 so far.

"You want to be out there and you want to help," Miller said. "I kind of felt a little bit helpless sitting on my couch watching the games, and without an injury it was just weird."

Miller, who had not skated since Monday, said he used a Peloton bike at home for conditioning but otherwise didn't disclose specific details about his quarantine or return.

"I was just following my protocol that I was given by the League and the government and was serving quarantine in my house, and then I've been cleared, so it's all I can really control now," Miller said. "I'm ready to get back at it, and excited for the game (Monday)."

Canucks coach Travis Green said defenseman Quinn Hughes did not practice Sunday for undisclosed reasons but did not update his status for Monday. Hughes leads Vancouver with three assists after he scored 53 points (eight goals, 45 assists) in 68 games last season, when he was voted the runner-up for the Calder Trophy as NHL rookie of the year (Cale Makar of Colorado Avalanche). -- Kevin Woodley

 

Buffalo Sabres

Sam Reinhart is day to day with a lower-body injury but will travel with the Sabres and could play at the Philadelphia Flyers on Monday (7:30 p.m. ET; NBCSN, NBCSP).

"It is, yes, related to what you saw on the ice [against the Washington Capitals on Friday] and it's lower-body that appears to be manageable," coach Ralph Krueger said. "He'll come with us on the trip, and we'll make that final decision. We will do a pregame skate again tomorrow where we can then decide our roster after that."

Reinhart was injured early in the second period during a 2-1 loss to the Capitals in a battle in the corner with Washington forward Conor Sheary. He missed several shifts before returning to the game.

Casey Mittelstadt, who is on the taxi squad, took Reinhart's place during practice Sunday, skating on the right wing with center Jack Eichel and left wing Taylor Hall.

Forward Kyle Okposo, who has not practiced with the Sabres since leaving practice early on Jan. 12, will not be on the trip.

"Kyle will stay here and rehab," Krueger said. "We're optimistic about the direction but feel he'll get better rehab skates and he'll be on the ice tomorrow. We hope to have him back for [the game against the Capitals on Friday]." -- Heather Engel

 

Colorado Avalanche

Jared Bednar has a time frame for when defenseman Bowen Byram will make his NHL debut, but the Avalanche coach is not divulging details.

"We'll sit down with him today and do some video with him over the next two or three days, get him up to speed on everything we've been doing as a team through training camp, so he understands the system, the structure," Bednar said of the 19-year-old, who had his first practice with the Avalanche on Sunday. "Once he's on the ice for four or five days, then hopefully he'll be an option for us."

Byram scored five points (goal, four assists) in seven games at the 2021 IIHF World Junior Championship, helping Canada finish second. He had to quarantine for seven days after arriving in Denver from the World Juniors on Jan. 8 and skated on his own Saturday.

The No. 4 pick in the 2019 NHL Draft said his game has improved since his first training camp with Colorado that year.

"I think I'm a lot more defensively assertive, confident on the defensive side of the puck," Byram said. "The defensive game takes a little longer to evolve, so that's what I 've focused on. It's been really fun getting on the ice. I'm just trying to work hard, trying to get a spot in the lineup."

Defenseman Erik Johnson practiced with the Avalanche for the first time this season Sunday. The 32-year-old had been in quarantine since testing positive for COVID-19 at the start of camp. -- Tracey Myers

 

Dallas Stars

Defensemen Miro Heiskanen and Jamie Oleksiak practiced Sunday and are expected to take part in the Stars scrimmage on Monday and an extra skate Tuesday.

"A full 60-minute game, three periods, stop time, and they'll need that," coach Rick Bowness said. "For a lot of guys, Tuesday will be a day off because we've gone hard the past three days. But the guys who will need the extra skating are going to be coming out Tuesday, for sure. In order for us to really prepare for [the season opener Friday], we need everyone back on the ice and we're getting there. And again, you have to give them some time to find their legs."

Heiskanen and Oleksiak last practiced Jan. 6, two days before the Stars had to close their facility because of an outbreak of COVID-19.

Forward Blake Comeau did not practice Sunday because of "medical reasons," Bowness said.

After having their first four games postponed, the Stars will open the season against the Nashville Predators at home Friday (8:30 p.m. ET; ESPN+, FS-SW+, FS-TN, NHL.TV). -- Tracey Myers

 

Winnipeg Jets

The Jets returned to practice Sunday after canceling practice Saturday.

They said the decision Saturday was made "out of an abundance of caution due to potential exposure of COVID-19."

The Jets are scheduled to play at the Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday (7 p.m. ET; TVAS, SNO, TSN3, NHL.TV). They opened their season with a 4-3 overtime win against the Calgary Flames on Thursday.

 

Calgary Flames

Brett Ritchie signed a one-year, two-way contract Sunday. It is worth $700,000 in the NHL.

The 27-year-old forward had been in Flames training camp on a professional tryout contract (PTO).

Ritchie scored six points (two goals, four assists) in 27 games with the Boston Bruins last season.

Selected in the second round (No. 44) of the 2011 NHL Draft by the Dallas Stars, Ritchie has scored 60 points (35 goals, 25 assists) in 268 regular-season games with the Bruins and Stars, and has zero points in three Stanley Cup Playoff games.

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