NHL Buzz: Saros out final two games for Predators

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Nashville Predators

Juuse Saros will not play the final two regular-season games for the Predators because of a lower-body injury.

The goalie made 30 saves before leaving a 5-4 overtime loss to the Calgary Flames on Tuesday at 13:28 of the third period.

David Rittich is likely to start at the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday (9 p.m. ET; ALT, BSSO, ESPN+, NHL LIVE), the first of a back-to-back set that will conclude the season. Goalie Connor Ingram was recalled from Milwaukee of the American Hockey League. 

Saros leads the NHL with 67 starts. His 38 wins are tied for second with Andrei Vasilevskiy of the Tampa Bay Lightning and the second-most by a Predators goalie in one season (Pekka Rinne, 43 in 2011-12; 42 in 2017-18; 41 in 2014-15). 

Nashville (44-29-7) will be one of the two Western Conference wild cards. It clinched a Stanley Cup Playoff berth for the eighth consecutive season when the Dallas Stars defeated the Vegas Golden Knights 3-2 in a shootout Tuesday.

 
New York Rangers

Artemi Panarin and Andrew Copp did not play for the New York Rangers in a 4-3 loss to the Montreal Canadiens at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday.

Panarin (upper body) and Copp (lower body) left a 4-3 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday in the second period. Rangers coach Gerard Gallant said the forwards didn’t return for precautionary reasons, which is why they sat out Wednesday. He did not say if they will play the regular-season finale against the Washington Capitals on Friday.

“Nothing major, obviously,” Gallant said. “I’ll know more today, but there’s nothing to worry about. Not going to play tonight either one of them, but there’s no concern if they’ll play next week.”

New York will finish second in the Metropolitan Division and open the Stanley Cup Playoffs against either the Pittsburgh Penguins or Capitals.

Copp also missed a 3-1 loss at the Boston Bruins on April 23 with a lower-body injury he sustained in a 6-3 win at the New York Islanders two days earlier.

“We’re going to rest some players a little bit here,” Gallant said. “It’s a good opportunity to do that, so we’ll see where they go and how they’ll get along. 

“They might play Friday. We’ll decide on that. If they don’t play Friday, it’s not because they’re going to be injured. There’s no issues. We’re making sure on the cautious side.”

Forward Kaapo Kakko played 14:48 against Montreal after missing four games with a lower-body injury. He played the previous four, scoring two goals in a 4-0 win against the Philadelphia Flyers on April 13, after returning from an upper-body injury that kept him out for 31 games from Jan. 22-April 7.

“It’s good that I still have a couple games before the playoffs,” Kakko said. “I’m feeling good. I want to go full power. I think I’m good right now and ready to play.” — Dan Rosen

 
Montreal Canadiens

Carey Price is having his knee reevaluated in New York, where the Canadiens played the New York Rangers.

The goalie had arthroscopic knee surgery July 23 to repair a torn meniscus. He was held out of the lineup for a 5-3 loss to the Boston Bruins on Sunday after starting four of five games.

“He’s going to be reevaluated when he’s seen in New York,” Montreal coach Martin St. Louis said Tuesday. “So I don’t know if it’s a relapse, but I was happy that he was able to play and we’ll see what the next few days bring.”

Price made 17 saves in his season debut, a 3-0 loss to the New York Islanders on April 15, his first start since Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final. He allowed six goals in each of his past two starts and is 0-4-0 with a 4.03 goals-against-average and .853 save percentage.

“Is it a blow? No, I thought it was a big plus for him to fight and get back from a long year of dealing with his injury,” St. Louis said. “But we knew that him playing, it wasn’t just going to be smooth sailing, you know, there’s possibilities, and I think that’s where we’re at and that’s why he’s getting looked at.”

Sam Montembeault started against the Rangers and made 24 saves in a 4-3 win. — Sean Farrell

 
Toronto Maple Leafs

Michael Bunting will be reevaluated prior to the Stanley Cup Playoffs, which begin May 2, for a lower-body injury. He will not play the regular-season finale for the Maple Leafs against the Boston Bruins on Friday (7 p.m. ET; TVAS, TSN4, NESNplus, ESPN+, NHL LIVE).

The forward missed a 3-0 win against the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday after he sustained the injury in a 3-2 overtime loss to the Florida Panthers on Saturday. He did not play in a 4-3 shootout win against the Washington Capitals on Sunday.

“He obviously skated today so a very positive sign,” Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said Tuesday. “He’s not going to play this week and then we will reevaluate him from there, but things are looking positive.”

Bunting leads NHL rookies with 63 points (23 goals, 40 assists) in 79 games.

Forward Ondrej Kase, who has not played since March 19 with a concussion, participated in a full-team morning skate Tuesday but Keefe said there is no timeline for his return.

Goalie Petr Mrazek, who has not played since March 29 because of a groin injury, skated again Tuesday. Keefe said he is progressing well but that there is still no timeline for his return.

Defenseman Jake Muzzin, who missed six games with an undisclosed injury, returned against the Red Wings and skated on a pair with TJ Brodie. — Dave McCarthy