NHL Buzz: Mrazek could start for Hurricanes against Stars

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

 
Carolina Hurricanes

Petr Mrazek could start against the Dallas Stars on Sunday (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN360, SNE, SNO, BSSO, NHL.TV).

The goalie has missed 29 games following right thumb surgery Feb. 3.

“I want him to make sure he feels 100 percent to play in an NHL game and that’s why he’s practicing with us and played that (conditioning) game and everything’s been heading in the right direction,” Hurricanes coach Brind’Amour said. “That’s why I’m saying I’m hopeful or [it’s] probable that he’ll be in here in the next few games. Maybe tonight, who knows? We’ll see.”

Mrazek made 43 saves in a 5-2 win for Chicago of the American Hockey League against Grand Rapids in a conditioning stint Thursday. He flew back to North Carolina after the Hurricanes defeated the Chicago Blackhawks 4-3 that night.

“It’s been eight weeks since I played a game, so I was really happy I could see the action and see the puck, see the puck through traffic and battle hard so it was positive,” Mrazek said. “I don’t think there’s anything better than facing 45 shots. That’s a good conditioning game.”

Mrazek is 2-1-1 with a 0.99 goals-against average, .955 save percentage and two shutouts in four games this season. — Tracey Myers

Dallas Stars

Jake Oettinger will start the second of a back to back at the Carolina Hurricanes (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN360, SNE, SNO, BSSO, NHL.TV) with no change in the status of goalie Anton Khudobin, who was placed in NHL COVID-19 protocol Saturday. 

Oettinger made 41 saves in a 3-2 win against the Hurricanes on Saturday, when Khudobin was expected to start.

“He can handle it,” Stars coach Rick Bowness said. “We know he can handle the workload and with ‘Dobby’s’ situation, it’s not like we have another choice. He’s young, he has lots of energy and he’s played in a back to back before. 

“You try to stay one step ahead of the unknown. No one predicted ‘Dobby’ would show up with hopefully what’s going to be a false positive, but we’ve put him in these situations before.”

Prior the season, Khudobin said he had COVID-19 for several weeks. He is 7-9-4 with a 2.48 goals-against average, .908 save percentage and three shutouts in 20 games.

Stars forward Jason Dickinson is out after leaving in the first period Saturday with an undisclosed injury. — Myers
 

Florida Panthers

Aleksander Barkov and Patric Hornqvist returned to the lineup for a 5-2 win against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday.

Barkov, a center, had an assist and played 19:30 after missing six games with a lower-body injury. He is second on the Panthers with 38 points (13 goals, 25 assists) behind Jonathan Huberdeau (42). 

“[Barkov] is having one of those tremendous years as far as his importance to our team, his line, the power play, penalty kill,” Panthers coach Joel Quenneville said. “It was a big void that we got through and having him return, that line has always been influential in the game.”

Hornqvist, a forward, played 18:30 and had an assist. He missed four games with an undisclosed injury, is fourth with 26 points (12 goals, 14 assists) and leads Florida with seven power-play goals.

“‘Horny’ gives you that net presence and energy, enthusiasm,” Quenneville said. “Obviously [he and Barkov] are both very important in a lot of ways.”

The Panthers and Blue Jackets play the second of a back to back (5 p.m. ET; ESPN+, SN, BSFL, BSOH, NHL.TV) — Alain Poupart

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