NHL Buzz: Point could return for Lightning against Canadiens


Welcome to the NHL Buzz. Throughout the 2021-22 season, NHL.com will have you covered with the latest news.

Tampa Bay Lightning

Brayden Point could play against the Montreal Canadiens at Amalie Arena on Tuesday (7 p.m.; ESPN+, HULU, TSN2, RDS, NHL LIVE) after the forward was a full participant at practice Monday.

Point has missed 14 games with an upper-body injury sustained Nov. 20 after he was tripped by New Jersey Devils defenseman Ryan Graves while on a breakaway.

“Getting close, feeling pretty good,” Point said. “I’m still a little rusty obviously, but I think everyone is coming off that Christmas break. I’m excited to be taking full reps in practice and I’m really looking forward to getting back playing.”

Point has scored 13 points (seven goals, six assists) in 16 games this season. He said he never felt the need to rush back because the Lightning were 11-2-1 without him.

“When the team is winning it makes it easier,” Point said. “The main goal is being healthy come playoff push.”

The Lightning are without forward Nikita Kucherov and defenseman Erik Cernak, each because of a lower-body injury; each is expected to return in January. Tampa Bay will be without forwards Anthony Cirelli and Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, defensemen Mikhail Sergachev and Andrej Sustr, and goalies Andrei Vasilevskiy and Brian Elliott, who are in NHL COVID-19 protocol.

Coach Jon Cooper and assistant Rob Zettler are also in the protocol. — Corey Long

Toronto Maple Leafs

Mitchell Marner practiced Sunday for the first time since injuring his shoulder in a collision during practice with defenseman Jake Muzzin on Dec. 3.

The forward has scored 21 points (six goals, 15 assists) in 24 games. He missed six games with the injury before the Maple Leafs had five games postponed by a COVID-19 outbreak.

“His rehab was upended by the shutdown and the pause in our activities,” general manager Kyle Dubas said after Toronto’s first practice since being shut down. “It was good to see him out there in practice today but certainly not a player we would rush along whatsoever. It’s tough to predict at this point. After a few more days of practice, we would have a better read on that but certainly to see him out in practice today was a step in the right direction.”

Center John Tavares also rejoined the Maple Leafs for practice after he was placed in NHL COVID-19 protocol Dec. 17. Tavares said he experienced a strong headache, body aches and a lot of fatigue Dec. 18 but began feeling much better the following day.

“Everything felt like it was moving very fast and I wasn’t moving very fast myself,” he said. “Obviously I was just trying to get my heart rate up and fight through the fatigue. It was just knocking some of the rust off and trying to get your timing back. To be expected when I haven’t skated in nine or 10 days roughly.”

Tavares has scored 32 points (13 goals, 19 assists) in 29 games. — Dave McCarthy

Minnesota Wild

Defenseman Jared Spurgeon and forward Joel Eriksson Ek will not play in the 2022 Discover NHL Winter Classic against the St. Louis Blues at Target Field in Minneapolis on Saturday.

Spurgeon, who was injured Nov. 20 against the Florida Panthers, reaggravated a lower-body injury Dec. 16 that has caused him to miss eight games.

Eriksson Ek sustained an upper-body injury during a 7-4 loss at the Dallas Stars on Dec. 20, the last game the Wild played. Four games have been postponed due to COVID-19 concerns.

“Neither one will play in that game,” Wild coach Dean Evason said Sunday. “It’s disappointing for any player that can’t play to have this be.

“Both are not positive, not rosy outcomes, but as far as timeline and all of that, I do not have a time frame.”

The Wild expect to have forward Jordan Greenway return after he missed the game in Dallas with a lower-body injury. — Jessi Pierce

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