Injuries force lineup changes for Stars, Leafs
TORONTO -- Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews is getting closer to a return from a shoulder injury, but will not play Wednesday night against the Dallas Stars.
Matthews participated in his first full practice Monday since he was injured in a game against the New York Islanders on Feb. 22. He wore a red shirt during the practice, indicating he would not be involved in contact.
"He'll be in better shape when he comes back than when he left," Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock said. "It will still take him a bit for timing. I would expect he's still going to be pushing, not for Dallas game, but after that some time. As he's feeling better, he'll get involved more."
Matthews also practiced Tuesday.
The Stars, who lost 4-2 to the Canadiens on Tuesday night in Montreal, are awaiting the return of goaltender Ben Bishop from injury. He did not play Tuesday and will not play Wednesday.
Bishop, was on the ice in full gear for the first time Monday since his left knee was injured one week ago when defenseman Dan Hamhuis fell on him in a game against the Ottawa Senators.
"He was in equipment, so (Monday) is controlled shooting and then (Tuesday) will be hopefully participating in pregame skate," Stars coach Ken Hitchcock said. "Depends on how he came through on the controlled shooting part. We're hopeful that that's the next step, so he's got really two more steps left: obviously controlled shooting, controlled pre-game skate and then full practice."
Kari Lehtonen, who stopped 22 of 26 shots Tuesday in the loss to Montreal, is expected to start in Toronto as well.
Radek Faksa and Jamie Benn scored for the Stars (38-26-6) in Montreal.
The Maple Leafs (40-22-7), who returned from an 0-2-2 road trip with a 5-2 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday, recalled Andreas Johnsson and defenseman Calle Rosen from the Marlies of the American Hockey League before practice Tuesday morning.
Rosen was recalled on an emergency basis because defenseman Nikita Zaitsev was ill for the fourth straight day and Travis Dermott also was absent.
Johnsson, a 23-year-old left winger, is the leading scorer on the Marlies with 26 goals and 28 assists and will make his NHL debut Wednesday.
"He has had a good year and we have not had a lot of opportunity to give him a chance," Babcock said. "Even now, we're going to have to sit someone else (Dominic Moore, Matt Martin or Josh Leivo) to do it. We have an opportunity here this week with three games (in four nights) and we'll have a look at him and therefore if we need him at playoff time, we will have an understanding of what he can do.
"We just think he is a smart player. Real good hockey sense and good determination with good hands. Now it has to transfer it to the National Hockey League. As we all know, you never know 100 percent You go with your best hunches and see what happens."
Dallas, which is in a 1-3-1 drought, lost its second straight to open a six-game trip and is three points behind the Minnesota Wild for third place in the Central Division. The Stars sit in a wild-card spot in the tight Western Conference race.
"I think this time of year, it's really revealing one way or the other. There's lots left in it by the way. ... we're not dead yet," Hitchcock said. "But we're going to have to finish the job if we expect to get in."
Stars defenseman Marc Methot left Tuesday's game after blocking a shot and Hitchcock said more will be known about his status Wednesday. He indicated that there were a couple other injuries that also could be discussed Wednesday.
Updated March 14, 2018