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Blake Wheeler, Nikolai Ehlers, Cole Perfetti and Nate Schmidt will return for the Jets against the Tampa Bay Lightning (8 p.m. ET; TSN3, BSSUNX, ESPN+, SN NOW).
Wheeler, Ehlers and Perfetti, each a forward, and Schmidt, a defenseman, were full participants in practice Thursday and participated in an optional skate Friday. Coach Rick Bowness confirmed they would play.
“To get four guys back is ridiculous, really,” defenseman Josh Morrissey said. “You never see that. And the guys that are coming back and what they mean to our team. There’s a huge excitement level for us. We’ve done a good job of weathering injuries and adversity throughout the season so far. The guys that have come in have done a fantastic job. But to get these guys back is super exciting. And there’s definitely a buzz around the room.”
Wheeler has missed nine games since last playing Dec. 15, and had surgery for a groin injury a few days later. He has 26 points (nine goals, 17 assists) in 29 games this season.
“We got the news yesterday that he was cleared to play, which was shocking to all of us,” coach Rick Bowness said Thursday. “That just goes back to his character, his commitment to the team, and his will to play. He loves to play. He works hard every day. Give him a lot of credit, he pushed the envelope, and he’s back sooner than we thought, which is great news for all of us.”
Ehlers, who has three assists in two games this season, hasn’t played since Oct. 17 because of a sports hernia surgery. Perfetti (six goals, 14 assists in 33 games) has missed five games with a shoulder injury and Schmidt (three goals, three assists) in 29 games has missed nine games with an upper-body injury.
“The guys are excited to be back playing again,” Schmidt said. “You inject a lot of energy back into the room, which is always something that when you get into January and February you’re going to need. You get a little extra something from a few of the guys.” — Darrin Bauming
Patrick Kane will be out with a lower-body injury for the Blackhawks when they play the Arizona Coyotes on Friday (8:30 pm ET; NBCSCH+, BSAZX, ESPN+, SN NOW).
“I feel like, to be honest with you, I probably could play but it’s just certain situations it’s kind of lingering pain, so it is what it is right now,” the forward said after skating on Friday. “But I think I should be through it here quickly enough.”
It’s the first time Kane will miss a game due to injury since he sustained a broken clavicle against the Florida Panthers on Feb. 24, 2015, and missed the rest of that regular season.
Kane said he sustained the injury after taking a hit from the San Jose Sharks forward Evgeny Svechnikov in Chicago’s 5-2 loss on Sunday. He participated in the skate on Tuesday and played 12:57 with two shots on goal in two periods in a 4-1 loss against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
“He thought he could make it through [last game] and he doesn’t want to put the team in that position again,” Blackhawks coach Luke Richardson said. “It was trying to pull nails out of an old log. He just didn’t want to say he couldn’t go, but that’s an athlete in him.
“We have one more day tomorrow and see how he is for the next game (against the Calgary Flames) on Sunday then we have a few days. I think it’s smart to do that.”
Kane leads the Blackhawks with 27 points (seven goals, 20 assists) in 37 games. — Tracey Myers
Brendan Gallagher will be out at least two weeks for the Canadiens because of a lower-body injury.
The forward did not play in a 4-1 loss to the New York Rangers on Thursday because of the same lower-body injury that recently sidelined him for 13 games.
Gallagher had one goal in three games since he returned to the lineup prior to not playing Thursday. He has nine points (four goals, five assists) in 25 games this season.
Defenseman Kaiden Guhle will be out at least eight weeks because of a lower-body injury. He has not played since he was injured in a 7-2 loss to the Florida Panthers on Dec. 29.
Defenseman Mike Matheson (lower body) and Sean Monahan (lower body) each skated Friday but will be out at least two more weeks. Matheson hasn’t played since Dec. 17; Monahan last played Dec. 5.
The Canadiens are 0-6-1 during a season-long, seven-game skid and have one win in their past 11 games (1-9-1).