Sabres_Preview_Hockey_51715

Buffalo Sabres Coach Ralph Krueger has tested positive for COVID-19, joining a growing list of players and coaches who have been sidelined already this season. The Sabres were supposed to play the Boston Bruins on Saturday and Monday, but those games had already been postponed because two Buffalo players are under COVID-19 protocols. Gene J. Puskar/Associated Press

The NHL revised its virus protocols in a bid to keep the shortened season on track, but not before a fifth team was idled by COVID-19 problems.

Colorado joined the growing list of U.S.-based teams shut down for virus concerns. The New Jersey Devils had games postponed through at least Saturday, Buffalo through Monday, Minnesota through Tuesday and the Avalanche through next Thursday, with the Vegas Golden Knights only now set to resume Friday.

Colorado captain Gabriel Landeskog joined teammate Tyson Jost on the league’s COVID-19 unavailable list Thursday. There are currently 40 players from 11 teams on the list, which can include a positive test result unconfirmed or confirmed, symptomatic isolation, high risk close contact or quarantine for travel purposes.

“With about 20 percent of our season played, we are mindful of the fact that we might be seeing a more aggressive transmission of the virus and will continue to make adjustments to our protocols as we consult on a daily basis with,” NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said.

The adjustments include removing glass panels from behind benches for better air flow, making all meetings virtual and telling teams to space out locker rooms to provide 6 feet of space between inhabitants. The league said it was also considering portable air filters that would be installed by the benches.

Players and coaches aren’t allowed at the arena until 1 hour 45 minutes before the game unless they’re getting “necessary treatment or to engage in preparations in advance of the game. That’s a key tweak to the original interpretation of the rule preventing early arrivals, which didn’t go over well with some players.

The Sabres said 61-year-old coach Ralph Krueger had tested positive and will enter virus protocol immediately.

Minnesota’s Nick Bjugstad, Nick Bonino, Joel Eriksson Ek, Marcus Johansson and Jared Spurgeon joined Marcus Foligno on the list of players unavailable because of COVID-19 protocols when the league provided an update Wednesday evening.

BLUE JACKETS: Columbus put goaltender Elvis Merzlikins on injured reserve after he hurt himself during practice.

Merzlikins was scheduled to start Thursday night against the Dallas Stars. Joonas Korpisalo likely will start in his place.

The Blue Jackets said Merzlikins, who has been rotating games with Korpisalo, suffered an unspecified upper-body injury in practice Wednesday. He is day-to-day.

Matiss Kivlenieks was moved to the roster as a second goaltender from the club’s taxi squad, and Cam Johnson was recalled from Cleveland of the American Hockey League.

THURSDAY’S GAMES

RANGERS 4, CAPITALS 2: Ryan Strome scored twice to help New York win at home.

Washington’s Alex Ovechkin scored career goal No. 709 to surpass Mike Gartner for sole possession of seventh place on the NHL list. But New York stretched its point streak to four games, which includes three victories.

BLUE JACKETS 4, STARS 3: Patrik Laine and Jack Roslovic scored for the first time since being traded to Columbus last month, and the Blue Jackets earned a split of the two-game series against visiting Dallas.

MAPLE LEAFS 7, CANUCKS 3: Jason Spezza recorded the eighth hat trick of his career and first in nearly five years as Toronto routed visiting Vancouver.

SENATORS 3, CANADIENS 2: Rookie Tim Stutzle had a goal and two assists, and visiting Ottawa snapped a nine-game losing skid.

PREDATORS 6, PANTHERS 5: Filip Forsberg scored in regulation and overtime, and Nashville rallied for a win in Sunrise, Florida.

Forsberg also had three assists as Nashville stopped a two-game slide. Matt Duchene scored twice, and Roman Josi and Calle Jarnkrok had the other goals for the Predators.

Nashville was down 5-3 before Josi scored with 2:06 left in the third. Duchene then tied it with 56.8 seconds left.

Comments are not available on this story.