Canadiens Bruins Hockey

Charlie Coyle was the 11th Bruins player to enter the COVID-19 protocols. He is the only one who remains and Coach Bruce Cassidy hopes he will be cleared in time to play Saturday. Winslow Townson/Associated Press

The last time we saw the Boston Bruins a full two weeks ago, a roster speckled with AHL players lost to the New York Islanders on Dec. 16.

Rumor has it that the Bruins will once again return to play on Saturday for a New Year’s Day matinee against the Buffalo Sabres and, despite COVID cases popping up throughout the league, the Bruins could actually have close to a full roster available.

On Thursday morning, Coach Bruce Cassidy was still waiting to see if Charlie Coyle would be able to test out of protocol. If that is the case, then Cassidy was hopeful his second-line center would be on the ice Friday for practice and ready to play this weekend against the Sabres and in Detroit Sunday against the Red Wings.

If no one else tests positive – granted, a big “if” these days – then the Bruins would be missing only Jakub Zboril, who is out for the season after undergoing ACL surgery. Coyle was the 11th Bruin to test positive but is currently the only one still in protocol.

A Coyle return would give the Bruins their full complement of forwards. Cassidy believes that, all things considered, one day of practice should be enough.

“I’ll have to talk to him. Some guys are able to do more (exercise) at home than others. I think Charlie was asymptomatic so he should be fine. I assume he’s been doing some work. He’s in pretty good shape to begin with. So, yeah, it would be (enough),” said Cassidy, who gave his team the day off after four straight practice days.

WILD: Minnesota signed Coach Dean Evason and his staff to multiyear contract extensions on Thursday, a reward for keeping them as one of the top teams in the Western Conference.

THURSDAY’S GAMES

HURRICANES 4, CANADIENS 0: Antti Raanta made 26 saves, Teuvo Teravainen scored two goals and Carolina excelled on special teams in a victory over Montreal in Raleigh, North Carolina.

The Hurricanes scored three times on power plays and another time short-handed in their first game in nearly two weeks.

Raanta, usually the backup in his first season with the Hurricanes, had his first shutout since Feb. 4, 2020.

PANTHERS 9, LIGHTNING 3: Anthony Duclair scored twice, Jonathan Huberdeau had a goal and four assists, and Florida romped to a rout of NHL-leading Tampa Bay in Sunrise, Florida.

Florida scored three times in each period against the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions and snapped Tampa Bay’s four-game winning streak.

Frank Vatrano, Eetu Luostarinen, Maxim Mamin, Anton Lundell, Aaron Ekblad and Aleksander Barkov also scored to help the Panthers set a season high for goals in their league-leading 16th home win.

BLUE JACKETS 4, PREDATORS 3: Gustav Nyquist scored in the fifth round of the shootout to give Columbus a win over Nashville in Columbus, Ohio.

Patrik Laine, back in the lineup after missing 19 games with an oblique strain, scored, Alexandre Texier added a goal, and Boone Jenner had a goal and an assist. Elvis Merzlikins made 31 saves for the Blue Jackets, who snapped a two-game skid.

Michael McCarron, Nick Cousins and former Blue Jackets player Ryan Johansen scored in regulation for the Predators. Matt Duchene had two assists, and David Rittich made 26 saves for Nashville.

ISLANDERS 4, SABRES 1: Kieffer Bellows and Anders Lee scored in the second period, Semyon Varlamov made 36 saves and New York beat Buffalo in New York for its third victory in four home games.

Mathew Barzal added a goal and two assists as the Islanders improved to 3-5-3 at UBS Arena after an 0-5-2 start in their new ornate home.

Bellows made a dipsy-doodle move to elude a Sabres defender before shooting the puck past Buffalo netminder Malcolm Subban at 6:45 of the middle period to snap a 1-all tie for this third goal this season. Islanders defenseman Andy Greene assisted.


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