Defenseman Mike Matheson will be back in the lineup on
Saturday night when the Florida Panthers play host to the Detroit Red
Wings.Matheson missed the past two games after he was suspended by the NHL for
his check on Vancouver Canucks rookie Elias Pettersson Womens
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, who suffered a concussion on the play.“It
was an unfortunate sequence of events,” Matheson said. “The first thing I
thought of after the game was if he was OK. That was my main concern, and it
still is, but it sounds like he is doing better. That’s great to hear.”Article
continues below ...Matheson said he and Pettersson exchanged text messages.
Matheson, who had never previously been suspended by the NHL, said he apologized
to Pettersson.“As a player, you don’t go around trying to injure guys,” Matheson
said. “That’s not part of my game.”Matheson will return Saturday to a joyous
team as the Panthers (1-2-2) came up with a huge road win on Friday night,
beating the reigning Stanley Cup champion Washington Capitals 6-5 in a
four-round shootout.It was Florida’s first win of the season.Meanwhile, the Red
Wings (0-5-2), who have won 11 Stanley Cup titles — more than any other
U.S.-based team — are off to a dreadful start. They have been outscored 33-15 in
seven games.Wings goalie Jimmy Howard, who stopped 28 of 30 shots against Tampa
Bay on Thursday, including all nine on the power play, is the likely starter on
Saturday.Howard Tim Heed
, a 34-year-old who is in the final year of his contract,
was probably Detroit’s best player last season, posting a 2.85 goals-against
average and a .910 save percentage.This season, Howard has a 3.57 goals-against
average and an .893 save percentage, but the Wings are off to one of the worst
starts in franchise history, similar to 0-8-1 in 1985-86.“It’s not fun, that’s
for sure,” Howard told “But we’ve got to keep moving along. We’ve had a
better effort the past couple of games.”Wings coach Jeff Blashill agreed with
Howard that progress is being made.“But I still think we are passing up chances
to shoot the puck,” said Blashill, who is in the final season of a four-year
contract. “We have to get that figured out.”The Wings, who last season missed
the playoffs for the second year in a row — the first time that has happened to
Detroit since 1983 — are short of quality, proven defensemen.Center Dylan
Larkin, 22, is the team’s biggest rising star. He is a huge part of Detroit’s
future Alex
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, along with other under-25 forwards (Tyler
Bertuzzi, Andreas Athanasiou, Anthony Mantha, Christoffer Ehn and Michael
Rasmussen).In addition, three of Detroit’s top six defensemen are rookies: Filip
Hronek, Joe Hicketts and Dennis Cholowski.Those rookies will face a high-flying
Panthers offense that has averaged exactly four goals for the past four games.
That includes a game against the Philadelphia Flyers in which Florida fell
behind 5-2 but rallied to force overtime before losing 6-5 in a shootout. NEW
YORK (AP) The Carolina Hurricanes simply outplayed the New York Islanders in a
matchup of teams headed for a spring without playoff games.Trevor van Riemsdyk
scored the go-ahead goal late in the third period and Scott Darling made 26
saves as the Hurricanes beat the reeling Islanders 4-3 Sunday.Van Riemsdyk’s
second goal of the season came on a long slap shot with 6:49 remaining to help
snap Carolina’s three-game losing streak and continue the late season swoon by
the Islanders, who have just one win their last 12 games.Jaccob Slavin, Lee
Stempniak and Victor Rask also scored for the Hurricanes.”Our group has mental
toughness,” Hurricanes coach Bill Peters said. ”We were real good 5-on-5. It was
a good team win.”Anders Lee scored twice and Josh Bailey had a goal and an
assist for New York. John Tavares had three assists and Jaroslav Halak finished
with 35 saves.Rask’s goal with just under six minutes remaining in the middle
period gave Carolina a 3-2 lead heading, before Lee tied it on the power play at
8:05 of the third with his second of the game and career-high 35th of the
season.Lee took little solace in his personal achievement as his team faces
another spring without the postseason.The Islanders are 1-7-4 in their last 12
games. They will almost certainly miss the playoffs for the second straight year
after appearing three times in four years.”It’s painful because we work
extremely hard and we don’t have much to show for it,” Lee said. ”That’s why
this is so frustrating.”The free-falling Islanders came out with virtually no
energy and the Hurricanes notched two quick goals. Slavin opened the scoring at
2:50 when his shot from the point found its way through traffic and past
Halak.Stempniak, playing in his 900th NHL game, made it 2-0 at 4:44 with an
unassisted goal from the high slot, his third of the season.Bailey narrowed the
deficit to 2-1 at 10:49 of the second ,
tipping a shot by defenseman Ryan Pulock past Darling. It was Bailey’s 18th goal
this season.Lee tied the score at 2, knocking in a rebound on the power play at
12:22 of the second. Tavares and rookie Mathew Barzal assisted. Barzal, who
leads all rookies with 73 points, has 54 assists.Carolina outshot the Islanders
13-6 in the first period and 17-11 in the second before a quiet late-afternoon
crowd of 10,688 at Barclays Center. The Islanders are last in the league in
average attendance with just over 12,000 fans per game.The Islanders announced
in late January they would split games between their former home – Nassau
Coliseum – and Brooklyn for the next three seasons before moving into a
yet-to-built arena at Belmont Park in 2021.But they have struggled at home this
calendar year, going 4-11-1 over their last 16 games at Barclays Center after as
12-3-3 start on home ice.Despite his team’s poor results, Islanders coach Doug
Weight continued to look for positives as his first full season as coach winds
down.”We fought to tie the game but they got the fourth one and we couldn’t tie
it,” he said. ”They came out hard but we had some good opportunities. We battled
back.”The Hurricanes have also slumped in recent weeks to again fall from the
playoff chase in the Eastern Conference. Carolina hasn’t reached the postseason
since 2009. They came into Sunday’s contest 3-9-2 over their previous 14
games.The Islanders were coming off back-to-back losses in a home-and-home set
with Washington. They started the game with Tavares unusually on left wing with
Barzal at center and Jordan Eberle on right wing.But following Carolina’s two
quick strikes, Tavares were reunited with his wingers Lee and Bailey. Tavares’
status is one of many clouds hanging over the Islanders since the 27-year-old
captain could become an unrestricted free agent this July and could leave the
franchise with no return.NOTES: The Islanders scratched D Dennis Seidenberg and
D Brandon Davidson, along with F Ross Johnston. … Carolina scratched D Noah
Hanifin because of an upper body injury. … Carolina improved to 8-3-3 in their
last 14 games against Islanders and the Hurricanes are 24-9-7 since the start of
the 2008-09 season against New York. … Lee’s tying goal in the third came about
40 seconds after Carolina forward Sebastian Aho was whistled for hooking
Islanders defenseman Sebastian Aho.UP NEXTIslanders: Host Pittsburgh on Tuesday
night.Hurricanes: Host Edmonton on Tuesday night.
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