Injured Bunting skating but will sit out Maple Leafs’ final 2 games before playoffs

Forward Michael Bunting will sit out the Toronto Maple Leafs’ final two games of the regular season before having his lower-body injury re-evaluated prior to the Stanley Cup playoffs.

Bunting, 26, sustained the injury in Toronto’s 3-2 overtime loss to the Florida Panthers on Saturday. He did not play in the Maple Leafs’ 4-3 shootout win against the Washington Capitals on Sunday.

“He obviously skated today so a very positive sign,” Toronto head coach Sheldon Keefe said Tuesday. “He’s not going to play this week and then we will re-evaluate him from there, but things are looking positive.”

Bunting has recorded 23 goals and 63 points in 79 games this season.

He has 34 goals and 77 points in 105 NHL regular-season games with the Arizona Coyotes and Maple Leafs. He was drafted in the fourth round by the then-Phoenix Coyotes in 2014.

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Habs’ Price to see knee specialist

Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price is scheduled to have a medical evaluation on his surgically repaired knee after just four games back from the injury.

Price, 34, missed practice Tuesday and originally wasn’t going to travel with the team to New York for Wednesday night’s game against the Rangers. The team, however, announced he will travel to New York to see a specialist.

Price had knee surgery on July 23, about two weeks after the Canadiens lost the decisive Game 5 of the Stanley Cup final against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

He returned to action on April 15 and is 0-4-0 with a 4.04 goals-against average and .853 save percentage.

Before the start of the 2021-22 season, Price voluntarily entered the NHL/NHLPA player assistance program to address his mental health. He said in a statement in November he’d let himself “get to a very dark place” and entered a residential treatment facility for substance use.

The Canadiens, who are tied with Arizona for the fewest points in the NHL at 51, officially list Price as day-to-day with just two games remaining in the regular season.

Sens’ Murray has upper-body injury

Goaltender Matt Murray will miss the Ottawa Senators’ final three games of the season because of an upper-body injury.

Murray, who has not played since March 5, sported a 5-12-2 record with a 3.05 goals-against average, .906 save percentage and one shutout in 20 games this season.

“We thought maybe he could get in at the end and it’s just not going to happen,” Senators head coach D.J. Smith said Tuesday. “The big thing for [Murray] was him coming back up, getting his confidence back and getting going, and then it gets derailed with another injury.”

Murray, 27, owns a 132-78-22 record with 14 shutouts, a 2.77 GAA and .911 save percentage in 246 NHL regular-season appearances (238 starts) with the Pittsburgh Penguins and Senators. He was a two-time Stanley Cup winner with the Penguins.

Ovie injury clouds Capitals’ playoff outlook

Alex Ovechkin did not skate with his Washington Capitals teammates Tuesday morning and his status moving forward is unclear with the start of the playoffs less than a week away.

Ovechkin was listed as day to day with an upper-body injury, and head coach Peter Laviolette called his captain a game-time decision to face the New York Islanders in the third to last game of the regular season. But the team is being extra cautious with the 36-year-old star, and Laviolette made that clear when asked if he was optimistic about Ovechkin being ready for the start of the first round.

Ovechkin tripped over Toronto goaltender Erik Kallgren’s stick and slammed into the boards left shoulder first early in the third period Sunday night in a shootout loss to the Maple Leafs.. He lay on the ice in pain, skated off and did not return.

Capitals’ star forward Alex Ovechkin raises his left arm shortly after slammed into the boards early in the third period of Sunday night’s shootout loss to the Maple Leafs. He’s listed as day to day with the playoffs set to begin in less than a week. (Patrick Smith/Getty Images)

The Russian winger has only missed 24 games because of injury during his 17-year NHL career. He has never missed a playoff game.

“His style of play, you’re going to get injured,” longtime teammate Nicklas Backstrom said. “But I just think mentally he’s so strong. He plays through everything. It’s just the way he is as a guy. He doesn’t miss games.”

Ovechkin earlier this season passed Jaromir Jagr for third on the career goals list and now trails only Wayne Gretzky and Gordie Howie. He has 50 this season — the ninth time he has done that, tying Gretzky and Mike Bossy for the NHL record.

Durability has helped Ovechkin play 1,274 regular-season and 141 playoff games since making his debut in 2005.

With Ovechkin expected to be out, Connor McMichael steps into the top line left wing spot alongside Evgeny Kuznetsov and Tom Wilson. He has not played since April 10.

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