NBCSN’s coverage of the 2020-21 NHL season continues with Sunday’s matchup between the Columbus Blue Jackets and Tampa Bay Lightning. Blue Jackets-Lightning stream coverage begins at 6 p.m. ET on NBCSN. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.
Defending Stanley Cup Champion Tampa Bay is firmly in the top three of the Central Division standings with nine games left on its regular season schedule. The Lightning, which has yet to secure a playoff spot, trail Central-leading Carolina by four points. They enter Sunday’s contest against Columbus having alternated wins and losses in each of their last six games (3-3-0). The Blue Jackets were eliminated from playoff contention with the loss.
In a private and socially distanced gathering on Friday, the Tampa Bay Lightning received their Stanley Cup Championship rings. The rings, made by Jostens, are crafted in 14-karat white gold and feature 557 diamonds, 81 genuine sapphires, 25 carats of gemstones and each player’s unique signature. The ring also features the words Distant Thunder, the Lightning’s motto for the 2020 playoffs, and “Gravy Train,” their locker room celebration song.
Columbus currently owns the League’s longest active losing streak at eight games (0-7-1) and have lost 15 of its last 17 contests (2-13-2). The team currently occupies last place in the Central Division. Following Thursday’s defeat, Blue Jackets goalie Elvis Merzlikins expressed the team’s frustration with its performance this season.
“I am tired of losing the game. I know we are trying, but this is getting embarrassing,” he said. “It is what it is. I am trying to be honest with you guys. It’s painful. Sitting in that locker room, and trust me, we are trying. We seriously are trying. We didn’t give up, but it’s just really such a bad year, I think. I just want to finish and delete this year and not think about it.”
WHAT: Columbus Blue Jackets at Tampa Bay Lightning
WHERE: AMALIE Arena
WHEN: Sunday, April 25, 6 p.m. ET
ON THE CALL: Brendan Burke, AJ Mleczko, Dominic Moore
LIVE STREAM: You can watch the Blue Jackets-Lightning stream on NBC Sports’ live stream page and the NBC Sports app.
Cam Atkinson – Jack Roslovic – Patrik Laine
Oliver Bjorkstrand – Max Domi – Eric Robinson
Nathan Gerbe – Alexandre Texier – Stefan Matteau
Ryan MacInnis – Josh Dunne – Kole Sherwood
Michael Del Zotto – Seth Jones
Vladislav Gavrikov – Mikko Lehtonen
Dean Kukan – Gavin Bayreuther
Starting goalie: Joonas Korpisalo
Ondrej Palat – Brayden Point – Alex Barre-Boulet
Barclay Goodrow – Yanni Gourde – Blake Coleman
Alex Killorn – Anthony Cirelli – Tyler Johnson
Patrick Maroon – Ross Colton – Mathieu Joseph
Victor Hedman – Erik Cernak
Ryan McDonagh – David Savard
Mikhail Sergachev – Luke Schenn
Starting goalie: Andrei Vasilevskiy
VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Vancouver Canucks right wing Ilya Mikheyev is set to have season-ending surgery on his left knee.
Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin said Friday night the 28-year-old Russian forward tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the team’s first preseason game Sept. 25. Mikheyev will undergo surgery next week and is expected to be ready for training camp in the fall.
Mikheyev was originally listed as week-to-week with the injury and played 45 regular-season games, finishing with 13 goals and 15 assists. He scored in his final appearance Friday night, a 5-2 home victory over Columbus.
Mikheyev signed a four-year, $19 million contract as a free agent last summer.
Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews will miss at least three weeks with a sprained knee.
The team announced the reigning MVP’s anticipated absence Friday, two days after Matthews was injured in Toronto’s victory against the New York Rangers.
Matthews is expected to miss at least six games and could be out for a few more. The timing of the injury coinciding with the NHL All-Star break and the Maple Leafs bye week prevents this from costing Matthews more time out of the lineup.
After being voted an All-Star by fans, Matthews is now out of the event scheduled for Feb. 3-4 in Sunrise, Florida. The league announced Aleskander Barkov from the host Florida Panthers will take Matthews’ place on the Atlantic Division All-Star roster.
Matthews, who won the Hart Trophy last season after leading the NHL with 60 goals, has 53 points in 47 games this season.
MONTREAL — Montreal Canadiens winger Cole Caufield said Friday he wouldn’t be having season-ending surgery on his right shoulder if the team were in playoff contention.
But with the Canadiens near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, the 22-year-old Caufield said he decided to have the surgery to protect his long-term health. The procedure is scheduled to be performed by Dr. Peter Millett on Wednesday.
“I didn’t want to stop playing,” Caufield said. “I had a couple tests done to look at it more clearly but, in the end, like it could’ve been one more fall and it could have been even worse.”
Caufield, who leads the Canadiens with 26 goals in 46 games, had three different medical opinions on his shoulder before concluding that his season was over.
“I think they’ve seen a lot more than I have and they know the differences and what they like or don’t like about it,” he said about the medical opinions. “Long term, I think this is what’s best but for sure it was tough to sit out that game against Toronto on Saturday night.”
Caufield initially felt the injury in an awkward fall during Montreal’s 4-2 loss at Dallas on Dec. 23. He said his right shoulder popped, and he replaced it himself.
Caufield felt it again in the Habs’ 4-3 loss at Nashville on Jan. 12. The club announced on Jan. 21 that Caufield would miss the rest of the season.
Caufield is nearing the end of his three-year, entry-level contract and will be a restricted free agent this summer.
SEATTLE — Seattle Kraken rookie All-Star Matty Beniers will miss the team’s final two games before the All-Star break after taking a big hit from Vancouver’s Tyler Myers earlier this week.
Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said after morning skate Friday that Beniers would not play Friday night against Calgary or Saturday against Columbus. Hakstol did not speculate on Beniers’ availability for next weekend’s All-Star Game in Florida.
The team has not specified what kind of injury Beniers sustained from the hit. He was barreled over by Myers away from the play early in the second period in Wednesday’s 6-1 victory over Vancouver. Myers was penalized for interference on the play. Beniers returned briefly for one shift later in the period but did not play in the third period.
Beniers is Seattle’s lone All-Star selection this season. He leads all rookies in goals (17) and points (36), and is fifth in total ice time for rookies.
Seattle also placed defenseman Justin Schultz on injured reserve and recalled forward Max McCormick from Coachella Valley of the AHL. Hakstol said Schultz is improving but there’s no timeline on his return.