Mal­gin looks for scor­ing touch

McKegg lost on waivers to Light­ning

Sun Sentinel Broward Edition - - SPORTS - By Craig Davis Staff writer

SUN­RISE — While the Florida Pan­thers will be look­ing to their top play­ers to get their play­off am­bi­tions back on course, turnover at the bot­tom of the ros­ter pro­vided drama the day af­ter their third con­sec­u­tive loss on the cur­rent home­s­tand.

Prac­tice be­gan Mon­day with four for­wards in the green jersey of the fourth line as De­nis Mal­gin re­joined the club a day af­ter be­ing called up from the mi­nors. Be­fore the ses­sion ended there were only three as Greg McKegg was called off the ice af­ter be­ing claimed on waivers by the Tampa Bay Light­ning.

The Pan­thers were hop­ing to slip McKegg through waivers to gain ros­ter flex­i­bil­ity lead­ing up to Wed­nes­day’s 3 p.m. trade dead­line.

“It­was a gamble. Dis­ap­pointed that we lost him,” in­terim coach Tom Rowe said. “He’s a great kid. But good for him. You’ve got to man­age the ros­ter and some­times you’re go­ing to lose a player that you like. But it’s an op­por­tu­nity for Mal­gin to come in here and get go­ing and play like he did the first 10 games.

Mal­gin was a sur­prise to open the sea­son with the Pan­thers as a 19-year-old af­ter

show­ing dynamic of­fen­sive prow­ess in a rookie tour­na­ment and dur­ing train­ing camp. He got off to an im­pres­sive start with four goals and eight points in his first 17 games.

But he didn’t reg­is­ter an­other point in his next 22 games be­fore be­ing sent for sea­son­ing with Spring­field in the AHL a day af­ter he turned 20 last month.

“I think it­was a good for me, a new ex­pe­ri­ence, the AHL. I played a lot there and got back tomy hockey,” Mal­gin said af­ter re­ceiv­ing an ova­tion from team mates upon en­ter­ing the dress­ing room fol­low­ing prac­tice at the BB&T Cen­ter. “I worked on my shot, ev­ery­thing to get my self-confidence back. I’m happy to be back.”

The diminu­tive Swiss got to play ma­jor min­utes for Spring­field, in­clud­ing on the power play, and rekin­dled his scor­ing touch with 12 points (three goals) in 15 games.

Rowe said Mal­gin will be in the lineup on the fourth line tonight against Carolina.

“My goal is to stay here as long as pos­si­ble,” Mal­gin said.

The stint in the mi­nors was partly to re­build confidence but more so to gain the lessons in be­ing a pro thatwere missed in his rapid as­cen­sion to the Pan­thers. A fourth-round draft pick in 2015, he went di­rectly from the Swiss A league last sea­son to the NHL.

“He wasn’t prac­tic­ing the right way here, wasn’t work­ing hard enough in prac­tice,” Rowe said of Mal­gin’s first tour. “That’s what hap­pens when you’re a young kid — you don’t knowwhat’s ex­pected.”

Rowe saw a dif­fer­ence Mon­day.

“His prac­tice habits were a lot bet­ter to­day. His pace was real good,” Rowe said. “He was a lit­tle too ca­sual when he was here the first time, and I thought he­was a lot bet­ter to­day.”

McKegg adieu

McKegg also re­ceived ap­plause from team­mates as word spread he was headed across the state. The On­tario na­tive had six points (three goals) in 31 games this sea­son for the Pan­thers. He logged 46 of his 50 NHL games since

be­ing ac­quired from Toronto in an off­sea­son trade in 2015.

He had been a healthy scratch the past fourgames.

“It’s al­ways tough when you’re out of the lineup for a stretch of games. It’s ex­cit­ing to go over [to Tampa] and maybe get in few more games,” he said, adding, “I loved be­ing here too. They gave mea pretty big chance to play for a good amount of time, and I’m real ap­pre­cia­tive of that.”

Rowe up­beat

De­spite the three home losses since a five-game road sweep, Rowe said he doesn’t see a need for a ma­jor move be­fore the trade dead­line.

“I like the group we’ve got,” Rowe said. “This is a great group of guys. They’ve al­ways bounced back. I said it last­week: We are go­ing to be in the play­offs. We’ve just got to get a few pucks bounc­ing for us and go­ing in the net.”

Cup at the beach

Fans can get a photo opp with the Stan­ley Cup when the Pan­thers host an NHL 100 Beach Event on Fri­day at Fort Laud­erdale Beach.

Part of a NHL Cen­ten­nial Fan Arena will be set up at the prom­e­nade at A1A and Las Olas Boule­vard with var­i­ous ac­tiv­i­ties from 3-7 p.m., in­clud­ing the Mardi Gras Casino Fan­boni and Clear The Ice Zam­boni VR Ex­pe­ri­ence. There is no charge to at­tend.

ELSA/GETTY IMAGES

De­nis Mal­gin is back with the Pan­thers af­ter an ex­tended stay in the AHL. He started off hot with Florida early in the year be­fore cool­ing off and be­ing sent down.

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