Game recaps, the results of the NHL All-Star Game fan voting, plus updates on Joe Thornton, Kris Versteeg, Erik Johnson and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
THE TENNESSEAN: The Nashville Predators needed an overtime goal from Roman Josi to defeat the Los Angeles Kings 7-6. The Kings were down 6-3 in the third period but staged a late rally to send the game into the extra frame. The Preds had built a 5-1 lead at one point, chasing Kings starting goalie Jonathan Quick from the net.
STLTODAY.COM: T.J. Oshie tallied a hat trick to lead the St. Louis Blues to a 7-2 thumping of the San Jose Sharks, who were missing sidelined center Joe Thornton (shoulder injury) as his streak of 319 consecutive games ended. The Blues got a welcome surprise as winger Jaden Schwartz returned from a foot injury which sidelined him for seven games.
NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: The New York Rangers collected their 10th win in 11 games by routing the Buffalo Sabres 6-1. Defenseman Marc Staal returned to the Rangers lineup following his grandfather’s funeral on Friday.
THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Vernon Fiddler scored twice and was involved in a fight with Ryan Carter as Fiddler’s Dallas Stars romped to a 7-1 victory over Carter’s struggling Minnesota Wild.
THE ARIZONA REPUBLIC: Sam Gagner scored twice and Martin Hanzal collected four points to lead the Arizona Coyotes to a 6-3 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets.
NJ.COM: 42-year-old Jaromir Jagr became the oldest player in NHL history to tally a hat trick as the New Jersey Devils downed the Philadelphia Flyers 5-2. Jagr is now only three goals behind Phil Esposito (717 goals) for fifth on the all-time NHL goal scoring list.
NOTE: Games involving Canadian NHL teams are recapped in “Canadian Corner.”
NBC SPORTS: Thanks to fan voting, five Chicago Blackhawks (Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and Corey Crawford) and Buffalo Sabres sophomore center Zemgus Girgensons will be part of the upcoming NHL All-Star Game in Columbus.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: No offense to the players but this is yet another example of the farce that fan voting for the All-Star Game has become. It is continually abused by fan campaigns which are merely exercises in ballot-box stuffing. The motto should be, “Vote Early and Vote Often.” On the other hand, I stopped taking the All-Star Game seriously decades ago, so I guess it really doesn’t matter who gets to participate in it. I’m looking forward to the day a team mascot makes the team as a write-in candidate.
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Blackhawks forward Kris Versteeg will be sidelined about a month with a hand injury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Before this setback Versteeg was enjoying a bounce-back season, with 27 points in 34 games.
THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson has matched his career-high in goals with ten this season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: He’s on pace for career-bests in goals and points. Johnson’s been among the few bright spots in an otherwise disappointing season for the Avalanche.
SPORTSNET: The Flyers violated the CBA by travelling on Boxing Day. It remains to be seen what punishment they’ll received from the league. It’s expected they’ll be fined.
CBS SPORTS: The popular NHL resource site CapGeek.com has ceased operations by site founder and director Matthew Wuest for health reasons.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sad news indeed, as CapGeek was an invaluable and respected resource for player and team salary information. Wuest was always very patient and helpful whenever I contacted him with a question regarding salary-cap issues. There’s some speculation Wuest has been hired by the league which is why he suspended his site but he makes it clear the move was made for unspecified health reasons. Here’s hoping he gets well soon and the best of luck in his future endeavors. For those seeking salary cap information, check out NHLnumbers.com.