No April Fool’s jokes, just the latest notable NHL news in today’s collection of headlines. 

The Playoff Chase.

Stars captain Jamie Benn (center) celebrates his 40th goal of the season.

Stars captain Jamie Benn (center) celebrates his 40th goal of the season.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS:  The Dallas Stars moved two points ahead of the St. Louis Blues for the best record in the Western Conference with a 4-1 win over the Arizona Coyotes. Jamie Benn became the second player in franchise history to reach 40 goals in a season, coach Lindy Ruff collected his 699th career NHL victory while the club is close to matching a franchise-best home record.

LOS ANGELES TIMES: The Los Angeles Kings regained first place in the Pacific with a 3-0 win over the Calgary Flames. Jeff Carter scored twice and set up another while goalie Jonathan Quick made 21 saves for the shutout.

SUN-SENTINEL.COM: The rats were flying for the Florida Panthers, as they edged the visiting New Jersey Devils 3-2. However, the club was penalized for delay of game when fans toss rubber rats (handed out to the fans in a promotional effort) following the Panthers’ goals. The Panthers are not only poised to clinch a playoff berth, they’ve tied their franchise record for wins with 43.

THE TAMPA TRIBUNE:  The Tampa Bay Lightning fell 3-0 to the injury-depleted Montreal Canadiens, as Mike Condon picked up his first career NHL shutout. The Canadiens also learned defenseman Nathan Beaulieu (broken thumb) is done for the season. They also demoted goalie Ben Scrivens to the minors.

NEWSDAY: Anders Lee scored the game winner as the New York Islanders edged the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-3, but they also lost defenseman Travis Hamonic to an apparent knee injury. An update is expected today on his condition.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Phil Kessel scored twice to lead the Pittsburgh Penguins to their fourth straight win by down the Nashville Predators 5-2. The win vaults the Penguins into second place in the Metropolitan Division because….

NEW YORK POST:  …the Carolina Hurricanes spoiled Eric Staal’s homecoming by rallying from a 3-2 deficit to defeat his New York Rangers 4-3.

TWINCITIES.COM:  The Minnesota Wild’s six-game winning ended with a lethartic 3-2 loss to the Ottawa Senators.

SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS: The San Jose Sharks fell 4-2 to the Vancouver Canucks, who snapped a nine-game losing streak.

 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Panthers opened a two-point lead over the Lightning for first in the Atlantic Division, while the Islanders move to within two points of the Rangers for third. Meanwhile, the Wild’s loss to the Senators gives the Colorado Avalanche, who are five points behind the Wild for the final wild-card berth in the Western Conference, a little bit of hope. The Sharks loss to the Canucks could end their chance of moving up into one of the top-two spots in the Pacific Division, as the Kings and Anaheim Ducks all hold games in hand. 

Notable NHL Headlines.

THE WASHINGTON POST: Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin could be running out of time to reach the 50-goal mark for the seventh time in his NHL career. With six games left in the season, he has 44 goals. However, over the last 15 games prior to Tuesday’s 2-1 loss to Philadelphia, Ovechkin scored only twice. Meanwhile, Capitals forward Jason Chimera was fined $5,000 for butt-ending Philadelphia’s Shayne Gostisbehere.

CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith faces a telephone hearing today with the NHL department of player safety for swinging his stick into the face of Minnesota’s Charlie Coyle earlier this week.

CBS SPORTS: Injuries to Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Anton Stralman, Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford, Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin, Los Angeles Kings winger Marian Gaborik and Florida Panthers center Vincent Trocheck could affect the upcoming Stanley Cup playoffs.

SPORTSNET: Given the buzz over Harvard University winger and Nashville Predators prospect Jimmy Vesey’s decision to become an unrestricted free agent this summer, Mike Johnston looked at how several other college players who went the same route fared in recent years.

THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: The Anaheim Ducks can become the first team to lead the league in power plays and penalty killing since the 1985 New York Islanders.

NBC SPORTS: Mexico City is trying to land some future NHL exhibition games.