NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 1, 2017
No April Foolin’ here. Game recaps, Patrik Elias retires and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: The New York Islanders (84 points) moved within four points of the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference by edging the New Jersey Devils 2-1. It was a costly win for the Isles, as team captain John Tavares left the game with an apparent leg injury. The Isles also learned defenseman Travis Hamonic (left wrist/hand injury) and Casey Cizikas (nagging hand injury) are out for the rest of the season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Losing Hamonic and Cizikas is bad enough, but if Tavares is out for the final week of this season, it’s likely the death blow to their playoff chances.
Shootout goals by Phil Kessel and Sidney Crosby gave the Pittsburgh Penguins a 4-3 victory over the New York Rangers, snapping the Pens’ four-game losing skid and extending the Rangers home losing streak to eight games. The Blueshirts played without defenseman Ryan McDonagh, who’s day to day with an undisclosed injury, and rookie winger Jimmy Vesey (healthy scratch). The win moves the Pens (105 points) within one of the Columbus Blue Jackets for second place in the Metropolitan Division.
Artemi Panarin scored twice and Patrick Kane collected three assists as the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Blue Jackets 3-1.
Brian Elliott turned in a 36-save performance backstopping the Calgary Flames to a 5-2 win over the San Jose Sharks. The Flames (92 points) clinched a playoff berth, moving within one point of the slumping Sharks (two wins in their last 10 games) for third in the Pacific Division.
Matt Duchene and Nathan MacKinnon scored in the shootout as the Colorado Avalanche nipped the St. Louis Blues 2-1. However, the Blues still picked up a point to clinch a playoff spot in the Western Conference.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That leaves the Nashville Predators as the only club yet to secure a postseason berth in the West. With 89 points, they’re eight up on the Kings for the final wild-card berth.
Speaking of the Kings, they kept their faint playoff hopes alive with a 2-0 shutout of the Vancouver Canucks. Jonathan Quick made 35 saves while Jarome Iginla and Tyler Toffoli scored the only goals.
Christian Dvorak and Alexander Burmistrov each scored twice as the Arizona Coyotes upset the Washington Capitals 6-3.
After 20 NHL seasons, all with the New Jersey Devils, forward Patrik Elias yesterday officially announced his retirement. The 40-year-old will skate with the Devils in warmups during their final home game on April 8. Knee surgery ended his playing career, sidelining him for all of this season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Elias’ place as one of the greatest players in Devils history is secure. He’s their all-time leader in “goals (408), assists (617), points (1,025), power-play goals (113), power-play points (333) and game-winning goals (80).” He’s also their all-time playoff leader in “goals (45), assists (80), points (125), power-play goals (21) and power-play points (52).” Elias was a key factor in two of the Devils three Stanley Cup championship runs (2000 and 2003). I believe he’ll one day be in the Hockey Hall of Fame.
TWINCITIES.COM: Good news for the Minnesota Wild, as left wing Zach Parise will return to action tonight, just four days after suffering a scary hit near his right eye.