NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 7, 2017
Game recaps, injury updates and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: The Ottawa Senators clinched a playoff spot by downing the Boston Bruins 2-1 on Kyle Turris’ shootout goal. With the win, the Sens (96 points) moved ahead of the Bruins by one point into second place in the Atlantic Division. They were also playing without captain Erik Karlsson, who sat out with a foot injury.
The Bruins were playing without left wing Brad Marchand, who received a two-game suspension for spearing Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Jake Dotchin. Bruins blueliner Torey Krug left the game with a suspected knee injury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Marchand will be able to return to the Bruins for their playoff opener next week. Now that he’s among the league’s top players, the department of player safety seems reluctant to levy stiffer punishment against him. Last January, he received a $10,000 fine for a slew-foot trip on Detroit Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall. If Marchand were a lesser player, he probably would’ve received 10 games for his latest infraction. All this does is reinforce the notion that there’s a different level of punishment for the league’s stars compared to everyone else.
The Toronto Maple Leafs failed to secure a postseason berth, falling 4-1 to the Tampa Bay Lightning. Brayden Point scored twice and Nikita Kucherov potted the winning goal for the Lightning (90 points), who move within three of the Leafs for the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. The Bolts will play their final two games of the regular season without captain Steven Stamkos, who’s still not ready to return to action from a knee injury that’s sidelined him since November.
The New York Islanders also moved within three points of the Leafs with a 3-0 shutout of the Carolina Hurricanes. Jaroslav Halak made 29 saves for the win. The game also marked the return of Hurricanes winger Bryan Bickell since being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis last November.
Nick Bonino scored a goal and collected two assists as the Pittsburgh Penguins thumped the New Jersey Devils 7-4. The Pens (111 points) secured second place in the Metropolitan Division and home-ice advantage over the Columbus Blue Jackets in the opening round of the 2017 playoffs.
Jacob Trouba scored twice, Bryan Little netted four points and Eric Comrie had a 35-save victory in his NHL debut to give the Winnipeg Jets a 5-4 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets. It was the Jets’ sixth straight win.
The Minnesota Wild matched their franchise record for wins (48) and points (104) by downing the Colorado Avalanche 4-3. The Wild have secured second spot in the Central Division.
John Gibson turned in a 37-save shutout effort as the Anaheim Ducks blanked the Chicago Blackhawks 4-0, putting them on the verge of securing their fifth straight Pacific Division title. Earlier in the day, however, the Ducks learned defenseman Cam Fowler (knee injury) is sidelined two to six weeks.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fowler’s absence will be keenly felt. He’s been their best defenseman this season and leaves a significant void on their blueline.
Milan Lucic had a hat trick to lead the Edmonton Oilers to a 4-2 victory over the San Jose Sharks. The Oilers (99 points) move ahead of the Sharks by two points for second in the Pacific Division.
Jaden Schwartz netted three points as the St.Louis Blues doubled up the Florida Panthers 6-3. The Blues (95 points) remain one point ahead of the Nashville Predators for third in the Central Division. The Blues also announced forward Vladimir Sobotka will return after spending three seasons in the KHL as he signed a three-year, $10.5 million contract extension.
Viktor Arvidsson and Craig Smith each scored twice as the Predators crushed the Dallas Stars 7-3. Arvidsson also reached the 30-goal mark for the first time in his NHL career.
John Gillies made 27 saves in his NHL debut as the Calgary Flames defeated the Los Angeles Kings 4-1 to maintain their hold on the first wild-card spot in the Western Conference.
Radim Vrbata scored twice as the Arizona Coyotes edged the Vancouver Canucks 4-3.