NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 8, 2017
Alex Ovechkin nets second straight hat trick, Panthers re-sign Michael Matheson & more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin become the first NHL player in 100 years to net back-to-back hat tricks to open a season, scoring four times to lead his club to a 6-1 thrashing of the Montreal Canadiens. Teammate Nate Walker also made history, becoming the first Australian to both play an NHL game and score a goal.
Rookie defenseman Will Butcher made franchise history for the New Jersey Devils, collecting three assists to help his club defeat the Colorado Avalanche 4-1. The Devils got the victory despite losing veteran forwards Drew Stafford and Kyle Palmieri to lower-body injuries. Palmieri left the game following a knee-on-knee hit from Avs defenseman Erik Johnson, but it was ruled unintentional by the league and he won’t face supplemental discipline.
Third-period goals by Tyler Bozak, Leo Komarov and Nazem Kadri lifted the Toronto Maple Leafs to a wild 8-5 win over the New York Rangers. Zach Hyman also scored twice for the Leafs, who led at one point 5-1 before the Rangers stormed back to tie the game in the second period. Mats Zuccarello netted four points in a losing cause for the Blueshirts.
T.J. Brodie had a four-point night as the Calgary Flames downed the Winnipeg Jets 6-3.
Bo Horvat scored twice as the Vancouver Canucks edged the Edmonton Oilers 3-2, holding Oilers captain Connor McDavid off the score sheet.
John Tavares and Casey Cizikas each scored two goals to lead the New York Islanders to a 6-3 victory over the Buffalo Sabres. Evander Kane also scored twice for the Sabres.
Anze Kopitar scored twice to lead the Los Angeles Kings to a 4-1 win over the San Jose Sharks.
Matt Murray turned in a 26-save shutout performance backstopping the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 4-0 blanking of the Nashville Predators. It was a costly win for the Pens, as defenseman Ian Cole left the game after being struck in the mouth by a Roman Josi shot.
Brandon Saad, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane each had a goal and an assist in the Chicago Blackhawks 5-1 thumping of the Columbus Blue Jackets. Blackhawks forward Nick Schmaltz left the game early in the first period with an upper-body injury and is considered day-to-day.
James Neal was the offensive hero again for the Vegas Golden Knights, tallying in overtime to give the expansion team their second-straight win by nipping the Arizona Coyotes 2-1.
Wayne Simmonds was the overtime hero as the Philadelphia Flyers beat the Anaheim Ducks 3-2.
Jake Allen made 38 saves as the St. Louis Blues doubled up the Dallas Stars 4-2.
Jaccob Slavin’s shootout goal gave the Carolina Hurricanes a 5-4 victory over the Minnesota Wild.
Frans Nielsen scored the only goal in the shootout to give the Detroit Red Wings a 2-1 win over the Ottawa Senators.
Evgenii Dadonov and Nick Bjugstad each had a goal and an assist as the Florida Panthers held on for a 5-4 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning. During the pregame anthem, Lightning forward J.T. Brown held a fist aloft in a silent protest against police brutality toward minorities and racial inequality.
Before the game, the Panthers announced the signing of defenseman Michael Matheson to an eight-year, $39 million contract extension. The annual average value is $4.875 million.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Often overshadowed by teammate Aaron Ekblad, Matheson is a skilled puck-moving defenseman. I’d rank him as comparable to Carolina Hurricanes’ blueliner Jaccob Slavin, who also recently signed a lucrative contract extension. The Panthers obviously see Matheson playing a significant role on their blueline in the coming years.
Some might question why they didn’t sign him to a more affordable bridge deal. However, they’re simply following the recent trend of promising youngsters getting lucrative extensions before they’ve completed their entry-level contracts. Should Matheson develop as expected into a reliable top-pairing rearguard, this could prove to be an affordable long-term deal for the Panthers.
NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Bruins fourth-line forward Noel Acciari will be sidelined six weeks after fracturing his right index finger blocking a shot during the Bruins’ season-opener against Nashville on Thursday.
SME SPORT: Former NHL center Zach Boychuk signed with the KHL’s HC Slovan Bratislava. (Stick tap to Alexander Wirdzek for the link).