NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 8, 2018
Game recaps, seven of eight opening-round playoff series set, Rangers fire Vigneault, Red Wings re-sign Holland and the hockey world mourns junior hockey tragedy. Details and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Gabriel Landeskog scored and collected two assists as the Colorado Avalanche defeated the St. Louis Blues 5-2 to clinch their first playoff berth since 2014. The Avs will face the Nashville Predators in the opening round of the 2018 playoffs, while the Blues will miss the postseason for the first time since 2011.
Thanks to Claude Giroux’s first career hat trick, the Philadelphia Flyers also clinched a playoff berth by shutting out the New York Rangers 5-0. Giroux also reached the 100-point plateau (102) for the first time, becoming the first Flyer to do so since Eric Lindros in 1995-96. The Flyers’ opening-round opponent will be the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Flyers’ win also ended the Florida Panthers’ playoff hopes. Following the game, the Rangers announced the firing of head coach Alain Vigneault.
Speaking of the Panthers, they went on to set a franchise record for home wins (27) by downing the Buffalo Sabres 4-3. Vincent Trocheck and Colton Sceviour each tallied a goal and an assist for the Panthers. It was the final game for Panthers winger Radim Vrbata, who is retiring after 16 NHL seasons.
The Boston Bruins picked up their 50th win of the season by downing the Ottawa Senators 5-2. With 112 points, the Bruins sit one back of the Tampa Bay Lightning for first place in the Atlantic Division and can overtake the Lightning if they defeat the Panthers tonight.
As for the Lightning, they picked up a point in a 3-2 overtime loss to the Carolina Hurricanes. The Bolts overcame a 2-0 deficit to force the extra frame.
The Toronto Maple Leafs set a franchise record for most points in a season (105) with a 4-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens. Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen established a franchise record for single-season victories with 38. The Leafs will face either the Lightning or Bruins in the opening round.
Filip Forsberg tallied a hat trick as the Nashville Predators doubled up the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-2. Before the game, the Predators were honored with the Presidents’ Trophy for the best regular-season record. The Blue Jackets’ opening round opponent will be the Washington Capitals.
Capitals’ captain Alex Ovechkin scored his 48th and 49th goals of the season in a 5-3 win over the New Jersey Devils. Ovechkin wins the Richard Trophy as the NHL’s leading goal scorer for the seventh time. Like the Leafs, the Devils await the outcome of tonight’s Bruins-Panthers game to determine if their first-round opponent will be Boston or Tampa Bay.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ovechkin narrowly missed reaching the 50-goal mark for the eighth time in his career. Only Wayne Gretzky and Mike Bossy (nine 50-goal seasons) have more.
Connor McDavid picked up two assists and Leon Draisaitl scored the winning goal as the Edmonton Oilers edged the Vancouver Canucks 3-2. Canucks stars Daniel and Henrik Sedin were held without a point in what was their final NHL game but were feted by the Oilers and their fans following the game. McDavid finished the season with 108 points to win the Art Ross Trophy as the league’s leading scorer for the second straight year.
Winnipeg Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck became the first American-born netminder to win 44 games as he backstopped his club to a 4-1 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks. The Jets will face the Minnesota Wild in the opening round.
The Anaheim Ducks secured second place in the Pacific Division by shutting out the Arizona Coyotes 3-0. Ducks winger Corey Perry picked up his 400th career assists. The Ducks hold home-ice advantage in their first-round matchup with the San Jose Sharks.
The Sharks, meanwhile, fell 6-3 to the Minnesota Wild. Jason Zucker scored twice for the Wild and teammate Eric Staal netted his 42nd of the season.
Dallas Stars captain Jamie Benn netted a hat trick in a 4-2 win over the Los Angeles Kings, who’ll face the Vegas Golden Knights in the opening round.
The Golden Knights, meanwhile, were crushed by the Calgary Flames 7-1. Flames rookie Mark Jankowski scored four goals.
John Tavares scored in overtime as the New York Islanders edged the Detroit Red Wings 4-3. Isles forward Anders Lee scored his 40th of the season. The Red Wings also announced they re-signed general manager Ken Holland to a two-year contract.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: You can see the 2018 opening-round playoff bracket here.
THE GLOBE AND MAIL: 15 people were killed and 14 injured when a bus carrying the Humboldt Broncos of the Saskatchewan Junior Hockey League collided with a semi-trailer late-Friday afternoon. Among the dead is Jaxon Joseph, son of former NHL defenseman Chris Joseph.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This tragedy overshadowed yesterday’s news and shook up the tight-knit hockey community. My sincere condolences to the families of the dead and injured, the Broncos organization and the town of Humboldt. A GoFundMe page has been set up to help the families.