NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 20, 2019

by | Mar 20, 2019 | News, NHL

Game recaps, Sharks clinch a playoff spot, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines. 

NHL.COM: Tyler Seguin collected four assists, Alexander Radulov scored twice, and Ben Bishop returned to action as the Dallas Stars doubled up the Florida Panthers 4-2. Aleksander Barkov scored twice for the Panthers. The Stars (82 points) opened a four-point lead over the Coyotes for the first Western wild-card position. 

Dallas Stars center Tyler Seguin collected four assists in a 4-2 win over the Florida Panthers (Photo via NHL Images).

Jaden Schwartz tallied a hat trick and David Perron scored twice as the St. Louis Blues thumped the Edmonton Oilers 7-2. Oilers winger Milan Lucic was ejected following a nasty cross-check on Blues forward Oskar Sundqvist. The Blues (84 points) remain five points behind the Nashville Predators for second place in the Central Division. 

Sean Kuraly scored twice and Tuukka Rask stopped 13 shots as the Boston Bruins blanked the New York Islanders 5-0. The loss drops the Islanders (91 points) into second place in the Metropolitan Division. Isles forwards Valtteri Filppula and Cal Clutterbuck left the game with upper-body injuries

Jimmy Howard kicked out 41 shots and Andreas Athanasiou scored two goals to give the Detroit Red Wings a 3-2 victory over the New York Rangers. Wings forward Jacob de la Rose was diagnosed with an accelerated heartbeat following the second period and was hospitalized for precautionary reasons. He will return home and will soon see a specialist. Speaking of Howard, he’s expected to sign a one-year, $4-million contract extension later this week. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Here’s hoping de la Rose makes a full recovery and can continue his playing career. Howard, 34, is slated to become an unrestricted free agent but he and the Wings expressed a mutual interest in working out a new contract. This anticipated deal would be a reasonable one for both sides, giving the Wings more time to find Howard’s eventual successor. 

The Montreal Canadiens (83 points) moved within one point of the second Eastern Conference wild-card spot by downing the Philadelphia Flyers 3-1. Carey Price made 32 saves while Brendan Gallagher, Shea Weber, and Max Domi scored for the Habs. The loss leaves the Flyers (78 points) six points out of a playoff berth. 

Dougie Hamilton’s shootout goal gave the Carolina Hurricanes a 3-2 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins, moving the Canes (87 points) within two points of the Penguins for third in the Metropolitan Division. Pens defenseman Kris Letang scored in his return to the lineup while teammate Phil Kessel set a franchise record for consecutive games with 320. 

The Washington Capitals regained first place in the Metropolitan Division by downing the New Jersey Devils 4-1. Brett Connolly had a goal and an assist for the Capitals, who’ll visit the White House on Monday to commemorate their 2018 Stanley Cup championship.

Connolly, however, said he’ll respectfully decline the invitation in solidarity with teammate and friend Devante Smith-Pelly, who indicated last fall he was not attending. “The things that (President Donald Trump) spews are straight-up racist and sexist,” said Smith-Pelly. “Some of the things he’s said are pretty gross. I’m not too into politics, so I don’t know all his other views, but his rhetoric I definitely don’t agree with.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to see what the reaction will be toward the Capitals’ White House visit. The Pittsburgh Penguins faced criticism from some quarters for their 2017 visit, though that came in the midst of a protest among NFL players (and some owners) over Trump’s remarks against black players taking a knee during the American national anthem against police brutality toward the black community. 

Nashville Predators goaltender Pekka Rinne kicked out 22 shots to shut out the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-0, handing the latter their fourth loss in their last five games. Wayne Simmonds tallied his first goal with the Predators (89 points), who sit one behind the Winnipeg Jets for the top spot in the Central Division. 

A 36-save performance by Philipp Grubauer gave the Colorado Avalanche a 3-1 win over the Minnesota Wild. The Avalanche (76 points) sit one point behind the Wild and two back of the Arizona Coyotes for the final wild-card berth in the Western Conference. 

The Calgary Flames opened a three-point lead over the San Jose Sharks for first place in the Western Conference by beating the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-2. Johnny Gaudreau tallied his 35th goal of the season.

NBC SPORTS: Thanks to the Avalanche’s victory over the Wild, the San Jose Sharks clinched a playoff spot.