NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 27, 2019
Game recaps, Lightning extend Jon Cooper’s contract, Flyers re-sign Michael Raffl, an update on Erik Karlsson and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Leon Draisaitl tallied his first career NHL hat trick while Ryan Nugent-Hopkins also scored three times to lead the Edmonton Oilers to an 8-4 drubbing of the Los Angeles Kings. Oilers captain Connor McDavid collected four points while Kings captain Anze Kopitar had three assists. With 76 points, the Oilers are five points out of a playoff spot in the Western Conference.
Darcy Kuemper turned in a 31-save shutout as the Arizona Coyotes nipped the Chicago Blackhawks 1-0. With the win, the Coyotes (81 points) move into a tie with the Colorado Avalanche for the final Western wild-card berth. The Blackhawks (76 points) remain five points behind.
Alex Ovechkin tallied his league-leading 49th goal of the season and John Carlson netted his 400th career point as the Washington Capitals downed the Carolina Hurricanes 4-1. Sitting atop the Metropolitan Division, the Capitals (98 points) opened a three-point lead over the Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Islanders.
Before the game, Capitals forward Evgeny Kuznetsov responded to Hockey Night in Canada’s Don Cherry calling him “a jerk” over his bird dance goal celebrations. “If he want(s) to say something, he can call me or he can meet me, but to call me (a) jerk on TV doesn’t make him look good, you know? But whatever he said, my parents (taught) me a lot of good things when (I was) young, and I’m not going to say anything bad about a guy who’s much older than me,” said Kuznetsov.
Speaking of the Islanders, they failed to gain ground on the Capitals after the Columbus Blue Jackets blanked them 4-0. Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky picked up his third shutout in his last four games and moved into a tie with Vegas’ Marc-Andre Fleury for the league lead with eight. The Jackets (88 points) remain two points behind the Montreal Canadiens for the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.
Earlier in the day, the Islanders announced winger Andrew Ladd suffered a season-ending injury in his left knee. His recovery time will be four-to-five months and he’s expected to be ready for training camp in September.
The Canadiens (90 points), meanwhile, rolled to a 6-1 victory over the Florida Panthers and moved within a point of the Hurricanes for the first wild-card spot. Carey Price made 33 saves while Tomas Tatar scored twice and collected an assist. Canadiens forward Paul Byron left the game with a suspected concussion following a fight with Panthers defenseman MacKenzie Weegar.
Anaheim Ducks rookie Sam Steel had his first NHL hat trick as his club edged the Vancouver Canucks 5-4. Despite the win, the Ducks are officially eliminated from the playoff race.
Ottawa Senators goaltender Craig Anderson kicked out 35 shots to shut out the Buffalo Sabres 4-0. The Sabres have lost 13 straight road games.
TAMPA BAY TIMES: The Lightning yesterday announced they’ve signed head coach Jon Cooper to a multi-year contract extension. Cooper is the league’s longest-tenured active coach and is the franchise leader in wins (300) and games (500).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This comes as no surprise. Under Cooper’s tenure, the Lightning won their first Presidents’ Trophy this season, reached the Stanley Cup Final in 2015 and advanced to three Eastern Conference Finals (2015, 2016, 2018).
NBC SPORTS: The San Jose Sharks have reduced Erik Karlsson’s practice schedule as he continues to rehab a groin injury. Karlsson recently said he expected to be 100 percent in time for the upcoming Stanley Cup playoffs.
NBC SPORTS: The Philadelphia Flyers re-signed winger Michael Raffl to a two-year, $3.2-million contract extension. It’s a 32 percent pay cut from his current three-year, $7.05-million deal.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Raffl’s production has declined in recent years but he remains a versatile, physical checking-line forward. He obviously had no qualms about accepting a pay cut to stay with the Flyers.