NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 8, 2020
The Panthers retire Roberto Luongo’s number, David Pastrnak moves closer to 50 goals, updates on the playoff race, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: On the night the Florida Panthers retired Roberto Luongo’s No. 1, they also gained ground in the Eastern Conference playoff race by downing the Montreal Canadiens 4-1. Mike Hoffman and Aaron Ekblad each had two points for the Panthers (76 points), who moved within three of the idle Toronto Maple Leafs for third place in the Atlantic Division.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A big win for the Panthers as they struggle to keep their playoff hopes alive. The Leafs have done the Panthers a favor with their sputtering play of late, but the Panthers must start capitalizing if they hope to overtake the Leafs and clinch a postseason berth.
Vincent Trocheck’s first goal since joining the Carolina Hurricanes was an overtime winner in a 3-2 win over the New York Islanders. The goal came with some controversy as Carolina winger Andrei Svechnikov clanged the puck off the crossbar with what appeared to be a high stick, enabling Trocheck to bury the rebound. However, the NHL situation room upheld the goal, claiming Svechnikov’s stick was below his shoulders when he made contact with the puck. The Islanders (79 points) cling to the first Eastern Conference wild-card spot, while the Hurricanes (77 points) sit two points behind the Isles and Columbus Blue Jackets.
The Blue Jackets, meanwhile, dropped a 4-1 decision to the Edmonton Oilers. Mikko Koskinen made 45 saves and Alex Chiasson tallied a goal and picked up an assist for the Oilers (82 points), who moved into a first-place tie with the Vegas Golden Knights for first place in the Pacific Division. The Oilers (82 points) hold the edge over Vegas based on goals scored and ROW (regulation and overtime wins). Oilers defenseman Oscar Klefbom returned to action for the first time since Feb. 16. Blue Jackets defenseman Ryan Murray missed the game with an undisclosed injury.
The New York Rangers failed to gain ground in the Eastern Conference playoff race by falling 6-4 to the New Jersey Devils. Travis Zajac and Kyle Palmieri each scored twice for the Devils as Rangers goalie Igor Shesterkin was pulled after giving up four goals on 11 shots in the second period. It was Shesterkin’s first game since suffering a rib injury in a car accident on Feb. 23. The Rangers (76 points) sit three points out of the final Eastern Conference wild-card spot.
Shorthanded goals by Anthony Cirelli and Mikhail Sergachev just over a minute apart powered the Tampa Bay Lightning over the Boston Bruins 5-3 in a penalty-filled contest. Bruins winger David Pastrnak tallied his league-leading 48th goal of the season. The Bruins four-game winning streak came to an end, but they remain atop the overall standings with 98 points. The Lightning (91 points) sit second in the Atlantic Division.
Nic Dowd scored two goals and collected an assist as the Washington Capitals beat the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-2. The Capitals (89 points) are tied with the Philadelphia Flyers for first in the Metropolitan Division, but hold the edge due to ROW and goals scored. The Penguins (84 points) remain in third in the Metro.
The red-hot Flyers, meanwhile, picked up their ninth straight victory with a 3-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres. Claude Giroux netted two goals and Carter Hart made 38 saves.
Jusse Saros turned in a 37-save shutout and Ryan Ellis scored the only goal as the Nashville Predators nipped the Dallas Stars 1-0. With 76 points, the Predators hold the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference over the Winnipeg Jets (76 points) based on goals scored (211) and holding a game in hand. The Stars (82 points) sit third in the Central Division, but they’ve won just three of their last 10 games.
Los Angeles Kings winger Dustin Brown tallied a hat trick in a 7-3 upset of the Minnesota Wild, Kings captain Anze Kopitar had a goal and two assists. The Wild (75 points) sit one point behind the Predators and Jets.
The Ottawa Senators edged the San Jose Sharks 2-1 on an overtime goal by Chris Tierney. The Senators have won four of their last five games.
THE SCORE: The NHL is recommending teams close its dressing rooms to reporters to combat the spread of the coronavirus. Only a couple of teams have done so, but it could become more widespread in the coming days.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Most of the players probably won’t mind getting a break from having to provide the same stock answers to the same question from reporters. Nevertheless, the league appears serious in its efforts to prevent the coronavirus from spreading into NHL dressing rooms. Its effects are already being felt through the hockey world, as the IIHF has canceled the 2020 Women’s World Championships.
SPORTSNET: The Rangers have reportedly extended the contracts of general manager Jeff Gorton and assistant GM Chris Drury.
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: Vegas Golden Knights rookie Cody Glass underwent season-ending surgery on his right knee. He’s expected to recover in time for training camp in September.
THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: Anaheim Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm (upper-body injuries) could be sidelined for weeks. He’s already missed five games after crashing heavily into the boards in a Feb. 25 game against the Oilers.
SPORTSNET: Montreal Canadiens center Jesperi Kotkaniemi suffered a splenic injury in a recent game with the Habs’ AHL affiliate. He returned to Montreal for evaluation yesterday and there’s no timetable for his recovery.