NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 23, 2021

by | Feb 23, 2021 | News, NHL | 10 comments

Recaps of Monday’s action, Artemi Panarin takes leave of absence amid assault allegations levied by his former Russian coach, stars of the week and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.


NHL.COM: Despite a 49-save effort by goaltender Anton Khubodin the Dallas Stars fell 3-1 to the Florida Panthers. Defensemen Keith Yandle and Aaron Ekblad provided two of Florida’s goals as the Panthers (26 points) sit in first place in the Discover Central Division. The Stars have dropped six straight games.

The Tampa Bay Lightning remains within three points of the Panthers after doubling up the Carolina Hurricanes 4-2. Steven Stamkos, Ondrej Palat and Victor Hedman each had a goal and an assist for the Lightning while Jesper Fast tallied twice for the Hurricanes, who sit one point behind the Panthers and two up on the Lightning.

A third-period power-play goal by Jean-Gabriel Pageau lifted the New York Islanders past the Buffalo Sabres 3-2. Sabres winger Jeff Skinner was a healthy scratch. The Sabres also announced defenseman Jake McCabe will require season-ending surgery to repair a knee injury suffered during Saturday’s game against the New Jersey Devils.

Calgary Flames goaltender David Rittich turned in a 34-save shutout as his club blanked the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-0. Rittich got the nod as Flames starter Jacob Markstrom was day-to-day with an upper-body injury. Leafs star Auston Matthews was held without a point for the first time in 17 games. Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen (upper-body injury, day-to-day), forwards Joe Thornton and Zach Hyman (undisclosed, day-to-day) and defenseman Jake Muzzin (broken facial bone) also missed this game. It’s uncertain when Muzzin will return.

Jonathan Quick picked up his 54th career shutout backstopping the Los Angeles Kings to a 3-0 victory over the St. Louis Blues. Dustin Brown scored twice as the Kings picked up their fifth straight win to remain in fourth place in the Honda West Division with 19 points. Blues forward Sammy Blais returned to the lineup following a false positive test for COVID-19.

The Arizona Coyotes overcame a 3-0 deficit to nip the Anaheim Ducks 4-3. Christian Dvorak scored twice and Clayton Keller collected two assists for the Coyotes.

Mats Zuccarello had a goal and three assists as the Minnesota Wild thumped the San Jose Sharks 6-2. Victor Rask had a goal and two assists while Marcus Foligno had a “Gordie Howe hat trick” with a goal, an assist and a fight.

New York Rangers winger Artemi Panarin (NHL Images).


NEW YORK POST: Artemi Panarin is taking a leave of absence from the Rangers after his former KHL coach alleged the winger beat up an 18-year-old woman in a bar following a 2011 game in Riga, Latvia. Panarin released a statement through his agent denying Andrei Nazarov’s allegation, calling it a fabrication. The Rangers also expressed their support for their winger, indicating he “unequivocally and vehemently” denied the charge.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Panarin is an outspoken critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Post reporter Larry Brooks cites a source indicating this isn’t a direct retaliatory measure by the Putin government toward the Rangers star but rather Nazarov “going rogue”. He suggests Nazarov, a Putin supporter, is attempting to sully Panarin’s reputation to curry favor within the Russian Ice Hockey Federation.

Brooks points out Latvian journalist Aivis Kalnins reported a spokesman for the hotel where the alleged incident took place claims it never happened. None of Panarin’s former KHL teammates support Nazarov’s allegation.

Nazarov claimed Panarin was detained by police and there was a criminal case and trial but the incident was covered up by bribing local officials with 40,000 euros. However, Brooks pointed out Panarin at that time was not a high-profile player and had been passed over in two previous NHL drafts. He suggests there would’ve been little reason to engage in bribery and a cover-up for someone who at that time was a run-of-the-mill player.

NHL.COM: Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews, Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid and Boston Bruins winger David Pastrnak are the NHL’s three stars for the week ending Feb. 21.

New Jersey Devils center Travis Zajac played in his 1000th NHL game during Sunday’s contest against the Washington Capitals.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A Devils fan contacted me yesterday to point out I missed this during yesterday’s morning coffee headlines. I regret the oversight. Congratulations to Zajac on reaching this noteworthy career milestone.

TSN: The NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list has shrunk to nine players. Six of those are members of the Philadelphia Flyers.

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: The Blackhawks announced center Dylan Strome has been placed in concussion protocol and defenseman Lucas Carlsson is on injured reserve with a strained groin. Blueline Connor Murphy has been activated from IR after missing six games with a hip injury.

THE ATHLETIC: Former NHL coach Bruce Boudreau is interested in becoming the Seattle Kraken’s bench boss.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Kraken aren’t believed to have started interviewing potential coaching candidates yet. Boudreau could be among the contenders given his years of NHL experience.


  1. If you get a chance… check out the highlights from the VGK/Avs tilt last night

    Fleury absolutely stood on his head for another shutout. 10 bell save after 10 bell save after 10 bell save

    That series (to determine who goes to semi-finals) will be spectacular. That would make a fantastic SCF but alas it can’t happen

    Re Panthers…. are they for real ? Good to see that turn around

    Re Panarin… I’m afraid that if I come out in support of him that Putin is going to bring in a reporter to do a big article on how I “got fresh” with Maureen Fitzsimmons in 1978.

    What a crock this is. I feel so sorry for Panarin. He knows and all of NY knows and all of us reading here know; that this is completely fabricated. But now he has to fear repercussions in Russia for his family

    Very good move by Rangers to come out full tilt support of him 👍👍👍👍👍👍

    Hoping for all the best for the Breadman and his fam🤞🙏

    • The Maureen Fitzsimmons part got me.
      Thanks for that, Pengy.

      • YW ShoreOrrPark


    • Pengy, I think some of the credit has to go to Quenneville who’s proving he’s a good coach who develops a system that fits what he has to send over the boards.

      Also, there may be more truth than many of us thought about the notion that Hoffman is not a good “team player” – although, so far anyway, he doesn’t seem to be hurting the Blue much in that regard.

      • Hi George

        I would think ur credit to Quenville is well founded

        I am not so confident that Hoffman (if an issue; I hadn’t heard any reports out of FLA on that) would have been enough of a detractor last year; for this year (with him gone) to be so good

        They are performing much better than had been expected

  2. Panarin situation in a capsule sums up today society.

    A few words or accusations throws a person reputation into questions.

    Absolutely some will believe i, simply because it was said. Sad isn’t it.

  3. I feel like there are not a lot of Russian women Panarin can beat up, those ladies are tough as nails. This sounds like total BS to me.

    • None of this even sounds truthful. Maybe I’m missing something but I’m curious as to why he had to leave the team. What he can he do to disprove a 10 year old rumor?

    • Henry, if I was him, I would speaking to family and friends back home. Not sure what you can do, but better safe than sorry to try and make sure they are as safe as possible.

  4. The rangers with an 11.5 million dollar women beater? Hopefully not true but where there is smoke there is usually fire