NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 17, 2021
Recaps of Tuesday’s action include Alex Ovechkin reaching two milestones, the Sabres fire coach Ralph Krueger, plus the latest on Evgeni Malkin, Taylor Hall, John Gibson and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Alex Ovechkin scored his 718th career goal and reached his 1,300th career points as his Washington Capitals earned a 3-1 victory over the New York Islanders, snapping the latter’s nine-game winning streak. Nicklas Backstrom also had a goal and an assist for the Capitals, who moved ahead of the Isles into first place (42 points) in the MassMutual East Division. Ovechkin moved past Phil Esposito into sixth place on the all-time goals list and 34th on the all-time points list with 1,301.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ovechkin is now 13 goals behind Marcel Dionne, who sits fifth overall.
The Boston Bruins rode a 34-save debut by rookie goaltender Dan Vlader to a 2-1 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins. Trent Frederic tallied the game-winner in the third period for the Bruins (34 points), who opened a three-point over the Philadelphia Flyers for fourth place in the East Division.
It was a rough game for both clubs, as Penguins center Evgeni Malkin (lower-body) and Bruins defenseman Jarred Tinordi (upper-body) left the game with injuries. Penguins forward Brandon Tanev was assessed a major penalty and game misconduct for boarding Tinordi. Earlier in the day, the Penguins placed defenseman John Marino (undisclosed) on injured reserve and announced forward Teddy Blueger was sidelined longer-term with an upper-body injury.
A third-period goal by Miles Wood lifted the New Jersey Devils over the Buffalo Sabres 3-2, handing the latter their 12th straight loss. It was the Devils’ first home victory since Jan. 24. Sabres winger Taylor Hall left the game in the first period after being knocked to the ice by P.K. Subban and struck in the face by a shot from teammate Colin Miller but returned in the second to complete the game. Earlier in the day, the Devils announced captain Nico Hischier would be sidelined approximately three weeks following surgery to repair a sinus fracture.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hall was fortunate to escape serious injury. This season is the nadir of what’s been a decade of suck for the Sabres. Ownership and management seem uncertain over what to do, head coach Ralph Krueger has no solutions while the players seem to be growing more dispirited with each loss.
The Buffalo Sabres this morning fired Ralph Krueger and assistant coach Steve Smith. Don Granato replaces Krueger on an interim basis while development coaches Matt Ellis and Dan Girardi become assistant coaches.
The Colorado Avalanche scored six unanswered goals to overcome a 4-2 deficit and double up the Anaheim Ducks 8-4. Nazem Kadri scored twice and set up two others and Devon Toews collected three assists while Philipp Grubauer got the win after replacing Hunter Miska following the first period. With 36 points, the Avs opened a three-point lead over the St. Louis Blues for third place in the Honda West Division. Earlier in the day, the Ducks announced goaltender John Gibson is listed as day-to-day with a lower-body injury.
Minnesota Wild goaltender Kaapo Kahkonen made 31 saves to shut out the Arizona Coyotes 3-0 and extending his winning streak to nine games. Ryan Hartman, Mats Zuccarello and Jared Spurgeon were the goal scorers as the Wild (37 points) sit two behind the first-place Vegas Golden Knights in the West Division.
The Tampa Bay Lightning blew a 3-1 lead but edged the Dallas Stars 4-3 on a shootout goal by Brayden Point, who also had a goal and an assist in regulation. Third-period goals by Jamie Benn and Alexander Radulov forced overtime and the shootout. The win moved the Lightning (42 points) past the Florida Panthers into first place in the Discover Central Division.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Quite the battle going on between the Lightning, Panthers and Carolina Hurricanes for the top spot in the Central. The rivalry between the two Florida-based franchises is getting more entertaining with the Panthers’ improvement this season.
Speaking of the Hurricanes, their eight-game win streak came to an end as they fell 4-2 to the Detroit Red Wings. Adam Erne tallied twice while teammate Filip Hronek had a goal and two assists for the Wings. Jonathan Bernier kicked out 35 shots for the win. The Hurricanes (41 points) are one behind the Lightning and Panthers in the Central. Earlier in the day, the Wings announced forward Bobby Ryan is day-to-day with an upper-body injury.
IN OTHER NEWS…
THE SCORE: Former Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford admitted he attempted to reacquire goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury from the Vegas Golden Knights during the offseason. He said one of the reasons behind the decision to buy out defenseman Jack Johnson was to clear cap space for Fleury.
Rutherford also said he inquired into Fleury’s availability while the Golden Knights were still in the playoffs. The trade discussions were never deeply involved because of the salary-cap difficulties in acquiring Fleury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I doubt we’ll see Rutherford’s successor Ron Hextall pursuing Fleury. The cap issues remain but Hextall wants to take the club in a different direction by focusing on younger players.
Speaking of the Golden Knights, they’ve activated goalie Robin Lehner off injured reserve. He’d been sidelined since Feb. 7 with a lower-body injury.