NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 20, 2021
Alex Ovechkin extends his goal streak, the Leafs’ struggles continue, the Canucks surge in the standings while the Bruins’ next two games are postponed over COVID-19 concerns. Details plus updates on Evgeni Malkin, Matt Dumba and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Alex Ovechkin scored twice in the third period to lead the Washington Capitals over the New York Rangers 2-1. Vitek Vanecek made 32 saves for the win while Artemi Panarin scored the Rangers’ only goal. The Capitals (44 points) moved two points up on the New York Islanders into first place in the MassMutual East Division.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ovechkin now has 720 career goals. He also has 14 on the season, moving to within seven of Toronto’s Auston Matthews and his league-leading 21 goals.
Mark Giordano’s power-play goal in the second period held up as the game-winner as the Calgary Flames edged the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-3, handing the latter their sixth loss in their last seven games. While the Leafs (40 points) still hold first place in the Scotia North Division, the Flames (33 points) picked up their fourth win in their last five contests and sit two points behind the fourth-place Montreal Canadiens. Leafs winger Wayne Simmonds picked up an assist in his first game since suffering a broken wrist on Feb. 6.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Toronto goalie Frederik Andersen gave up four goals on 18 shots as he continues to struggle with a nagging lower-body injury. Leafs fans are hoping a healthy Jack Campbell can provide some much-needed stability between the pipes when he returns from injury tonight against the Flames.
Despite the Leafs’ position in the standings, the race in the North is tightening. The Edmonton Oilers and Winnipeg Jets are breathing down their necks while the Flames and Vancouver Canucks are surging. Only six points separate Toronto from the fifth-place Canucks.
Speaking of the Canucks, they handed the Canadiens their ninth straight defeat in extra time with a 3-2 overtime victory. J.T. Miller tallied the game-winner as Vancouver (34 points) has won four straight and moved to within one point of the fourth-place Habs. Earlier in the day, they announced winger Tanner Pearson will be sidelined four weeks with a sprained ankle and placed center Elias Petterssen (wrist) on long-term injury reserve.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks were being written off a month ago and are still considered by some observers as a potential seller by the trade deadline. Their recent improvement, however, has put them back in the playoff picture, especially with the Canadiens struggling to hang onto the final playoff spot in the North Division.
Max Pacioretty scored twice as the Vegas Golden Knights picked up their fifth straight win by doubling up the Los Angeles Kings 4-2. Vegas netminder Robin Lehner made 23 saves in his first game since being sidelined by a concussion on Feb. 7. With 43 points, the Golden Knights opened a five-point lead over the Colorado Avalanche for the top spot in the Honda West Division. The Kings (30 points) sit five back of the fourth-place St. Louis Blues.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pacioretty now has 16 goals, moving to within five of Matthews.
The Blues, meanwhile, snapped a five-game losing skid by nipping the San Jose Sharks 2-1 on a shootout goal by Vladimir Tarasenko. Jordan Binnington made 30 saves for the win while Tyler Bozak tied the game for the Blues with a shorthanded goal.
The Boston Bruins’ next two games (Saturday against Buffalo, Tuesday against the New York Islanders) have been postponed over COVID-19 concerns as four Bruins (Jake DeBrusk, David Krejci, David Pastrnak and Craig Smith) were added to the COVID protocol list on Friday. This comes one day after the Bruins canceled practice when Sean Kuraly was added to the list. They played the Sabres on Thursday.
TRIBLIVE.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins listed center Evgeni Malkin as week-to-week with a lower-body injury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Losing Malkin will be a big test for the Penguins as they strive to move further up the East Division standings. With 37 points, they just one up on the fourth-place Bruins and four ahead of the fifth-place Philadelphia Flyers.
STARTRIBUNE.COM: Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba is doubtful for today’s rematch with the Colorado Avalanche after suffering a lower-body injury during the Wild’s 5-1 loss to the Avs on Thursday.
WGR 550: Speaking of the Avalanche, they are reportedly close to acquiring Sabres goaltender Jonas Johansson.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nothing confirmed as of this morning and no indication as to what the Sabres would receive in return. Johansson was not on the ice for Sabres practice yesterday while the club announced the signing of netminder Michael Houser. The Avs are believed in the market for a reliable backup with Pavel Francouz sidelined indefinitely.
THE DETROIT NEWS: The Red Wings are listing goaltender Jonathan Bernier as day-to-day after he suffered a lower-body injury during Thursday’s win over the Dallas Stars. However, they’re awaiting clarification as to the severity of his injury.
SPORTSNET: Senators goalie Joey Daccord will be out long-term with an apparent leg injury suffered during Wednesday’s loss to the Vancouver Canucks. There’s speculation he could be done for the season.