NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 23, 2021
Recaps of Monday’s action, Oilers-Canadiens game postponed over COVID-19 concerns, stars of the week and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Third-period goals by Chris Kreider and Kaapo Kakko lifted the New York Rangers over the Buffalo Sabres 5-3, handing the landing their 14th consecutive defeat. Kreider and Kakko tallied twice for the Rangers. Dustin Tokarski played his first NHL games since 2016, making 33 saves after taking over for sidelined Sabres goalie Carter Hutton early in the first period. With the win, the Rangers (32 points) moved within two points of the fifth-place Philadelphia Flyers and within four of the fourth-place Boston Bruins in the MassMutual East Division.
Dougie Hamilton collected an assist to extend his points streak to 12 games as the Carolina Hurricanes blanked the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-0. Alex Nedeljkovic made 19 saves for the shutout and Sebastian Aho picked up two assists. The Hurricanes (45 points) vaulted into second place in the Discover Central Division with a one-point lead over the Florida Panthers. The Blue Jackets (33 points) are tied with the Chicago Blackhawks but slipped to fifth place.
A third-period goal by Chris Tierney gave the Ottawa Senators a 2-1 win over the Calgary Flames. Rookie goaltender Filip Gustavsson kicked out 35 shots for his first NHL victory. The Flames (33 points) remain in sixth place in the Scotia North Division, four points back of the fourth-place Montreal Canadiens.
An overtime goal by Anthony Beauvillier lifted the New York Islanders to a 2-1 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers. Isles rookie goalie Ilya Sorokin made 36 saves for his eighth straight win. Flyers center Sean Couturier returned to the lineup after missing one game with a hip injury. The Islanders sit in first place in the MassMutual East, two points up on the Washington Capitals. Meanwhile, the Flyers (34 points) sit two points behind the fourth-place Bruins.
The Minnesota Wild edged the Anaheim Ducks 2-1 on a third-period goal by Nick Bjugstad. With 39 points, the Wild remains two points ahead of the St. Louis Blues for third place in the Honda West Division. Marcus Johansson returned to the Wild lineup after missing 16 games with an upper-body injury.
Mark Stone scored twice as the Vegas Golden Knights tallied four unanswered goals to down St. Louis 5-1. The Golden Knights have won six of their last seven contests and sit in first place in the West with 45 points, three points up on the Colorado Avalanche. The Blues remain in fourth place with 37 points.
Winnipeg Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck turned in a 22-save shutout and Adam Lowry scored twice to beat the Vancouver Canucks 4-0. Canucks center Brandon Sutter missed the game with an undisclosed injury while captain Bo Horvat limped off in the third period after being struck by a shot from teammate Alex Edler. The Jets sit in third place in the North Division, two points behind the Edmonton Oilers and three up on the Canadiens.
The Colorado Avalanche picked up their seventh straight victory by downing the Arizona Coyotes 5-1. Joonas Donskoi scored two goals and Philipp Grubauer picked up the win with 24 saves. Coyotes defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson left the game with an upper-body injury. With 42 points, the Avs hold a four-point lead over the Wild for second place in the West Division.
San Jose Sharks goaltender Martin Jones made 41 saves backstopping his club over the Los Angeles Kings 2-1. Ryan Donato tallied the game-winner in the third period. The loss leaves the Kings with 32 points, five back of the fourth-place Blues in the West.
Monday’s game between the Edmonton Oilers and Montreal Canadiens was postponed after Canadiens forwards Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Joel Armia were placed on the COVID-19 protocol list. The Habs also canceled practice for today.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is the first North Division game to be postponed this season. The Canadiens will be awaiting the results of further testing. Placing Kotkaniemi and Armia on the list doesn’t necessarily mean they’ve contracted the coronavirus. Further information is expected later today. If all players pass the subsequent testing there’s talk this game could be played tonight.
The additions of Kotkaniemi and Armia to the COVID protocol list pushed the total number to 10 players. The Boston Bruins have five players on the list, including David Pastrnak, David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk.
The Canadiens also announced forward Tyler Toffoli will be sidelined until at least Sunday with a lower-body injury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s assuming the remainder of the Canadiens’ games for this week aren’t postponed.
Nashville Predators forward Calle Jarnkrok, Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid and New York Rangers center Mika Zibanejad are the NHL’s three stars for the week ending March 21.
TORONTO SUN: Maple Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen is day-to-day with a lower-body injury.
THE PROVINCE: The Vancouver Canucks claimed forward Travis Boyd off waivers from the Toronto Maple Leafs. It’s the second time in a week the Canucks have plucked a player off the Leafs roster, having claimed Jimmy Vesey on March 17.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some see those moves as the Canucks positioning themselves to become sellers by the April 12 trade deadline. That may well be the case if they fail to gain any ground in the North Division playoff race.
SPORTSNET: NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said the league isn’t expecting to have full arenas this season despite more American teams allowing limited numbers of socially distanced fans to attend their games.