NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 24, 2021
Patrick Kane honored for his 1,000th career game, Andrei Vasilevskiy sets a franchise record, three more Canadiens games are postponed by COVID-19 concerns, changes to the NHL Draft and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Patrick Kane collected two assists to lead the Chicago Blackhawks past the Florida Panthers 3-2. Goaltender Kevin Lankinen made 33 saves as Chicago snapped a four-game losing skid. Before the game, the Blackhawks honored Kane for recently playing in his 1,000th career NHL game. Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov missed the game with a lower-body injury. The Hawks (35 points) hold a two-point lead over the Columbus Blue Jackets for fourth place in the Discover Central Division while the Panthers (44 points) remain one point behind the second-place Carolina Hurricanes.
Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy made 16 saves for his franchise-record 12th consecutive win as his club edged the Dallas Stars 2-1. Second-period goals by Steven Stamkos and Yanni Gourde gave the Lightning the victory. With 50 points, they sit atop the NHL’s overall standings and hold a five-point lead over the Hurricanes in the Central Division. Before the game, Stars coach Rick Bowness announced forward Joel Kiviranta will be sidelined “for a while” with a lower-body injury.
The Nashville Predators got a 31-save performance Juuse Saros to shut out the Detroit Red Wings 2-0. Mikael Granlund and Mathieu Olivier were the goal scorers while captain Roman Josi collected an assist in his first game in two weeks. The Predators (31 points) are four back of the Blackhawks in the Central. Meanwhile, the NHL is investigating an incident during this game when one of the referees was overheard on a hot mic apparently admitting to targeting the Predators for a penalty in the first period.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The incident didn’t affect the outcome of the game but it would be a concerning issue for the league if its officials give the impression they’re singling out teams or players for questionable infractions.
Shootout goals by Conor Garland and Christian Dvorak gave the Arizona Coyotes a 5-4 victory over the Colorado Avalanche, snapping the latter’s seven-game winning streak. Arizona overcame a 4-2 deficit on third-period goals by Lawson Crouse and Phil Kessel to force extra time. Coyotes goaltender Antti Raanta was placed on injured reserve before the game with a lower-body injury. Nathan MacKinnon had a goal and two assists with the Avs (43 points), who sit two points behind the Vegas Golden Knights in the Honda West Division. Jonas Johansson made 28 saves in his debut with Colorado. The Coyotes (33 points) are four back of the fourth-place St. Louis Blues.
The New Jersey Devils got a 30-save effort from Mackenzie Blackwood to hold off the Philadelphia Flyers 4-3. Yegor Sharangovich and Travis Zajac each had a goal and an assist for the Devils. Sean Couturier scored twice for the Flyers (34 points), who remain two back of the fourth-place Boston Bruins in the MassMutual East Division.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flyers had won just three of their last 10 games. They’ve failed to gain ground on a Bruins team sidelined by COVID-19 protocols.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens next three games have been postponed because of COVID-19 protocols. They were scheduled to play the Edmonton Oilers today and Friday and the Ottawa Senators on Sunday. Their game this past Monday with the Oilers was also postponed when Canadiens forwards Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Joel Armia were placed on the COVID protocol list. They remain the only two Habs on the list.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens will have a difficult time making up those games. The Gazette reports they’re scheduled to play 16 games in 30 days in April and four games in eight days in May. It will also be a problem for the Oilers.
THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: Four Anaheim Ducks – Danton Heinen, Ben Hutton, Jacob Larsson and Anthony Stolarz – were placed on the COVID-19 protocol list. The total number of players on the list has grown to 15.
TSN: The NHL’s proposed changes to the draft lottery were formally approved yesterday by the league’s board of governors.
Starting this year, only the top-two spots in the draft will be determined by the lottery, down from the previous number of three.
Starting in 2022, a team can move up a maximum of 10 spots, meaning only 11 of the 16 non-playoff teams will be eligible for the first-overall pick. Also starting in 2022, a team can win the lottery no more than twice in a five-year period.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pierre LeBrun reports the changes are meant to augment the chances of the bottom teams getting the first-overall pick. That became an issue in three of the last four drafts when teams with the worst record in the league slid to fourth overall in the draft lottery.
NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin skipped practice yesterday dealing with a lower-body injury. Head coach Peter Laviolette downplayed Ovechkin’s absence by claiming it was “more just maintenance than anything.”
THE PROVINCE: Vancouver Canucks captain Bo Horvat is listed as day-to-day with a lower-body injury and hasn’t been ruled out for tonight’s game against the Winnipeg Jets.
OTTAWA SUN: Senators forward Austin Watson could be sidelined for a while with an injured left arm. He was spotted in the stands during practice yesterday with a cast on that arm.
NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: San Jose Sharks forward Kurtis Gabriel was fined $3.017.24 by the NHL’s department of player safety for a pre-game altercation with Los Angeles Kings defenseman Kurtis MacDermid on Monday. Head coach Bob Boughner was fined $5,000.00 and the team received a $25,000.00 fine.