NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 5, 2021
Another milestone for Alex Ovechkin, Kyle Palmieri withheld from Devils game, the Panthers sit atop the overall standings, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Alex Ovechkin tied Brett Hull for the second-most career power-play goals in NHL history as the Washington Capitals held on for a 5-4 win over the New Jersey Devils. Ovechkin and Hull each have 265 power-play goals, nine behind all-time leader Dave Andreychuk at 274. Ovechkin is also at 725 career goals, six behind Marcel Dionne for fifth on the all-time list.
With 54 points, the Capitals sit two points up on the New York Islanders for first place in the MassMutual East Division. The Devils held winger Kyle Palmieri out of this game in anticipation of a potential trade.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ll have more on Palmieri’s situation in today’s Rumor Mill update.
The Florida Panthers moved into first overall in the NHL standings by blanking the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-0. Panthers’ goaltender Chris Driedger made 32 saves for the shutout while captain Aleksander Barkov had a goal and an assist. The Panthers have 56 points and hold a two-point lead over the Tampa Bay Lightning in the Discover Central Division while the Blue Jackets remain in seventh with 36 points.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The red-hot Panthers have won six straight games. Four of those victories came without top defenseman Aaron Ekblad, who’s out for the rest of the regular season with a fractured leg. The Jackets, meanwhile, have won just three of their last 10 games and are falling further out of playoff contention.
The Lightning, meanwhile, suffered a 5-1 defeat at the hands of the Detroit Red Wings, who picked up their first win in Tampa Bay since 2011. Second-period goals by Valtteri Filppula, Michael Rasmussen and Marc Staal powered the Wings to victory. The Lightning (54 points) sits one point ahead of the third-place Carolina Hurricanes.
Speaking of the Hurricanes, they edged the Dallas Stars 1-0 on a goal by Jordan Martinook. Goaltender Petr Mrazek kicked out 28 shots for the shutout in his first game since being sidelined by a broken thumb on Jan. 30. Stars coach Rick Bowness left the game following the second period and was placed on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list following a positive test result. The Stars (36 points) remain five points out of the fourth and final playoff berth in the Central.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bowness received his COVID vaccination in January. General manager Jim Nill is hopeful this was a false positive as it was what he called a “very low grade” of test result. Goaltender Anton Khudobin missed his scheduled start on Saturday following a positive test but he was removed yesterday from the protocol list after a subsequent negative result.
Third-period goals by John Tavares and Auston Matthews lifted the Toronto Maple Leafs over the Calgary Flames 4-2. Matthews is now at a league-leading 25 goals on the season as the Leafs (53 points) open a six-point lead over the second-place Edmonton Oilers in the Scotia North Division. The Jets are tied with the Oilers with 47 points but the latter has more regulation victories.
A hat trick by Jakob Chychrun carried the Arizona Coyotes over the Anaheim Ducks by a score of 3-2. The Coyotes sit in fourth place in the Honda West Division with 41 points and hold a three-point lead over the St. Louis blues.
THE PROVINCE: Ben Kuzma reports the number of Vancouver Canucks on the COVID-19 protocol list officially grew to 16 when Jalen Chatfield and Marc Michaelis tested positive yesterday. However, an NHL source claims more than 20 Canucks players and coaches have tested positive with some experiencing symptoms of the Brazilian P.1 variant.
TSN’s Darren Dreger reported Canucks family members are also contracting the coronavirus. He added the variant symptoms including vomiting, cramping and dehydration. However, a source told Postmedia the numbers vary and that it’s under 20. The source also said there haven’t been reports of severe symptoms, with most experiencing mild headaches, fever, fatigue and lethargy, with no reports of vomiting.
The training staff said few Canucks have had severe symptoms. Most are said to be feeling better, with just one player having had an IV administered.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Here’s hoping those symptoms remain mild and those infected make a swift and full recovery. The Canucks are likely to be shut down for at least two weeks by the league given their high number of infections. That’s how long the Dallas Stars and New Jersey Devils were sidelined following their respective outbreaks earlier this season.