NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 2, 2021

by | May 2, 2021 | News, NHL | 30 comments

The Islanders clinch a playoff spot, Marc-Andre Fleury reaches another milestone, the top rookie and players of April are announced and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The New York Islanders clinched a playoff berth by downing the New York Rangers 3-0. Semyon Varlamov picked up his third straight shutout with a 28-save performance while Anthony Beauvillier scored twice. The Isles hold third place in the MassMutual East Division with 67 points.

Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Tristan Jarry made 24 saves to shut out the Washington Capitals 3-0. Bryan Rust tallied two goals for the Penguins (71 points), who sit two points ahead of the Capitals in first place in the East Division. Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin missed his fourth straight game with a lower-body injury.

A hat trick by Craig Smith powered the Boston Bruins over the Buffalo Sabres 6-2. David Krejci collected three assists and Taylor Hall had two. With 66 points, the fourth-place Bruins move within a point of the third-place Islanders. Sabres goaltender Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen left the game following two periods with an apparent lower-body injury.

Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury (NHL Images).

Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury picked up his 489th career NHL victory by beating the Arizona Coyotes 3-2 on an overtime goal by Jonathan Marchessault. Fleury is now tied with Roberto Luongo for third place on the all-time wins list. The Golden Knights sit in first place in the Honda West Division with 74 points.

Mikko Rantanen and Nathan MacKinnon each had a goal and an assist as the Colorado Avalanche held off the San Jose Sharks 4-3. The Avs (70 points) sit four back of the Golden Knights in second place. Tomas Hertl and Alexander Barabanov had a goal and an assist for the Sharks.

An overtime goal by Kevin Fiala capped a three-goal rally by the Minnesota Wild to beat the Blues 4-3. The Wild remain two points back of the Avs in third place while the Blues (53 points) hold a three-point lead over the Coyotes for fourth place. St. Louis defenseman Torey Krug missed the game with an upper-body injury.

Auston Matthews scored twice to lead the Toronto Maple Leafs to a 5-1 win over the Vancouver Canucks. With 71 points, the Leafs hold a nine-point lead over the Edmonton Oilers for first place in the Scotia North Division. Matthews leads the league this season with 38 goals.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Barring injury, Matthews will reach 42 goals in 52 games. That’s a big achievement in this pandemic-shortened season.

Connor McDavid had a goal and two assists and Leon Draisaitl collected four assists to douse the Calgary Flames 4-1. The Oilers (62 points) opened a five-point lead over the third-place Winnipeg Jets.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: McDavid now has 87 points with seven games remaining in the season. He still has a good shot at finishing with 100 points.

Montreal Canadiens rookie Cole Caufield’s first NHL goal came in overtime as his club overcame a 2-0 deficit to nip the Ottawa Senators 3-2. Jeff Petry and Tyler Toffoli each had a goal and an assist as the fourth-place Canadiens (55 points) moved within two points of the third-place Jets.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens now hold an eight-point lead over the Flames with both clubs having six games left.

An overtime goal by Dougie Hamilton lifted the Carolina Hurricanes to a 2-1 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Hurricanes goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic kicked out 31 shots and collected an assist on Hamilton’s goal. The Hurricanes sit atop the Discover Central Division with 75 points, two up on the second-place Florida Panthers.

Speaking of the Panthers, Anthony Duclair scored twice and picked up an assist in a 5-4 win over the Chicago Blackhawks. Aleksander Barkov had a goal and an assist and Sam Bennett collected two helpers. The Panthers sit two points up on the third-place Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Lightning, meanwhile, dropped a 1-0 decision to the Detroit Red Wings. Thomas Greiss made 33 saves for the shutout while Sam Gagner tallied the winner in a shootout. Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy was a healthy scratch as head coach Jon Cooper alluded to a plan for his starter down the stretch.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It sounds like Cooper intends to rest Vasilevskiy as much as possible over the remainder of the regular season in preparation for the upcoming playoffs.

An overtime goal by Erik Haula lifted the Nashville Predators over the Dallas Stars 1-0. Juuse Saros made 28 stops for the shutout as the Predators (58 points) opened a three-point lead over the Stars for the fourth and final playoff spot in the Central.

Anaheim Ducks goalie Ryan Miller made 23 saves in his final home game in a 6-2 victory over the Los Angeles Kings. Danton Heinen and Jacob Larsson each had a goal and two assists. Miller is retiring at the end of this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Kings lined up following the game to congratulate Miller while the Ducks honored the goaltender and his family with a center-ice ceremony.

The New Jersey Devils defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 4-1. Jack Hughes collected two assists and Mackenzie Blackwood made 31 saves for the Devils.

Carolina Hurricanes center Sebastian Aho, Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon, Boston Bruins winger Brad Marchand and Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews were named the NHL’s stars of the month for April 2021. Dallas Stars left wing Jason Robertson was named rookie of the month for April.

THE PROVINCE: The Vancouver Canucks placed Jake Virtanen on leave and are taking part in an independent investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct by the 24-year-old winger.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: People will rush to judgment on Virtanen but we don’t know all the facts. The accuser must be heard and have their claim fully investigated but Virtanen also has the right to defend himself. Remember, innocent until proven guilty.


  1. The Habs win and the Flames loss pretty much put the final nail in Calgary’s coffin … now Montreal is just 2 back of Winnipeg for 3rd.

    Entertaining game with ebbs and flows right from the opening whistle. Nice goal by Caulfield to win it in OT. I do have to say, though, that the cross-checking penalty to Zaitsev in the closing minutes of the 3rd with Ottawa up 2-1 was more in the nature of a phantom check – like Ali’s knockout punch of Liston.

    I’ve seen more violent love taps.

    • That Caulfield kid is intriguing. I’m excited to see what he can do at the NHL level.

    • George, what did you think of the call on Perry negating Suzuki’s goal? That’s not a baited trap, but curiosity about a Sens fan’s perspective.

      I did not like it, though on balance the real issue may have been Toffoli’s play to keep the puck in.

      • Shaun, that was one of those “judgement” calls that later called for the “unwritten” rule that decreed a penalty was coming against the Sens at a key point – all they needed was the faintest sniff of an infraction. And the Zaitsev “cross-check” was it.

        Even so, one lesson these young Senators still need to learn is, you don’t try to play the last 10 minutes of a game up by a goal with Katy-bar-the-door” hockey, and let the opposition come to you. Keep playing the game that got you the lead in the first place.

        And Gallagher nailed it later about refereeing “inconsistency.” It’s a bloody joke throughout the league.

      • George, IMO it was a case of a desperate team finding some late season character that accounted for the Habs’ win. And remember, your boys have had better success than most anticipated so give the Sens a pass. I have a quiet respect for them.

        Re the disallowed goal: with a video review there should be no damned inconsistency. When a defensive player is responsible for the offensive player making contact with the goalie then there should be no interference.

        Yes, we should protect goalies. But there was no penalty on Chaisson when he put Price out with a concussion.

        These two examples “favour” the Habs, but substitute Perry and Price for your team’s players (I am speaking to everyone, George) and see how you feel. Yes, inconsistency — and non calls for head shots – is a farce in the NHL.

  2. Congrats to MAF 👍👍

    One more win …. sole possession of 3rd all time

    Mathews 👍👍 …. you owe the little guy big for all those set ups…. better mention him in ur acceptance speech

    Great all around effort by Pens …. Gino and Turbo back very soon (hopefully Rodrigues injury very short…. meaning full healthy squad) 👍👍

    McD…. what can I say…. the kid just keeps on flying…. I hope he gets to 100

    His first five years’ 82 game paces….

    100, 108, 122, 124, 146…. WTF 👍👍👍👍👍👍👍👍

  3. Leafs are doing well
    Bruins are doing well

    All the rest doesn’t matter ..
    Hopefully the Bruins overtake the Islanders and don’t have to play Pittsburgh in the first round

    Rasmus Sandin came out of no where , can play tough playoff hockey , major talent ..
    Leafs overall have character and toughness, to exceed in the playoffs .

    Taylor Hall like I knew all along would make a difference ..
    Got to love the the Taylor Hall bashers

    • I’m happy and relieved to see Taylor rising back up! Hopefully, him and Krejci both sign sweetheart deals to stay with the Bruins.

    • Mcdavid is the best player in the league but ,I’ll tell you Matthews is the best natural goal scorer I’ve ever seen since Bossy and ovechkin. The leafs look strong they appear to have shored up their weaknesses. That second line of Bruins is looking lethal & Reilly continues to impress. Just wondering who will sit when Carlo comes back tomorrow night Lauzon has worked his way into a full time shift. And Swayman ,I predicted big things for Swayman and he hasn’t disappointed.

      • Yes, Rick – I remember your hype on Swayman , another guy who came out of no where , like Ken Dryden coming onto the scene away back when and leaving the Bruins in shock !
        Bruins should of had more cups back in the day ..
        Bernie Parent and the “goon” squad stoned them another year !!

      • Ken, you mean that 1971 series where, in the 2nd game, the Bruins racked up a 5-1 lead – and then blew it? Dryden had little to do with that Bruins loss.


        I recall that night when (I was a diehard Habs fan in those days) two of my buddies who were decidedly NOT Montreal fans, kept calling me as the Bruins added goal after goal. Then, when the comeback started in the 3rd neither would answer their phones. LOL. I let ’em have it the next morning.

      • Yeah, Matthews has the best release I have seen since Brett Hull. The man can shoot.

  4. McDavid and Draisaitl….best 1-2 punch since…??????

    Matthews – I’d think you were an amazing player if it weren’t for that damned jersey you wear. But seriously….your mustache looks ridiculous. Yes, I’m THAT petty. Ha!

    MacKinnon/McDavid – best since Gretz and Mario?

    Congrats to Flower.

    Congrats to Miller. Pure class by Anaheim and LA.

    Pretty pumped by my Beloved Wings play of late. Vrana for the Hart? I kid, I kid! But WOW did Stevie Y kill that trade!

    • George
      71, 78, 79 …
      I believe were the years Boston went up against Montreal
      71 , Dryden only had 5 or 6 games under his belt , was the Conn Smythe trophy winner
      It wasn’t the Stanley cup , quarter finals , I believe
      Finals , Dryden stold the show against Chicago !!

      Boston came back in 72
      Boston , St Louis series was a mismatch , 2 occasions ?

      • Yeah, those “finals” following the first few years of the original 1967 expansion were mis-matches. All 6 expansion teams were – with very few exceptions – made up primarily of the best they could pick from the AHL and the then WHL and for reasons of fan “appease” the winner of that division made it to the finals against the winner of the original 6 division. No contest.

        I remember that, most of those first few years, the 5th and 6th place non-playoff teams in the original grouping had more points than the 1st place team in the expansion division.

  5. Last 2 games against Isles show, just like last years 0-3 bubble appearance, how far they are from being a contender. Trouba being out shows how analytics aren’t everything. Missing that big body prescence on blue line. Smith is done. Strome IS Not a legit 2C. I fully expect them to go hard for Eichel. Buffalo hasn’t exactly been awful without him. They’ll be picking high again and adding Rangers top 16 pick along with other players/prospects will be a nice jump-start for their rebuild. Rangers have pieces to get it done and still have plenty left. Isles totally showed what a veteran team that is a serious contender looks like.

    • I’ll never understand the thinking that Strome is not a legit #2 center. He ranks #26 in the last 2 years in points. Ahead of Barzal, Crosby , Eichel, etc.

      Yet most consider a guy like Barzal a “stud” #1 center?

      He’s 5 points behind Pointe over that span, 1 point behind Tavares.
      Judging by the numbers, you could argue he’s better than most #1 centers in the NHL.

      NY has nothing in the pipeline remotely close to what Strome brings today. With and without Panarin.

      I think this is purely a case of don’t know what you got until it’s gone.

      Chytil may eventually be that guy, but he isn’t today. Howden is a flop. Even if NY we’re to pull off a trade for another center, more than likely it won’t be anywhere near a guy In the top #26th among forwards. Only a handful of centers are in front of him right now. And none of them are going anywhere soon.

      • You have to be careful when looking at the offensive numbers of the Rangers players. They dominate and pile up points against the Sabres, Devils and Flyers, many of them after the games have basically been decided. They’re not nearly as effective against the better teams in the division.

      • Howard,

        I guess you could same the same about most players this year. How many points have Mcdavid put up against the Sens alone?

        Mcdavid had put up 21 against Ottawa (about 25% of his totals)
        18 points against Calgary.

        While I’d agree this year is really difficult to grade because of the division alignment. It doesn’t erase what Strome is doing or has done over the last 2 years.

        If we’re going to erase Stromes accomplishments, let’s do the same across the board.

      • Captain Obvious,
        I’m not negating Strome’s play. He has been a solid player for the Rangers. I understand that all of the top teams feast on the weaker teams. But it seems to happen more with the Rangers than other teams. McDavid is pretty good against the good teams as well. With the Rangers, there’s quite a difference in their play against the top teams as opposed to Buffalo and NJ.

      • Hi CO

        No challenge here re Strome as a legit 2C… his numbers might challenge some 1Cs

        However, Re Strome and “He ranks #26 in the last 2 years in points. Ahead of Barzal, Crosby , Eichel, etc.”

        Not sure if you were referring to (18/19 & 19/20) or (19/20 & this year) for “in the last 2 years” …. Sid missed massive amounts of time with the sports hernia …. and Eichel has been out big this year….

        Strome 18/19; 19/20 and this year:

        33, 59, 46 points …. in 63; 70; 52 GP….. so that’s ether 92 points in 133 GP for 18/19 and 19/20 (.69 PPG) or 105 in 122 GP in 19/20 and this year (.86 PPG) for “in the last 2 years”

        Sid …..100; 47; 56 points …. in 79; 41; 51 GP…. that’s either 1.23 PPG or 1.20 PPG

        Eichel …82; 78; 18 pts in 77; 68; 21 GP…. that’s either 1.10 or 1.08 PPG

        Barzal’s works out to 0.81 or 0.85 PPG…. and he is on a Lou “win 1-0” mentality team

        Again no challenge re Strome as legit 2C and on some teams could perhaps vie for 1C (like ‘Yotes) …. but IMVHO …. Strome is quite a bit back from Handsome Jack, Barzal and Sid in terms of production

  6. As a Pens fan I don’t want Boston in the first round … especially if they play like they did last time in Pittsburgh … the B’s thumped the Pens all night with the body and the Pens had no answer …

    Cole Caulfield for the NHL Hall of Fame … just put him in now …

  7. Garry Galley is as hard to listen to as that Boston guy, homer isn’t a strong enough word.

    Habs had a goal called back based on reputation and not actual interference but hey that’s the new NHL, on any given day you can get any given call with the flip of the coin.

    I found it odd that kids on each team made some terrible gaffes that went unmentioned.

    Chabot scored a goal on account of disgraceful laziness on the part of Nick Suzuki who coasted on his backcheck, letting the trailer go.

    Caufield got a nice goal but what was Stutzle doing giving up on the obvious play and letting him dart by to the net?

    Two huge breakdowns that went unmentioned because…..?? kids that are the future of the team.

    On a different note, is it just me or does it feel that TSN employees are paid by the number of times they mention 5 G

    • Great comeback win by the Habs, but that call overturning Suzuki’s goal was completely bogus. Even worse than that call a couple of months ago that wiped out a last second game winning goal. Luckily, this didn’t cost them. But NHL and the refs still can’t figure out that goalie interference thing.

    • habfan30, Galley call no interference on the Suzuki goal right away. So perhaps not the homer you think?

      • LJ,

        He shocked me on that, even a broken clock gets it right twice a day. At least he didn’t say Suzuki was set up by Ryder this time 🙂

  8. anyone intrigued on how ESPN & TNT can showcase our stars, not only McDavid and Matthews, but especially Draisaitl, who many casual NHL fans may not even know about?

    McDavid and Draisaitl are the second coming of Gretzky and Messier, too bad the NHL (and the NBC) don’t know how to showcase them.
    Same with Matthews and our other stars

    • MikeP, great question.

      My initial thought is as much as TSN is everything about Toronto. ESPN is everything about USA, so with teams in Canada no one going to care about and the fact that some of today’s biggest stars play on Canadian teams it will be interesting to see how it can grow the game.

      Obviously I’m being hyperthetical but if you think of how Gretzky grew the game in the south, who is the big name player on any major US market today?

      Ovie chasing Gretzky record is intriguing but a long ways out. Cream of the crop right now is in Edmonton and Toronto, will ESPN care or will US fans care?

      • I’m curious, does espn block content to Canadian viewers like TSN blocks content to US viewers?

        I always find that extremely bizarre.

  9. Good call on the Virtanen situation, Lyle. So far, we don’t have much in the way of facts. Both sides deserve to be heard but he’s entitled to presumption of innocence at this point. You said it better than the US politicians and journalists have.