NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 29, 2023

by | Mar 29, 2023 | News, NHL | 16 comments

A five-point performance for the Oilers’ Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, the Flames and Predators gain ground for the final Western Conference wild-card berth, Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews weighs in on his future, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

NHL.COM: A five-point performance by Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (one goal, four assists) powered the Edmonton Oilers to a 7-4 romp over the Vegas Golden Knights. Connor McDavid collected three assists while Leon Draisaitl had two points for the 43-23-9 Oilers (95 points) as they moved to within one point of the second-place Los Angeles Kings in the Pacific Division. Jonathan Marchessault tallied twice for the Golden Knights (46-22-6) as they hold first place in the Pacific with 98 points.

Edmonton Oilers center Ryan Nugent-Hopkins (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nugent-Hopkins is enjoying a career-best 96-point performance this season. He’s four points away from joining McDavid and Draisaitl in the 100-point club, which would be the first time an NHL team had at least three 100-point players in a season since the 1995-96 Pittsburgh Penguins.

Speaking of the Kings, their 12-game points streak ended with a 2-1 loss to the Calgary Flames. Jacob Markstrom made 33 saves while Andrew Mangiapane and Walker Duehr scored for the 34-26-15 Flames (83 points) as they moved within two points of the Winnipeg Jets for the final Western Conference wild-card berth. Sean Durzi replied for the Kings (43-21-10) as they remain two points back of the Golden Knights with 96 points.

The Nashville Predators also kept pace in the race for the final Western wild-card spot by nipping the Boston Bruins 2-1, preventing the latter from clinching the Presidents’ Trophy for 2022-23. Juuse Saros kicked out 35 shots while Cody Glass and Cole Smith tallied for the Predators (37-28-6) as they sit one point behind the Flames. David Pastrnak tallied his 52nd goal of the season for the 57-12-5 Bruins, who sit atop the overall standings with 119 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Predators and Bruins wore Covenant School stickers on their helmets in support of the Nashville school that was attacked by a shooter on Monday.

Sidelined Bruins winger Taylor Hall is reportedly close to returning to the lineup. That could create a salary-cap headache for the Bruins as they lack the cap space to add him to the lineup.

Speaking of the Jets, they were blanked 3-0 by the San Jose Sharks. James Reimer picked up the shutout with a 41-save effort while Noah Gregor, Kevin Labanc and Martin Kaut scored for the 20-39-15 Sharks. Connor Hellebuyck stopped 27 shots for the Jets as they slipped to 41-31-3 and cling to that final Western wild-card berth with 85 points.

Tampa Bay Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 31 shots to blank the Carolina Hurricanes 4-0. Brayden Point scored two goals and collected an assist while Steven Stamkos had a goal and two helpers for the Lightning, who improved to 43-26-6 and hold third place in the Atlantic Division with 92 points. The Hurricanes (47-17-9) remain in first place in the Metropolitan Division with 103 points.

The New York Rangers picked up their ninth win in their last 11 games with a 6-2 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Patrick Kane and Vladimir Tarasenko each scored for the 44-20-10 Rangers (98 points) as they sit two points back of the second-place New Jersey Devils in the Metro Division. Johnny Gaudreau had a goal and an assist for the 23-43-7 Blue Jackets.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Speaking of Tarasenko, the Rangers clinching a playoff berth on Monday means the 2024 fourth-round pick they sent to the St. Louis Blues as part of the return for the winger upgrades to a third-rounder in 2024.

Turning to the Eastern Conference wild-card race, the Pittsburgh Penguins failed to widen their lead for the final spot by falling 7-4 to the Detroit Red Wings. David Perron tallied a hat trick while Dylan Larkin had a goal and two assists for the 32-32-9 Red Wings. Evgeni Malkin and Rickard Rakell each collected two assists as the Penguins (36-28-10) had dropped six of their last eight games as they cling to that wild card berth with 82 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Red Wings coach Derek Lalonde was ejected from this game in the second period for arguing with an on-ice official after the Penguins tied the game 3-3 on a controversial power-play goal by Jeff Carter, who Lalonde believed interfered with goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic.

Before the game, the Penguins assigned defenseman Taylor Fedun to their AHL affiliate to make room for Jeff Petry, who returned to action after being sidelined for five games with an upper-body injury.

Dallas Stars netminder Jake Oettinger made 17 saves to backstop his club over the Chicago Blackhawks 4-1. Joe Pavelski netted his 22nd goal of the season as the Stars (40-20-14) are tied with the Colorado Avalanche with 94 points, though the latter holds second place in the Central Division with a game in hand and four more wins. The Blackhawks fell to 24-44-6 on the season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews has resumed practicing with his teammates after recovering from the effects of long COVID and chronic immune response syndrome that sidelined him since Jan. 28. He’s hoping to return to action at some point before the end of the season.

Toews acknowledged those could be his final games with the Blackhawks as he faces an uncertain future. The 34-year-old center is an unrestricted free agent this summer but he acknowledged his illness could prevent him from continuing his playing career.

The St. Louis Blues blew a 5-2 lead to the Vancouver Canucks before winning the game 6-5 on an overtime goal by Jakub Vrana, who finished the game with two goals for the Blues. Quinn Hughes and Andrei Kuzmenko each tallied twice and Brock Boeser collected three points for the Canucks. Both clubs have records of 34-34-6.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: After struggling the last two seasons with the Red Wings, Vrana appears reborn in St. Louis. He has eight goals and 10 points in 12 games with the Blues since joining them via trade at the March 3 deadline.

Philadelphia Flyers forward Morgan Frost scored two goals as his club held off the Montreal Canadiens 3-2. Felix Sandstrom stopped 32 shots for the 29-32-12 Flyers, who eliminated the 30-39-6 Canadiens from playoff contention.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Canadiens forward Kirby Dach missed this game with an upper-body injury while a lower-body injury sidelined Flyers goalie Carter Hart. Both are believed to be day-to-day.


  1. When and if Hall is ready to return. Bruins can simply put Forbert on LTIR. Till playoffs as he will not be ready till at least then with his broken foot
    This story is media driven trying to say it is another Kucherov type hold out

    • Yeah Dreger made a dumb implication there. Boston could easily fit Hall with Foligno and Forbort. I’m also certain that Montgomery would like to see the line of Coyle/Hall/Bertuzzi get some game action ahead of the playoffs. Boston has to reason to keep a healthy Hall out of the lineup.

  2. That 7-4 loss by Pittsburgh to Detroit (deSmith 6 goals on 24 shots) sets up a wild finish for the final Eastern WC spot, with 4 teams breathing down the Penguins’ neck.

    Washington, 6 points back, has thew toughest row to hoe as they have to climb over 4 teams to get there, and with that damned 3-point game sure to raise its head a few times down the stretch, it’s safe to say they likely won’t make it.

    Buffalo and Ottawa are both 5 points back, but Buffalo has a game in hand, so while Ottawa would need to get past 3 teams, Buffalo only needs to leap-frog 2.

    So, if any team is going to catch Pittsburgh, it’ll be Florida,m who are now 3 points back with both having 8 games left.

    The Islanders won’t be caught for the first WC slot.

    • George

      You are probably correct in your thinking But end of day they will both get eliminated in the 1st rd 👀

    • The last time I watched a Pens game, they dominated the Avs in Denver. But that team did not show up yesterday in Detroit. Maybe they felt that the same effort wouldn’t be needed against a slumping depleted Wings team. And despite my dislike of the Penguins from their Cup finals days against the Wings in 2008/2009, I actually want their old guard to get one last grab at the brass ring. When at their best, they can give Boston a run for their money.

      • If it was a best of three series I’d feel like the pens had a chance cause they might be able to turn it on for a few games. But best of seven they have essentially close to zero chance

      • The Pens have been pretty inconsistent all year. I don’t see any team in the east , or west for that matter beating Boston barring a major injury or two.

        Pittsburgh? I don’t see that happening. I wouldn’t go placing any wager on a team that’s struggling to keep a wc spot beating Boston.

      • Duh.

  3. San Jose last win since beating Winnipeg 3-0 last night was 10 games ago against Winnipeg 3-2 OT

    Who would’ve thought that going into the night where Nashville is playing in Boston and Calgary playing LA, that both teams would pick up points against the jets.

    • Everyone who’ve been following the Jets expected this, they’ve been complete garbage for 10+ weeks.

  4. Re; The Nuge
    He is enjoying a career-best 96-point YTD,.👌

    Nuge is the 2nd most popular Oilers in Edmonton after McDavid, Every body love The Nuge
    and he still looked like he is 18 year old…!!

    • Plus his contract looks like a steal Willie.
      This year anyway.

      • No Ray ……
        A Steel for the NEXT 8 Yrs We have NUGE👌✔️✔️

        I Just wish they had Got Nurse in the $7.M range and Not $9.25M we are paying him….😳

    • I hate the Oilers, but I love The Nuge.

  5. what kind of chance does marchenko from blue jackets have of winning rookie of the year this year and where does everybody think he will finish in the voting

    • 0% chance and somewhere between 12 and 20.
      Nice player, but his stats look morelike a Cy Young winner than a Calder winner.