NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 5, 2023
Lightning stars benched in loss to Sabres, the league-leading Bruins pick up their 10th straight win by downing the Rangers, and much more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
NHL.COM: Buffalo Sabres forwards Tage Thompson and Jeff Skinner each had a goal and an assist in a 5-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning. Eric Comrie made 33 saves as the Sabres (32-25-4) sit within three points of the Pittsburgh Penguins for the final Eastern Conference wild-card berth with 68 points. Alex Killorn scored two goals for the Lightning (37-20-5) as they dropped their fourth straight game and sit third in the Atlantic Division with 79 points.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lightning head coach Jon Cooper wasn’t pleased with his club’s performance. He benched his top line of Steven Stamkos, Nikita Kucherov and Brayden Point for the entire third period. “It just felt, in the third period, that they weren’t giving us the best chance to win,” said Cooper. Lightning defenseman Erik Cernak missed this game with a lower-body injury and is listed as day-to-day.
The New York Islanders got two goals from captain Anders Lee to defeat the Detroit Red Wings 4-1, handing the latter their fifth straight loss. The Islanders improved to 32-25-8 and vaulted over the Penguins into the first Eastern wild-card berth with 72 points. Dylan Larkin replied for the Red Wings as they fell to 28-25-9 (65 points).
Speaking of the Penguins, their four-game win streak came to an end as they dropped a 4-1 decision to the Florida Panthers. Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 31 shots while Carter Verhaeghe had a goal and an assist for the 31-27-6 Panthers (68 points) as they sit three points back of the 31-22-9 Penguins (71 points). Kris Letang scored Pittsburgh’s only goal while Casey DeSmith made 38 saves.
The league-leading Boston Bruins picked up their 10th straight victory by doubling up the New York Rangers 4-2. Tyler Bertuzzi collected an assist in his Bruins debut while Charlie Coyle had a goal and an assist as their club improved to 49-8-5 and sit atop the overall standings with 103 points. Alexis Lafreniere scored both goals for the Rangers (35-19-9), who’ve dropped six of their last eight and sit third in the Metropolitan Division with 79 points.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The much-anticipated reunion of Patrick Kane and Artemi Panarin has yet to pan out for the Rangers. In fairness, it’s only been two games and Kane is still adjusting to his new teammates after 16 seasons in Chicago. The Rangers were also short two defensemen with K’Andre Miller serving a suspension and Ryan Lindgren sidelined by an injury.
Dallas Stars winger Jason Robertson scored twice and collected an assist as his club snowed under the Colorado Avalanche by a score of 7-3. Roope Hintz collected two assists as the Stars (34-16-13) hold a one-point lead over the Vegas Golden Knights for first place in the Western Conference with 81 points. The Avalanche dropped to 34-21-5 and hold the final Western wild-card spot with 73 points.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cale Makar returned to the Avalanche lineup after being activated off concussion protocol. Meanwhile, Avs defenseman Josh Manson remains sidelined by a lower-body injury.
The Washington Capitals kept their playoff hopes alive with an 8-3 drubbing of the San Jose Sharks. Alex Ovechkin scored two goals and picked up an assist, Dylan Strome had a goal and two assists and Craig Smith tallied twice for the 31-27-6 Capitals, who sit three points back of the Penguins with 68 points. Erik Karlsson collected two assists for the 18-33-12 Sharks.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sharks head coach David Quinn was ejected from this game after voicing his displeasure after winger Kevin Labanc was penalized for clipping. Quinn was apologetic following the game, admitting he was embarrassed by his actions.
Winnipeg Jets defenseman Josh Morrissey tallied twice and collected an assist as his club held off the Edmonton Oilers 7-5. Mark Scheifele had a goal and an assist as the Jets snapped a five-game losing skid (36-25-2) and move back into third place in the Central Division with 74 points. Leon Draisaitl collected a hat trick for the Oilers (34-22-8) as they hold the first Western wild-card berth with 76 points.
Two shorthanded goals by Elias Pettersson and J.T. Miller 44 seconds apart carried the Vancouver Canucks to a 4-1 upset of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Thatcher Demko kicked out 36 shots for the 25-32-5 Canucks. John Tavares scored for the 38-17-8 Leafs as they hold second place in the Atlantic Division with 84 points.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Leafs center Ryan O’Reilly left this game in the second period after being struck in the hand by a shot by teammate Auston Matthews. An update on his condition isn’t expected until Monday.
The Los Angeles Kings defeated the St. Louis Blues 4-2. Kevin Fiala had a goal and an assist and Gabriel Vilardi scored the game-winner for the 36-20-8 Kings as they sit in second place in the Pacific Division with 80 points. Robert Thomas and Kasperi Kapanen scored for the Blues as they dropped to 27-30-5.
Minnesota Wild goaltender Filip Gustavsson kicked out 31 shots to shut out the Calgary Flames 3-0. Joel Eriksson Ek and Matt Boldy each had a goal and an assist as the Wild improved to 36-21-6 and hold second place in the Central Division with 78 points. The Flames (27-23-13) have dropped five straight and six points behind the Avalanche for the final Western wild-card spot with 67 points.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flames were booed off the ice by the Saddledome crowd following the game. Their window of opportunity to secure a playoff berth is just about shut unless they can somehow reverse their fortunes soon.
The Ottawa Senators remain in the Eastern Conference playoff race following a 5-2 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Jakob Chychrun collected his first points with the Senators with a goal and an assist while Tim Stutzle scored two goals, including his 30th of the season. The Sens improved to 32-26-4 and are three points back of the Penguins with 68 points. Patrik Laine and Jack Roslovic scored for the 20-37-6 Blue Jackets.
The Nashville Predators kept their playoff hopes alive by downing the Chicago Blackhawks 3-1. Tyson Barrie’s first goal with the Predators was the game-winner as they improved to 31-23-6 and sit five points back of the Avalanche with 68 points. Seth Jones replied for the 21-36-5 Blackhawks.