NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 14, 2023
The Golden Knights and Hurricanes clinch division titles as six first-round playoff series matchups are confirmed, Mikko Rantanen and Brayden Point reach goal-scoring milestones, and much more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
NHL.COM: The Vegas Golden Knights finished first overall in the Western Conference and clinched the Pacific Division crown after beating the Seattle Kraken 3-1. Vegas will face off against the Winnipeg Jets in the first round of the 2023 Stanley Cup playoffs starting on Tuesday, April 18. The Kraken, meanwhile, will face the Colorado Avalanche or Dallas Stars depending on the outcome of Friday’s game between the Avalanche and Nashville Predators.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Kraken will be playing without winger Andre Burakovsky for at the first two rounds of the playoffs if they make it that far. He underwent surgery on Tuesday for a lower-body injury that has sidelined him since Feb. 7.
As for the Avalanche, Mikko Rantanen scored to set the club’s single-season record of 55 goals as they doubled up Winnipeg 4-2. They also announced that captain Gabriel Landeskog will miss the entirety of the 2023 playoffs with a knee injury. Meanwhile, Jets winger Nikolaj Ehlers missed this game with an upper-body injury. He’s not in concussion protocol and will be reevaluated on Friday.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rantanen set the Avalanche single-season record. Michel Goulet still holds the overall franchise record (57) dating back to the club’s days as the Quebec Nordiques. Landeskog, meanwhile, has been sidelined all season by that knee injury, which could also keep him out of the start of next season.
The Carolina Hurricanes clinched the Metropolitan Division title with a 6-4 victory over the Florida Panthers. Brent Burns scored twice for the Hurricanes, who will meet the New York Islanders in their opening-round series starting Monday, April 17. The Panthers will square off against the Boston Bruins starting Monday.
Speaking of the Bruins, they finished their Presidents’ Trophy-winning season with a record-setting 65 wins and 135 points after defeating the Montreal Canadiens 5-4. Boston captain Patrice Bergeron left the game for precautionary reasons with an upper-body injury but is expected to be good to go when the playoffs open on Monday. Bruins goaltenders Linus Ullmark and Jeremy Swayman won the William M. Jennings Trophy for the fewest goals against (177) this season.
For the first time since 2012, there will be a Battle of the Hudson River as the New Jersey Devils and New York Rangers will face each other in the first round starting on Tuesday. The Devils clinched second overall in the Metropolitan Division by nipping the Washington Capitals 5-4 while the Rangers fell 3-2 to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Luke Hughes got the win for the Devils with his first career NHL goal while Leafs forward William Nylander reached the 40-goal plateau for the first time.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Leafs meet the Tampa Bay Lightning in a rematch of last season’s opening-round series commencing Tuesday. For the fourth straight game, the Leafs went the amateur tryout route for a backup goaltender as Matt Murray and Ilya Samsonov remain sidelined. Former UNB goalie Samuel Richard backed up Joseph Woll for this contest. Samsonov is expected to be the Leafs starter on Tuesday.
Speaking of the Lightning, Brayden Point scored twice to reach the 50-goal plateau for the first time (51) while Brian Elliott made 32 saves to shut out the Detroit Red Wings 5-0.
For the second straight year, the Edmonton Oilers and Los Angeles Kings face each other in an opening-round series. The Oilers clinched second place in the Pacific Division with a 5-2 victory over the San Jose Sharks while the Kings got a hat trick from Adrian Kempe to finish third in the division after downing the Anaheim Ducks 5-3. Oilers captain Connor McDavid collected an assist to finish the season with 64 goals and 153 points, winning his first Richard Trophy as the season’s leading goal scorer and his fifth Art Ross Trophy as the leading scorer in points.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Only Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux and Steve Yzerman have collected more points in a single season than McDavid. Speaking of the Ducks, they finished last in the overall standings, giving them the best odds of winning the 2023 NHL Draft Lottery on May 8.
The Dallas Stars shut out the St. Louis Blues 1-0. Jake Oettinger kicked out 25 shots while Wyatt Johnston scored the only goal for the Stars, who will face the Minnesota Wild or the Kraken in the opening round next week. The Wild, meanwhile, dropped a 4-3 overtime decision to the Nashville Predators. Frederick Gaudreau tallied twice for the Wild, who announced before the game that they re-signed him to a five-year, $10.5 million contract extension.
An overtime goal by Ivan Provorov lifted the Philadelphia Flyers to a 5-4 win over the Chicago Blackhawks. Travis Konecny scored twice and added two assists while Jonathan Toews scored in his last game with the Blackhawks as they announced yesterday that he will not be re-signing with them.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s the end of an era for the Blackhawks. Following the game, Toews thanked the franchise, its fans and the city of Chicago, receiving a long, heartfelt ovation from the hometown crowd. Meanwhile, Flyers defenseman Justin Braun said this game was likely his last as a player after 13 seasons.
Arizona Coyotes forward Clayton Keller collected an assist to tie Keith Tkachuk’s franchise single-season record of 86 points in a 5-4 loss to the Vancouver Canucks. Conor Garland had a hat trick for the Canucks, including the winning goal.
Buffalo Sabres goaltender Craig Anderson announced his retirement after winning his final start by beating the Ottawa Senators 4-3 on an overtime goal by Casey Mittelstadt. The 41-year-old Anderson’s career lasted 20 seasons, including nine with the Senators as their franchise leader with 435 games played and 202 wins.
The Pittsburgh Penguins’ season ended with a 3-2 overtime loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets. Johnny Gaudreau netted the winning goal while Penguins captain Sidney Crosby collected two assists to finish the season with 93 points.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Penguins goaltender Tristan Jarry revealed he’d been hampered by an injury throughout the season. That’s raising questions among the Pittsburgh media over why management didn’t attempt to acquire a healthy goaltender before the trade deadline.