NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 4, 2022
Recaps of Thursday’s action, barriers emerging for Russian players, an update on Hall-of-Famer Guy Lafleur, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
NHL.COM: Evgeni Malkin had a goal and two assists to lead the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 5-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning, ending the latter’s five-game win streak. Tristan Jarry made 29 saves while Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel each had a goal and an assist. Lightning coach Jon Cooper was ejected from the game near the end of the second period for criticizing referee Wes McCauley. With 76 points, the Penguins move to within three points of the first-place Carolina Hurricanes in the Metropolitan Division while the Lightning (76 points) drop one point behind the first-place Florida Panthers in the Atlantic Division.
Speaking of the Panthers, they snapped a three-game losing skid by blanking the Ottawa Senators 3-0. Sergei Bobrovsky had an 18-save shutout while Mason Marchment, Patric Hornqvist and Ryan Lomberg were the goal scorers. Panthers star Jonathan Huberdeau was held scoreless to end his points streak at 10 games.
The Hurricanes, meanwhile, were shut out 4-0 by the Washington Capitals. Vitek Vanecek got the win by kicking out 36 shots while Alex Ovechkin scored his 763rd career goal to move within three of Jaromir Jagr on the all-time list. The Capitals hold the final Eastern Conference wild-card berth with 67 points.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Capitals forward Anthony Mantha returned to the lineup for the first time since suffering a shoulder injury on Nov. 4. The club created salary-cap space for his return by placing Carl Hagelin (eye) on long-term injury reserve and Joe Snively (upper body) on injured reserve.
Boston Bruins winger Craig Smith tallied a hat trick and David Pastrnak scored twice to down the Vegas Golden Knights 5-2. Bruins goalie Jeremy Swayman turned aside 34 shots for the win as his club sits three points up on the Capitals in the first Eastern wild-card berth. Jack Eichel netted his first goal with the Golden Knights, who’ve slid into the final Western Conference wild-card spot with 64 points.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The absence of sidelined captain Mark Stone has contributed to Vegas’ slide in the standings. Since his last game on Feb. 8, the Golden Knights have just two wins in their last eight games. Robin Lehner returned to the lineup for the first time since Feb. 9 but gave up four goals on 35 shots.
A 42-save performance by Arizona Coyotes netminder Karel Vejmelka carried his club to a 2-1 upset over the league-leading Colorado Avalanche. Nick Schmaltz broke a 1-1 tie in the third period. The Avs remain atop the overall standings with 84 points.
Speaking of upsets, the Montreal Canadiens nipped the Calgary Flames 5-4 on an overtime goal by Ben Chiarot, who finished the game with two goals as the Habs ended the Flames’ 11-game home winning streak. Mike Hoffman had a goal and three assists and Nick Suzuki had three points for the Canadiens. Andrew Mangiapane had a goal and two assists for the Flames, who remain in first place in the Pacific Division with 71 points. Montreal forward Jake Evans left the game with an upper-body injury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens remain competitive under interim coach Martin St. Louis. If this keeps up their improvement could hurt their odds of winning the 2022 NHL Draft Lottery but I don’t think the team cares about that. Their players look like they’re enjoying playing the game again.
In another upset, the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Edmonton Oiler 4-3 on an overtime goal by Alex DeBrincat. Patrick Kane had a goal and an assist for the Blackhawks, who honored former defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson with a pregame ceremony and a video tribute for Oilers blueliner Duncan Keith, who spent 16 seasons with the Blackhawks before being traded to Edmonton last summer. Evander Kane tallied twice for the Oilers (64 points), who moved into third place in the Pacific Division. Oilers defenseman Tyson Barrie left the game in the second period with an upper-body injury.
The Minnesota Wild snapped their four-game losing skid by downing the Philadelphia Flyers 5-4. Matt Boldy and Jonas Brodin scored 25 seconds apart in the third period as the Wild overcame a 4-3 deficit. Ryan Hartman scored twice while teammate Jared Spurgeon broke the club record for most games by a defenseman with 744. The Wild sit in third place in the Central Division with 67 points.
Third-period goals by Nils Hoglander and Vasily Podkolzin lifted the Vancouver Canucks to a 4-3 win over the New York Islanders. With 60 points, the Canucks are four points out of a wild-card spot in the Western Conference.
THE HOCKEY NEWS: Increasing international sanctions and bans imposed on Russia over its invasion of Ukraine could bring up barriers for its hockey players hoping to reach the NHL or other elite leagues.
SPORTSNET: Guy Lafleur’s family issued a statement yesterday thanking fans for their support as the Hall-of-Famer battles lung cancer.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hope you get well soon, Flower!
NBC SPORTS: The Carolina Hurricanes will host the Washington Capitals in the 2023 Stadium Series at Carter-Finley Stadium in Raleigh, NC on Feb. 18, 2023.
SAN JOSE HOCKEY NOW: Sharks goaltender James Reimer is sidelined week-to-week with a lower-body injury.
NEW YORK POST: Rangers center Kevin Rooney will be out for at least a week with an upper-body injury.