NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 7, 2023
NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 7, 2023
The Kraken clinch their first-ever playoff berth, the Panthers maintain their hold on a wild-card spot while eliminating the Senators, the Avalanche’s Mikko Rantanen reaches the 50-goal plateau, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
NHL.COM: In just their second season of existence, the Seattle Kraken are headed to the playoffs after doubling up the Arizona Coyotes 4-2. Jordan Eberle and Jared McCann each had a goal and two assists while Philipp Grubauer made 27 saves for the 44-26-8 Kraken, who hold the first wild-card berth in the Western Conference with 96 points. Barrett Hayton and Laurent Dauphin replied for the Coyotes.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s the first time Seattle will have a team in the Stanley Cup playoffs since the 1919-20 Metropolitans lost the Cup Final to the Ottawa Senators. The Kraken join the Colorado Avalanche, Dallas Stars, Minnesota Wild, Vegas Golden Knights, Edmonton Oilers and Los Angeles Kings among the Western Conference clubs that have punched their tickets to the 2023 postseason.
A 56-save effort by Alex Lyon and a four-point night (one goal, three assists) by Brandon Montour powered the Florida Panthers to a 7-2 victory over the Ottawa Senators, eliminating the latter from playoff contention. Aleksander Barkov scored twice and collected an assist for the 41-31-7 Panthers (89 points), who maintain their hold on the first Eastern Conference wild-card spot. Claude Giroux and Ridley Greig replied for the 37-35-7 Senators.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Senators coach D.J. Smith was ejected from the game for arguing with officials in the final minutes in a physical third period that resulted in six roughing penalties and three misconducts.
Colorado Avalanche winger Mikko Rantanen tallied a hat trick to reach 50 goals for the first time in a 6-2 trouncing of the San Jose Sharks. Nathan MacKinnon had a goal and three assists for the Avalanche (47-24-6), who move into first place in the Central Division with 100 points. Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson had a goal and an assist to move within two points of 100 on the season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar missed his second straight game with a lower-body injury. Head coach Jared Bednar had no timetable for Makar’s return.
The New York Islanders kept pace with the Panthers by dumping the Tampa Bay Lightning 6-1. Brock Nelson had a goal and two assists and Ilya Sorokin stopped 30 shots for the 40-30-9 Islanders, who hold the final Eastern wild-card berth with 89 points. Steven Stamkos played his 1,000th career NHL game and Nikita Kucherov scored for the Lightning, who hold third place in the Atlantic Division with 96 points.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Isles played without defenseman Alexander Romanov, who’s been sidelined since Sunday with an upper-body injury. They have the same number of points as the Panthers with each club having three games remaining in their schedules. However, the Panthers hold the advantage with 41 wins. The Lightning, Boston Bruins, Toronto Maple Leafs, Carolina Hurricanes, New Jersey Devils and New York Rangers have clinched the top six playoff spots in the Eastern Conference.
Speaking of the Lightning, winger Alex Killorn was fined $5,000.00 for slashing Rangers goalie Igor Shesterkin on Wednesday. Teammates Tanner Jeannot and Pat Maroon both left this game with injuries. Head coach Jon Cooper called Jeannot’s leg injury “worrisome”.
Meanwhile, the Pittsburgh Penguins kept up with the Panthers and Islanders with a 4-1 victory over the Minnesota Wild. Kris Letang and Rickard Rakell each had a goal and an assist while Tristan Jarry made 27 saves for the Penguins (39-30-10) as they sit one point out of that final Eastern wild-card spot with 88 points. Marcus Johansson replied for the Wild, who sit third in the Central Division with 98 points.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Before the game, the NHL department of player safety fined Penguins defenseman Mark Friedman $2,000.00 for embellishment during an April 2 game against the Philadelphia Flyers. The Wild, meanwhile, lost Joel Eriksson Ek and Oskar Sundqvist to lower-body injuries.
The Buffalo Sabres kept their thin playoff hopes live by beating the Detroit Red Wings 7-6 on shootout goals by Jack Quinn and Alex Tuch. Dylan Cozens had two goals and an assist while Tage Thompson tallied his 45th goal of the season for the 38-32-7 Sabres (83 points) as they sit six points behind the Panthers and Islanders with two games in hand. Lucas Raymond collected three assists and Dylan Larkin netted his team-leading 32nd goal of the season for the Red Wings (35-33-10) as they were officially eliminated from playoff contention.
New Jersey Devils forward Jack Hughes had two goals and two assists in an 8-1 drubbing of the Columbus Blue Jackets. Timo Meier had two goals and an assist and Jack Marino collected three assists as the Devils reached the 50-win plateau (50-21-8) for the second time in franchise history as they sit one point back of the Metropolitan Division-leading Carolina Hurricanes with 108 points. Joona Luoto replied for the Blue Jackets, who lost winger Johnny Gaudreau as he left the game due to illness.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hughes now has 95 points and sits one back of Patrik Elias for the Devils’ single-season record.
Speaking of the Hurricanes, they were blanked 3-0 by the Nashville Predators. Juuse Saros kicked out 33 shots for the shutout while Mark Jankowski, Michael McCarron and Dante Fabbro scored for the 40-30-8 Predators (88 points), who moved within one point of the idle Winnipeg Jets and Calgary Flames for the final Western wild-card spot.
The league-leading Boston Bruins moved one step closer to tying the single-season wins record (62) by nipping the Toronto Maple Leafs 2-1 on an overtime goal by David Pastrnak. Charlie Coyle scored the game-tying goal for the 61-12-5 Bruins (127 points). Sam Lafferty scored for the Leafs, who sit second in the Atlantic Division (103 points) and clinched home-ice advantage in their opening-round series with the Lightning.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bruins defenseman Charlie McAvoy left this game midway through the second period with an upper-body injury for precautionary reasons. Pastrnak, meanwhile, is just three goals away from 60 on the season.
Dallas Stars winger Joe Pavelski had a goal and two assists to lead his club to a 4-1 win over the Philadelphia Flyers. Pavelski now sits one point away from 1,000 for his career. Jason Robertson scored twice for the Stars as they netted their 100th point of the season to sit second in the Central Division. Kevin Hayes replied for the Flyers while goalie Carter Hart returned to the net after missing five games with a lower-body injury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Stars are tied in points with the Avalanche but the latter holds first place in the Central with a game in hand and four more wins.
A four-goal first period carried the Vegas Golden Knights to a 5-2 victory over the Los Angeles Kings. Chandler Stephenson had a goal and two assists and Phil Kessel collected two points for the Golden Knights, who sit in first place in the Pacific Division with 106 points. Anze Kopitar and Vladislav Gavrikov replied for the Kings, who sit third in the Pacific with 100 points.
An overtime goal by Kasperi Kapanen lifted the St. Louis Blues to a 3-2 upset of the New York Rangers. Jordan Binnington made 22 saves for the win. New York winger Vladimir Tarasenko had a goal and an assist against his former team. The Rangers sit third in the Metro with 104 points.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Before the game, the department of player safety fined Rangers defenseman Adam Fox $5,000.00 for slashing Lightning winger Corey Perry on Wednesday.
The Montreal Canadiens snapped a four-game losing skid by beating the Washington Capitals 6-2. Joel Armia tallied a hat trick and Mike Matheson had three assists for the Canadiens. Dylan Strome had a goal and an assist for the Capitals, who were officially eliminated on Tuesday from playoff contention. Capitals forward Anthony Mantha missed this game with a lower-body injury.
Vancouver Canucks goaltender Thatcher Demko made 33 saves to shut out the Chicago Blackhawks 3-0. Andrei Kuzemenko scored his 38th goal of the season and J.T. Miller netted his 30th for the Canucks. Alex Stalock made 26 saves for the Blackhawks.