NHL Up and Down the Boards – Blue Jackets, Hurricanes Benefiting from Shutdown
A milestone game for Nicklas Backstrom, another big night for Jonathan Huberdeau and Noel Acciari, plus updates on Jack Eichel, Jason Zucker, Darcy Kuemper, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Washington Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom reached 900 points with two goals and two assists in a 6-3 win over the New Jersey Devils. He and Alex Ovechkin were playing in their 900th game together. Ovechkin scored and set up another. Devils defenseman Andy Greene played in his 900th career NHL contest.
A five-goal second period powered the Florida Panthers over the Dallas Stars 7-4. For the second straight game, Panthers winger Jonathan Huberdeau collected four points (one goal, three assists) while teammate Noel Acciari tallied his second straight hat trick. Tyler Seguin scored twice for the Stars while teammate Joe Pavelski played his 1,000th career NHL game. Stars winger Alexander Radulov missed the game with a lower-body injury.
Mitch Marner and William Nylander each scored twice as the Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the New York Rangers 6-3. Auston Matthews collected two assists for the Leafs.
Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Tristan Jarry made 26 saves in a 5-2 win over the Edmonton Oilers. Zach Aston-Reese and Marcus Pettersson each picked up two assists for the Penguins. Oilers stars Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl were held scoreless. Edmonton has won only three of their last 12 games.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers (42 points) have slipped to third place in the Pacific Division. They’re one point ahead of the Calgary Flames, who hold the final Western Conference wild-card berth.
WGR 550: Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel returned to practice yesterday but is listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury. It’s uncertain if he’ll be in the lineup for today’s game against the Los Angeles Kings. Center Johan Larsson (upper body) is expected to miss the next two games.
TWINCITIES.COM: Minnesota Wild winger Jason Zucker will miss the next four-to-six weeks following surgery to repair a fractured right fibula.
ARIZONA SPORTS: Coyotes goaltender Darcy Kuemper is listed as week-to-week with a lower-body injury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Coyotes will turn to Antti Raanta with Adin Hill as his backup.
The Ottawa Senators placed goaltender Anders Nilsson on injured reserve after he suffered a concussion. Veteran goalie Craig Anderson has returned from injury and is ready to go. The Senators also announced defenseman Ron Hainsey will miss a week to 10 days with a lower-body injury.
Patrick Kane has a four-point performance, Jack Eichel’s points streak comes to an end, the holiday roster freeze is now in effect, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane scored a goal and set up three others in a 4-1 victory over the Winnipeg Jets. Blackhawks winger Brandon Saad left the game with an injured right ankle. Earlier in the day, the Hawks revealed defenseman Brent Seabrook remained in Chicago for medical evaluation. Meanwhile, the Jets reclaimed goaltender Eric Comrie off waivers from the Detroit Red Wings.
James van Riemsdyk scored twice and Travis Konecny collected three assists as the Philadelphia Flyers thumped the Buffalo Sabres 6-1. The Sabres played without captain Jack Eichel, who was scratched following an upper-body injury believed suffered during pre-game warmups. His 17-game points streak has come to an end.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Eichel’s absence highlights his value to the Sabres. He’s put this club on his back this season, determined not to miss the playoffs again. If he’s out for a lengthy period, it could spell doom to their postseason hopes.
Mathew Barzal scored in regulation and the game-winner in a shootout as the New York Islanders edged the Boston Bruins 3-2. Islanders winger Cal Clutterbuck left the game to get stitches on his wrist after getting cut by a skate blade. Earlier in the day, the Isles activated Tom Kuhnhackl from injured reserve. The Bruins are 1-4-3 in their last eight games.
Ottawa Senators winger Anthony Duclair’s 20th goal of the season was also the overtime winner as his club beat the Nashville Predators 5-4. Senators center Jean-Gabriel Pageau collected three assists. The Predators overcame a 4-1 deficit to force the extra frame.
Minnesota Wild forwards Eric Staal, Mats Zuccarello and Marcus Foligno each had a goal and two assists in an 8-5 win over the Arizona Coyotes. Wild defenseman Jared Spurgeon returned to the lineup for the first time since Dec. 3. Jakob Chychrun scored twice and Nick Schmaltz picked up three assists for the Coyotes, who lost goalie Darcy Kuemper to an injured right leg.
Chris Tanev’s overtime goal gave the Vancouver Canucks a 5-4 win over the Vegas Golden Knights. The Canucks had blown 2-0, 3-1, and 4-3 leads before Tanev’s heroics in the extra frame. Elias Pettersson scored twice for the Canucks, who scratched Brandon Sutter and Loui Eriksson from this contest.
Three unanswered goals late in the third period lifted the Carolina Hurricanes over the Colorado Avalanche 3-1. Andrei Svechnikov, Jaccob Slavin and Sebastian Aho were the goal scorers. Earlier in the day, Avalanche defenseman Samuel Girard was fined over $1,900.00 for boarding Blackhawks winger Alex DeBrincat on Wednesday.
The Montreal Canadiens overcame a 2-0 deficit to down the Calgary Flames 4-3 on an overtime goal by Max Domi. It was the Habs’ sixth win in their last eight contests. Johnny Gaudreau, Matthew Tkachuk, and Elias Lindholm each had two points for the Flames.
The Dallas Stars overcame a 3-1 deficit to defeat the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-3. Tyler Seguin had two points, including the game-winning goal, while teammates Alexander Radulov and John Klingberg also picked up two points.
The Columbus Blue Jackets nipped the Los Angeles Kings 3-2 on an overtime goal by Pierre-Luc Dubois. Jackets winger Cam Atkinson left the game with a lower-body injury. Earlier in the day, they placed defenseman Andrew Peeke (broken finger) on injured reserve.
IN OTHER NEWS…
The NHL holiday trade freeze is now in effect until 12:01 am ET on Saturday, Dec. 28.
TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman Justin Schultz is listed as week-to-week with an undisclosed injury.
THE MERCURY NEWS: San Jose Sharks winger Kevin Labanc could miss the club’s weekend games with an upper-body injury. They also claimed forward Stefan Noesen off waivers yesterday from the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Long-time hockey reporter Kevin Allen’s 34-year tenure with USA Today has come to an end.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Allen’s one of the best hockey scribes in the business. Here’s hoping he’s not out of the game for long.
Game recaps, the league is introducing measures to address abusive behavior, the three stars of the week, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Sean Monahan’s overtime goal lifted the Calgary Flames to a 5-4 victory over the Colorado Avalanche. The Avalanche overcame a 4-2 deficit to force the extra frame. The Flames are 6-0-1 in their last seven games, and 5-0-0 under new coach Geoff Ward. The Avalanche’s winning streak ended at six games. Colorado defenseman Cale Makar missed the game with an upper-body injury and is listed as day-to-day.
Two third-period goals by Brock Nelson powered the New York Islanders over the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-1. Semyon Varlamov made 31 saves for the Isles, handing the Lightning their fourth loss in their last five home games. Anders Lee and Josh Bailey each had a goal and an assist for the Islanders, who are the third team to reach 20 wins this season. The Isles played without defenseman Nick Leddy, who’s day-to-day with a lower-body injury. Lightning center Tyler Johnson missed the game with a lower-body injury. The Lightning sit 12th overall in the Eastern Conference.
Cam Atkinson scored two goals and Joonas Korpisalo kicked out 37 shots as the Columbus Blue Jackets upset the league-leading Washington Capitals 5-2. Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom had a goal and an assist in his first game since Nov. 18, while teammate Alex Ovechkin tallied his 21st goal of the season. The Jackets snapped a four-game losing skid.
The Ottawa Senators upset the Boston Bruins by a score of 5-2. Senators goaltender Anders Nilsson turned aside 38 shots while Anthony Duclair scored twice and set up another. Bruins center Patrice Bergeron scored in his first game since Nov. 23. Linemates Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak each had two assists. Earlier in the day, the Senators placed goaltender Craig Anderson (knee injury) on injured reserve.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Looks like Duclair is settling in nicely in his first full season with the Senators. His 15 goals and 22 points are his second-highest single-season totals since his 20-goal, 44-point rookie campaign in 2015-16. At his current pace, the 24-year-old could reach 40 goals and 60 points.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman announced the league will implement a four-point action plan to raise awareness among players and coaches following several weeks of accusations of alleged abusive behavior by certain coaches. “Our message is unequivocal,” said Bettman. “We will not tolerate abusive behavior of any kind.”
As per TSN, “The NHL plans to establish an anonymous hotline for players and team personnel to report inappropriate conduct; coaches and management will participate in mandatory annual training on inclusion and harassment; inappropriate conduct will result in discipline from teams, the league or both; and the NHL put all 32 franchises “on notice” that failure to report inappropriate conduct in the future will result in “severe discipline.”
Bettman also said the league with work with the NHL Players Association and the NHL Coaches’ Association in the creation of these plans.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The recent allegations were a black eye for the league, forcing it to take proactive measures to confront and address the issues. It’ll be interesting to see how effective these new programs will be, what kinks will need to be worked out, and the impact upon the relationship between coaches and players going forward.
Washington Capitals defenseman John Carlson, Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Tristan Jarry, and Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel are the NHL’s three stars for the week ending Dec. 8.
PHILLY.COM: Philadelphia Flyers winger Travis Konecny is sidelined indefinitely with a concussion while teammate Philippe Myers left practice yesterday with back spasms.
NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: The Blackhawks placed winger Andrew Shaw (concussion) on injured reserve backdated to Nov. 30.
The NHL department of player safety fined New York Rangers winger Brendan Lemieux $2,000.00 for elbowing Vegas Golden Knights forward Cody Glass.
MLIVE.COM: The Detroit Red Wings placed defenseman Madison Bowey on waivers.
Game recaps, injury updates, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: The Philadelphia Flyers extended their winning streak to six games with a 3-2 overtime victory over the Boston Bruins. Travis Sanheim tallied the winner and also picked up an assist. David Pastrnak scored both Bruins goals.
Mike Zibanejad’s hat trick carried the New York Rangers to a 4-3 win over the New Jersey Devils. Mats Zuccarello collected three assists for the Rangers, who’ve won five of their last seven contests. Earlier in the day, the Rangers revealed center Brett Howden will be sidelined three-to-four weeks with a sprained MCL.
Third-period goals by Jack Roslovic and Kyle Connor lifted the Winnipeg Jets to a 4-3 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Jackets were playing without Cam Atkinson, who was a late scratch after being struck in the face by a puck during warmups. Earlier in the day, the Jackets revealed center Boone Jenner will miss one-to-three weeks with an infected laceration on his ankle. Meanwhile, Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien (lower-body injury) is now listed as day-to-day. He’s been sidelined since Dec. 29.
ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: Anaheim Ducks winger Corey Perry could make his season debut on Saturday against the Winnipeg Jets. He’s been sidelined for four months recovering from surgery on his right knee.
SPORTSNET: Edmonton Oilers defenseman Oscar Klefbom suffered an apparent setback in his recovery from a broken left finger after being struck on the injured hand during practice.
STLTODAY.COM: Blues winger David Perron (upper-body injury) was placed on injured reserve.
DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Stars forward Tyler Pitlick (upper-body injury) will be sidelined for two more weeks.
SPORTSNET: The Montreal Canadiens will neither confirm or deny a report claiming defenseman Noah Juulsen may have suffered a career-threatening eye injury. He was struck in the face by a puck during a Nov. 19 game against Washington and his last game was with their AHL farm team on Dec. 27. The club will only confirm he has an upper-body injury that requires rest and is not a concussion.
TSN: The Florida Panthers placed forward Jamie McGinn on waivers.
CBC.CA: Olympic gold medalist Kendall Coyne Schofield defended NBC Sports analyst Pierre McGuire from social media backlash for “mansplaining” hockey to Coyne Schofield. The incident occurred during her appearance with McGuire as a guest analyst in Wednesday’s contest between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Tampa Bay Lightning.
“I know he respects me as a hockey player, a woman, and a friend and that’s why I didn’t think twice about our on-air exchange when it happened,” said Coyne Schofield. Nevertheless, she added, “If I were watching it at home and saw a man say this to a woman athlete, I would have been offended.”
McGuire also issued a statement apologizing for his remarks. “At times my excitement got the better of me and I should have chosen my words better.”
THE SCORE: Antoine Vermette yesterday announced his retirement after 14 NHL seasons. In 1,046 games with the Ottawa Senators, Columbus Blue Jackets, Phoenix/Arizona Coyotes, Chicago Blackhawks, and Anaheim Ducks, Vermette scored 228 goals and 287 assists for 515 points, along with 14 goals and 28 points in 97 playoff games. He won a Stanley Cup with the Blackhawks in 2015.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Vermette and his family in their future endeavors.
Game recaps, Coyotes ownership change “imminent”, and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price made 36 saves to pick up his 300th career NHL victory by defeating the Arizona Coyotes 2-1. Price is the 35th goalie in NHL history to reach 300 wins and only the second Canadiens netminder to reach that milestone. Paul Byron scored the winning goal in the third period.
Speaking of the Coyotes, a report out of Phoenix cites sources claiming a change in ownership “is pending and imminent”. Current owner Andrew Barroway has been exploring potential ownership partners. There’s been speculation he could sell part or all of his shares to one or more possible owners.
Vegas Golden Knights goalie Marc-Andre Fleury picked up his 424th career win as his club doubled up the New York Islanders 4-2. Fleury moved into sole possession of ninth place on the NHL’s all-time wins list. Teammate Nate Schmidt had a goal and two assists.
Auston Matthews and Morgan Reilly each collected four points as the Toronto Maple Leafs crushed the Florida Panthers 6-1. Matthews had two goals and two assists while Reilly had four assists. Teammates John Tavares scored twice and Mitch Marner had three points.
Winnipeg Jets winger Nikolaj Ehlers tallied a hat trick and teammate Connor Hellebuyck made 41 saves in a 5-3 win over the San Jose Sharks, ending the latter’s five-game win streak. Jets captain Blake Wheeler collected three assists.
Tampa Bay Lightning forward J.T. Miller tallied the game-winning goal in the seventh round of a shootout to give his club a 5-4 win over the Calgary Flames, extending their points streak to 11 games. Flames forwards Johnny Gaudreau and Sam Bennett each had a goal and an assist.
Boston Bruins winger David Pastrnak had a hand in all his club’s goals in a 3-1 win over the Anaheim Ducks. Pastrnak had a goal and two assists while Torey Krug had a goal and an assist.
Philadelphia Flyers rookie goaltender Carter Hart picked up his second win in as many games as his teammates killed off six penalties, including two five-on-three situations, to edge the Nashville Predators 2-1.
Bryan Rust scored twice and Casey DeSmith made 40 saves as the Pittsburgh Penguins tamed the Minnesota Wild 2-1. The Penguins played without defenseman Jamie Oleksiak, who suffered a concussion during his fight with Washington Capitals winger Tom Wilson on Wednesday.
The Detroit Red Wings snapped a four-game losing skid with a 4-1 win over the Carolina Hurricanes. Wings goaltender Jonathan Bernier kicked out 38 shots while Niklas Kronwall had a goal and an assist. Earlier in the day, the Hurricanes activated center Jordan Staal (concussion) off injured reserve.
Cam Atkinson’s second-period penalty shot goal proved the game-winner as the Columbus Blue Jackets held on for a 2-1 win over the New Jersey Devils. It was Atkinson’s 20th goal of the year.
Chicago Blackhawks forwards Patrick Kane and Alex DeBrincat each had three-point performances to lead their club to a 5-2 victory over the Dallas Stars. The Blackhawks have won consecutive games for the first time since late-October.
Jacob Markstrom made 29 saves while Bo Horvat and Jake Virtanen each had a goal and an assist to give the Vancouver Canucks a 5-1 win over the St. Louis Blues.
THE BUFFALO NEWS: After the Sabres terminated the contract of Patrik Berglund, Swedish club Vasteras IK expressed interest in a reunion with him. Berglund played three seasons with them from 2005 to 2008 and also skated with them during the 2012 lockout.
DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche defenseman Nikita Zadorov will miss the next two games with a lower-body injury.
OTTAWA SUN: Former Senators executive Randy Lee pleaded guilty yesterday in Buffalo to harassing a 19-year-old male hotel shuttle driver.