Game recaps, Predators GM David Poile reaches a historic milestone, Tomas Hertl out of the season, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Shootout goals by Filip Forsberg and Matt Duchene gave the Nashville Predators a 6-5 win over the New Jersey Devils. Forsberg also scored twice in regulation, while Devils forward Pavel Zacha scored two goals and collected an assist. The Predators (55 points) are two points behind the Vegas Golden Knights for the final Western Conference wild-card spot. The win was the 1,507th of Predators GM David Poile’s career, moving him past Glen Sather into first place for most victories for an NHL general manager.
Filip Forsberg scored twice as the Nashville Predators downed the New Jersey Devils 6-5 (Photo via NHL Images)
Al Iafallo’s hat trick lifted the Los Angeles Kings to a 3-2 overtime victory over the slumping Arizona Coyotes, who’ve won three of their last 10 games. The Coyotes (58 points) cling to the first wild-card spot in the Western Conference. Arizona captain Oliver Ekman-Larsson left the game in the second period following a knee-on-knee collision with Kings forward Dustin Brown.
The Montreal Canadiens kept their fading playoff hopes alive by downing the Buffalo Sabres 3-1. Winger Brendan Gallagher marked his return to the roster following a six-game absence by tallying the game-winning goal. Sabres captain Jack Eichel netted his 30th of the season. The Habs sit eight points out of a wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.
SPORTSNET: Speaking of the Coyotes, they acknowledged reports of employing illegal tactics recruiting tactics but declined to comment on any potential investigation. Some CHL teams accused the club of putting draft-eligible players through physical testing, which isn’t allowed before the annual NHL combine in June. They could face fines of $250K or more.
NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: Bad news for the struggling San Jose Sharks, as winger Tomas Hertl is out for the season after suffering torn knee ligaments during Wednesday’s loss to the Vancouver Canucks.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: With the Sharks sinking toward the bottom of the Western standings, Hertl’s injury could be the final nail in the coffin for this season.
NBC SPORTS BOSTON: The Bruins announced winger David Backes won’t be reporting to the AHL affiliate in Providence after recently clearing waivers.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It appears Backes simply won’t be playing for a while as the Bruins consider their options. He won’t be suspended, he’s not retiring, and his contract won’t be terminated. I’ll have more on his situation in the rumors section.
CBS SPORTS: The St. Louis Blues recalled forward Troy Brouwer.
VANCOUVER SUN: Canucks winger Tyler Motte (upper body) was placed on injured reserve.
TSN: The Edmonton Oilers placed Kris Russell and Joakim Nygard on injured reserve.
Game recaps, Dougie Hamilton sidelined by a fractured fibula, Dave Backes on waivers, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Tampa Bay Lightning center Anthony Cirelli tallied his first career NHL hat trick as his club crushed the Winnipeg Jets 7-1. Nikita Kucherov scored twice, Ondrej Palat collected three assists, and Andrei Vasilevskiy picked up his 10th straight win.
Anthony Cirelli’s first NHL hat trick carried the Tampa Bay Lightning over the Winnipeg Jets 7-1 (Photo via NHL Images).
Sidney Crosby scored in overtime as the Pittsburgh Penguins edged the Detroit Red Wings 2-1. He has six points in three games since returning from core muscle surgery. Bryan Rust’s 20th goal of the season tied the game and forced the extra period.
Anaheim Ducks center Sam Steel’s overtime goal lifted his club over the Carolina Hurricanes 2-1. It was the Hurricanes’ first game since losing defenseman Dougie Hamilton to a fractured left fibula. Teammate Jaccob Slavin will replace Hamilton at the upcoming 2020 NHL All-Star Game in St. Louis.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hamilton’s injury leaves a gaping hole in the Hurricanes’ blue line. With 40 points in 47 games, he’s the Canes’ highest-scoring defenseman and was well on his way to a career year. I’ll have more on the Hurricanes in the Rumors section.
SPORTSNET: The Edmonton Oilers are reportedly nearing a contract extension with Zack Kassian. The 28-year-old winger is completing a three-year contract worth $1.95-million annually and is due to become an unrestricted free agent in July. It’s assumed the deal will be announced before the trade deadline on Feb. 24.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kassian’s a big-bodied forward with 20-goal potential who plays a physical style and is popular among his teammates. It’ll be interesting to see how much of a raise he receives. It could be a five-year deal worth $4 million annually.
Nashville Predators winger Viktor Arvidsson was fined $2,000.00 by the league’s department of player safety under the league’s rules regarding diving and embellishment.
NBC SPORTS BOSTON: The Bruins placed veteran winger David Backes on waivers for the purpose of assigning him to their AHL affiliate in Providence.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Backes played infrequently this season due to his injury history and declining performance. His demotion will clear $1 million of his $6-million salary-cap hit from the Bruins’ books for the rest of the season. Backes could be bought out of the final season of his contract in June.
STLTODAY.COM: St. Louis Blues defenseman Carl Gunnarsson will return to the roster tonight after a 15-game absence in part because of an upper-body injury.
NBC SPORTS: Some good-natured billboard trolling between Calgary Flames and Edmonton Oilers fans has raised over $50K for various charities.
WINNIPEG SUN: Jets TSN analyst Kevin Sawyer will address criticism regarding comments he made two weeks ago about an apparent hazing incident involving Jared Spurgeon during the Minnesota Wild defenseman’s junior hockey days. “Favourite story of Jared Spurgeon,” Sawyer began. “He was a 15-year-old. Two months into the season we saran-wrapped him to a pillar in the arena, about six feet up in the air … he was tiny. He looked like he was 12.”
Mikko Rantanen makes a splashy return with the Avalanche, Alex Ovechkin tallies a hat trick, fallout from the Peters firing and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Colorado Avalanche winger Mikko Rantanen made a splashy return to action by picking up four points in a 7-3 drubbing of the Chicago Blackhawks. It was his first game since being sidelined by a leg injury on Oct. 21. Joonas Donskoi also enjoyed a four-point performance, Nathan MacKinnon picked up three points, and Nazem Kadri scored two goals. Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane scored to extend his points streak to 15 games.
Colorado Avalanche winger Mikko Rantanen collected four points in a 7-3 win over the Chicago Blackhawks (Photo via NHL Images)
Alex Ovechkin tallied a hat trick to lead the Washington Capitals over the Detroit Red Wings 5-2. Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov collected three assists. Ovechkin now has 20 goals on the season, sitting second to Boston’s David Pastrnak (24) in the goal-scoring race. The Wings’ winless skid has stretched to nine games. Earlier in the day, they acquired goaltender Eric Comrie from the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for defenseman Vili Saarijarvi.
The Vancouver Canucks got a four-point performance from Tanner Pearson to down the Edmonton Oilers 5-2. Canucks captain Bo Horvat picked up three assists. Vancouver defenseman Alex Edler left the game in the third period with an upper-body injury.
New York Rangers goaltender Alexandar Georgiev made 33 saves for his first shutout of the season in a 4-0 win over the New Jersey Devils. Mika Zibanejad and Jesper Fast each tallied shorthanded goals. Devils rookie Jack Hughes missed the game with a lower-body injury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: With the Devils near the bottom of the conference, there are reports they’re entertaining offers for Taylor Hall. Check out the Rumors section for details.
The Philadelphia Flyers extended the Montreal Canadiens’ winless skid to seven games (0-4-3) with a 4-3 overtime victory. Ivan Provorov tallied the game-winner while Flyers goalie Brian Elliott kicked out 39 shots. Tomas Tatar scored twice for the Habs, who lost defenseman Victor Mete to a lower-body injury. The Flyers sit fourth in the Eastern Conference with 35 points.
Calgary Flames winger Elias Lindholm scored twice in a 3-1 victory over the Ottawa Senators. Jean-Gabriel Pageau netted his team-leading 14th goal for the Senators.
John Tavares tallied in overtime as the Toronto Maple Leafs edged the Buffalo Sabres 2-1. Tavares also had an assist on William Nylander’s game-opening goal. Sabres goaltender Carter Hutton made 41 saves in a losing cause.
Carolina Hurricanes netminder James Reimer made 36 saves as his club held on for a 3-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning. Sebastian Aho and Jaccob Slavin each had a goal and an assist for the Hurricanes. The Lightning also revealed defenseman Brayden Coburn is sidelined indefinitely with a lower-body injury, while winger Alex Killorn (lower-body injury) is listed as day-to-day.
Florida Panthers rookie goaltender Chris Driedger’s first NHL start was a memorable one, turning aside 27 shots to blank the Nashville Predators 3-0. Anton Stralman scored twice for the Panthers.
Semyon Varlamov replaced an ailing Thomas Greiss in the first period and backstopped the New York Islanders to a 2-0 shutout over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Isles center Mathew Barzal scored one goal and collected an assist on the other. Isles defenseman Nick Leddy returned to action after missing one game with a lower-body injury. Blue Jackets rearguard Zach Werenski left the game with an upper-body injury.
Logan Couture scored twice and Tomas Hertl picked up two assists as the San Jose Sharks overcame a 2-0 deficit to down the Arizona Coyotes 4-2. It’s the Sharks’ 11th win in their last 13 contests.
St. Louis Blues forwards Jaden Schwartz and Ryan O’Reilly each had two points in a 5-2 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins. Pittsburgh defenseman Brian Dumoulin left the game with an undisclosed injury. The Penguins also played without winger Bryan Rust, who’s day-to-day with a lower-body injury.
A 33-save effort by Jack Campbell enabled the Los Angeles Kings to hang on for a 2-1 win over the Winnipeg Jets.
TSN: Former Carolina Hurricanes general manager Ron Francis issued a statement yesterday claiming he informed then-team owner Peter Karmanos Jr. of alleged physical incidents between former coach Bill Peters and two players. Earlier in the week, Karmanos claimed he was not aware of the incidents and would’ve immediately fired Peters had he known. Francis said he took immediate action to address the issue and no further incidents occurred.
Peters resigned Friday as coach of the Calgary Flames after former NHL player Akim Aliu claimed he hurled racial slurs at him during their tenure with the AHL’s Rockford IceHogs a decade ago.
SPORTSNET: Speak of Aliu, he’ll be meeting with the NHL this week to to discuss the cultural problems in hockey.
NEW YORK POST: Former NHL player Sean Avery claimed he was kicked by coach Marc Crawford during a game in 2006-07 when they were with the Los Angeles Kings. Avery said the incident occurred when he took a too-many-men-on-the-ice penalty.
“He didn’t have me serve it, we got scored on, and he let me have it. You know how I stand at the end of the bench? He came down and gave me an ass kick that left a mark.” Avery found the incident more bemusing than upsetting.
NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Bruins center Patrice Bergeron will miss tonight’s game against the Canadiens with a lower-body injury. Winger Brad Marchand is questionable for the game as he’s battling flu symptoms. Winger David Backes (concussion symptoms) could be close to returning to the lineup.
TWINCITIES.COM: Minnesota Wild captain Mikko Koivu will appear in his 1,000th NHL game today when his club takes on the Dallas Stars.