NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 6, 2020
Mika Zibanejad lights up the Capitals, the Flyers keep rising in the Metro, the Wild and Blackhawks surge into playoff contention and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Mika Zibanejad scored five goals, including the winner in overtime, as the New York Rangers edged the Washington Capitals 6-5. Artemi Panarin and Tony DeAngelo each had three points for the Blueshirts. Zibanejad tied the club record for most goals in a single game. Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin scored twice to move into a tie for the goal-scoring lead with 47 goals. With the win, the surging Rangers (76 points) are two points behind the New York Islanders for the final Eastern Conference playoff spot. The slumping Capitals, meanwhile, move into a tie with the Philadelphia Flyers for first in the Metropolitan Division with 87 points.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Rangers are in a good position to overtake the Isles and the stumbling Columbus Blue Jackets. They must now be taken seriously as a playoff contender. The Capitals, on the other hand, appear to be in trouble. As per The Washington Post, a lack of cohesive team player (especially on defense) has led to a record of 14-15-2 since Dec. 23.
Meanwhile, the Flyers picked up their eighth straight victory by downing the Carolina Hurricanes 4-1. Earlier in the day, however, the Flyers learned winger James van Riemsdyk will be sidelined four-to-six weeks with an injured hand. The struggling Hurricanes (75 points) slipped three points out of playoff contention in the Eastern Conference. They also learned defenseman Brett Pesce is out for the season following shoulder surgery. His expected recovery period is four-to-six weeks.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: While the Capitals flounder, the Flyers are poised to take over first place in the Metro. They’ve been red hot in 2020, showing no sign of slowing. The Hurricanes are really struggling with goaltenders James Reimer and Petr Mrazek sidelined since late February. If they don’t return to action soon, the Canes’ playoff hopes could be dashed.
The Ottawa Senators spoiled the return of former Senator Jean-Gabriel Pageau by hanging on to defeat the New York Islanders 4-3. Pageau was dealt by the Sens to the Isles at last Monday’s trade deadline. The loss leaves the Islanders (78 points) clinging to the final Eastern wild-card spot. They’ve won just two of their last 11 contests.
An overtime goal by Torey Krug carried the Boston Bruins over the Florida Panthers 2-1. It was the Bruins’ fourth consecutive victory while the Panthers dropped their eighth straight home game. The Bruins sit atop the overall standings with 98 points, while the Panthers (74 points) sit four points out of a playoff spot in the East.
The Tampa Bay Lightning blanked the Montreal Canadiens 4-0. Andrei Vasilevskiy kicked out 32 shots for the shutout while Victor Hedman tallied twice. The Bolts sit second in the Atlantic Division with 89 points. Before the game, Canadiens winger Tomas Tatar returned to Montreal for evaluation of an upper-body injury.
Patric Hornqvist scored twice and Evgeni Malkin collected two assists as the Pittsburgh Penguins doubled up the Buffalo Sabres 4-2, handing the latter their fifth straight defeat. The Pens have won two straight and sit third in the Metro with 84 points.
Zach Parise extended his goal streak to four games and Alex Stalock made 30 stops as the Minnesota Wild nipped the San Jose Sharks 3-2. With 75 points, the Wild leaped over four other clubs into the first wild-card spot in the Western Conference.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A month ago, the Wild seemed done like dinner, especially after winger Jason Zucker was traded to Pittsburgh on Feb. 10. Since then, the Wild have won eight of their last 12 games and put themselves into the middle of the Western Conference playoff race.
The Nashville Predators got a 33-save shutout from Juuse Saros to blank the Dallas Stars 2-0. Filip Forsberg and Matt Duchene were the goal scorers. The Stars (82 points) remain in third place in the Central Division while the Predators (74 points) moved into a four-way tie with the Vancouver Canucks, Winnipeg Jets, and Arizona Coyotes for the final Western Conference wild-card berth. The Canucks hold the spot due to games in hand.
Alex DeBrincat scored twice to lead the Chicago Blackhawks over the Edmonton Oilers 4-3. Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane also netted his 30th goal of the season. Chicago (74 points) are four points out of playoff contention in the West, while the Oilers (80 points) remain two back of the first-place Vegas Golden Knights in the Pacific Division.
Shootout goals by Anze Kopitar and Adrian Kempe gave the Los Angeles Kings a 1-0 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs. Kings goalie Jonathan Quick made 36 saves while the Leafs’ Frederik Andersen made 30. The Leafs (79 points) picked up a point and sit third in the Atlantic Division.
IN OTHER NEWS…
NJ.COM: Devils defenseman Will Butcher underwent season-ending surgery to repair ruptured ligaments in his right thumb.
TSN: The NHL Players Association canceled its April meeting with player agents because of the spread of the coronavirus.
NEW YORK POST: Former NHL player Matthew Barnaby was arrested on assault and public intoxication charges at a Nashville bar early Thursday morning.