NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 4, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 4, 2020

Tyler Seguin and Ben Bishop undergo surgeries, the latest on Mark Scheifele and Elias Lindholm, the Red Wings re-sign Anthony Mantha, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Stars forward Tyler Seguin and goaltender Ben Bishop recently underwent surgeries that could sidelined them for up to five months. Seguin underwent surgery on his right hip on Monday while Bishop had right knee surgery on Oct. 21. If the timelines hold, Seguin would return to action on April 2 while Bishop should return on March 21.

Dallas Stars center Tyler Seguin underwent hip surgery (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Seguin and Bishop might not miss that much playing time should the tentative Jan. 1 start date for next season be pushed into February or March.

SPORTSNET: Winnipeg Jets center Mark Scheifele said he’s fully recovered from the Achilles injury suffered three months ago during the qualifying round series against the Calgary Flames. “I’m 100 percent, no question, said Scheifele, adding he’s now skating every day.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Losing Scheifele was a devastating blow that contributed to the Jets’ demise in that series against the Flames. Having their first-line center healthy will be crucial to their playoff hopes next year.

THE SCORE: Speaking of the Flames, Josh Wegman cites head coach Geoff Ward told Sportsnet’s Eric Francis his club could explore whether they’ll have a better lineup with Elias Lindholm moving back to his natural position at center on a full-time basis. Lindholm has a career faceoff win percentage of 52.4 and has received down-ballot votes for the Selke Trophy for his two-way play.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wegman looked at what the Flames’ top-two forward lines could look like with Lindholm at center, pointing to the solid five-on-five production he had with Matthew Tkachuk and Andrew Mangiapane.

THE DETROIT NEWS: The Red Wings re-signed forward Anthony Mantha to a four-year, $22.8 million contract. The annual average value is $5.7 million and is the longest and most expensive contract Steve Yzerman has extended to any Wings’ player since taking over as their general manager.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Mantha, 26, has been hampered by injuries but the 6’5, 234-pounder has 30-goal potential. The rebuilding Wings can afford to make that investment in the hope he’ll be a key part of their ongoing development.

Mantha’s signing leaves the Wings with over $71.9 million invested in 22 players with Dmytro Timashov still to sign. There’s enough cap space for Yzerman to target a cap-strapped rival to acquire a quality player under contract for next season, but it appears his roster is set for next season after bringing in Bobby Ryan, Marc Staal, Thomas Greiss and Vladislav Namestnikov.

NEW YORK POST: Rangers center Ryan Strome is seeking a one-year, $5.7 million contract through arbitration while the club countered with $3.6 million. His hearing is slated for Nov. 5. The Rangers can walk away from an arbiter award over $4, 538, 958.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Only one player (Detroit’s Tyler Bertuzzi) needed arbitration thus far to settle their contract for next season. Strome’s is one that could be worth watching, especially if he gets an award over $4.539 million.

CAP FRIENDLY: reports the Ottawa Senators avoided arbitration with Christian Jaros, signing the 24-year-old defenseman to a one-year, two-way contract worth $750K at the NHL level.

NHLPA: Four players remain scheduled for arbitration hearings. Ryan Strome is slated for Nov. 5, Rangers winger Brendan Lemieux and New York Islanders defenseman Ryan Pulock on Nov. 6 and Florida Panthers defenseman MacKenzie Weegar on Nov. 8.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines and Rumor Mill – September 28, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines and Rumor Mill – September 28, 2020

The latest on the Lightning and Stars in the NHL morning coffee headlines plus updates on Alex Pietrangelo and Braden Holtby and the latest Penguins and Senators speculation in the NHL rumor mill.

MORNING COFFEE HEADLINES

TSN: Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said team captain Steven Stamkos will not return for the remainder of the Stanley Cup Final. Stamkos returned to the Lightning lineup in Game 3 for the first time since February, scoring a goal but playing only five shifts in the first period.

Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: No surprise there. Stamkos was in obvious discomfort following his final shift in Game 3. It’s believed he’s still dealing with an issue tied to the core muscle surgery he underwent in March.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Stars coach Rick Bowness yesterday said forwards Roope Hintz, Blake Comeau and Radek Faksa, defenseman Stephen Johns and goaltender Ben Bishop remain unfit to play.

MLIVE.COM’s Ansar Khan reported Detroit Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman confirmed unrestricted free agent defensemen Jonathan Ericsson and Trevor Daley won’t be re-signed.

THE SCORE: Forward Chris Stewart announced his retirement after 11 NHL seasons. He played 668 career games with the Colorado Avalanche, St. Louis Blues, Buffalo Sabres, Minnesota Wild, Anaheim Ducks, Calgary Flames, and Philadelphia Flyers, finishing with 160 goals and 322 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Stewart in his future endeavors.

RUMOR MILL

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: David Schoen cites multiple reports claiming the Golden Knights will aggressively pursue Alex Pietrangelo if the St. Louis Blues defenseman becomes an unrestricted free agent on Oct. 9. The Blues are reportedly offering an eight-year deal worth $8-million annually but Pietrangelo is said to be seeking an annual average value of over $9 million.

The Golden Knights have limited salary-cap space but Schoen believes they would “perform the necessary salary-cap gymnastics” to fit in Pietrangelo’s new contract. He said team owner Bill Foley’s financial clout and dogged pursuit of the Stanley Cup makes the Golden Knights among the few clubs willing to spend to the $81.5 million salary cap.

Schoen said the Golden Knights aren’t expected to be active in free agency outside of Pietrangelo. However, he suggested several other blueline targets, such as Toronto’s Tyson Barrie, Winnipeg’s Dylan DeMelo, Washington’s Brenden Dillon, Calgary’s Travis Hamonic and Carolina’s Sami Vatanen. If they seek depth elsewhere in the roster, New York Rangers winger Jesper Fast and Calgary’s Cam Talbot are among his proposed options.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates the Golden Knights have $76.5 million tied up in 18 players, with goaltender Robin Lehner their most notable free agent. Those “gymnastics” to free up cap space for Pietrangelo could include trading away players under contract for next season, contract buyouts, or acquiring a player on permanent long-term injury reserve. The Golden Knights are also allowed to spend over the cap by 10 percent in the offseason but must become cap compliant when the regular season begins.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Tarik El-Bashir lists the Calgary Flames, Carolina Hurricanes, Edmonton Oilers and San Jose Sharks among possible destinations for free-agent goalie Braden Holtby. He also included returning with the Washington Capitals if Holtby can’t find better offers in the free-agent market but acknowledged the math doesn’t appear to work there. El-Bashir reports the Capitals asked Holtby’s camp if there was interest in a one-year contract but there wasn’t.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flames, Hurricanes, Oilers and Sharks all need a reliable starting goalie. The question is, how much are they willing to pay to get one via free agency. Holtby is coming off a five-year contract worth an annual average value of $6.1 million and likely unwilling to accept a similar or lesser cap hit on his next deal. The Flames, Oilers and Sharks have the most cap space but could be reluctant to invest too much in a goalie during the current economic situation.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Josh Yohe believes the Pittsburgh Penguins recent blueline addition of Mike Matheson could mean veteran Jack Johnson won’t be in the lineup and might not be back at all. With three left-side defensemen, Johnson will either have to play on the right side, become a healthy scratch or get traded. Yohe feels the Penguins will try to move Johnson to a team trying to reach the salary-cap floor, or perhaps package him in a deal involving goalie Matt Murray.

Regarding recent rumors tying the Penguins to Vancouver Canucks rearguard Chris Tanev, Yohe points out they lack the cap space to sign him now. He also said the front office is looking forward to seeing Kris Letang’s performance under his second stint playing for defense coach Todd Reirden.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Trading Johnson won’t be easy because of the steady deterioration of his play, but we cannot outright dismiss the possibility, slim as it may seem. He lacks no-trade protection and carries a reasonable cap hit ($3.25 million) through 2022-23. Those two years beyond next season, however, are a sticking point.

Perhaps a budget club would acquire him and buy him out if he’s part of Yohe’s suggested package deal. Cap Friendly indicates the cap hit would be $1.16 million for the next two seasons, rising to over $1.9 million in 2022-23, then falling to over $916K for the final three years.

OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch expects more changes for the Senators after they bought out winger Bobby Ryan’s contract last week. Approaching next week’s NHL draft with three first-round picks, GM Pierre Dorion is reportedly listening to all offers as he looks to bolster his roster.

Anders Nilsson’s concussion could push the Senators into the market for a goaltender. Garrioch claims Carolina’s Petr Mrazek or James Reimer, Toronto’s Frederik Andersen, Pittsburgh’s Matt Murray and Arizona’s Darcy Kuemper are available. He said they’re not seeking a long-term solution because they’ve got six goalies in their system.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hurricanes won’t move one of their goalies unless they pursue an upgrade. The same goes for the Leafs with Andersen. Murray is on the block and the Penguins could try to pry away one of the Sens’ first-round picks for him. A first-rounder could also be part of the asking price for Kuemper.










NHL Rumor Mill – September 19, 2020

NHL Rumor Mill – September 19, 2020

A look at TSN’s list of 10 contracts potentially on the move in today’s NHL rumor mill.

TSN: Arizona Coyotes winger Phil Kessel, St. Louis Blues center Tyler Bozak, and Edmonton Oilers winger Andreas Athanasiou top Frank Seravalli’s list of 10 contracts potentially on the move in the offseason, based on the financial or salary-cap implications facing each club.

Kessel is owed just $5.95 million in total real dollars through 2021-22. Despite the drop in his production this season, a re-energized Kessel could be helpful to a Cup contender.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kessel’s $5-million signing bonus for 2020-21 has already been paid out, which explains why his actual salary will be so low. His full cap hit is $8 million but the Coyotes are only carrying $6.8 million because the Toronto Maple Leafs are picking up $1.2 million in retained salary as the condition for trading him to Pittsburgh in 2015.

That might make Kessel enticing for clubs seeking experienced scoring depth on right wing. However, he has a reputation as a high-maintenance player, which could hurt his trade value almost as much as this season’s sudden decline in his production.

Bozak could be a trade candidate in a retained salary transaction if the Blues decide to shed salary to re-sign defenseman Alex Pietrangelo.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Seravalli’s list was published before last night’s report indicating contract talks between the Blues and Pietrangelo had broken off. While they still could attempt to move Bozak to give them some additional wiggle room, there won’t be as much urgency to do so if Pietrangelo departs.

Seravalli reports the Oilers are trying to trade Athanasiou before he’s due a $3 million qualifying offer on Oct. 7. However, teams think GM Ken Holland could let him walk, which would hurt Athanasiou’s trade value.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Edmonton Journal’s David Staples believes Holland is in a bind given he parted with two second-round draft picks to acquire Athanasiou. He’s not worth $3 million, and Staples thinks Holland believes he can find a better winger than Athanasiou at a lower price. If so, he might have to let him walk and try to replace those two draft picks via the trade market.

Vancouver Canucks defenseman Troy Stecher and center Brandon Sutter, Pittsburgh Penguins winger Patric Hornqvist, and Dallas Stars goaltender Ben Bishop fill spots four through seven on Seravalli’s list.

Stecher is a restricted free agent who could become a UFA if the Canucks opt not to qualify his rights. The Canucks would like to keep him but their pipeline of promising blueliners and salary-cap constraints could rule out a long-term commitment. Sutter, meanwhile, could be easier to move than Loui Eriksson if the Canucks are willing to retain a bit of his $4.375-million cap hit.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks could re-sign Stecher if they part ways with pending UFA blueliner Chris Tanev. Given GM Jim Benning’s failed efforts last year to move Eriksson, I agree that Sutter could become a trade candidate. He carries a 15-team no-trade clause, which will hamper those efforts.

Seravalli considers Hornqvist the odd man out for the Penguins as a third-line winger with a $5.3 million AAV, but noted the remaining three years on his contract could be an issue. He feels they might have to retain salary to make that work.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Agreed. I don’t see many clubs interested in picking up that full cap hit for the next three years. Another sticking point is Hornqvist’s full no-trade clause for 2020-21, though perhaps he might waive it for the right team.

Seravalli wonders where Bishop fits into the Stars’ plans, pointing out he seems to be injured when it matters most. He thinks they could find a taker for Bishop as he’s owed just $8 million in real cash over the remaining three years of his contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That low actual salary could be enticing, but Bishop’s injury history also screams, “Buyer beware!” He also has a 10-team no-trade list, plus a no-movement clause over the remainder of his contract, meaning he’d have to be protected in next year’s expansion draft unless he agrees to waive it.

Tampa Bay Lightning forward Tyler Johnson, Chicago Blackhawks winger Brandon Saad, and Columbus Blue Jackets forward Brandon Dubinsky round out Seravalli’s list.

Johnson could be shopped in a cost-cutting deal, though he has a full no-trade clause. Saad could also be a cost-cutting casualty as the Blackhawks need to re-sign Dominik Kubalik and Dylan Strome plus find a starting goalie. A chronic wrist injury has likely ended Dubinsky’s career but his $5.85-million cap hit for next season could be attractive for clubs looking to use long-term injury reserve to manipulate their salary cap.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Johnson’s NTC could rule him out as a trade candidate. Most of the speculation surrounding the Lightning suggests it could be Alex Killorn (who has a modified no-trade) who could be on the moves.

Saad has a year remaining on his contract and a 10-team no-trade list. He’d be attractive to rival clubs seeking a top-six winger, but The Athletic’s Mark Lazerus said in a recent mailbag segment he’s not convinced the Blackhawks could trade him. He felt they could find extra cap room by trading or buying out Olli Maatta and Zack Smith.

The Jackets could indeed attempt to move Dubinsky’s contract to a club either looking to use LTIR to go over the cap to add another player or by a budget club looking to reach the cap floor. He’s got a 10-team no-trade list but that shouldn’t be an issue if his playing days are over.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 1, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – September 1, 2020

The Lightning eliminate the Bruins, the Avalanche stay alive against the Stars, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: For the fourth time in six years, the Tampa Bay Lightning are going to the Eastern Conference Final. Victor Hedman scored in double overtime as the Lightning edged the Boston Bruins 3-2 to win their second-round series four games to one.

Tampa Bay LIghtning defenseman Victor Hedman (NHL Images)

Hedman had a goal and an assist while teammates Brayden Point and Kevin Shattenkirk each had two assists. Ondrej Palat and Anthony Cirelli scored in regulation for the Bolts, who played without winger Nikita Kucherov as he left the game before the third period after being high-sticked by Zdeno Chara in the first period. David Pastrnak and David Krejci scored for the Bruins.

 

 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Lightning did a good job keeping Boston’s top line under wraps as this series went on. The Bruins’ lack of secondary scoring and the absence of starting goalie Tuukka Rask were contributing factors to their early demise.

After reaching the Stanley Cup Final last season and winning the Presidents’ Trophy this season, questions are being asked if the Bruins’ championship window is closing. Asked about his future plans, the 43-year-old Chara said he hadn’t reached a decision, intending to be open-minded.

No word yet as to how long Kucherov might be sidelined. Bolts blueliner Ryan McDonagh returned to the lineup since being sidelined in the first game of this series.

The Colorado Avalanche avoided elimination by riding a five-goal first period to a 6-3 victory over the Dallas Stars in Game 5 of their second-round series. Avs third-string goalie Michael Hutchinson made 31 saves in his first-ever playoff start while the Stars’ Ben Bishop was pulled after giving up four goals on 19 shots. Nathan MacKinnon scored a goal and collected an assist, giving him a playoff-leading 23 points. Andre Burakovsky scored twice and added an assist. The Stars still lead the series 3 games to 2.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bishop was shaky in his first start since Aug. 13 but he had little help from his teammates. The Stars were flat-footed and unprepared in the first period, outshot 23-5 in the first period.

SPORTSNET: The New York Rangers hired Jacques Martin as their new assistant coach.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Jeremy Rutherford cites sources claiming St. Louis Blues assistant general manager Bill Armstrong is believed to be a finalist for the vacant Florida Panthers GM position.

TSN: Thirteen NHL clubs will carry salary cap overages into next season. The Stars lead the list with over $2.9 million, followed by the Bruins ($1.928 million), Vancouver Canucks ($1.7 million), Carolina Hurricanes ($1.367 million), and Buffalo Sabres ($1.275 million). Because of the unusual circumstances emerging from this season, those teams have the option of dividing that amount equally over the next two seasons.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: The Edmonton Oilers re-signed forward Patrick Russell to a one-year, $700K contract extension.

TVA SPORTS: Montreal Canadiens owner Geoff Molson said the club intends to honor defenseman Andrei Markov, who spent his entire 16-season NHL career with the Habs.    

 

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 14, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 14, 2020

Recaps of Thursday’s playoff games, Canadiens coach Claude Julien hospitalized, Dan Hamhuis retires, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

Vegas Golden Knights winger Reilly Smith (NHL Images).

  NHL.COM: The Vegas Golden Knights edged the Chicago Blackhawks 4-3 on Reilly Smith’s overtime goal in Game 2 of their first-round series, which Vegas now leads 2-0. It was goalie Robin Lehner’s seventh straight win in as many starts with the Golden Knights, who were without winger Max Pacioretty (unfit to play) in Game 2. His replacement, Tomas Nosek, left the game in the second period. Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane collected three assists.

 

    Dougie Hamilton’s third-period goal lifted the Carolina Hurricanes to a 3-2 win over the Boston Bruins in Game 2 of their series, tying it at a game apiece. Hurricanes winger Andrei Svechnikov had a goal and an assist. Brad Marchand and David Krejci each had a goal and an assist for the Bruins, who were without winger David Pastrnak following an apparent leg injury suffered in Game 1.  

 

 

Boston goalie Tuukka Rask, meanwhile, raised eyebrows with his post-game comments comparing the atmosphere in this playoff bubble to playing exhibition games. “To be honest with you, it really doesn’t feel like playoff hockey out there,” said Rask. “There are no fans, so it’s kind of like playing an exhibition game.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rask probably isn’t the only player feeling that way, which could account in part for why some teams and notable players seem to struggle to regain their intensity in the early going. Those who adjust more quickly could have an advantage through the opening round.

Joonas Korpisalo made 36 savers backstopping the Columbus Blue Jackets over the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-2 in Game 2 of their first-round series, which now stands knotted at a game apiece. Oliver Bjorkstrand snapped a 1-1 tie in the second period, Alexander Wennberg put the game away with his third-period tally and Pierre-Luc Dubois picked up two assists. Nikita Kucherov scored for the Lightning.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s the same story with the Blue Jackets. They get outshot by a big margin (37-22 in this game) but weather the storm and break your heart with their timely offense.

The Dallas Stars tied their series with the Calgary Flames at a game apiece as Jamie Oleksiak’s goal with 40 seconds remaining in regulation gave them a 5-4 victory. Stars blueliner Miro Heiskanen scored twice while teammates Alexander Radulov and Corey Perry each had a goal and an assist. Ben Bishop returned to the Stars net after being unfit to play in Game 1 while Taylor Fedun filled in for the sidelined Stephen Johns. Flames winger Matthew Tkachuk left the game following a third-period collision with Oleksiak and Jamie Benn.

HEADLINES

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens head coach Claude Julien was rushed to hospital after suffering chest pains following his club’s 2-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 1 of their first-round series. His condition isn’t related to COVID-19. Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin said Julien won’t return for the remainder of the series. Assistant coaches Kirk Muller, Dominque Ducharme, and Luke Richardson will share the coaching duties in Julien’s absence.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bergevin indicated he’d received some good news about Julien’s condition yesterday afternoon but didn’t elaborate. Here’s hoping the Habs bench boss makes a quick and full recovery.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom is in concussion protocol and won’t take part in Game 2 against the New York Islanders later today. Backstrom was injured following a late hit by Islanders’ captain Anders Lee. Lars Eller will replace Backstrom after returning to the club following the birth of his son.

AZCENTRAL.COM: The Arizona Coyotes hope to have center Nick Schmaltz in the lineup for Game 2 against the Colorado Avalanche later today. He’s been absent since being injured during an exhibition game two weeks ago.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The low-scoring Coyotes could use Schmaltz’s offense against the Avs. He was their leading scorer during the regular season.

THE SCORE: Defenseman Dan Hamhuis announced his retirement after 16 NHL seasons with the Nashville Predators, Vancouver Canucks, and Dallas Stars. He played in 1,184 games, netting 356 points. Hamhuis played in two games of the 2011 Stanley Cup Final until a groin injury sidelined him for the rest of the series. He won a gold medal with Team Canada at the 2014 Winter Olympics.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Hamhuis in his future endeavors. He was among the league’s best defensive blueliners during his playing prime.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 6, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 6, 2020

In today’s NHL morning coffee headlines, recaps of Wednesday’s games plus the latest on Jake Muzzin,  Mark Scheifele, Patrik Laine, Micheal Ferland, and more.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Jeff Petry scored his second game-winning goal as the Montreal Canadiens overcame a 3-1 deficit to edge the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-3, taking a 2-1 lead in their qualifying-round series. Habs captain Shea Weber led the way with a goal and two assists.

 

Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens seemed done like dinner midway through the second period. They’re now poised to eliminate the Penguins in Game 4 on Friday. And speaking of potential upsets…

The Chicago Blackhawks got two unanswered third-period goals by Matthew Highmore and Jonathan Toews to nip the Edmonton Oilers 4-3 and take a 2-1 lead in their qualifier. Toews finished the game with two goals while teammate Corey Crawford made 25 saves to become the 20th goaltender in NHL history to record his 50th career playoff win. Leon Draisaitl scored twice and set up another for the Oilers. Edmonton defenseman Adam Larsson was unfit to play while Oilers winger Tyler Ennis left the game in the second period with an apparent leg injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The bounces went the Blackhawks’ way as Highmore’s goal was a deflection from a point shot while Toews’ deflected shot bounced in off an Oilers’ defenseman. They’re now poised to eliminate the Oilers if they win Game 4 on Friday.

The Boston Bruins won’t be the top seed in the 2020 playoffs after dropping a 3-2 decision to the Tampa Bay Lightning in round-robin play. Tyler Johnson tallied the winning goal late in the third period. Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask made 32 saves in his return to action after being unfit to play in their first round-robin game.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s the first time in NHL history the season’s Presidents’ Trophy winner won’t be the top seed in the playoffs. The Bruins are 0-2 in round-robin play. While they are guaranteed a playoff spot, they risk drawing a tougher first-round opponent the lower they sink in the round-robin seedings.

The Florida Panthers avoided elimination by hanging on for a 3-2 victory over the New York Islanders. Third-period goals by Mike Hoffman and Brian Boyle broke a 1-1 tie while Sergei Bobrovsky made 20 saves for the win. A rare penalty by Islanders goaltender Semyon Varlamov for playing the puck beyond the trapezoid behind his net led to Hoffman’s power-play goal. The Isles hold a 2-1 series lead.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was the Panthers’ first postseason victory since the 2016 playoffs. It certainly came at the right time. They also shook up their lineup yesterday, scratching Mike Matheson and Frank Vatrano after their disappointing performances in the first two games.

Three unanswered third-period goals by Conor Garland, Taylor Hall, and Carl Soderberg lifted the Arizona Coyotes over the Nashville Predators 4-1. The Coyotes hold a 2-1 series lead. Darcy Kuemper enjoyed a bounce-back effort in this contest with a 39-save performance.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Coyotes weathered the first-period onslaught from the Predators and opened the scoring on their first shot of the game. They finally got some productions from Hall and Garland, who’d been held goalless in the first two games.

Colorado Avalanche goaltender Pavel Francouz kicked out 27 shots to shut out the Dallas Stars 4-0 in round-robin action. Cale Makar tallied the game-winner while Joonas Donskoi and Andre Burakovsky each had a goal and an assist.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Stars were without starting goalie Ben Bishop and defenseman John Klingberg in this game. Both were declared unfit to play. Under league protocols, no reason was given for their absence, but it doesn’t appear as though it’s COVID-related.

HEADLINES TORONTO SUN: Maple Leafs defenseman Jake Muzzin won’t be available for the remainder of his club’s qualifying-round series with the Columbus Blue Jackets. He was injured in Game 2 and taken to hospital with what appeared to be a head or neck injury. Muzzin was released yesterday and returned to the Leafs hotel within the safety zone and will remain in quarantine until cleared. Martin Marincin will replace him in the lineup for today’s match with the Jackets.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Blue Jackets center Pierre-Luc Dubois won’t face supplemental discipline for the hit that sent Muzzin to hospital after colliding awkwardly with Jackets forward Oliver Bjorkstand.

NHL.COM: The Winnipeg Jets aren’t ruling out Mark Scheifele and Patrik Laine for Game 4 of their qualifier with the Calgary Flames later today. Both players have been sidelined since Game 1. The Flames hold a 2-1 series lead and could wrap it up with a win today.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets need some help following a dispiriting loss in Game 3. They also need Blake Wheeler and Kyle Connor to start cashing in or this series will be over later tonight.

THE PROVINCE: Vancouver Canucks winger Micheal Ferland is out of action and has returned to his home in Brandon, Manitoba. He’s been declared “unfit to play”, raising speculation it’s tied to the concussion symptoms that sidelined him for most of this season.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Capitals forward Lars Eller returned to Washington to be with his wife as she gives birth to their second child. He’ll rejoin his teammates following a period of quarantine and testing in the first round of the playoffs.

SPORTSNET: A report from a Swedish media outlet indicates winger Oskar Lindblom will be traveling to the Toronto bubble to join his Philadephia Flyers teammates. He missed the bulk of this season battling a rare form of bone cancer and finished his treatment on July 2. He could return to action in September if the Flyers are still in the playoffs by then.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: San Jose Sharks winger Tomas Hertl has resumed skating for the first time since suffering a season-ending knee injury in January.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Oilers winger Jesse Puljujarvi has re-signed a one-year contract with Finland’s Karpat. It’s believed the deal contains an out-clause should Puljujarvi return to the Oilers next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Recent reports suggest the relationship between Puljujarvi and the Oilers has improved after he spent last season in Finland. With the NHL tentatively planning a full 82-game schedule in December, it makes sense for him to get in some meaningful playing time in Finland before NHL camps open in November.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): The general managers of the seven non-playoff teams have submitted a proposal to the league allowing their clubs a two-week mini-camp before training camp for all clubs open in November.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sounds like a reasonable proposal. Those teams haven’t played since the regular season was derailed in mid-March and they’re now amid an unusually long off-season.