NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 2, 2023
NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 2, 2023
The Oilers and Lightning clinch playoff berths, the first 2023 playoff matchup is set, the Panthers overtake the Penguins in the Eastern wild-card race, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
NHL.COM: Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl tallied a hat trick to reach 50 goals for the third time in his career as his club clinched a playoff berth by blanking the Anaheim Ducks 6-0. Jack Campbell made 36 saves for his first shutout with the Oilers while Connor McDavid, Zach Hyman and Mattias Ekholm each had a goal and an assist. With a record of 45-23-9, the Oilers hold second place in the Pacific Division with 99 points. Ducks goaltender John Gibson left the game with a lower-body injury as his club fell to 23-42-10 on the season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was a big day for the Oilers. McDavid and Draisaitl were named the first and second stars of the month for March (Arizona Coyotes center Clayton Keller was the third star) while goaltender Stuart Skinner was named rookie of the month.
Speaking of Draisaitl, he has 30 power-play goals this season, putting him within reach of Tim Kerr’s single-season record of 34.
The Tampa Bay Lightning secured a playoff spot thanks to Andrei Vasilevskiy’s 38-save shutout of the New York Islanders. Brayden Point had a goal and two assists for the Lightning (45-26-6) as they hold third place in the Atlantic Division with 96 points. The Islanders, meanwhile, dropped to 39-29-9 and hold the first Eastern Conference wild-card berth with 87 points.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Point now has 48 goals on the season. Before the game, the Islanders announced that winger Oliver Wahlstrom is officially out for the season with a lower-body injury suffered on Dec. 27.
Toronto Maple Leafs goalie Ilya Samsonov kicked out 31 shots to shut out the Ottawa Senators 3-0. Michael Bunting, William Nylander and Radim Zohorna scored for the 45-20-10 Leafs as they sit in second place in the Atlantic with 100 points. With a record of 37-34-5, the Senators (79 points) are six points out of the final Eastern Conference wild-card spot. Before the game, they announced center Derick Brassard is out for the season following surgery for a broken fibula.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: With the Lightning and Leafs winning last night, they have officially become the first confirmed playoff match-up in the opening round of the 2023 playoffs, which begins on April 17. They faced each other in the first round last season with the Lightning winning the best-of-seven series in seven games.
A four-goal performance by Carter Verhaeghe powered the Florida Panthers to a 7-0 drubbing of the Columbus Blue Jackets. Alex Lyon got the shutout with 21 saves while Sam Reinhart and Anthony Duclair each had three points for the 39-31-17 Panthers, who vaulted over the Pittsburgh Penguins into the final Eastern wild-card berth with 85 points. The Blue Jackets dropped to 23-44-8 on the season.
Speaking of the Penguins, they dropped a 4-3 decision to the league-leading Boston Bruins. David Pastrnak tallied a hat trick to reach 102 points on the season while Pavel Zacha had three assists for the 59-12-5 Bruins (123 points). Bryan Rust scored twice for the Penguins (37-29-10) as they sit one point behind the Panthers.
The Vegas Golden Knights became the first Western Conference team to reach 100 points this season (101) by taming the Minnesota Wild 4-1. Jack Eichel and Chandler Stephenson each had two points as the conference-leading Golden Knights (47-22-7) sit two points ahead of the Oilers in the Western standings. Matt Boldy tallied his 29th goal of the season for the 44-23-9 Wild as they sit atop the Central Division with 97 points.
Colorado Avalanche winger Mikko Rantanen scored and added three assists in a 5-2 victory over the Dallas Stars. Nathan MacKinnon tallied two goals for the 45-24-6 Avalanche as they sit one point behind the Wild in second place in the Central with 96 points. Tyler Seguin and Joe Pavelski replied for the Stars (41-21-14), who also have 96 points but sit third in the Central as the Avs have a game in hand and four more wins.
The Nashville Predators thumped the St. Louis Blues 6-1 to remain in the race for the final Western Conference wild-card berth. Tommy Novak had a goal and three assists and Luke Evangelista had three points for the Predators (38-29-8) as they sit three points behind the Winnipeg Jets with 84 points. Calle Rosen replied for the 35-35-6 Blues, who also lost defenseman Marco Scandella in the second period with a lower-body injury.
A hat trick by Alex Tuch carried the Buffalo Sabres to a 6-3 win over the Philadelphia Flyers. Casey Mittelstadt collected three assists while Ukka-Pekka Luukkonen stopped 39 shots for the Sabres (37-31-7) as they sit four points out of the final Eastern wild-card spot with 81 points. Morgan Frost scored twice and Travis Konecny scored in his first game since being sidelined for 16 games by an upper-body injury as the Flyers fell to 29-33-13.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Before the game, Flyers head coach John Tortorella said center Sean Couturier (back) won’t return this season.
The Carolina Hurricanes maintained their lead in the Metropolitan Division by blanking the Montreal Canadiens 3-0. Antti Raanta had a 14-save shutout while Brady Skjei, Paul Stastny and Sebastian Aho scored for the 48-18-9 Hurricanes (105 points) to hold a one-point lead over the New Jersey Devils. Sam Montembeault made 47 saves for the 30-41-6 Canadiens.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Before the game, the Canadiens announced defenseman David Savard is out for the remainder of the season with a knee injury while winger Rafael Harvey-Pinard (day-to-day) was being rested due to minor injuries.
Devils defenseman Dougie Hamilton reached the 20-goal plateau for the first time in a 6-3 win over the Chicago Blackhawks. Hamilton, Timo Meier, Erik Haula and Jesper Boqvist each had a goal and an assist for the 48-20-8 Devils. Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews collected an assist in his first game since being sidelined by long COVID and chronic immune response syndrome on Jan. 28 as his club fell to 24-46-6.
Los Angeles Kings winger Kevin Fiala had a goal and an assist as his club held off the Seattle Kraken 3-1. Alex Iafallo collected two assists and Pheonix Copley made 25 saves as the Kings (44-22-10) sit one point behind the Oilers in third place in the Pacific Division with 98 points. Oliver Bjorkstand replied for the 41-26-8 Kraken as they remain three points ahead of the Winnipeg Jets in the first Western wild-card position with 90 points.
The San Jose Sharks crushed the Arizona Coyotes 7-2. Noah Gregor scored his first career NHL hat trick while Erik Karlsson had four assists for the 22-39-15 Sharks while the Coyotes dropped to 27-37-13.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: With 95 points in 76 games, Karlsson could become the first NHL defenseman to score 100 points in a season since Brian Leetch in 1991-92.