NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 14, 2023
More scoring milestones were reached by Sidney Crosby and Nathan MacKinnon, a big night for Jets winger Gabriel Vilardi, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
NHL.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby scored two goals and set up another to rally his club to a 4-3 win over the Montreal Canadiens. Jansen Harkins netted the winning goal in the 12th round of the shootout as the Penguins improved to 13-12-3 (29 points) to sit two points out of the final Eastern Conference wild-card berth. Sean Monahan tallied his ninth goal of the season for the 12-13-4 Canadiens, who sit a point back of the Penguins.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Crosby is now tied with Hall-of-Famer (and former teammate) Mark Recchi for 13th on the all-time points list with 1,533. He’s just six points behind Joe Thornton, who sits 12th with 1,539.
Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon extended his points streak to 13 games as his club downed the Buffalo Sabres 5-1. MacKinnon collected two assists, Mikko Rantanen had a goal and two assists while Valeri Nichushkin tallied twice for the 18-9-2 Avalanche, who hold a two-point lead over the Winnipeg Jets for first place in the Central Division with 38 points. Zach Benson scored for the 12-15-3 Sabres, who’ve dropped seven of their last 10 games.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: MacKinnon also reached the 800-point milestone, becoming the fifth-fastest active player to do so. Sabres forward Jeff Skinner left this game with an upper-body injury.
Colorado fans gave former Avalanche defenseman Erik Johnson a standing ovation in his first game at Ball Arena since signing with the Sabres this summer. He spent nearly 13 seasons with the Avs and helped them win the Stanley Cup in 2022.
Speaking of the Jets, they rolled to a 5-2 win over the Los Angeles Kings. Gabriel Vilardi had a career-high four points (one goal, three assists) against his former club while Nikolaj Ehlers scored twice and collected two assists and Mark Scheifele had two goals and an assist for the 17-9-2 Jets. Anze Kopitar and Alex Laferriere scored for the Kings (16-6-4) as they blew a 2-0 lead and sit third in the Pacific Division with 36 points.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was reported before this game that Jets winger Kyle Connor is expected to be sidelined for six to eight weeks with a lower-body (knee) injury.
An overtime goal by Jack Hughes lifted the New Jersey Devils over the Boston Bruins 2-1. Dawson Mercer tied the game in the third period for the Devils (15-11-1), who sit behind the Washington Capitals for the final Eastern wild-card spot with 31 points. Jeremy Swayman stopped 33 shots while Morgan Geekie had the only goal for the Bruins (18-5-4) as they sit atop the Eastern Conference standings with 40 points.
The New York Islanders nipped the Anaheim Ducks 4-3 on a shorthanded goal by Simon Holmstrom with 1:33 remaining in the third period. Noah Dobson collected two assists for the Islanders (14-7-7) as they sit second in the Metropolitan Division with 35 points. John Gibson made 30 saves for the Ducks (10-18-0) as they’ve lost four in a row and nine of their last 10.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Islanders activated defenseman Sebastian Aho off injured reserve for this game.
TSN: The St. Louis Blues hired former all-star center Brad Richards as a consultant to work with the club’s power play under interim coach Drew Bannister. Meanwhile, winger Jakub Vrana cleared waivers and was sent to the Blues’ AHL affiliate in Springfield.
SPORTSNET: The Minnesota Wild and assistant general manager Chris O’Hearn have agreed to “mutually part ways”. No reason was given for this move. The Athletic’s Michael Russo pointed out that O’Hearn was general manager Bill Guerin’s right-hand man as well as the club’s chief contract negotiator.
CBS SPORTS: Speaking of the Wild, they placed defenseman Jonas Brodin (upper body) on long-term injury reserve.
THE ATHLETIC: Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis yesterday announced plans to move his club (and the NBA’s Washington Wizards) from downtown Washington to a new arena in Northern Virginia by 2028, pending legislative approval.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As noted yesterday, the new arena would be 20 minutes away from their current location in the Capital One Arena, which has been home to the Capitals and Wizards since 1997-98.
TSN: The NHL recently announced the skills competition for the 2024 All-Star Game will be modified to showcase 12 players competing for points across eight different events, with the winner receiving a $1 million prize.