NHL Playoffs: Montreal Canadiens vs Toronto Maple Leafs Game 2 Preview
The Lightning, Wild and Islanders win the first games of their opening-round series, plus the latest on Carey Price, Brendan Gallagher, Nathan MacKinnon and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Tampa Bay Lightning center Brayden Point scored the game-tying and winning goals as his club squeaked past the Florida Panthers 5-4 in Game 1 of their opening-round series. Tampa Bay winger Nikita Kucherov tallied two power-play goals in his first game after missing the regular season recovering from offseason hip surgery. Jonathan Huberdeau had a goal and two assists for the Panthers. Game 2 of this series is on Tuesday evening.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was the best game of the playoffs thus far. It could end up being the best series of the first round if the Lightning and Panthers maintain the pace this set in Game 1. Kucherov showed no signs of rust in his first game of this season. The Panthers must play a more disciplined style. Three of the Bolts’ goals came with the man advantage.
An overtime goal by Joel Eriksson Ek gave the Minnesota Wild a 1-0 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 1 of their first-round series. Cam Talbot kicked out 42 shots for the shutout while Vegas’ Marc-Andre Fleury made 29 saves. They meet again in Game 2 on Tuesday.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was an entertaining game despite the low score. Both clubs had plenty of good scoring opportunities but the goaltenders were superb. The Golden Knights were without sniper Max Pacioretty. He’s been sidelined since May 1 by an undisclosed injury.
The New York Islanders nipped the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-3 on an overtime goal by Kyle Palmieri, who also opened the scoring. Ilya Sorokin picked up the first playoff victory of his career with a 39-save performance while teammate Jean-Gabriel Pageau had a three-point game. Game 2 of this series is also on Tuesday night.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pittsburgh goaltender Tristan Jarry was shaky in this contest. Every goal beat him high to the glove side. Penguins center Evgeni Malkin missed the game with an undisclosed injury. Sorokin got the start as Isles starter Semyon Varlamov was out with a lower-body injury.
An overtime goal by Elias Lindholm lifted the Calgary Flames over the Vancouver Canucks 6-5 after the Canucks overcame a 5-1 deficit to force overtime. Brock Boeser scored twice for the Canucks. Both clubs face each other two more times before their regular-season schedule is complete.
SPORTSNET: Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price and winger Brendan Gallagher have been assigned to the club’s AHL affiliate in Laval on a long-term injury conditioning stint. Both are expected to be in the Canadiens lineup for Game 1 of their first-round series against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some Canadiens followers freaked out on social media over this decision because they’re afraid one or both could get hurt playing a meaningless AHL game. However, the Habs want both players to get in some game action before Game 1 due to their long absences from the lineup.
THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon will be in the lineup when his club faces off tonight against the St. Louis Blues in the opening game of their first-round series. He missed four of the Avs’ final five regular-season contests with minor injuries.
NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Evgeny Kuznetsov and Ilya Samsonov returned to the ice yesterday for the Capitals optional practice. Both had been on the COVID-19 protocol list since May 4.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s unclear who will back up Craig Anderson for Game 2 tonight against the Boston Bruins. Anderson replaced Vitek Vanecek in Game 1 when the latter suffered a lower-body injury. Kuznetsov, meanwhile, could be several days away from rejoining the lineup.
TORONTO SUN: Jack Campbell will get the start for the Maple Leafs when they faced the Canadiens on Thursday. Winger Zach Hyman is also expected to return to action after being sidelined since April 18 by a sprained knee.
THE ATHLETIC: John Tortorella reportedly wanted to step down last offseason as head coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets. One of the reasons he stayed was because Nick Foligno convinced him to return for one last season.
A record-setting performance for Leafs goaltender Jack Campbell, the NHL extends the end of the regular season as the Canucks get a date to return to action, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines
NHL.COM: Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Jack Campbell set an NHL record with his 11th consecutive win in a 6-5 victory over the Ottawa Senators. Toronto center Auston Matthews tallied a hat trick to push his league-leading goal total to 31. The Leafs sit atop the Scotia North Division and the NHL overall standings with 59 points.
Connor Hellebuyck turned aside 19 shots as the Winnipeg Jets shut out the Montreal Canadiens 5-0. Nikolaj Ehlers, Mathieu Perreault and Andrew Copp each had a goal and an assist as the Jets (53 points) hold a one-point lead over the Edmonton Oilers for second place in the North.
Speaking of the Oilers, they were blanked 5-0 by the Calgary Flames. Jacob Markstrom made 17 saves for the shutout while Johnny Gaudreau and Mark Giordano each had a goal and an assist. The Flames (37 points) are six points back of the fourth-place Canadiens.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers were listless in this game for a good reason. The NHL rescheduled this game for Saturday despite the fact the Oilers had previously scheduled a memorial service earlier in the day for their late teammate Colby Cave. Cave passed away a year ago today. Oilers captain Connor McDavid and his teammates justifiably questioned the league’s decision to play that game following the service.
A shootout goal by Adam Erne gave the Detroit Red Wings a 5-4 win over the Carolina Hurricanes. Martin Necas and Dougie Hamilton each had a goal and an assist for Carolina. The Hurricanes are tied with the Tampa Bay Lightning with 58 points but hold first place in the Discover Central Division over the Lightning because they hold a game in hand.
Andrei Vasilevskiy had a 36-save shutout performance to carry his Tampa Bay Lightning over the Nashville Predators 3-0. Yanni Gourde had a goal and an assist. Nashville holds fourth in the Central with 45 points. Predators defenseman Ryan Ellis returned to action after missing 20 games with an upper-body injury.
The Florida Panthers (56 points) suffered their third straight defeat by dropping a 4-1 decision to the Dallas Stars. Jason Robertson scored twice and Anton Khudobin made 20 saves as the Stars (40 points) moved to within five points of the fourth-place Predators in the Central Division. The Panthers slipped to third place, two points behind the Hurricanes and Lightning.
A four-goal rally by the Chicago Blackhawks enabled them to overcome a 2-0 deficit and hold off the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-3. Alex DeBrincat had a goal and an assist for the Blackhawks (43 points), who sit two points behind the Predators.
An overtime goal by Ryan O’Reilly lifted the St. Louis Blues over the Minnesota Wild 3-2. Mike Hoffman scored twice for St. Louis in his first game after being a healthy scratch from the previous two contests. The Blues regains fourth place in the Honda West Division with 44 points, one ahead of the Arizona Coyotes.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hoffman is considered among the top trade targets heading into tomorrow’s NHL trade deadline. It’ll be interesting to see if last night’s performance stokes further interest in his services from contenders seeking forward depth.
Dustin Brown, Jeff Carter and Andreas Athanasiou each had a goal and an assist as the Los Angeles Kings doubled up the San Jose Sharks 4-2. The loss leaves the Sharks stalled in sixth place in the West with 40 points, four back of the Blues.
Sean Couturier snapped a 2-2 tie in the third period as his Philadelphia Flyers edged the Boston Bruins 3-2. Travis Konecny had a goal and an assist and Brian Elliott made 30 saves as the Flyers (44 points) moved within four points of the fourth-place Bruins in the MassMutual East Division. Boston defenseman Matt Grzelcyk left the game after the second period with an upper-body injury.
The NHL announced the Vancouver Canucks can return to play on Friday, April 16 after having eight games postponed due to a COVID-19 outbreak. The Canucks last played on March 24. The league also announced it is extending the regular-season schedule to May 16 to allow the Canucks sufficient time to complete those games.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The regular season was originally slated to end on May 8. It had been extended once already to May 11.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: The Oilers placed forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins on injured reserve and recalled James Neal and Tyler Ennis. Both played in last night’s game against the Flames.
THE SCORE: cites a report by Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman saying the Los Angeles Kings have opened contract talks with winger Andreas Athanasiou.
NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: The Blackhawks held forward Mattias Janmark out of last night’s game against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Coach Jeremy Colliton said it was an organizational decision and not based on Janmark’s performance.
A franchise record for Leafs’ goalie Jack Campbell, hat tricks for Leon Draisaitl and Kevin Fiala, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Toronto Maple Leafs’ goaltender Jack Campbell set a franchise record with his 10th consecutive win to hold off the Montreal Canadiens 3-2. Campbell made 32 saves while teammate Auston Matthews tallied his league-leading 28th goal of the season. Corey Perry scored twice for the Canadiens. The Leafs moved into first place in the league’s overall standings with 58 points as they hold a seven-point lead over the Edmonton Oilers for first in the Scotia North Division. The Canadiens remain in fourth with 43 points.
The Oilers, meanwhile, doubled up the Ottawa Senators 4-2 thanks to Leon Draisaitl’s hat trick. Draisaitl and Connor McDavid (three assists) each finished with four points on the night. The Oilers (50 points) hold a one-point lead over the third-place Winnipeg Jets.
A hat trick by Kevin Fiala (the first of his NHL career) powered the Minnesota Wild to an 8-3 drubbing of the Colorado Avalanche. Fiala finished with four points while Wild rookies Kirill Kapizov scored twice and collected an assist while Victor Rask and Jared Spurgeon each had three helpers. The Wild (50 points) snapped the Avalanche’s 15-game points streak and moved within two points of the second-place Vegas Golden Knights (52 points) in the Honda West Division.
Speaking of the Golden Knights, they dropped a 3-1 decision to the St. Louis Blues and remain four points back of the first-place Avalanche. Jordan Binnington made 50 saves and Vladimir Tarasenko netted his third goal of the season as the Blues (40 points) snapped a seven-game winless skid to move two points ahead of the San Jose Sharks into fifth place.
A three-goal outburst in the third period rallied the Los Angeles Kings over the Arizona Coyotes 4-3. The Coyotes remain in fourth place in the West with 43 points.
THE PROVINCE: The Vancouver Canucks have 21 players who’ve tested positive for COVID-19. As the cases spread among the team, the NHL remains committed to having the team complete its schedule. NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said the league has a plan in place to allow the Canucks to complete the season.
TWINCITIES.COM: Minnesota Wild winger Zach Parise played his first game last night since March 22 after testing positive for COVID-19. He’s not fully convinced he had the coronavirus as he didn’t feel any symptoms.
THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Stars coach Rick Bowness rejoined his team in Chicago after a false positive COVID-19 test forced him into quarantine for the past two games.
TSN: Toronto Maple Leafs’ winger William Nylander was held out of last night’s game against the Montreal Canadiens as a precaution after coming in contact with a potential positive COVID-19 case from outside the team.
Montreal Canadiens winger Brendan Gallagher has been placed on long-term injury reserve as he’s expected to be sidelined at least six weeks with a fractured thumb.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That will allow the Canadiens to exceed the cap by almost the equivalent of Gallagher’s $3.75 million cap hit if they decide to acquire another player before the 3 pm ET trade deadline on Monday.
WINNIPEG SUN: Jets captain Blake Wheeler has been sidelined indefinitely by a concussion. It’s believed he suffered the injury after being elbowed in the head by Ottawa’s Brady Tkachuk during Monday’s game between the Jets and Senators.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s a big loss for the Jets. Wheeler usually skates at right wing on their top line though of late he’s also played on their second line. He’s fourth among their scorers with 10 goals and 32 points.
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Blue Jackets forward Boone Jenner is out for six weeks with a broken finger.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A significant blow for the struggling Blue Jackets as they try to stay in playoff contention in the Discover Central Division. Jenner’s a big, hard-working forward who can play center or wing. They’ll miss his energy and physical game.
STLTODAY.COM: Blues winger Mike Hoffman was a healthy scratch from last night’s game against the Golden Knights. Head coach Craig Berube denied it has anything to do with his trade status, claiming it was his decision to put Sammy Blais into the lineup.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hoffman’s come up in recent days as a trade candidate with the Blues’ playoff hopes fading. He could be playing elsewhere by Monday’s deadline.
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: The Blackhawks purchased AHL affiliate Rockford IceHogs and signed a new 15-year lease with the club’s arena.
Recaps of Saturday’s action, the Avalanche acquire goalie Jonas Johansson from the Sabres, plus the latest on Connor McDavid, Sean Couturier and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Connor McDavid became the first player to reach 60 points this season as his Edmonton Oilers overcame a 2-0 deficit to double up the Winnipeg Jets 4-2. McDavid had a goal and an assist for the Oilers (42 points), moving them into a tie with the first-place Toronto Maple Leafs in the Scotia North Division. He’s also tied with Toronto’s Auston Matthews for the league lead in goals with 21.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: McDavid is making a convincing case for the Hart Memorial Trophy this season.
Jack Campbell returned to the Toronto Maple Leafs net and turned in a 30-save shutout to douse the Calgary Flames 2-0. Campbell had been sidelined three weeks with a lower-body injury. Jason Spezza and Zach Hyman scored for the Leafs, who end a three-game losing skid and remain atop the North Division with 42 points with two games in hand over the second-place Oilers. Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen was unavailable to back up Campbell because of a lower-body injury, forcing an emergency recall of Michael Hutchinson.
Andrei Vasilevskiy made 30 saves for his 11th straight victory as the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Chicago Blackhawks 4-1. Victor Hedman had three assists while Steven Stamkos tallied a goal and picked up an assist. The Lightning (46 points) have the league’s best record and sit atop the Discover Central Division. The Blackhawks (33 points) find themselves tied with the Columbus Blue Jackets for fourth.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: After exceeding expectations through the first two months the Blackhawks appear to be crashing back to earth. They’ve dropped four straight games and seven of nine contests in March.
Panthers’ goaltender Chris Driedger made 21 saves to shut out the Nashville Predators 2-0. Anthony Duclair had a goal and an assist for the Panthers (44 points), who sit two behind the first-place Lightning in the Central Division.
Sidney Crosby collected two assists and Bryan Rust tallied the game-winner as the Pittsburgh Penguins downed the New Jersey Devils 3-1. The Penguins played without Branden Tanev as he was a late scratch with an upper-body injury. With 39 points, the Penguins hold a three-point lead over the fourth-place Boston Bruins in the MassMutual East Division.
A 31-save shutout by Philipp Grubauer carried the Colorado Avalanche to a 6-0 blanking of the Minnesota Wild. Nathan MacKinnon collected three assists while Gabriel Landeskog had a goal and two helpers as the Avalanche (40 points) sit three points behind the first-place Vegas Golden Knights in the Honda West Division. Earlier in the day, the Avalanche acquired goaltender Jonas Johansson from the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for a sixth-round pick in the 2021 NHL Draft.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Avs also recalled Adam Werner from their AHL affiliate. The Athletic’s Peter Baugh doesn’t believe the Johansson acquisition resolved the Avalanche’s need for a reliable backup for Grubauer. “The moves feel like a stopgap, not a solution,” he said, pointing out neither Johansson nor Werner has a save percentage better than .900 or more than 15 games of NHL experience.
Mika Zibanejad tallied the game-winner as the New York Rangers upset the Washington Capitals 3-1. Zibanejad and Pavel Buchnevich each had a goal and an assist. Earlier in the day, the Rangers confirmed Kris Knoblauch will remain acting head coach for at least two more games as head coach David Quinn remains on the COVID-19 protocol list. They also announced defenseman Jack Johnson will be sidelined for the remainder of the season recovering from core-muscle surgery. Meanwhile, the Capitals (44 points) remain atop the Eastern Division.
A four-goal first period carried the New York Islanders over the Philadelphia Flyers 6-1. Casey Cizikas scored twice while defenseman Thomas Hickey picked up two assists in his first game with the Isles in nearly two years after his career was nearly derailed by injuries. Flyers center Sean Couturier was a late scratch with a lower-body injury. The Isles (44 points) have the same amount of points as Washington but sit second in the East as the Capitals hold a game in hand. The Flyers, meanwhile, remain in fifth place with 33 points.
Shootout goals by Patrik Laine and Oliver Bjorkstand gave the Columbus Blue Jackets a 3-2 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes. Seth Jones tied the game for the Jackets with 29 seconds left in regulation while Elvis Merzlikins kicked out 35 shots for the win. The Jackets are tied with the fourth-place Blackhawks in the Central while the Hurricanes (43 points) are two points back of the second-place Panthers.
The Dallas Stars shut out the Detroit Red Wings 3-0 on a 21-save effort by Anton Khudobin. Tanner Kero, Andrej Sekera and Ty Dellandrea were the goal scorers. With 27 points, the Stars move to within five points of the Blue Jackets and Blackhawks for fourth in the Central.
Tomas Tatar tallied the shootout winner as the Montreal Canadiens edged the Vancouver Canucks 5-4, snapping a nine-game losing skid for the Habs in extra time. Tatar also had a goal and an assist in regulation for Montreal. The Canadiens played without Tyler Toffoli, who’s day-to-day with a lower-body injury. The win gives the fourth-place Habs (37 points) a two-point lead over the Canucks in the North Division.
Ryan O’Reilly and David Perron each had a goal and three assists to give the St. Louis Blues a 5-2 decision over the San Jose Sharks. Jordan Kyrou scored twice and picked up an assist for the Blues (37 points), who are tied with the Wild in the West Division but remain in fourth place because the Wild have two games in hand. Earlier in the day, they announced forward Oskar Sundqvist is done for the season with a torn ACL in his left knee.
A hat trick by Derick Brassard carried the Arizona Coyotes over the Anaheim Ducks 5-1. Jakob Chychrun had a goal and an assist for the Coyotes.