NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 24, 2023
The Hurricanes clinch a playoff berth, John Carlson makes his return to the Capitals, the Bruins continue their quest for the single-season wins record and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
NHL.COM: The Carolina Hurricanes dropped a 2-1 decision to the New York Rangers but still clinched a playoff spot for the fifth straight season. Artemi Panarin and Adam Fox scored for the 42-20-10 Rangers, who sit in third place in the Metropolitan Division with 94 points. Sebastian Aho netted his 31st goal of the season for the 46-16-8 Hurricanes as they sit on top of the Metro with 100 points.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rangers defensemen Ryan Lindgren missed this game as he remains plagued by a nagging shoulder injury that had sidelined him for 11 straight games.
The Hurricanes clinched that spot thanks to the Toronto Maple Leafs downing the Florida Panthers 6-2. Auston Matthews scored two goals and John Tavares collected three assists for the Leafs (43-19-9) as they sit in second place in the Atlantic Division with 95 points. Matthew Tkachuk netted his 35th goal of the season for the 36-29-7 Panthers (79 points) as they remain one point behind the Pittsburgh Penguins for the final Eastern Conference wild-card berth.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Eric and Marc Staal of the Panthers became the latest NHL players to opt out of wearing Pride-themed warmup jerseys for their club’s Pride Night, citing their religious beliefs. However, Eric Staal took part in a similar ceremony with the Montreal Canadiens in 2021.
A handful of players opting out of Pride Night has overshadowed the fact that most of their teammates are willingly taking part in these events.
Some teams, like the Chicago Blackhawks, opted not to participate but those were reportedly front-office decisions. The Blackhawks cited safety concerns for their Russian players over potentially violating their native country’s homophobic law banning “gay propaganda”. However, that theory was punctured by Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky taking part in his club’s Pride-themed warmup.
Washington Capitals defenseman John Carlson had a goal and an assist in a 6-1 romp over the Chicago Blackhawks. It was his first game since being in the head by a slapshot on Dec. 23 resulting in a fractured skull and severed temporal artery. Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom also had a goal and an assist for the Capitals as they improved to 34-31-8 to sit four points behind the Penguins with 76 points. Nikita Zaitsev scored for the 24-41-6 Blackhawks.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Chicago forward Colin Blackwell underwent season-ending sports hernia surgery on Wednesday.
Speaking of the Penguins, they dropped a 3-2 decision to the Dallas Stars. Joe Pavelski and Jamie Benn scored 31 seconds apart in the third period to take the lead while Joel Oettinger held off the Penguins with a 40-save performance as the Stars (39-19-14) hold first place in the Central Division with 92 points. Sidney Crosby and Pierre-Olivier Joseph replied for the 35-27-10 Penguins as they cling to the final Eastern wild-card spot with 80 points.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Stars defenseman Miro Heiskanen set a franchise record for defensemen by extending his points streak to 12 games. Penguins starting goalie Tristan Jarry missed this game with a lower-body injury.
The Boston Bruins continued their quest for the single-season wins record by doubling up the Montreal Canadiens 4-2. David Pastrnak netted his 49th of the season while Tyler Bertuzzi scored his first goal since joining the Bruins before the trade deadline. Boston sits atop the overall standings with 115 points thanks to their record of 55-11-5. Nick Suzuki and Kirby Dach replied for the 28-38-6 Canadiens.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins have 11 games remaining in their regular-season schedule to break the record of 62 wins co-held by the 1995-96 Detroit Red Wings and 2018-19 Tampa Bay Lightning. Meanwhile, the injury-ravaged Canadiens announced Josh Anderson suffered a season-ending high-ankle sprain on Tuesday against the Tampa Bay Lightning.
A shootout goal by James van Riemsdyk gave the Philadelphia Flyers a 5-4 win over the Minnesota Wild. Joel Farabee had a goal and an assist for the 27-32-10 Flyers. Matt Boldy scored twice for Minnesota (41-22-9) as they sit one point back of the first-place Stars in the Central Division. Wild defenseman John Klingberg missed this game with an upper-body injury.
The Vegas Golden Knights held off the Calgary Flames by a score of 3-2. Vegas goaltender Logan Thompson made 37 saves before leaving the game with an injury with six minutes remaining. Jonathan Quick stopped all five shots he faced as the Golden Knights (45-21-6) hold first place in the Western Conference with 96 points. Milan Lucic and Nazem Kadri replied for the 32-26-15 Flames (79 points) as they slipped six points back of the Winnipeg Jets for the final Western Conference wild-card berth.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was Thompson’s first game after missing 17 games with a leg injury. Golden Knights winger Reilly Smith also left the game with an injury during the second period.
Speaking of the Jets, they got a 3-2 win over the Anaheim Ducks when Adam Lowry broke a 2-2 tie in the third period. The win improved their record to 41-29-3 and opened a five-point cushion over the Nashville Predators with 85 points. Cam Fowler and Frank Vatrano scored for the 23-39-10 Ducks.
Meanwhile, the Predators surpassed the Flames in the standings by nipping the Seattle Kraken 2-1 on shootout goals by Matt Duchene and Philip Tomasino. Kiefer Sherwood also scored and Juuse Saro stopped 27 shots for the 36-26-8 Predators (80 points). Daniel Sprong scored for the Kraken (39-24-8) as they sit one point up on the Jets in the first wild-card spot.
The Ottawa Senators kept their playoff hopes alive with a 7-2 upset of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Alex DeBrincat and Brady Tkachuk each scored twice and Mads Sogaard stopped 27 shots for the 35-32-5 Senators (75 points) as they sit five points out of the final Eastern wild-card berth. Brayden Point tallied his 45th goal of the season for the Lightning (42-25-6) as they hold third place in the Atlantic Division with 90 points.
Vancouver Canucks forward Andrei Kuzmenko set a franchise record for most goals by a first-year player with 35 in a 7-2 drubbing of the San Jose Sharks. The Canucks improved to 32-34-5 on the season while the Sharks are 19-38-15.
The St. Louis Blues held off the Detroit Red Wings 4-3. Joel Hofer made 25 saves for the win as the Blues improved to 32-33-6. Simon Edvinsson tallied his first career NHL goal for the 31-31-9 Red Wings.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Blues forward Richard Thomas was a late scratch due to an illness.