NHL Playoffs: Toronto Maple Leafs vs Montreal Canadiens Game 3 Preview
Game recaps, the latest on Zach Werenski, Bobby Ryan and William Nylander, the Avalanche reacquire Patrik Nemeth, the Leafs deal for Riley Nash, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin tallied career goal 727 in a 4-3 win over the Buffalo Sabres. Capitals defenseman Justin Schultz had a goal and two assists. Ovechkin is four goals shy of Hall of Famer Marcel Dionne for fifth on the NHL’s all-time goals list. The Capitals are tied with the New York Islanders with 56 points but hold first place in the MassMutual East Division on the basis of regulation wins (21).
The Islanders, meanwhile, dropped a 4-1 decision to the New York Rangers. Alexandar Georgiev made 31 saves for the win in his first start in 11 games while teammate Adam Fox’s point streak ended at 12 games. Blueshirts winger Artemi Panarin collected two assists.
Sidney Crosby scored and added two helpers to lead the Pittsburgh Penguins over the New Jersey Devils 6-4. Pittsburgh winger Bryan Rust scored two goals and chipped in an assist while Devils winger Miles Wood tallied twice. The Penguins have won seven of their last nine contests and sit two points behind the second-place Islanders.
Colorado Avalanche goaltender Jonas Johansson made 28 saves for his first career NHL shutout in a 2-0 blanking of the Anaheim Ducks. Valeri Nichushkin and Mikko Rantanen were the goal scorers as Colorado won their sixth game in their last seven outings. They canceled their practice earlier in the day after Bo Byram was placed on the NHL COVID-19 protocol list. The Avs sit atop the Honda West Division with 58 points.
A four-goal first period powered the Vegas Golden Knights to a 7-4 victory over the Arizona Coyotes. Reilly Smith scored two goals for the Golden Knights, who remain four points back of the Avalanche in second place. Phil Kessel collected three assists for Arizona and took over sole possession of fifth place on the NHL’s Ironman list by skating in his 885th consecutive game. The Coyotes are in fourth place with 43 points.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kessel is quite durable for someone who is sometimes mocked because his physical appearance isn’t that of a prototypical NHL player. As the old saying goes, don’t judge a book by its cover.
St. Louis Blues center Ryan O’Reilly tallied a hat trick in a 9-1 thumping of the Minnesota Wild. Jaden Schwartz scored twice while Justin Faulk and Sammy Blais each had a goal and two assists. The Blues moved within one point of the Coyotes while the Wild remain in third place with 50 points.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blues made winger Mike Hoffman a healthy scratch for the second straight game. He’s among the top names being bandied about the NHL rumor mill and could be on the move before Monday’s trade deadline.
Brent Burns collected three assists and Martin Jones made 32 saves as the San Jose Sharks downed the Los Angeles Kings 5-2. The surging Sharks sit three back of the Coyotes.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The race for that final playoff berth in the West is getting interesting. The Coyotes are trying to hang on, the Blues are battling to overcome a recent season-threatening losing skid while the Sharks are trying to keep their postseason hopes alive.
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Blue Jackets defenseman Zach Werenski will undergo season-ending sports hernia surgery next week.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A difficult season for the Blue Jackets just got a lot worse with their best puck-moving defenseman on the shelf. This could be the last nail in the coffin for their playoff hopes.
THE DETROIT NEWS: Red Wings forward Bobby Ryan appears to be done for the season after suffering an upper-body injury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ryan was expected to draw some interest in the trade market leading up to Monday’s deadline. Nagging injuries have plagued the 34-year-old winger throughout this season.
ESPN: The Nashville Predators placed winger Filip Forsberg on injured reserve and announced winger Eeli Tolvanen (lower body) and defenseman Dante Fabbro (upper body) are week-to-week. Right wing Mathieu Olivier will be sidelined for four-to-six weeks with a lower-body injury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Predators surged into playoff contention in recent weeks in the Discover Central Division. This latest rash of injuries could threaten their efforts to clinch a postseason berth.
TSN: Vancouver Canucks general manager Jim Benning said many of his 21 players who tested positive for COVID-19 are feeling better. He expects his club will be able to complete its 56-game schedule, adding none of his players want to opt-out of the remainder of the season. Benning anticipates most of his players will be back on the ice once the team receives clearance to reopen its practice facility.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens prospect Cole Caufield is the 2021 winner of the Hobey Baker Award as the top player in US college hockey.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Caufield celebrated by scoring two goals in his pro debut as the Laval Rocket downed the Toronto Marlies 5-3 in AHL action on Friday.
TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs acquired center Riley Nash from the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for a conditional seventh-round pick in 2022.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nash is sidelined for four-to-six weeks with a sprained knee. However, Leafs general manager Kyle Dubas can place him and his $2.75 million cap hit on long-term injury reserve, giving them the flexibility to perhaps make another move before Monday’s trade deadline. A clever move by Dubas, who’s done this sort of thing in the past to provide himself some much-needed cap relief. Nash will also join the Leafs for the playoffs.
TORONTO STAR: Speaking of the Leafs, winger William Nylander will be sidelined for a week on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list after coming in contact with someone who tested positive for the coronavirus.
THE DENVER POST: The Colorado Avalanche reacquired defenseman Patrik Nemeth from the Detroit Red Wings in exchange for a 2022 fourth-round pick. Nemeth spent two seasons with the Avalanche (2017 to 2019). The Wings are also retaining half of his $3 million salary-cap hit.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Avalanche also have $5.4 million in cap wiggle room with Erik Johnson and Pavel Francouz on LTIR. GM Joe Sakic might not be done dealing as concern remains over the Avs’ goaltending depth.
NJ.COM: The New Jersey Devils placed winger Nikita Gusev on unconditional waivers for the purpose of terminating his contract. He’ll become an unrestricted free agent if he clears at noon ET today.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gusev had a promising NHL debut with 44 points in 66 games last season but struggled under head coach Lindy Ruff this season and has just five points in 20 games. The 27-year-old winger might regain his scoring touch with another club.
WGR 550: The Buffalo Sabres claimed forward Drake Caggiula off waivers from the Arizona Coyotes.
Recaps of Saturday’s action, the Rangers and Kings make a trade, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Third-period goals by Nick Ritchie and Craig Smith lifted the Boston Bruins over the Buffalo Sabres 3-2, handing the latter their 17th straight loss. Boston winger Brad Marchand missed the game when he was placed on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list. With 39 points, the Bruins hold a three-point lead over the Philadelphia Flyers for fourth place in the MassMutual East Division.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sabres were actually the better team through the first two periods but couldn’t close the deal in the third.
The Flyers ended a four-game losing skid by edging the New York Rangers 2-1. Samuel Morin’s first NHL goal was the game-winner. The Rangers (34 points) sit two points behind the Flyers and five back of the Bruins.
Max Pacioretty’s overtime goal gave the Vegas Golden Knights a 3-2 victory over the Colorado Avalanche. The Golden Knights (47 points) hold a one-point lead for first place in the Honda West Division over the Avalanche, who extended their points streak to 10 games.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was the day’s most entertaining game and perhaps a preview of a playoff series between these two clubs later this spring.
Detroit Red Wings goaltender Calvin Pickard made 21 saves for his first win since 2018 by backstopping his club to a 3-1 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Dylan Larkin collected two assists and Robby Fabbri tallied what proved to be the game-winner as the Wings snapped a three-game losing streak. The loss leaves the Blue Jackets (34 points) one point behind the fifth-place Nashville Predators and three back of the fourth-place Chicago Blackhawks in the Discover Central Division.
Martin Necas scored twice and added two assists to lead the Carolina Hurricanes over the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-3. Teammate Dougie Hamilton picked up an assist to extend his team points record to 14 games. Pat Maroon had a goal and an assist for Tampa Bay. With 49 points, the Hurricanes sit one back of the first-place Lightning in the Central Division.
An overtime goal by Auston Matthews lifted the Toronto Maple Leafs over the Edmonton Oilers by a score of 4-3. The Leafs overcame a 3-1 deficit on third-period tallies from John Tavares and William Nylander. Leon Draisaitl had a goal and two assists for the Oilers while Connor McDavid collected two assists. The win gives the Leafs (46 points) a two-point lead over the Winnipeg Jets for first place in the Scotia North Division. The Oilers sit one behind the Jets.
A hat trick by Bryan Rust powered the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 6-3 win over the New York Islanders, bringing goalie Ilya Sorokin’s eight-game win streak to an end. Sidney Crosby had a goal and an assist for the Penguins (46 points), who move within two points of the second-place Islanders in the MassMutual East.
The Nashville Predators picked up their fourth straight victory by downing the Chicago Blackhawks 3-1. Luke Kunin collected two assists in his first game since being sidelined on Feb. 28 with a lower-body injury. Blackhawks center Kirby Dach was held pointless in his season debut after missing 34 games with a fractured wrist. The win moves the Predators (35 points) just two points behind the fourth-place Blackhawks in the Central.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nashville defenseman Mattias Ekholm and forward Mikael Granlund are considered among the players most likely to move by the April 12 trade deadline. That could change, however, if the Predators overtake the Blackhawks.
Aaron Ekblad scored the game-winner as the Florida Panthers edged the Dallas Stars 4-3 in overtime. Ekblad tallied earlier in the frame but that goal was overturned on an offside review. Carter Verhaeghe had a hat trick for the Panthers (46 points), who remain three points back of the second-place Hurricanes in the Central. The Stars (31 points) sit six points behind the fourth-place Blackhawks but hold four games in hand.
The Arizona Coyotes got a natural hat trick from Phil Kessel and a 34-save shutout performance from Adin Hill to blank the San Jose Sharks 4-0. The Coyotes have won three straight and move into a tie with the St. Louis Blues with 37 points in the West Division. The Blues, however, hold fourth place with a game in hand.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Coyotes were expected to become sellers at the April 12 trade deadline. That will change if they stay in the thick of the West Division playoff race.
Third-period goals by Andrew Mangiapane and Sam Bennett enable the Calgary Flames to double up the Winnipeg Jets 4-2 and snap a four-game losing skid. Calgary winger Johnny Gaudreau collected an assist in his 500th career NHL game. The Flames (35 points) move two points behind the fourth-place Montreal Canadiens in the North Division.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gaudreau showed a lot of energy in this game after being publicly called out by head coach Darryl Sutter before this contest.
NEW YORK POST: The New York Rangers traded winger Brendan Lemieux to the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for a fourth-round pick in the 2021 NHL Draft.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Post reports the Rangers were looking to free up a roster spot, perhaps for promising Vitali Kravtsov after he recently joined the team following a stellar season in the KHL. Lemieux, 25, will bring some grit to the rebuilding Kings’ checking lines.
TSN: Boston Bruins defenseman John Moore will be sidelined five-to-six months after electing to undergo hip arthroscopy and labral repair on March 22. He appeared in just five games this season.
ARIZONA SPORTS: Coyotes forward Nick Schmaltz was fined $5,000.00 by the NHL’s department of player safety for boarding San Jose Sharks defenseman Radim Simek on Friday.
TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins forwards Brandon Tanev and Mark Jankowski were placed on the NHL COVID-19 protocol list.
CBS SPORTS: Colorado Avalanche forward Matt Calvert is listed as week-to-week with an undisclosed injury.
New York Islanders forward Michael Dal Colle will miss the next two games with a lower-body injury.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens signed high-touted US college prospect forward Cole Caufield to a three-year entry-level contract. He will start his pro career with the Habs’ AHL affiliate in Laval. Caufield is a finalist for the Hobey Baker Award.
Recaps of Monday’s action, the Leafs acquire Alex Galchenyuk, three stars of the week and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Darcy Kuemper made 24 saves for the shutout while Clayton Keller scored the only goal as the Arizona Coyotes blanked the St. Louis Blues 1-0. The Coyotes took four of the seven games in this series. Blues defenseman Torey Krug left the game after the second period with an upper-body injury and is listed as day-to-day.
The New York Islanders defeated the Buffalo Sabres 3-1. Jean-Gabriel Pageau scored and Josh Bailey collected two assists for the Islanders while Victor Olofsson tallied for Buffalo. It was the Sabres’ first game since their schedule was paused after Jan. 31 due to COVID-19.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The long layoff adversely affected the Sabres’ performance in this contest. They had nine shot attempts in the third period but none of them reached the net.
Evgenii Dadonov scored the tying and winning goals as the Ottawa Senators roared back from a 5-1 deficit to upset the Toronto Maple Leafs 6-5 in overtime. Auston Matthews scored twice for the Leafs while teammate Joe Thornton had a goal and an assist in his return after missing 10 games to a rib injury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Senators deserve credit for not giving up after falling behind by four goals. However, the Leafs were their own worst enemies as complacency seemed to set in after they took that big lead.
Speaking of the Leafs, they acquired forward Alex Galchenyuk from the Carolina Hurricanes for forward Egor Korshkov and David Warsofsky.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Galchenyuk is on the move just two days after being acquired by the Hurricanes from the Senators. He’s now on his seventh team since 2018 and is expected to join the Leafs’ farm club because he already cleared waivers before the trade went down. He also doesn’t have to quarantine because he was still in Ottawa preparing to head to Carolina when this deal went down.
The Leafs were in the market for a depth forward. Acquiring Galchenyuk is an affordable move to bring in some additional experience.
And speaking of the Hurricanes, they tallied six unanswered goals to defeat the Columbus Blue Jackets 7-3. Teuvo Teravainen scored twice and set up two others, Brock McGinn had a goal and three assists, Jordan Staal netted two goals and James Reimer made 37 saves for the win.
The Florida Panthers held off the Tampa Bay Lightning 6-4, handing the latter their first home loss of the season. Aleksander Barkov, Jonathan Huberdeau and Anton Stralman each had a goal and an assist for the Panthers. Alexander Volkov tallied twice for the Lightning.
Dominik Kubalik scored twice, including the winner in overtime as the Chicago Blackhawks edged the Detroit Red Wings 3-2. The Wings overcame a two-goal deficit to force the extra frame.
The Winnipeg Jets downed the Edmonton Oilers 6-5 as Blake Wheeler tallied the winning goal in the third period. Jets center Mark Scheifele had a goal and two assists. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Alex Chiasson each scored twice for the Oilers as they overcame 4-2 and 5-3 deficits.
Johnny Gaudreau’s overtime goal lifted the Calgary Flames to a 4-3 victory over the Vancouver Canucks. The Flames rallied back from a 2-0 deficit to take a 3-2 lead until Brock Boeser force overtime with a shorthanded goal late in the third period.
San Jose Sharks captain Logan Couture had a goal and an assist to lead his club over the Anaheim Ducks 3-2.
Columbus Blue Jackets winger Cam Atkinson, Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury and Pittsburgh Penguins winger Bryan Rust are the NHL’s three stars for the week ending Feb. 14.
THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: The Stars postponed their game last night against the Nashville Predators at the request of Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson as a severe winter storm left hundreds of thousands of Dallas residents without power.
NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: The Flyers canceled practice on Monday at the request of the NHL as a measure of caution. The club has seven players on the COVID-19 protocol list. They are still scheduled to practice today. They’ve been shut down for a week now.
BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Bruins defensemen Matt Grzelcyk and Jakub Zboril are still nursing injuries and are questionable for Thursday’s game against the New Jersey Devils.
NEW YORK POST: Rangers defenseman K’Andre Miller is listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin believes prospect forward Cole Caufield will turn pro at the conclusion of his college season with the University of Wisconsin. It’s uncertain if Caufield will play any games with the Canadiens this season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Caufield’s offensive exploits in college play and in the 2021 World Juniors have generated plenty of anticipation among Habs fans. Time will tell if he can successfully make the jump into the NHL.
THE ATLANTIC: NHL Hall-of-Fame goaltender Ken Dryden believes oversized upper-body goaltending equipment has changed the game and not for the better. He feels expanding the net is a viable solution.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dryden makes a compelling case. He points to golf-club technology making championship courses longer, how a lighter soccer ball now makes it possible for players to curve or drop shots around a goaltender, and how the three-point shot eventually improved scoring in basketball.
A Senators player tests positive for COVID-19, NHL players propose a summer postseason schedule, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
SENATORS PLAYER TESTS POSITIVE FOR COVID-19, SEVERAL TEAMMATES BEING TESTED
NHL.COM: The Ottawa Senators released a statement indicating one of their players tested positive for COVID-19. The unnamed player has mild symptoms and is in isolation. The club also indicated they’re in the process of notifying anyone who had known close contact with the player and is working closely with team doctors and public health officials.
THE ATHLETIC: Other Senators players are believed to be ill and they’re awaiting test results. It’s thought the infection occurred when the Senators played the Los Angeles Kings on March 11 at Staples Center, the day after the NBA’s Brooklyn Nets (who have four players who tested positive for COVID-19) played the Lakers at the same arena. The Sens also played games against the Ducks in Anaheim and the Sharks in San Jose and could’ve picked up the virus in one of those locations.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was inevitable an NHL player would test positive for COVID-19. Here’s hoping whoever it makes a full recovery, while the others receive negative results from their tests.
NHL.COM: A relative of a Buffalo Sabres employee tested positive for COVID-19 outside of New York state. They are receiving care and are in isolation outside the state.
MORE PROPOSALS FOR SAVING THE 2019-20 NHL SEASON
TSN: Frank Seravalli reports some NHL players have proposed resuming the season in July and August after recent reports from health experts suggest resuming the season in May or June seem overly optimistic. They’d rather not jump straight into the postseason, preferring a shortened regular-season schedule (following a brief training camp) that ends in late-July, followed by a two-month playoff run finishing in late-September.
After that, the proposal suggested a three-to-four week transition in October to allow for the draft, free agency and training camps. The 2020-21 season would follow with a condensed, 82-game regular-season schedule. The proposal is making its way to the NHL Players Association and potentially to the league,
The NHL is willing to consider all options to salvage this season. Seravalli pointed out the players’ proposal is similar to one recently pitched by a league governor. The biggest concerns, however, is broadcast availability (NBC Sports is covering the 2020 Summer Olympics from July 24 to Aug. 6) and arena availability.
SPORTSNET: Chris Johnston examined how a 24-team Stanley Cup playoffs could look following a halted season. Based on the seedings, the first-round matchups would look like this:
Pittsburgh vs. Montreal
Toronto vs. N.Y. Rangers
Carolina vs. Florida
N.Y. Islanders vs. Columbus
Dallas vs. Chicago
Vancouver vs. Arizona
Nashville vs. Minnesota
Calgary vs. Winnipeg
OTTAWA CITIZEN: Michael Traikos examined the NHL’s options when the season resumes. Among them could be a wild card play-in, or a round-robin, or a shortened playoff featuring the top-eight teams, a rematch of last year’s Stanley Cup Final, or an inverted playoff pyramid with the first round a best-of-seven series, the second round a best-of-five, the Conference Finals a best-of-three, followed by a single-game winner-take-all Stanley Cup Final.
OTTAWA SUN: Bruce Garrioch reports NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly reiterated the league’s intent to finish the 2019-20 regular season and the playoffs, but it won’t happen until approval is received from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control. Other factors must also be taken into consideration, such as broadcasting and arena availability. Daly also said every scenario is being considered.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The players and the league appears to be on the same page with saving this season. One reason is the desire to crown a Stanley Cup champion, but trying to salvage as much remaining revenue as possible is another motivating factor. Another issue will also be ice conditions in each arena during the summer. At this point, I think the league will face canceling the season outright if they can’t at least resume action by mid-May.
IN OTHER NEWS…
NBC SPORTS BOSTON: With quarterback Tom Brady’s long tenure with the NFL’s New England Patriots having ended, Boston Bruins center Patrice Bergeron becomes the longest-tenured active pro athlete in Boston.
KHL.RU: The Kontinental Hockey League has suspended its playoffs until April 10 in hopes of slowing the spread of COVID-19.
THE SCORE: The Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL) has canceled its regular season, with the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) and Western Hockey League (WHL) are expected to follow suit.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens prospect Cole Caufield will spend another season in the NCAA.