NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 20, 2024

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 20, 2024

Three hat-trick performances as the Wild defeat the Canucks, Leafs center Auston Matthews moves closer to the 50-goal plateau, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

NHL.COM: The Minnesota Wild overcame 4-1 and 5-2 deficits in a 10-7 upset of the league-leading Vancouver Canucks. Minnesota forwards Joel Eriksson Ek and Kirill Kaprizov each scored three goals and three assists with the latter picking up his hat trick during his club’s seven-goal outburst in the third period. Matt Boldy and Mats Zuccarello each had a goal and three assists as the Wild improved to 26-23-6 and sit two points out of the final Western Conference wild-card berth with 58 points.

Minnesota Wild winger Kirill Kaprizov (NHL Images).

J.T. Miller collected a hat trick and added an assist for the 37-14-6 Canucks (80 points) as they hold a three-point lead over the Boston Bruins in the overall standings. Pius Suter had three assists while Brock Boeser and Quinn Hughes each had two points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wild also set a franchise record for most goals in a single game. They capitalized on three 5-on-3 man-advantage scenarios to turn the game in their favor. They nearly blew an 8-5 lead when the Canucks scored twice to move within a goal but two empty-netters sealed the deal. Canucks winger Conor Garland left the game in the second period after blocking a shot but returned to action in the third period.

A shootout goal by Charlie McAvoy lifted the Boston Bruins to a 4-3 victory over the Dallas Stars. Jeremy Swayman kicked out 43 shots while David Pastrnak tied the game with his 35th goal of the season late in the third period for the 33-12-11 Bruins, who regained sole possession of first place in the Eastern Conference with 77 points. Wyatt Johnson, Ryan Suter and Esa Lindell replied for the Stars (34-14-8) as they hold first place in the Central Division with 76 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins honored captain Brad Marchand for recently reaching the 1,000-game milestone in a pregame ceremony. Meanwhile, the Stars played without center Matt Duchene due to a lower-body injury.

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews tallied his league-leading 49th goal of the season as his club doubled up the St. Louis Blues 4-2. Mitch Marner collected three assists and William Nylander netted a shorthanded goal for the Maple Leafs (30-16-8) as they picked up their fourth straight victory and sit third in the Atlantic Division with 68 points. Brandon Saad and Pavel Buchnevich scored for the 29-24-2 Blues as they cling to the final Western wild-card spot with 60 points.

A four-goal third period gave the Edmonton Oilers to a 6-3 win over the Arizona Coyotes, leaving the latter winless in their last 10 games (0-9-1). Leon Draisaitl had a goal and two assists, Evander Kane tallied twice and Evan Bouchard picked up three assists for the 33-18-1 Oilers as they hold third place in the Pacific Division with 67 points. Nick Bjugstad scored two goals and Clayton Keller had a goal and an assist for the Coyotes as they dropped to 23-28-4.

Vegas Golden Knights rookie Mason Morelli had a goal and an assist in his season debut while Logan Thompson made 29 saves to shut out the San Jose Sharks 4-0. Alec Martinez collected three assists for the Golden Knights (32-17-6) as they sit second in the Pacific Division with 70 points. Mackenzie Blackwood stopped 22 shots for the 15-35-5 Sharks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Golden Knights activated defenseman Shea Theodore off injured reserve but he didn’t play in this game. He’s been sidelined since Nov. 22 with an upper-body injury. Meanwhile, the Sharks activated Henry Thrun on injured reserve and placed captain Logan Couture on IR. The Sharks also made winger Alexander Barabanov a healthy scratch.

The Calgary Flames kept their playoff hopes alive with a 6-3 win over the Winnipeg Jets. Nazem Kadri scored twice and collected an assist while Jonathan Huberdeau and Andrew Mangiapane each had a goal and an assist for the Flames (26-25-5) as they overcame a 3-1 deficit. With 57 points, they’re three back of the Blues for the final Western wild-card berth. Sean Monahan tallied a natural hat trick for the 33-15-5 Jets as they remain in third place in the Central Division with 71 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Jets coach Rick Bowness was displeased by his club’s performance in this contest after they upset the league-leading Canucks in their previous game. “That’s as soft a five-on-five game as we’ve played all year,” he told reporters in a postgame interview. “That’s not us at all. That didn’t even look like the Winnipeg Jets out there.”

Carolina Hurricanes forwards Sebastian Aho and Martin Necas each had a goal and an assist to defeat the Chicago Blackhawks 6-3. Seth Jarvis picked up two assists as the Hurricanes (33-17-5) sit second in the Metropolitan Division with 71 points. Rookie Connor Bedard had a goal and two assists for the 15-38-3 Blackhawks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bedard is showing no lingering effects from the fractured jaw that recently sidelined him for six weeks. He has six points in three games since returning to action on Feb. 15. Meanwhile, Hurricanes defenseman Jalen Chatfield missed this game with an upper-body injury.

An overtime goal by Ben Chiarot gave the Detroit Red Wings a 4-3 win over the Seattle Kraken. Lucas Raymond had a goal and an assist while Alex Lyon made 38 saves for the 29-20-6 Red Wings, who hold the final Eastern Conference wild-card berth with 64 points. Jared McCann tallied twice for the Kraken (23-21-11) as they sit three points out of the final Western wild-card spot with 57 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Red Wings forward Patrick Kane collected an assist to reach 800 for his career.

The Ottawa Senators upset the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-2. Mathieu Joseph scored two goals while Tim Stutzle had a goal and an assist for the 23-27-2 Senators. Brayden Point and Mitchell Chaffee replied for the Lightning (30-22-5) as they hold the first Eastern wild-card spot with 65 points.

Anaheim Ducks winger Frank Vatrano scored twice as his club nipped the Buffalo Sabres by a score of 4-3. Troy Terry had a goal and two assists while John Gibson stopped 34 shots for the 20-33-2 Ducks. Dylan Cozens collected two assists for the 24-27-4 Sabres.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Before the game, the Sabres announced defenseman Owen Power (hand) was placed on injured reserve.

IN OTHER NEWS…

NHL COM: Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews, Oilers captain Connor McDavid and Florida Panthers winger Matthew Tkachuk are the three stars for the week ending Feb. 18, 2024.

NASHVILLE HOCKEY NOW: The Predators’ poor performance since the All-Star break prompted the club to cancel the team’s plans to journey to Las Vegas following Saturday’s game against St. Louis to watch U2 perform at Sphere. General manager Barry Trotz said the team’s recent standards were “below expectations”, especially during home games, pointing to their 9-2 loss to the Dallas Stars last Thursday. They face the Golden Knights tonight in Las Vegas.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In other words, play well and be rewarded.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Washington Capitals defenseman Martin Fehervary is listed as week-to-week with a lower-body injury.