NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 7, 2023
All-Star Game MVP Matthew Tkachuk has a five-point performance against the Lightning, Jamie Benn reaches a career milestone, Bo Horvat debuts with the Islanders, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
NHL.COM: Fresh off his MVP performance at the 2023 NHL All-Star Game, Matthew Tkachuk scored two goals and collected three assists as the Florida Panthers thumped the Tampa Bay Lightning 7-1. Carter Verhaeghe had four points and Sam Bennett three points as the Panthers (25-22-6) moved to within one point with the final Eastern Conference wild-card berth with 56 points. Nikita Kucherov tallied his 20th goal of the season for the 32-16-1 Lightning, who sit in third place in the Atlantic Division with 65 points.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky made 32 saves as he returned to action after being sidelined since Jan. 19 with an upper-body injury. Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov left the game in the second period with an apparent hand injury but could be back in the lineup on Thursday against the San Jose Sharks.
Dallas Stars captain Jamie Benn played in his 1,000th career NHL game as his club downed the Anaheim Ducks 3-2 on a shootout goal by Tyler Seguin. Jake Oettinger made 32 saves for the 29-13-10 Stars, who hold a three-point lead over the Winnipeg Jets for first place in the Western Conference with 68 points. Netminder John Gibson kicked out 39 shots for the Ducks (16-29-6).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ducks winger Troy Terry left this game in the first period with an upper-body injury. There was no post-game update on his condition.
Bo Horvat was held scoreless in his debut with the New York Islanders in a 2-1 win over the Philadelphia Flyers. Semyon Varlamov got the win with a 25-save performance while Kyle Palmieri and Mathew Barzal scored for the 26-22-5 Islanders, who are tied with the Pittsburgh Penguins for the final Eastern wild-card berth with 57 points. Nicolas Deslauriers tallied for the Flyers (21-22-9), who are six points behind the Islanders and Penguins.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Horvat was acquired last Monday from the Vancouver Canucks and signed an eight-year contract extension with the Islanders on Sunday.
After blowing a 4-1 lead, the New Jersey Devils picked up their eighth overtime victory of the season by beating the Vancouver Canucks 5-4. Jesper Bratt scored the game-winner while Jack Hughes and Ondrej Palat each tallied twice and Dougie Hamilton collected three assists for the Devils (33-13-4) as they sit in second place in the Metropolitan Division with 70 points. Connor Garland, Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Luke Schenn each had two points for the 20-26-4 Canucks.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Devils blueline got a boost when John Marino returned to action after being sidelined for 17 games with an upper-body injury.
New York Rangers winger Alexis Lafreniere’s overtime goal lifted his club to a 5-4 win over the Calgary Flames. Mika Zibanejad and Filip Chytil each scored twice for the 28-14-8 Rangers as they sit in third place in the Metropolitan Division with 64 points. Andrew Mangiapane and Blake Coleman each had a goal and an assist for the Flames (24-17-10) as they hold a one-point lead over the Colorado Avalanche for the final Western Conference wild-card berth with 58 points.
The Arizona Coyotes upset the Minnesota Wild by a score of 3-2 as Jake McBain snapped a 2-2 tie in the third period. Jakub Chychrun scored twice and Karel Vejmelka stopped 33 shots for the Coyotes (17-28-6). Wild winger Kirill Kaprizov scored his 28th goal of the season as his club sits in third place in the Central Division (58 points) with a record of 27-18-4.
NHL.COM: Panthers winger Matthew Tkachuk, Detroit Red Wings center Dylan Larkin and Toronto Maple Leafs winger Mitch Marner are the NHL’s three stars for the week ending Feb. 5, 2023.
THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER: Flyers head coach John Tortorella sent a letter to the club’s season-ticket holders. He wrote that he’s “very pleased” with the club’s “effort, drive and hunger to compete”, adding that some of the Flyers’ young players “have impressed me.”
However, Tortorella acknowledged the club still has work to do to improve and regain its place among the most respected franchises in the league. He promised those ticket holders that the team will get better and will make them proud.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tortorella’s letter comes at a time when those fans are deciding whether or not to renew their season tickets for next season. The Flyers have performed better than expected this season but appear likely to miss the playoffs for the fourth time in five years.
TSN: The Nashville Predators signed forward Cole Smith to a one-year contract extension worth $775K starting in 2023-24.
DAILY FACEOFF: Winnipeg Jets prospect Chaz Lucius is done for the season after undergoing shoulder surgery on Feb. 6. Lucius was drafted 18th overall in the 2021 NHL Draft and split the season with the AHL’s Manitoba Moose and the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks.