NHL Rumor Mill – April 26, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – April 26, 2022

The possibility of Patrice Bergeron departing the Bruins as a free agent this summer plus the latest Sharks speculation in today’s NHL rumor mill.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Jimmy Murphy acknowledged it seems like a given Patrice Bergeron will either sign a one-year contract with the Bruins this summer or retire as a Bruin. However, he feels there’s a slight chance the 36-year-old future hall-of-famer could test the market if the club fails to go on one more serious Stanley Cup run over the next two months.

Boston Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron (NHL Images).

Numerous sources tell Murphy that Bergeron will draw plenty of interest from other clubs if he tests the market on July 13. One of them could be the Montreal Canadiens. His former agent, Kent Hughes, is now the Canadiens’ general manager.

Murphy doesn’t expect Bergeron to “go to the dark side” by signing with the Bruins’ biggest rival. Nevertheless, he wouldn’t blame him if he decided to sign with a Stanley Cup contender.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I can understand a bit of nervousness among Bruins fans over Bergeron’s future. After all, long-time captain Zdeno Chara was cut loose two years ago and wound up signing with the Washington Capitals last season and the New York Islanders this season.

Chara, however, was a fading star when he and the Bruins parted ways. Bergeron may have slowed slightly but he remains among the NHL’s elite two-way forwards and the Bruins’ first-line center. I daresay management has a strong desire to keep him in the fold beyond this season.

It’ll come down to what Bergeron seeks on his next contract. If he wants a deal beyond three years in length and demands a big raise over his current $6.875 million, Bruins general manager Don Sweeney will thank him for his years of service and bid him good luck in his future endeavors. If Sweeney low-balls Bergeron with a one-year deal at a considerable pay cut, the Bruins captain will walk.

I don’t see either scenario unfolding. The two sides agreed to shelve contracts talks until the season is over. Bergeron’s made no secret of his love of being a Bruin and playing in Boston. I can see them working out a two-year deal with an annual cap hit between $5.5 million and $6 million annually.

NBC SPORTS: James O’Brien wonders what it’ll take for the San Jose Sharks to rebuild, rather than retool after how this season went down for them. He believes they can only blame so much on bad luck, pointing out that Pacific Division rivals such as the Vancouver Canucks and Vegas Golden Knights could be sturdier next season.

O’Brien pointed out the Sharks still missed the playoffs this season despite career years from rising stars like Timo Meier and bounce-back performances from veterans like Erik Karlsson and Logan Couture. He wondered how much of their failure to reach the postseason can be laid at the feet of head coach Bob Boughner.

Given Doug Wilson’s resignation as general manager, O’Brien speculates the only rebuild could come in the front office. They might have to shed some salary to re-sign restricted free agents like Mario Ferraro and recently-acquired goaltender Kaapo Kahkonen.

O’Brien suggested trading Meier, a restricted free agent next summer who’ll be in line for a raise over his current $6 million annual cap hit, if they wanted to jump-start a rebuild, along with attempting to move Couture and Brent Burns if they don’t want to be part of a rebuild. He also wondered if they would attempt to buy out Marc-Edouard Vlasic.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: As O’Brien pointed out, Sharks ownership isn’t interested in a rebuild. Whoever takes over from Wilson as general manager will have to find a way to retool the roster into a playoff contender. That could involve replacing Boughner as head coach.

Retooling the roster won’t be easy with veteran core players like Couture, Burns and Karlsson carrying expensive contracts with no-move or no-trade clauses. We can rule out the possibility of Meier hitting the trade block this summer. Buying out Vlasic will be expensive for next season ($3.687 million) and in 2024-25 ($4.187 million) and 2025-26 ($5.187 million) before dropping to a more affordable $1.687 million annually over the remaining four years.

The Sharks will have to make a cost-cutting deal or two to free up cap room for guys like Ferraro, Kahkonen and unrestricted free agent Alexander Barabanov. Fortunately, they won’t break the bank. Trade candidates could include a goalie like James Reimer or Adin Hill, winger Kevin Labanc and defenseman Radim Simek.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 29, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 29, 2022

Senators owner Eugene Melnyk passes away, the Hurricanes take over first place in the Eastern Conference, Vladimir Tarasenko reaches a scoring milestone, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

SENATORS OWNER EUGENE MELNYK DEAD AT 62

OTTAWA SUN: Senators owner Eugene Melnyk passed away late Monday following a long illness. His enduring legacy was buying the Senators in 2003 and maintaining the franchise in Ottawa. In 2015, Melnyk underwent a life-saving liver transplant. With his help, the Senators Community Foundation invested over $100 million in local charities and community programs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Melnyk’s family and the Senators’ organization. The hockey world is mourning his passing, with NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and Senators captain Brady Tkachuk among the first to pay tribute.

Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk dies at age 62 (NHL.com).

The Senators were among the NHL’s top teams during Melnyk’s early years of ownership, reaching the 2007 Stanley Cup Final. After exceeding expectations to reach the 2017 Eastern Conference Final, the club spent the following years rebuilding its roster.

Melnyk often faced criticism from Senators fans over the club’s direction, especially in recent years. He received his share of the blame for the departures of popular stars such as Daniel Alfredsson, Jason Spezza and Erik Karlsson. The outspoken Senators owner also threatened to move the club several years ago if the club’s attendance didn’t improve.

Nevertheless, the Senators would’ve probably relocated to an American city in 2003 if Melnyk hadn’t stepped in to purchase the franchise. It’ll be up to his successor and the club’s current management to ensure the current rebuilding program achieves his dream of turning the Senators into a Stanley Cup contender.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The Carolina Hurricanes defeated the Washington Capitals 6-1 to take over first place in the Eastern Conference with 95 points, one ahead of the Florida Panthers. Martin Necas scored two goals and added an assist while Frederik Andersen made 25 saves for the win. The Capitals (84 points) remain three points behind the Boston Bruins, who hold the first Eastern wild-card spot.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hurricanes weren’t happy over a hit on forward Jesperi Kotkaniemi by Capitals center Lars Eller late in the game. Kotkaniemi’s left leg appeared to be injured. Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour didn’t know the extent of the injury following the game but commented it didn’t look good. No word if Eller will face supplemental discipline.

St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko reached his 500th career point in a 4-1 victory over the Vancouver Canucks. Tarasenko scored twice and chipped in an assist while Ville Husso turned in a 35-save performance. With 81 points, the Blues sit in third place in the Central Division. The Canucks (73 points) remain three points behind the Vegas Golden Knights for the final Western Conference wild-card berth.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: David Perron also reached a Blues milestone, joining Brett Hull and Scott Young as the third player in franchise history to score at least 12 goals in a calendar month.

The Edmonton Oilers bounced back from a 9-5 loss to the Calgary Flames on Saturday by thumping the Arizona Coyotes 6-1. Ryan McLeod tallied twice and picked up an assist, Leon Draisaitl had a goal and an assist and Mikko Koskinen got the win by kicking out 31 shots. The Oilers sit in third place in the Pacific Division, two points back of the second-place Los Angeles Kings.

Speaking of the Kings, they fell 6-1 to the Seattle Kraken. Chris Driedger stopped 36 Kings shots while teammate Vince Dunn collected two assists. It was the 1,000th career NHL game for Kings coach Todd McLellan, who became the seventh active coach to reach that milestone.

The Buffalo Sabres rallied from a 4-0 deficit to defeat the Chicago Blackhawks 6-5 with Tage Thompson netting the game-winner in the final seconds of the third period. Sabres winger Victor Olofsson scored twice and picked up an assist.

IN OTHER NEWS…

NHL.COM: Minnesota Wild goaltender Cam Talbot, Calgary Flames winger Johnny Gaudreau and Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl are the NHL’s three stars for the week ending March 27, 2022.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman upheld a one-game suspension to Hurricanes winger Nino Niederreiter for a slashing infraction on March 18.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Blue Jackets defenseman Zach Werenski is listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury suffered from a high hit by the Minnesota Wild’s Marcus Foligno during the Jackets’ 3-2 loss to the Wild on Saturday.

SAN JOSE HOCKEY NOW: San Jose Sharks captain Logan Couture suffered a bruised lung when he was struck by a shot by teammate Brent Burns during last Thursday’s game against the Edmonton Oilers. He missed Saturday’s game against the Anaheim Ducks but will return to the lineup on Wednesday to face the Arizona Coyotes.

COLORADO HOCKEY NOW: Over a week after being traded from the Montreal Canadiens to the Colorado Avalanche, Artturi Lehkonen’s immigration paperwork has been processed and he can finally join his new teammates.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 23, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 23, 2021

Another multi-point game for Connor McDavid, the Sharks are unbeaten in four straight, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Connor McDavid collected two assists while Leon Draisaitl and Zach Hyman each scored twice to give the Edmonton Oilers a 5-3 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights. The Oilers captain has a league-leading 13 points in five games. Only Wayne Gretzky had more points (15) in franchise history over the same period to start a season. The Oilers sit atop the overall standings with a 5-0-0 record while the Golden Knights are 1-3-0.

Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid (NHL Images).

The San Jose Sharks pushed their season-opening win streak to four games (4-0-0) by downing the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-3. Logan Couture scored two goals and set up another while goalie Adin Hill made 30 saves for his third straight victory. The Leafs are 2-2-1 in their first five.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sharks general manager Doug Wilson entered this season on the hot seat as his club missed the playoffs in each of the last two seasons. He was also criticized for his handling of Evander Kane’s off-ice issues. The Sharks will eventually lose some games but building on this impressive start will reduce the heat on Wilson.

A 35-save performance by Linus Ullmark backstopped the Boston Bruins to a 4-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres, handing the latter their first loss of the season (3-1-0). Charlie Coyle had a goal and two assists while Taylor Hall and Brad Marchand chipped in two points. This was Ullmark’s first game against his former club.

An overtime goal by Denis Gurianov lifted the Dallas Stars over the Los Angeles Kings 3-2. Miro Heiskanen had a goal and two assists for the Stars. Kings captain Anze Kopitar tallied his sixth goal of the season and has scored in all four of his club’s games. Kings defenseman Drew Doughty left the game in the second period following a knee-on-knee hit by Stars blueliner Jani Hakanpaa, who received a five-minute major and game misconduct for kneeing. Doughty’s status remains unknown.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hakanpaa could receive supplemental discipline for what was a dirty hit on Doughty, who could end up missing significant time as a result.

THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: Anaheim Ducks forward Max Jones will be sidelined between four and six months after suffering a torn pectoral tendon during Monday’s game against the Calgary Flames.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Tristan Jarry was removed from COVID protocol yesterday and rejoined his teammates in practice. Jarry had received a false positive test on Thursday.

SPORTSNET: Winger Alex Barre-Boulet was reclaimed off waiver by the Tampa Bay Lightning yesterday. He was originally claimed by the Seattle Kraken on Oct. 11 and saw action in two games with them.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I look forward to his video tribute by the Kraken the next time those two clubs meet.

DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli reports the NHL and its team of medical experts are currently debating the merits of testing asymptomatic players. This comes after several players, including Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon, Winnipeg Jets center Mark Scheifle and Pittsburgh Penguins forward Jeff Carter missed games due to a positive COVID-19 test despite being asymptomatic. That’s led to growing frustration among players and general managers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Seravalli speculates this could lead to changes to the protocol only to test players and team staff who show symptoms of COVID-19. However, he notes even the experts have split opinions on the matter.

The league and the NHLPA will meet on Nov. 1 to review the protocol. Given the 99.5 percent vaccination rate among players and staff and the strict rules on social distancing, it wouldn’t be surprising if the testing rules become adjusted.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 8, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 8, 2021

The Hurricanes clinch first place in the Central Division, the Panthers and Lightning will face each other in the playoffs, the Blues clinch a postseason berth, the Stars stay alive and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Dallas Stars kept their playoff hopes alive by downing the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-2. Joe Pavelski led the way with two goals and two assists while Roope Hintz had three points. With 58 points, the Stars sit two points behind the fourth-place Nashville Predators.

Dallas Stars forward Joe Pavelski (NHL Images).

Thanks to the Stars, the Carolina Hurricanes clinched first place in the Discover Central Division. The Lightning will face the Florida Panthers in the first round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hurricanes have an opportunity to win their first-ever Presidents’ Trophy. They have 80 points with two games remaining while the Vegas Golden Knights have 78 points with three games left.

The Panthers-Lightning will be facing each other for the first time in postseason competition. I’m looking forward to watching their opening-round series. These rivals are evenly matched, with each team have won three of their six games thus far in their season series. We’ll get a first-round preview as their final two games of the schedule (today and Monday) are against each other with playoff seeding on the line.

The Washington Capitals remain two points out of first place in the MassMutual East Division after dropping a 4-2 decision to the Philadelphia Flyers. Wade Allison scored two goals for the Flyers. Washington was without Alex Ovechkin (lower-body injury) and Evgeny Kuznetsov (COVID-19 protocol list). With 73 points, the Capitals have a game in hand over the first-place Pittsburgh Penguins (75 points), who play their final game of the schedule today against the Buffalo Sabres.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Penguins, Sabres, New York Rangers, Arizona Coyotes, Detroit Red Wings, Columbus Blue Jackets and Anaheim Ducks all have one game remaining in their respective schedules.

The St. Louis Blues clinched a playoff spot in the Honda West Division despite falling 4-3 to the Vegas Golden Knights. Jonathan Marchessault’s overtime goal capped a three-goal rally by the Golden Knights, who hold a four-point lead over the Colorado Avalanche for first place in the division.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blues were in danger of missing the playoffs in early April following a seven-game losing skid. Their current eight-game points streak (including five wins) put them over the top.

Colorado Avalanche winger Mikko Rantanen tallied his 30th goal of the season as his club held off the Los Angeles Kings 3-2, eliminating the latter from playoff contention. Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon missed the game with a lower-body injury in what appeared to be a precautionary move by head coach Jared Bednar. Earlier in the day, the Kings announced winger Dustin Brown will miss the remainder of the season with an upper-body injury.

An overtime goal by rookie winger Kirill Kaprizov lifted the Minnesota Wild to a 4-3 win over the Anaheim Ducks. Kaprizov has 27 goals on the season as the Wild sits one point back of the Avalanche in third place with 73 points.

Phil Kessel collected his 900th career point as his Arizona Coyotes beat the San Jose Sharks 5-2. Kessel had a goal and an assist while teammate Conor Garland collected three points. The Sharks were without captain Logan Couture, who could miss the remainder of the regular season with a lower-body injury.

A three-goal outburst in the second period rallied the Detroit Red Wings to a 5-2 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Vladislav Namestnikov scored twice, Valtteri Filppula collected three assists and Joe Veleno tallied his first NHL goal.

IN OTHER NEWS…

THE SCORE: Lightning captain Steven Stamkos said Friday he’s hopeful of returning to action for his club’s postseason opener. Stamkos has been sidelined by a lower-body injury since April 8.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens center Phillip Danault is day-to-day with an upper-body injury and will miss Saturday’s game against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Goaltender Carey Price (concussion) has been working out on the ice at the Habs’ practice facility but there’s no timetable for his return. Shea Weber and Paul Byron are each listed as day-to-day. Brendan Gallagher (broken thumb) has resumed skating while Jonathan Drouin remains on an indefinite leave of absence.

THE PROVINCE: The NHL department of player safety handed a one-game suspension to Vancouver Canucks forward Zack MacEwen for kneeing Edmonton Oilers defenseman Darnell Nurse on Thursday.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Ondrej Kase returned to Bruins practice for the first time in four months after taking a high hit from New Jersey Devils winger Miles Wood back in January. He hasn’t ruled out returning for the Bruins’ final two games of the season.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 25, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 25, 2021

Recaps of Wednesday’s games, referee Tim Peel will no longer work NHL games, the Lightning and Ducks makes a trade, and more in today’s morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Sidney Crosby and Zach Aston-Reese each had a goal and an assist as the Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the Buffalo Sabres 5-2. Penguins winger Kasperi Kapanen left the game in the second period with a lower-body injury. A further evaluation of his condition is expected today. With 42 points, the Penguins sit two points behind the second-place Washington Capitals in the MassMutual East Division. The Sabres have dropped a league-record 15 straight games in the shootout era. It’s also a franchise record for the beleaguered club.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: At this point, I almost wish there was a mercy rule so the Sabres could just end their schedule today and start the rebuild process. It’s just so painful watching this club flounder through the remainder of a lost season.

Winnipeg Jets forward Andrew Copp (NHL Images).

Winnipeg Jets forward Andrew Copp scored a career-high four goals to lead his club to a 5-1 win over the Vancouver Canucks. Bo Horvat returned to the Canucks lineup after leaving the previous game between the two clubs with a lower-body injury. The Jets (42 points) move into a three-way tie with the Toronto Maple Leafs and Edmonton Oilers with the Leafs holding first place in the Scotia North Division with a game in hand over the Jets and two on the Oilers. Meanwhile, the Canucks (35 points) remain two points back of the fourth-place Montreal Canadiens, who hold six games in hand.

The Ottawa Senators staged their second straight upset of the Calgary Flames with a 3-1 victory on second-period goals by Josh Norris, Chris Tierney and Nikita Zaitsev. Filip Gustavsson made 28 saves for his second straight win. The Flames have dropped three straight and remain two points behind the Canucks. Earlier in the day, the Senators announced winger Austin Watson (hand injury) will be sidelined for four-to-six weeks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: While the sidelined Canadiens hold games in hand, victories aren’t assured for them in what becomes a more compact, difficult schedule. The Canucks and Flames had golden opportunities to overtake the Habs in the standings. These recent losses could prove costly to their playoff hopes.

Jared Spurgeon scored twice and Ryan Suter collected his 600th career point as the Minnesota Wild edged the Anaheim Ducks 3-2, handing the latter their 10th straight loss on home ice. With 41 points, the Wild sit two back of the second-place Colorado Avalanche in the Honda West Division. Wild winger Zach Parise missed the game due to COVID-19 protocols. 

The San Jose Sharks got two goals from Evander Kane and a 42-save performance by Martin Jones to double up the Los Angeles Kings 4-2. Sharks captain Logan Couture left the game in the final minutes of the third period following a late hit by Kings forward Jeff Carter.

HEADLINES

The NHL yesterday announced referee Tim Peel will no longer be working games after he was got on a hot mic stating his desire to call a penalty against the Nashville Predators during Tuesday’s game against the Detroit Red Wings.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Peel wasn’t fired but simply relieved of his duties until his intended retirement following what was slated to be his final game on April 24. The incident has raised concerns from Predators players and from pundits over how games are managed by on-ice officials. Some observers believe this could be an opportunity for the league to address this issue but there’s no guarantee we’ll see significant change. The league could simply dismiss this incident as a one-off and move on.

TAMPA BAY TIMES/THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: The Tampa Bay Lightning traded forward Alexander Volkov to the Anaheim Ducks in exchange for forward prospect Antoine Morand and a seventh-round pick in the 2023 draft.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lightning general manager Julien BriseBois explained this move as a way of providing some short-term salary-cap flexibility and insurance against dressing only five defensemen in the event some of their blueliners suffer multiple short-term injuries. Volkov saw his ice time decline over the course of this season. Ducks GM Bob Murray believes he’ll benefit from a fresh start in Anaheim as the Ducks add more youthful talent.

NBC SPORTS: Bob McKenzie reports contract talks have started between the Minnesota Wild and Kirill Kaprizov’s representatives. The 23-year-old winger is a restricted free agent this summer. McKenzie suggests they could be working toward a mid-range deal of five or six years or possibly longer. A bridge contract might not work here because it’ll take Kaprizov up to his UFA eligibility age.

SPORTSNET: Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen remains day-to-day with a lower-body injury. There is no definitive timeline for his return.

STLTODAY.COM: Former Blues defenseman Bob Plager was killed yesterday in a traffic accident in St. Louis. He was 78. An original member of the Blues renowned for his hip checks, Plager spent 11 of his 14 seasons in St. Louis and three seasons before that with the New York Rangers, finishing his career with 146 points in 644 NHL games. He and his brothers Barclay and Bill skated for the Blues from 1967 to 1972. Plager was one of the most popular players in franchise history and among the most popular of their alumni.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Former NHL linesman Swede Knox passed away on Monday from lung cancer at the age of 73. Knox worked 2,248 NHL games from 1972 to 2000, including five Stanley Cup Finals and one NHL All-Star Game.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to the Plager and Knox families, as well as their friends and former teammates and colleagues.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 3, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 3, 2021

Recaps of Tuesday’s games, Sidney Crosby on COVID-19 protocol list, the Canadiens fire their goalie coach, stars of the month and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: A 5-2 victory by the Pittsburgh Penguins over the Philadelphia Flyers was overshadowed by the news Penguins captain Sidney Crosby was placed on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list earlier in the day. Kaspari Kapanen scored twice and Tristan Jarry made 40 saves for the win. Joel Farabee tallied both goals for the Flyers (25 points), who are tied with the Penguins but hold fourth place in the MassMutual East Division with two games in hand.

Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Crosby being placed on the list doesn’t necessarily mean he’s contracted the coronavirus. If he hasn’t returned to the lineup by the end of the week, however, it will be assumed he has it. A long absence by their captain could affect the Penguins’ efforts to clinch a playoff berth. Crosby is one of only three players on the league’s COVID protocol list.

The Montreal Canadiens got their first win under head coach Dominique Ducharme by downing the Ottawa Senators 3-1 to snap a five-game winless skid. Carey Price made 26 saves while teammates Brendan Gallagher and Jeff Petry each had a goal and an assist. Following the game, the Canadiens announced goaltending coach Stephane Waite was relieved of his duties. Sean Burke takes over as their new director of goaltending.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Waite’s sudden firing comes a week after they replaced Claude Julien with Ducharme. Some of the reactions on social media suggested management wouldn’t have made this move without clearing it first with Price. However, this move could also be a wake-up call from general manager Marc Bergevin to his struggling starting netminder.

Kyle Connor, Blake Wheeler and Mark Scheifele each collected three points as the Winnipeg Jets dumped the Vancouver Canucks 5-2. The Jets (29 points) moved in second place in the Scotia North Division, one point ahead of the Edmonton Oilers.

Andrei Vasilevskiy picked up his third straight shutout as the Tampa Bay Lightning blanked the Dallas Stars 2-0. Ondrej Palat and Yannie Gourde were the goal scorers. The Lightning have won five in a row while the Stars have just one victory in their last 10 games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dallas Stars general manager Jim Nill is not laying the blame for his club’s struggles at the feet of head coach Rick Bowness. “There is no hot seat,” Nill told The Athletic’s Saad Yousef. He praised Bowness’ efforts guiding the Stars to the Stanley Cup Final last year and his handling of what’s proven to be a difficult schedule this season.

The Carolina Hurricanes picked up their third straight win by doubling up the Nashville Predators 4-2. Sebastian Aho scored twice and rookie Steven Lorentz tallied his first NHL goal. Predators goalie Juuse Saros left the game early in the first period after being hit in the head. Before the game, the Predators placed defenseman Ryan Ellis and forward Luke Kunin on injured reserve and center Ryan Johansen on the COVID-19 protocol list. Ellis will be sidelined for four-to-six weeks with an upper-body injury.

Columbus Blue Jackets winger Cam Atkinson had a goal and an assist and teammate Zach Werenski collected two assists in a 4-1 victory over the Detroit Red Wings. It’s the Jackets’ first win in six games and came after general manager Jarmo Kekalainen gave a vote of confidence to head coach John Tortorella.

New York Islanders goaltender Semyon Varlamov made 28 saves as his club held off the New Jersey Devils 2-1. Oliver Wahlstrom and Anders Lee scored for the Islanders while Miles Wood replied for the Devils.

The New York Rangers edged the Buffalo Sabres 3-2, handing the latter their fourth straight loss. Pavel Buchnevich had a goal and an assist while teammate Filip Chytil returned to the lineup after missing 14 games with an upper-body injury.

IN OTHER NEWS…

Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrik Kane, Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews, Boston Bruins winger David Pastrnak and San Jose Sharks captain Logan Couture are the NHL’s divisional stars for February 2021. Ottawa Senators forward Tim Stutzle was named the league’s rookie of the month for February.

TSN: Speaking of the Senators, the club confirmed center Derek Stepan will require season-ending shoulder surgery.

The NHL department of player safety suspended Edmonton Oilers winger Alex Chiasson one game for cross-checking Toronto Maple Leafs forward Jimmy Vesey at the end of Monday’s game between the two clubs.

AZCENTRAL.COM: Arizona Coyotes defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson is slated to appear in his 800th career NHL game tonight against the Los Angeles Kings