The Avalanche spoil Jack Eichel’s Golden Knights debut, the Flames pick up their eighth straight win, the Panthers down the Hurricanes in a possible playoff preview, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: The Colorado Avalanche spoiled Jack Eichel’s debut with the Vegas Golden Knights with a 2-0 victory. Darcy Kuemper made 29 saves for the shutout while Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen scored in the third period. Eichel saw 17:32 of ice time, registered one shot and picked up four PIMs. With 74 points, the Avalanche holds a three-point lead over the Florida Panthers atop the overall standings while the Golden Knights (59 points) sit three points behind the first-place Calgary Flames in the Pacific Division.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Eichel will need time to return fully to game shape after having not played in nearly a year. He will improve as he returns to form in the coming games.
Calgary Flames forward Elias Lindholm (NHL Images).
Speaking of the red-hot Flames, they picked up their eighth straight win by thumping the Anaheim Ducks 6-2. Elias Lindholm stretched his points streak to six games with two goals and an assist while Johnny Gaudreau, Matthew Tkachuk and Rasmus Andersson each had three points. The Ducks have 55 points and sit behind the Los Angeles Kings for the final wild-card berth in the Western Conference. The Kings also have 55 points but hold two games in hand over the Ducks.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Trade rumors could increase about the Ducks if they fail to halt their current slide. Defenseman Hampus Lindholm and Josh Manson and winger Rickard Rakell are slated to become unrestricted free agents this summer. They’ve already surfaced several times in this season’s rumor mill and we could start hearing more about them as trade candidates.
Aaron Ekblad scored in overtime to give the Florida Panthers a 3-2 win over the Carolina Hurricanes in what could be a preview of a potential playoff series between these two clubs. Panthers winger Sam Reinhart scored at 19:11 of the third period to set the stage for Ekblad’s winning goal while teammates Aleksander Barkov and Jonathan Huberdeau each had two points.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was the most entertaining game of the night. It was a close contest between two potential Stanley Cup contenders.
Mark Scheifele scored a natural hat trick and picked up an assist as the Winnipeg Jets tamed the Minnesota Wild 6-3. Blake Wheeler had four assists for the Jets (50 points), who moved within five points of the final Western wild-card spot.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets need a more consistent effort if they hope to gain ground in the playoff race. They’ve won just five of their last 15 games.
TSN: Buffalo Sabres forward Dylan Cozens was fined $2,235.42 by the NHL department of player safety for cross-checking New York Islanders center Brock Nelson on Tuesday.
TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs claimed forward Adam Brooks off waivers from the Vegas Golden Knights.
Anders Lee looks forward to returning from a knee injury, Dylan Cozens hopes to take on a larger role with the Sabres, the Blues unveil their 2022 Winter Classic jersey, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NEWSDAY: New York Islanders captain Anders Lee is excited about returning to action after being sidelined in March by a torn ACL in his right knee. He still needs medical clearance before rejoining his teammates when training camp opens on Sep. 22.
New York Islanders captain Anders Lee (NHL Images).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lee will likely get that clearance when he undergoes his training camp medical. The Islanders missed his presence on their top line down the stretch last season and in the 2021 playoffs.
WGR 550: Buffalo Sabres sophomore center Dylan Cozens believes his club is going to surprise people this season, pointing out the club’s improvement during the second half of last season. The 20-year-old Cozens also believes he can take on a leadership role. “I’ve always seen myself as a leader,” he said. ” I want to lead by example and be a guy that guys can look to if they need anything or look to to inspire them.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sabres are heading into another rebuild. Cozens could play a key role in that process, especially if current captain Jack Eichel gets traded as anticipated later this season.
NBC SPORTS: The St. Louis Blues unveiled their jerseys for the 2022 Winter Classic against the Minnesota Wild on Jan. 1, 2022, at Target Field in Minneapolis. The jersey is described as offering “a modern spin on an original worn in 1967”, the year the Blues joined the NHL.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It looks pretty good too. I’ve always been a fan of the Blues’ jersey from their early years in the NHL.
NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: Marcus Sorensen confirmed he’s returning to Sweden after five seasons with the San Jose Sharks. The 29-year-old left winger tallied 31 goals and 64 points in 226 NHL games. He’ll be suiting up this season with the SHL’s Djugardens IF.
TRIBLIVE.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins recently hired Charles Grant and Kain Tisi as goaltending development coaches. They replace Andy Chiodo, who was promoted to goalie coach at the NHL level.
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: The Blackhawks filed amended motions on Friday to dismiss both negligence lawsuits related to former team video coach Bradley Aldrich, who allegedly sexually assaulted a Blackhawks player in 2010.
Patrick Marleau reaches a significant milestone, the Panthers suffer a serious blow with Aaron Ekblad sidelined, the Senators and Kings make a minor deal, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines
NHL.COM: Erik Karlsson scored twice in regulation and the winning goal in a shootout as the San Jose Sharks nipped the Minnesota 4-3. Kevin Fiala and Marcus Johansson each had two points for the Wild (44 points), who sit in third place in the West. Sharks winger Patrick Marleau played his 1,757th NHL game to move past Mark Messier into second place on the all-time games list. Marleau is just 10 games behind leader Gordie Howe with 22 games to play.
San Jose Sharks winger Patrick Marleau (NHL.com).
The Vegas Golden Knights maintained their grip on first place in the Honda West Division with a 4-1 win over the Los Angeles Kings. Robin Lehner made 24 saves for the win and Jonathan Marchessault collected two assists as Vegas (49 points) have won eight of their last 10 games. They hold a one-point lead over the Colorado Avalanche.
Speaking of the Avalanche, Cale Makar had three assists as they downed the Anaheim Ducks 5-2. Colorado winger Mikko Rantanen tallied his 20th goal of the season. The Avalanche are 9-0-2 in their last 11 contests.
The Philadelphia Flyers overcame a 3-0 deficit to defeat the Buffalo Sabres 4-3 on an overtime goal by Ivan Provorov. Sean Couturier, Claude Giroux and Provorov each had a goal and an assist for the Flyers (38 points), who move within one point of the fourth-place Boston Bruins in the MassMutual East Division. Buffalo’s winless skid is now at 18 games. Sabres forward Dylan Cozens left the game with an upper-body injury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Of those 18 defeats, this one is the cruelest for the Sabres, snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.
A 19-save performance by Casey DeSmith in relief of Tristan Jarry enabled the Pittsburgh Penguins to hold off the New York Islanders 2-1. DeSmith replaced Jarry after the latter left the game in the first period with an undisclosed injury. Jared McCann scored what proved to be the winning goal for Pittsburgh (48 points), who moved into a tie with the New York Islanders. The Isles, however, holds second place in the East Division on the basis of regulation wins. Penguins winger Jason Zucker returned to the lineup after missing 18 games with a lower-body injury.
An overtime goal by Darnell Nurse gave the Edmonton Oilers a 3-2 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs. Oilers captain Connor McDavid set up Nurse to extend his points streak to 11 games. Toronto center Auston Matthews tallied his league-leading 23rd goal while Mitch Marner had a goal and an assist. With 47 points, the Leafs remain atop the Scotia North Division while the Oilers sit two back in third place.
Mark Scheifele and Nikolaj Ehlers each collected three points as the Winnipeg Jets snuffed out the Calgary Flames 5-1. Scheifele scored twice and Ehlers had three assists. The Jets sit one point behind the Leafs and one ahead of the Oilers in the North Division. The Flames (35 points) remain two points back of the fourth-place Montreal Canadiens
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dropping five of their last six games, the Flames have missed a golden opportunity to overtake the idle Canadiens. They sit only two points behind the Habs but the latter have six games in hand after having four games postponed last week by COVID-19 protocols.
SUN-SENTINEL.COM: Florida Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad will be sidelined for 12 weeks following surgery to repair a fractured lower left leg.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Losing their top defenseman is crushing news for the Panthers, who are jockeying with the Tampa Bay Lightning and Carolina Hurricanes for first place in the Discover Central Division. It could force general manager Bill Zito into the trade market for help.
CBS BOSTON: Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask could be sidelined most of this week with an upper-body injury.
TSN.CA: Montreal Canadiens center Jesperi Kotkaniemi came off the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list. Teammate Joel Armia remains on the list while new Hab Eric Staal is on the list as part of a seven-day quarantine before joining the club later this week.
OTTAWA SUN: The Senators traded defenseman Christian Wolanin to the Los Angeles Kings in exchange for minor-league forward Mike Amadio. Wolanin cleared waivers last week and was demoted to the Senators AHL affiliate in Belleville.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sun reporter Bruce Garrioch explains the reason the Kings didn’t claim Wolanin off waivers was that they wanted the ability to get a contract off their books. They were interested in Wolanin but wanted to be sure the Senators would take Amadio’s contract.
NHL.COM: Former NHL forward Bobby Schmautz passed away at his home in Arizona on Sunday at age 76. He spent 13 seasons with the Chicago Blackhawks, Vancouver Canucks, Boston Bruins, Edmonton Oilers and Colorado Rockies. He tallied 20-or-more goals nine times, including two 30-plus goal campaigns. Schmautz spent over six seasons with the Bruins. In 764 games, he scored 271 goals and 557 points, along with 61 points in 84 postseason contests.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Schmautz’s family, friends and former teammates.
Recaps of Thursday’s action, the Blues re-sign Jordan Binnington, the latest injury updates and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Brad Marchand collected three assists while Jaroslav Halak made 27 saves as the Boston Bruins shut out the New York Rangers 4-0. Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci each had a goal and an assist. The Bruins (32 points) sit one point behind the third-place Pittsburgh Penguins in the MassMutual East Division and one up on the Philadelphia Flyers.
A goal and an assist by Evgeni Malkin helped the Pittsburgh Penguins defeat the Buffalo Sabres 5-2. The Penguins have won four straight while the Sabres have dropped nine consecutive games. Sabres forward Dylan Cozens was injured in the third period by a hit from Zach Aston-Reese. Earlier in the day, the Sabres revealed captain Jack Eichel will be sidelined for at least 7-10 days with a neck-related injury.
Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin (NHL Images).
The New York Islanders picked up their seventh straight victory with a 5-3 win over the New Jersey Devils. Isles captain Anders Lee left the game in the first period with an undisclosed injury. The Islanders (38 points) sit in first place in the East Division, two ahead of the Washington Capitals.
Speaking of the Capitals, Alex Ovechkin tallied his 715th career goal and John Carlson reached 500 career points in a 5-3 win over the Philadelphia Flyers. Ovechkin is within two points of Phil Esposito for sixth place on the all-time goals list.
The Carolina Hurricanes picked up their seventh straight victory by downing the Nashville Predators 5-1. Rookie Morgan Geekie scored his first two goals of the season while James Reimer made 32 saves for the win. The Hurricanes moved ahead of the Tampa Bay Lightning into first place in the Discover Central Division with 39 points.
An overtime goal by Frank Vatrano capped a four-goal rally by the Florida Panthers to edge the Columbus Blue Jackets 5-4. Blue Jackets winger Patrik Laine snapped a seven-game points drought with a goal and an assist but played just 14:43 in the game and was benched for the final 6:53 of regulation and for the overtime period. After the game, Laine said, “I thought I was playing good, but I guess I thought wrong.”
Auston Matthews’ league-leading 21st goal of the season came in overtime to lift the Toronto Maple Leafs past the Winnipeg Jets 4-3, snapping the Leafs’ three-game losing skid. Nikolaj Ehlers tallied twice for the Jets (34 points), who remain in second place in the Scotia North Division, six points back of the first-overall Leafs. Earlier in the day, the Jets announced defenseman Nathan Beaulieu (upper body) was placed on injured reserve.
The Detroit Red Wings upset the Tampa Bay Lightning 6-4, picking up their first regulation win over the Bolts since 2015. Anthony Mantha had a goal and two assists for the Red Wings while Ondrej Palat also had a goal and two helpers for the Lightning, who sit one point behind the Hurricanes in the Central Division but ahead of the Panthers because of a game in hand.
Darryl Sutter got his first win in his return behind the Calgary Flames bench as his club beat the Montreal Canadiens 2-1. Josh Leivo scored twice for the Flames (27 points), who sit four back of the fourth-place Habs in the North Division. Canadiens defenseman Ben Chiarot returned to Montreal for evaluation of an upper-body injury.
The Chicago Blackhawks scored three second-period goals to double up the Dallas Stars 4-2. Kevin Lankinen kicked out 28 shots while Patrick Kane collected two assists. The Blackhawks (33 points) hold a five-point lead over the Blue Jackets for fourth in the Central Division.
STLTODAY.COM: The St. Louis Blues signed Jordan Binnington to a six-year, $36 million contract extension. The 27-year-old goaltender was slated to become an unrestricted free agent this summer.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Binnington backstopped the Blues to their first-ever Stanley Cup in 2019 but he’s struggled at times to regain the dominating form of that remarkable rookie season. Nevertheless, management showed their faith in him as their starter with this long-term commitment.
This new contract represents a big raise for Binnington over the $4.4 million annual average value of his current deal. Cap Friendly indicates the annual salary-cap hit is $6 million and comes with a full no-trade clause for the first three years following by a modified no-trade for the final three.
LAS VEGAS SUN: Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury was placed on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list and will likely miss at least this weekend’s games against the Blues.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Oilers defenseman Oscar Klefbom will undergo shoulder surgery later this month.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Klefbom’s missed the entire season receiving treatment for his shoulder. With surgery, he could be sidelined six-to-nine months.
OTTAWA SUN: Senators forward Colin White is listed as day-to-day with an injured left leg.
NHL.COM: League commissioner Gary Bettman remains optimistic the NHL will return to business as normal next season. He envisions a full 82-game schedule with no limitations on fan attendance starting in October and a return to the regular divisional alignments. Bettman also indicated the league wants to return to outdoor games with fans in attendance next season and resume playing some early-season games in Europe if possible.
Deputy commissioner Bill Daly said the league is still working to determine whether the playoff semifinalists from the North Division will be allowed to host games given the travel restrictions between Canada and the United States.
Daly added he’s been in frequent communication with the International Olympic Committee regarding NHL participation in the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing but the IOC’s focus right now is on the 2021 Tokyo Summer Games. He also believes the 2021 NHL Draft will more likely than not still be held as scheduled in July.