NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 21, 2022
Game recaps feature the Hurricanes, Leafs and Jets moving upward in the standings, Phil Kessel’s Ironman streak could soon come to an end, injury updates and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
NHL.COM: The Carolina Hurricanes stretched their points streak to 12 games by topping the New Jersey Devils 4-1, extending the latter’s winless skid to six games (0-5-1). Pyotr Kochetkov stopped 37 shots while Jordan Staal scored what proved to be the game-winning goal as the Hurricanes (20-6-6) moved ahead of the Devils into first place in the Metropolitan Division and second place overall in the Eastern Conference with 46 points. The Devils sit at 21-9-2 with 44 points.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: After riding a 13-game win streak from late October to late November, the Devils are 5-6-2 in their last 13 contest. Their defense has been sloppy and they’re not cashing in on the power play, sitting 25th overall with a PP percentage of 19.2.
Third-period goals by Pierre Engvall and William Nylander gave the Toronto Maple Leafs a 4-1 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning. Nylander finished the night with a goal and an assist as the Leafs (20-7-6) snapped the Lightning’s five-game win streak and move into third overall in the Eastern Conference with 46 points. The Lightning dropped to 20-10-1.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hurricanes and Leafs have the same number of points but the former has a game in hand. Leafs defenseman Rasmus Sandin left the game late in the second period with a neck injury. He’ll undergo further evaluation today.
Winnipeg Jets forward Kyle Connor and defenseman Josh Morrissey each extended their points streaks to 10 games with a 5-1 thrashing of the Ottawa Senators. Connor had two goals and an assist while Morrisey scored and collected an assist as the Jets (21-10-1, 43 points) sit one point behind the first-place Dallas Stars in the Central Division. The Senators slipped to 14-16-2.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck missed this game with a non-COVID illness. Earlier in the day, the Jets placed winger Blake Wheeler on injured reserve as he recovers from groin surgery.
Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby scored the game-winner as his club held off the New York Rangers by a score of 3-2, snapping the latter’s seven-game win streak. Tristan Jarry stopped 26 shots as the Penguins improved to 19-9-4. Chris Kreider tallied twice for the 18-11-5 Rangers.
The Seattle Kraken improved to 18-10-3 with a 5-2 win over the St. Louis Blues. Ryan Donato scored to extend his goal streak to four games while Morgan Geekie and Brandon Tanev each had two points for the Kraken. Pavel Buchnevich and Colton Parayko replied for the Blues (16-16-1) as their four-game winning streak comes to an end.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Blues winger Jordan Kyrou missed this game with an upper-body injury suffered during Monday’s win over the Vancouver Canucks.
Calgary Flames forwards Jonathan Huberdeau, Elias Lindholm and Tyler Toffoli each collected three points in a 7-3 thumping of the San Jose Sharks. Toffoli and Dillon Dube set a franchise record by scoring within the first 30 seconds as the Flames improved to 15-12-6 on the season. The Sharks fell to 10-18-6.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flames activated defenseman Chris Tanev off injured reserve but placed blueliner Dennis Gilbert on IR. Meanwhile, Sharks defenseman Mario Ferraro returned to action after missing 10 games with an injured foot. Earlier in the day, the Sharks announced that winger Luke Kunin underwent season-ending knee surgery.
The Los Angeles Kings picked up their third win in a row by downing the Anaheim Ducks 4-1. Adrian Kempe collected two assists while Pheonix Copley kicked out 24 shots for the 18-12-5 Kings. Lukas Dostal made 37 saves for the Ducks as they slide to 9-21-3.
Philadelphia Flyers forwards Travis Konecny and Owen Tippett each scored twice and Carter Hart made 30 saves in a 5-3 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Flyers improved to 11-15-7 while the injury-depleted Blue Jackets (10-20-5) suffered their fifth straight defeat.
THE ATHLETIC: Phil Kessel’s Ironman streak (1,016 games) could be in jeopardy. He’s seeing declining ice time with the Vegas Golden Knights as he’s struggled of late, especially in his defensive play.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: At 35, Kessel’s best days are behind him. The veteran winger could become a healthy scratch in the near future if his play doesn’t improve. Nevertheless, his consecutive games record won’t be falling anytime soon. The active player closest to him is 37-year-old Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Brent Burns at 711 games.
YARDBARKER: Ryan McDonagh will return to the Nashville Predators lineup on Wednesday against the Chicago Blackhawks. He’s missed the last seven games with a facial injury.
NESN: The Boston Bruins assigned winger Craig Smith to their AHL affiliate in Providence on Monday afternoon after he cleared waivers. The move frees up $1.125 million in cap space for the Bruins. It’s unclear if he will actually report to Providence.
CBS SPORTS: Colorado Avalanche winger Andrew Cogliano will miss the next two games with a shoulder injury.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: One of the victims in a condo shooting in Vaughan, Ontario, on Sunday was the maternal grandfather of Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Victor Mete. Five people were killed in the mass shooting.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Mete and his family as well as the families of the other victims.
OTTAWA SUN: NHL sources said it could take until March before we learn who the new owner of the Senators will be due to the league’s stringent vetting process of potential owners.
SB NATION: Former NHL defensemen Alex Biega and Brendan Guhle have announced their retirements.
Biega tallied 42 points in 243 career NHL games from 2014-15 to 2021-22 with the Vancouver Canucks, Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs. Guhle had 14 points in 65 games with the Buffalo Sabres and Anaheim Ducks from 2016-17 to 2021-22. He is the older brother of Montreal Canadiens blueliner Kaiden Guhle.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to both players in their future endeavors.