The Panthers require quadruple overtime to beat the Hurricanes in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final, the latest on the Coyotes’ arena saga, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
NHL.COM: Matthew Tkachuk scored in the dying seconds of quadruple overtime as the Florida Panthers nipped the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2 in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final. Tkachuk’s goal came with 13 seconds remaining in the fourth overtime period.
Florida Panthers winger Matthew Tkachuk (NHL Images)
Aleksander Barkov and Carter Verhaeghe each had a goal and an assist while Panthers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky made 63 saves for the win. Seth Jarvis had a goal and an assist for the Hurricanes while teammate Frederik Andersen stopped 57 shots.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was the sixth-longest game in NHL history. The two clubs won’t have much time to recover from their Game 1 marathon. Game 2 goes Saturday in Carolina starting at 8 pm ET.
The Panthers held a 2-1 lead after two periods but the Hurricanes stormed back to tie it in the third. They dominated the period in shots on goal (14-2), shot attempts (22-5) and 14-0 in scoring chances. If not for Bobrovsky, the outcome of this game might’ve been different and wouldn’t have required overtime to settle it.
It appeared the Panthers had won this game in the first overtime on a goal by Ryan Lomberg. However, it was overturned for goaltender interference following a coach’s challenge by the Hurricanes.
The Panthers extended their road win streak to seven games stretching back to their first-round series with the Boston Bruins. Hurricanes forward Teuvo Teravainen returned to action after being sidelined by an injured hand since Game 2 of their first-round series with the New York Islanders.
ARIZONA SPORTS: Days after the Coyotes’ arena proposal by rejected by Tempe voters, the club reached out to the city of Mesa regarding the site of a former mall. As with their Tempe bid, a proposal would be subject to a public vote of approval.
AZCENTRAL.COM: Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes created a stir on Twitter by suggesting Kansas City would be a good destination for the Coyotes.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Coyotes and the NHL will exhaust every possible option to find a suitable location for a new arena to keep the club in Arizona. Whether they’ll be successful remains to be seen. Houston and Salt Lake City have been mentioned as viable relocation destinations if the Coyotes are forced to move.
VEGAS HOCKEY NOW: Golden Knights general manager Kelly McCrimmon could offer no timetable for Robin Lehner’s return from hip surgery. The 31-year-old goaltender missed the entire season rehabbing from the surgeries. He made headlines in December when he declare bankruptcy. Lehner has two more seasons remaining on his contract.
SPORTSNET: The New York Rangers received permission from the Toronto Maple Leafs to interview assistant coach Spencer Carbery. He’s also believed to have spoken with the Anaheim Ducks and Washington Capitals.
WASHINGTON HOCKEY NOW: Speaking of the Capitals, they’ve extended their ECHL affiliation with the South Carolina Stingrays.
PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Sidney Crosby recently bought lunch for a family of Penguins fans in the Bahamas. Crosby was dining with his girlfriend and another couple when the family’s 10-year-old daughter approached the Penguins captain to ask for a picture. He not only obliged but came to the family’s table and spent several minutes chatting with them. When they went to pay for their meals, they discovered that Crosby picked up the tab.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Slow news day? Sure, but it’s also a nice story worth sharing.
In a first-ever 16-game day, the Oilers’ Connor McDavid reaches a 150-point season, the Penguins’ Sidney Crosby hits 1,500 points, the Bruins tie the single-season wins record, and much more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
NHL.COM: Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid scored twice and collected an assist to surpass 150 points on the season in a 6-1 victory over the San Jose Sharks. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins had a goal and two assists as the Oilers win their seventh straight game to sit second in the Pacific Division with 105 points. Tomas Hertl replied for the Sharks.
Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid (NHL Images).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: With 152 points, McDavid is the first player to reach the 150-point plateau since Mario Lemieux in 1995-96. He’s also the sixth different player in NHL history to reach that milestone. With 64 goals, McDavid is one shy of matching Washington’s Alex Ovechkin for the most in a season by an active player.
Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby also had a two-goal, one-assist performance as he reached the 1,500-career point plateau to defeat the Detroit Red Wings 5-1. With a record of 40-30-10, the Penguins remain one point out of the final Eastern Conference wild-card berth. Pius Suter scored for the Red Wings.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Crosby is the 15th player in league history and the sixth fastest to achieve that milestone.
The Boston Bruins tied the NHL single-season wins record (62) with a 2-1 win over the New Jersey Devils. Former Devil Pavel Zacha tallied twice against his former club for the league-leading Bruins (129 points) while Jesper Bratt scored for the Devils (108 points) as they remain one point behind the Metropolitan Division-leading Carolina Hurricanes.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Taylor Hall returned to the Bruins lineup after missing 20 games with a lower-body injury. They also placed Nick Foligno and Derek Forbert on long-term injury reserve to clear sufficient salary-cap room to activate Hall. The Devils, meanwhile, signed defenseman Luke Hughes (younger brother of star Jack Hughes) to a three-year entry-level contract.
Speaking of the Hurricanes, they dropped a 4-3 decision to the Buffalo Sabres as Tage Thompson broke a 3-3 tie in the third period with his 46th goal of the season. Rasmus Dahlin had a goal and two assists and Casey Mittelstadt tallied twice for the Sabres (39-32-7) to keep their playoff hopes alive with 85 points. Sebastian Aho netted his 35th goal of the season for the Hurricanes.
On the topic of wild-card playoff races, New York Islanders goaltender Ilya Sorokin kicked out 27 shots in a 4-0 shutout of the Philadelphia Flyers. Bo Horvat collected two assists and Brock Nelson netted his 34th goal of the season for the 41-30-0 Islanders as they hold the final Eastern wild-card berth with 91 points. Flyers goalie Carter Hart was pulled after giving up three goals on 18 shots.
Third-period goals by Matthew Tkachuk and Sam Reinhart lifted the Florida Panthers to a 4-2 victory over the Washington Capitals. It was Tkachuk’s 40th goal of the season plus he collected two assists for the Panthers (42-31-7) as they sit above the Islanders with 91 points on the basis of wins. Tom Wilson had a goal and an assist for the Capitals, who played without captain Alex Ovechkin as he’s dealing with an upper-body injury.
The Winnipeg Jets got a big win by blanking the Nashville Predators 2-0. Connor Hellebuyck had a 28-save shutout while Mark Scheifele reached the 40-goal plateau for the first time in his career as the Jets improved to 44-32-3 to hold the final Western Conference wild-card spot with 91 points. Juuse Saros made 36 saves for the Predators (40-31-8) as they sit three points behind the Jets.
A shootout goal by Andrei Kuzmenko gave the Vancouver Canucks a 3-2 win over the Calgary Flames, putting the latter’s playoff hopes in jeopardy. The Flames (37-27-16) overcame a 2-0 deficit on third-period goals by Elias Lindholm and Nazem Kadri but sit one point back of the Jets, who hold a game in hand. Elias Pettersson scored his 38th goal of the season for the Canucks.
Seattle Kraken forward Daniel Sprong had a goal and two assists and defenseman Jamie Oleksiak collected three assists to thump the Chicago Blackhawks 7-3. The Kraken (98 points) picked up their fourth straight win to widen their lead over the Jets for the first Western wild-card spot by seven points. Seth Jones scored twice for the Blackhawks
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kraken goalie Martin Jones left the game after two periods with an undisclosed injury. Meanwhile, Blackhawks forward Taylor Raddysh is done for the season with a groin injury.
Toronto Maple Leafs winger Mitch Marner collected three points to reach a career-best 98 in a 7-1 drubbing of the Montreal Canadiens. Auston Matthews had a goal and three assists, John Tavares tallied twice and Ryan O’Reilly had three assists for the Leafs as they sit in second place in the Atlantic Division with 105 points. Johnathan Kovacevic replied for the Canadiens.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Leafs forward Calle Jarnkrok missed this game with an injury and is listed as day-to-day. With the playoffs approaching and having already clinched home-ice advantage for the first round, the Leafs rested defensemen Morgan Rielly and TJ Brodie.
New York Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin had a 20-save shutout to beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-0. Mika Zibanejad collected two assists for the Rangers (106 points) as they sit two points back of the second-place Devils in the Metro Division.
The Dallas Stars nipped the Vegas Golden Knights 2-1 on a shootout goal by Roope Hintz but Vegas still clinched home-ice advantage for the upcoming playoffs. Brett Howden scored for the Golden Knights as they remain atop the Western Conference with 107 points. Joel Kiviranta replied for the Stars as they sit second in the Central Division with 102 points. Vegas center Jack Eichel missed this game with an undisclosed injury and is listed as day-to-day.
Colorado Avalanche forward Denis Malgin scored twice in a 4-3 win over the Los Angeles Kings. Alexandar Georgiev stopped 38 shots for the Avalanche (102 points) as they remain in first place in the Central with a game in hand and four more wins (48 to 44) over the Sars. Anze Kopitar and Adrian Kempe each had three points for the Kings, who sit third in the Pacific Division with 100 points.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Avalanche defenseman Bowen Byram missed this game with an illness. Meanwhile, sidelined Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog reportedly won’t be returning to the lineup for the remainder of their regular-season games. He’s been sidelined by a knee injury for the entire season but has recently resumed skating. Landeskog might return at some point in the playoffs depending on how far the Avalanche advance.
The Minnesota Wild tamed the St. Louis Blues 5-3. Sam Steel and Ryan Hartman each had a goal and an assist while trade-deadline acquisition Gustav Nyquist collected two assists in his debut with the Wild, who sit third in the Central with 100 points. Justin Faulk collected two assists for the Blues.
The Ottawa Senators upset the Tampa Bay Lightning by a score of 7-4. Tim Stutzle and Jake Sanderson each had two assists and Alex DeBrincat had a goal and an assist for the Senators. Steven Stamkos collected three assists while Brayden Point tallied his 49th goal of the season for the Lightning, who’ve dropped three straight but still sit third in the Atlantic Division with 96 points.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Before the game, the Senators announced that Jakob Chychrun, Travis Hamonic and Austin Watson are sidelined for the remainder of the season. The Lightning played without sidelined forward Tanner Jeannot and defenseman Mikhail Sergachev.
An overtime goal by Barrett Hayton gave the Arizona Coyotes a 5-4 victory over the Anaheim Ducks. Anaheim defenseman Cam Fowler set an NHL record for the most ice time in a regular-season game with 38:55.
Oilers captain Connor McDavid tallies his 60th goal of the season, Penguins captain Sidney Crosby reaches a goal-scoring milestone, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
NHL.COM: Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid scored two goals, including his 60th of the season in overtime, to nip the Arizona Coyotes 4-3. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins also tallied twice while Leon Draisaitl collected four assists for the 41-23-8 Oilers (90 points), who sit two points behind the second-place Los Angeles Kings in the Pacific Division. Clayton Keller scored twice and Nick Schmaltz had two assists for the 27-33-12 Coyotes.
Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid (NHL Images).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: McDavid joins Alex Ovechkin, Steven Stamkos and Auston Matthews as the fourth active player to reach the 60-goal plateau. He’s also the fastest player to score 60 goals in a season (72 games) since Mario Lemieux in 1995-96 and is on pace to reach 68 goals, which would be the most since Lemieux netted 69 goals in ’95-’96. McDavid is one goal away from 300 career goals and on track to become the third-fastest active player to reach that mark.
Keller, meanwhile, is a big reason why the Coyotes aren’t wallowing near the very bottom of the overall standings this season. The 24-year-old is enjoying a career-best performance with 34 goals, 44 assists and 78 points.
Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby reached the 30-goal plateau for the 11th time in his career in a 5-2 victory over the Colorado Avalanche. Jeff Carter scored two goals for the Penguins (35-26-10) as they moved one point ahead of the Florida Panthers into the final Eastern Conference wild-card berth with 80 points. J.T. Compher had a goal and an assist while Alexandar Georgiev made 40 saves for the 41-23-6 Avalanche (88 points), who remain two points back of the second-place Minnesota Wild in the Central Division.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Crosby becomes the 20th player in NHL history to record 11 30-goal seasons and ties Lemieux for the most in Penguins history. He’s also the first player in NHL history to have a 30-goal season at age 18 and another at 35 or older.
NHLPA.COM: The results of the NHL Players Association annual player poll were revealed on Wednesday. Among the notable results:
The Oilers’ Connor McDavid was named the most impactful forward in a must-win game. The Tampa Bay Lightning’s Andrei Vasilevskiy was named the goalie the players would want on their team if they need to win one game.
Cale Makar of the Colorado Avalanche was named the best defenseman while the Penguins’ Sidney Crosby was named the most complete player.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: You can see the complete list and results by following the NHLPA link above.
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: The Blackhawks will not wear Pride jerseys for warm-ups before Sunday’s Pride Night game against the Vancouver Canucks. The decision was made out of safety concerns for the club’s Russian players due to Russia’s homophobic law banning “gay propaganda”.
The law makes it illegal for Russians to promote or “praise” LGBTQ relationships or suggest they are normal. Blackhawks roster players Nikita Zaitsev, Philipp Kurashev and Anton Khudobin are of Russian heritage or have family in Russia.
This decision was made by the Blackhawks’ front office and not the players. The club still intends to hold a variety of Pride-related events on Sunday at the United Center.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blackhawks could be justified in their concern that their Russian players and their families risk persecution by their government over this issue. It was two years ago that New York Rangers winger Artemi Panarin was the victim of an unsuccessful smear campaign for supporting Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny.
There’s also the possibility that another club uses this as a convenient excuse to scrape its participation in Pride Night on-ice events for reasons other than protecting their Russian players.
THE PROVINCE: Vancouver Canucks defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson is expected to remain sidelined for the rest of this season due to a sprained ankle suffered on Feb. 15.
DAILY FACEOFF: Brian Boyle announced his retirement as an NHL player on Wednesday. He will be joining NHL Network as a studio analyst.
Boyle, 38, played 14 seasons as a center with the Los Angeles Kings, New York Rangers, Tampa Bay Lightning, Toronto Maple Leafs, New Jersey Devils, Nashville Predators, Florida Panthers and Pittsburgh Penguins.
In 871 games, Boyle scored 141 goals and 111 assists for 252 points along with 33 points in 124 playoff games. He was a two-time Stanley Cup Finalist with the Rangers (2014) and Lightning (2015) and won the Masterton Trophy in 2017-18.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Boyle in his new role with NHL Network.
The Panthers and Canadiens tie a record for most first-period goals, Sidney Crosby reaches another scoring milestone, Connor McDavid tops 130 points on the season, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
NHL.COM: The Florida Panthers and Montreal Canadiens combined to tie a league record for most first-period goals with 10 as the Panthers romped to a 9-5 victory after scoring seven in the opening frame. Matthew Tkachuk had a goal and three assists while Aaron Ekblad and Carter Verhaeghe each tallied twice for the 34-27-7 Panthers (75 points), who moved to within three points of the New York Islanders for the final Eastern Conference wild-card berth. The Canadiens have dropped eight of their last nine and fell to 27-36-6 on the season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Panthers also set a franchise record for most goals in one period.
Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby collected two assists for his 18th career point-per-game season in a 4-2 loss to the New York Rangers. Chris Kreider scored twice while Mika Zibanejad and Vincent Trocheck each had two points as the Rangers (39-19-10) hold third place in the Metropolitan Division with 88 points. The Penguins (34-24-10) continue to cling to the first Eastern wild-card spot with 78 points and two games in hand over the Islanders.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Crosby now sits second in most point-per-game seasons. Wayne Gretzky is the leader with 19 seasons. The Penguins activated Ryan Poehling off long-term injured reserve for this game.
Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid (NHL Images).
Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid surpassed 130 points on the season with a goal and an assist to defeat the Dallas Stars 4-1. Mattias Janmark scored two goals as the Oilers improved to 38-23-8 and hold third place in the Pacific Division with 84 points. The 37-19-13 Stars cling to first place in the Central Division with 87 points.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: McDavid is the first player to reach 130 points in a season since Mario Lemieux and Jaromir Jagr did it in 1995-96.
The Boston Bruins got a 36-save performance from Jeremy Swayman in a 3-0 shutout of the Winnipeg Jets. Trent Frederic, Pavel Zacha and Tomas Nosek scored for the Bruins (51-11-5) as they sit on top of the overall standings with 107 points. The Winnipeg Jets sank to 38-29-3 and hold the final Western Conference wild-card berth with 79 points.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bruins defenseman Derek Forbort left the game in the second period with a lower-body injury. Earlier in the day, the Jets announced Sam Gagner (hip surgery) is done for the season.
Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos scored twice and collected an assist while Alex Killorn scored in the shootout to nip the New Jersey Devils 4-3. The 41-22-6 Lightning (88 points) moved within one point of the second-place Toronto Maple Leafs in the Atlantic Division. Timo Meier tallied twice and Nico Hischier had two assists for the Devils (44-17-7). With 95 points, they sit one point back of the first-place Carolina Hurricanes in the Metropolitan Division.
The Colorado Avalanche picked up their fourth straight win by holding off the Ottawa Senators 5-4. Mikko Rantanen had a goal and two assists while Nathan MacKinnon collected three assists for the 39-22-6 Avalanche, who sit third in the Central Division with 84 points. Tim Stutzle had three assists for the Senators (33-31-4) as they sit eight points out of the final Eastern wild-card berth with 70 points.
Calgary Flames forward Tyler Toffoli scored twice and added two assists in a 7-2 thumping of the Vegas Golden Knights. Blake Coleman also had two goals for the Flames as they improved to 31-24-14 (76 points) and move within three points of the Jets for the final Western Conference wild-card spot. It was Jonathan Quick’s first loss (4-1-0) with the Golden Knights (42-21-6) as they hold first place in the Western Conference with 90 points.
A four-goal second period carried the Los Angeles Kings over the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-1. Pheonix Copley made 29 saves for the 40-20-9 Kings, who sit one point back of the Golden Knights in the Western Conference standings. The Blue Jackets (21-39-7) sit dead last in the overall standings with 49 points.
An overtime goal by Vince Dunn lifted the Seattle Kraken to a 2-1 victory over the San Jose Sharks. Oliver Bjorkstand scored the game-tying goal and Philipp Grubauer stopped 31 shots as the Kraken improved to 38-23-7 and hold the first Western wild-card berth with 83 points. William Eklund scored his second goal in as many games for the 19-36-14 Sharks.
The Chicago Blackhawks got a 35-save effort from Alex Stalock to upset the Nashville Predators 2-1. Lukas Reichel and Joey Anderson scored for the 24-38-6 Blackhawks while Roman Josi replied for the 34-25-7 Predators (75 points), who sit four points out of the final Western wild-card spot.
Arizona Coyotes forward Travis Boyd scored twice in a 3-2 win over the Vancouver Canucks. Elias Pettersson had a goal and an assist for the Canucks. The Coyotes 26-32-11 extended their points streak to seven games while the Canucks dropped to 29-33-5.
IN OTHER NEWS…
STLTODAY.COM: St. Louis Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington received a two-game suspension by the NHL department of player safety for roughing Minnesota Wild forward Ryan Hartman on Wednesday.
THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: Anaheim Ducks goaltender Anthony Stolarz underwent season-ending knee surgery. His expected recovery time is six to eight weeks.
DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: Red Wings defenseman Ben Chiarot could be sidelined on a week-to-week basis with an upper-body injury.
ESPN.COM: The Arizona Coyotes signed Josh Doan to a three-year entry-level contract. He’s the son of former Coyotes captain Shane Doan.
Sidney Crosby caps a five-goal comeback by the Penguins over the Blue Jackets, Cale Makar has a four-point night as the Avalanche shut out the Sharks, and much more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
NHL.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby tallied in overtime as his club overcame a 4-0 deficit to defeat the Columbus Blue Jackets 5-4. Crosby finished with three points on the night, Evgeni Malkin had three assists and Jason Zucker scored two goals for the Penguins, who improved to 32-22-9 and hold the final Eastern Conference wild-card berth with 73 points. The Blue Jackets fell to 20-37-7 as goaltender Elvis Merzlikins left the game following the first period with an illness and was replaced by Michael Hutchinson.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Crosby now sits second on the all-time list for regular-season overtime goals with 20, five behind Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin. Before the game, the Penguins recalled Alex Nylander and placed center Ryan Poehling (undisclosed) on long-term injury reserve.
The Colorado Avalanche blanked the San Jose Sharks 6-0 with Cale Makar and Valeri Nichushkin each scoring a goal and adding three assists. Alexandar Georgiev made 14 saves for the shutout as the Avalanche (35-21-6) hold third place in the Central Division with 76 points. San Jose defenseman Erik Karlsson received a 10-minute misconduct in the third period for throwing his helmet on the ice in reaction to being cut by a high stick by Alex Newhook that went uncalled by officials. The Sharks dropped to 19-34-12 on the season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Makar reached the 50-point mark for the third time in his career and for the second straight season. He’s also the third active defenseman to reach 50 points in fewer than 50 games multiple times in their career, following Karlsson and the Carolina Hurricanes’ Brent Burns. The Sharks, meanwhile, played without blueliner Radim Simek as he’s listed as week-to-week with recurring concussion symptoms.
Speaking of the Hurricanes, they nipped the Montreal Canadiens 4-3 on a shootout goal by Jesperi Kotkaniemi. Frederik Andersen (13 saves) got the win after Antti Raanta was sidelined in the first period by an undisclosed injury, lifting the Hurricanes to 42-12-8 as they sit second in the overall standings with 92 points. Jake Allen made 36 saves and Michael Pezzetta had a goal and an assist for the 26-33-5 Canadiens.
Third-period goals by Michael Bunting and Auston Matthews lifted the Toronto Maple Leafs over the New Jersey Devils by a score of 4-3. Mitch Marner and William Nylander each had two points for the Leafs (39-17-8) while Erik Haula and Ondrej Palat each had three points for the 41-16-6 Devils. With 88 points, the Devils are four back of the Hurricanes for third place in the overall standings with the Leafs just two points behind them.
The Tampa Bay Lightning snapped a five-game losing skid with a 5-2 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers. Andrei Vasilevskiy kicked out 33 shots while Nikita Kucherov and Alex Killorn each had two goals and an assist for the Lightning (38-21-5) as they hold third place in the Atlantic Division with 81 points. Philadelphia defenseman Tony DeAngelo received a five-minute major and game misconduct for spearing Lightning winger Corey Perry in the groin. The Flyers fell to 24-29-11.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Lightning played without Victor Hedman as the veteran defenseman is listed as day-to-day with a lower-body injury.
Third-period goals by Josh Bailey and Hudson Fasching lifted the New York Islanders over the Buffalo Sabres 3-2. Bailey, Fasching and Casey Cizikas each finished with a goal and an assist as the Islanders improved to 33-25-8 and hold a one-point lead over the Penguins for the first Eastern wild-card berth with 74 points. The Sabres (32-27-4) have dropped four of their last five games and sit five points back of the Penguins with 68 points.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sabres seemed poised to break through into a wild-card berth less than two weeks ago but their momentum has stalled. They and the Penguins have the same number of games remaining (19) but the Sabres hold three games in hand over the Isles, who are six points ahead of them. If they don’t snap out of their funk soon, the Sabres will miss the playoffs for the 12th consecutive season.
The Florida Panthers, meanwhile, moved two points ahead of the Sabres and three back of the Penguins with a 2-1 win over the Vegas Golden Knights. Sergei Bobrovsky turned in a 31-save performance while Ryan Lomberg and Aleksander Barkov scored for the 32-27-6 Panthers. Shea Theodore replied for the Golden Knights (38-20-6) as they remain in first place in the Western Conference with 82 points by holding one more win over the Dallas Stars.
Seattle Kraken forward Jared McCann extended his team-leading goal total to 31 as his club downed the Anaheim Ducks 5-2. McCanna and rookie center Matty Beniers each finished with two points as the Kraken (37-21-6) sit in third place in the Pacific Division with 80 points. Trevor Zegras and Max Comtois replied for the 21-35-8 Ducks.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: McCann, 26, has blossomed into a scorer since joining the Kraken in the 2021 expansion draft. He had 27 goals and 50 points in 74 games last season and now has 31 goals and 50 points in 61 games.
The Calgary Flames kept their playoff hopes alive with a 1-0 shootout win over the Minnesota Wild. Tyler Toffoli netted the game-winner while Jacob Markstrom made 40 saves for his first shutout of the season. With 71 points, the 29-23-13 Flames are four back of the Winnipeg Jets for the final Western Conference wild-card spot. The Wild (36-21-7) are two points behind the first-place Dallas Stars in the Central Division with 79 points.
A 40-save performance by Karel Vejmelka carried the Arizona Coyotes over the St. Louis Blues by a score of 6-2, snapping a three-game losing skid. Clayton Keller had a goal and two assists while Travis Boyd tallied two goals for the 22-32-10 Coyotes. Pavel Buchnevich scored both goals for the 27-31-5 Blues.
Results and highlights from the All-Star skills competition, the Capitals re-sign Dylan Strome, details behind the Senators’ farm-team coaching change and the despair of Canucks fans in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
NHL.COM: Here are the winners of the seven events staged on Friday’s All-Star skills competition at FLA Live Arena in Sunrise, Florida.
WASHINGTON HOCKEY NOW: The Capitals signed Dylan Strome to a five-year, $25 million contract extension. The 25-year-old center is on a one-year, $3.5 million deal and was slated to become a restricted free agent with arbitration rights on July 1.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: After spending 3 1/2 seasons trying to prove his worth with the Chicago Blackhawks, Strome signed a one-year deal with Washington last summer. He turned out to be a solid addition, especially as injuries piled up for the Capitals during the first half of this season. Strome is seeing top-six minutes playing at center. With 36 points in 52 games, he’s third among Capitals scorers.
TSN: Claire Hanna reports sources said trust issues were behind the Ottawa Senators’ decision to fire Troy Mann, the now-former head coach of their AHL affiliate in Belleville. “I’m told the straw that broke the camel’s back was when Mann gave some of the Ottawa Senators’ pre-scouting material to another NHL team.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Well, that was unexpected. It’ll be interesting to see if there are further details about this story in the coming days.
THE PROVINCE: Some Vancouver Canucks fans are growing frustrated with the club’s ongoing on-ice struggles and the lack of answers from the front office. “We’re stuck in a state of perpetual mediocrity and it’s extremely frustrating because hope is disappearing,” said fan Andrew Melo.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Melo probably isn’t the only Canucks fan sharing that feeling right now. In the 12 years since the franchise came within a game of winning the 2011 Stanley Cup, they’ve reached the playoff just four times and are poised to miss this year’s postseason.
The Canucks have had difficult periods before, from their first eight seasons where they made the playoffs twice, their mid-80s struggles, and the late-90s that saw the departures of franchise stars Pavel Bure and Trevor Linden.
Melo isn’t wrong when he describes the Canucks’ current woes as those of perpetual mediocrity. Former general manager Jim Benning deserves his fair share of the blame. The current management of hockey ops president Jim Rutherford and GM Patrik Allvin has done little thus far to improve things.
The main reason, however, seems to be owner Francesco Aquilini’s stubborn resistance to a proper roster rebuild. That’s resulted in a scattershot approach toward “retooling” that threatens to waste the best years of young Canucks stars Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes.