Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – May 22, 2022

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – May 22, 2022

In the Sunday NHL rumor roundup, a collection of the latest Canucks speculation, the latest coaching rumors plus updates on the Stars and Devils.

LATEST ON THE CANUCKS

THE ATHLETIC: Thomas Drance and Rick Dhaliwal recently reported the Vancouver Canucks were thought to be ready to restart contract talks this past week with Brock Boeser’s representatives. They have sufficient salary-cap flexibility to tender a $7.5 million qualifying offer to Boeser by the July 11 deadline to retain his rights.

They feel the Canucks are unlikely to take Boeser to arbitration and could qualify him if a compromise isn’t reached beforehand. It’s believed that’s something the winger’s camp prefers as well. It could be a short-term extension, perhaps for three years and below the $7.5 million qualifier.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Boeser’s annual cap hit on his current deal is $5.875 million. He’s going to seek a significant raise, especially after seeing what teammates Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes got last season. Granted, their raises came from the previous management but Boeser’s within his rights to seek a big pay bump. It probably won’t reach $7.5 million but it could be close to $7 million.

Team sources also doused reports suggesting Oliver Ekman-Larsson could be shopped in a cost-cutting move this summer. While the club may have done some due diligence on his trade value, they remain impressed with Ekman-Larsson as a player and a person.

Vancouver Canucks winger Brock Boeser (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ekman-Larsson’s big cap hit ($7.26 million) through 2026-27 plus his full no-movement clause would’ve made him difficult to move during an offseason when the salary cap is rising by just $1 million.

THE PROVINCE: Ben Kuzma believes J.T. Miller will draw plenty of trade interest if the Canucks cannot free up sufficient cap space to sign the 29-year-old center to a contract extension. He drew plenty of interest in this season’s trade market from the New York Rangers but Kuzma believes his career-best 99-point performance this season will draw a number of suitors attracted to his versatility.

If the Rangers still want Miller, Kuzma speculates the Canucks would want 2020 first-overall pick Alexis Lafreniere as part of the return. His former agent is Canucks assistant general manager Emilie Castonguay.

Re-signing Miller will be expensive. Kuzma cited the Rangers’ Mika Zibanejad and the San Jose Sharks’ Tomas Hertl as comparables. Both were making similar to Miller’s current cap hit ($5.5 million) before signing lucrative long-term deals. Zibanejad’s is for eight years and $68 million while Hertl’s is also for eight years and is worth $65.1 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Either decision comes with risk for the Canucks. Trade Miller and the return might not pan out as hoped for their long-term plans. Sign him for over $8 million annually on an eight-year deal and it could become a drain on their cap space that grows burdensome as his skill decline in the final years of the deal.

The Rangers could revisit their interest in Miller but that will depend on whether they get pending UFAs Ryan Strome and Andrew Copp signed before July 13. They could also consider more affordable options on long-term deals in the trade market, such as the Winnipeg Jets’ Mark Scheifele if he becomes available.

TIDBITS FROM THE LATEST “32 THOUGHTS” SATURDAY SEGMENT

SPORTSNET: Jeff Marek and Elliotte Friedman provided an update on Barry Trotz as the former New York Islanders head coach is drawing interest from teams seeking a new bench boss. He will meet with the Philadelphia Flyers this week. Marek believes the Flyers want to be thorough in assessing their coaching candidates. The Winnipeg Jets also met with Trotz while the Vegas Golden Knights and Detroit Red Wings could also be among his suitors.

The Dallas Stars could circle back to Rick Tocchet as a coaching candidate to replace Rick Bowness, who stepped down earlier this week. They had spoken with Tocchet earlier this season but couldn’t reach an agreement. They could also have an interest in the OHL’s Windsor Spitfires’ Marc Savard.

Speaking of the Stars, Marek believes they’d like to sign center Roope Hintz to a contract extension this summer. That could mean moving out a body. There could also be some clarity soon regarding the future of pending UFA defenseman John Klingberg.

Friedman reports the New Jersey Devils are considering all their options for the offseason. That could include shopping their first-round pick (second overall) in this year’s draft. He believes they should soon have a list of players that they would be interested in acquiring in exchange for that pick.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Earlier this month, Devils GM Tom Fitzgerald stated he’d like to bring in an established player to complement his core of young forwards. He’s likely seeking a top-six winger to skate alongside Jack Hughes or Nico Hischier. Fitzgerald could also seek a starting goaltender given Mackenzie Blackwood’s ongoing injury and consistency problems.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 20, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 20, 2022

The Lightning takes a 2-0 series lead over the Panthers, the Blues tie their series with the Avalanche, the Jack Adams Award finalists are announced, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The Tampa Bay Lightning took a 2-0 lead in their best-of-seven second-round series over the Florida Panthers with a 2-1 victory in Game 2. Ross Colton snapped a 1-1 tie with 3.8 seconds remaining in the third period on a terrific behind-the-back pass by Nikita Kucherov from behind the Panthers’ net. Corey Perry opened the scoring for the Lightning in the first period but Eetu Luostarinen tied the game in the second. Andrei Vasilevskiy made 35 saves for the win while Sergei Bobrovsky stopped 26 shots for the Panthers. The series shifts to Tampa Bay for Game 3 on Sunday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Lightning have done an outstanding job neutralizing the Panthers’ vaunted offense, limiting the league’s high-scoring team in the regular season to just two goals thus far. They’re doing it with solid physical defensive play and strong goaltending from Vasilevskiy.

Like it or not, the Lightning are a great team, and great teams find a way to win. The Maple Leafs learned that lesson in the first round. Now, it’s the Panthers’ turn, and if they don’t address this issue soon, they’ll be joining the Leafs on the golf course next week.

St. Louis Blues winger David Perron (NHL Images).

A two-goal performance by David Perron led the St. Louis Blues to a 4-1 win over the Colorado Avalanche in Game 2 to tie their second-round series at a game apiece. Pavel Buchnevich collected two assists while Jordan Binnington kicked out 30 shots for the win. Gabriel Landeskog tallied the Avs’ lone goal. The series heads to St. Louis for Game 3 on Saturday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Game 1 was all about the Avalanche’s dominance. It was a different story in Game 2, thanks again to Binnington’s goaltending but also head coach Craig Berube shuffling his lines. Buchnevich was moved to the first line with Perron and Ryan O’Reilly, Robert Thomas centered the second line with Jordan Kyrou and Brandon Saad, while Vladimir Tarasenko was moved to the third line alongside Brayden Schenn and Ivan Barbashev.

HEADLINES

NHL.COM: The Florida Panthers’ Andrew Brunette, the New York Rangers’ Gerard Gallant, and the Calgary Flames’ Darryl Sutter are the finalist for the Jack Adams Award as the NHL’s top coach in 2021-22.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gallant won the award as coach of the Vegas Golden Knights in 2017-18 and was a finalist with the Florida Panthers in 2015-16. It’s the second time Sutter has been named a finalist and the first time for Brunette.

Sutter shrugged off the nomination. He said he’d rather see it go to younger coaches or to Gallant, who he felt got a raw deal with the Golden Knights and Panthers over the way he was let go by those clubs.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Bruins president Cam Neely told reporters on Thursday that the club intends to extend the contract of general manager Don Sweeney. However, he was vague over the future of head coach Bruce Cassidy, suggesting the club needs some changes.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Maybe a coaching change will improve the Bruins next season. On the other hand, replacing Cassidy would make him appear the scapegoat for the front office’s inability to address the roster’s weaknesses, especially at the second-line center position.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Sweeney indicated he intends to open contract extension talks with David Pastrnak as soon as possible. The 25-year-old winger is eligible next summer for unrestricted free agent status.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s no indication that Pastrnak would entertain hitting the open market next summer. I expect the Bruins will try to get him signed to an eight-year extension worth between $8 million and $9 million annually.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Mike Smith will return in goal for the Oilers in Game 2 tonight against the Calgary Flames. He got the hook early in the first period of Game 1 after giving up three goals on 10 shots.

WASHINGTON HOCKEY NOW: Capitals winger T.J. Oshie faces some decisions over his recovery and healing from different ailments suffered over the course of this season. The 35-year-old winger was limited to 44 games this season by multiple injuries.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Aging bodies don’t bounce back as quickly from injuries. Oshie might also have to change the way he conducts his offseason training.

DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: Anaheim Ducks forward Dominik Simon confirmed an altercation with Detroit Red Wings defenseman (and Czechia teammate) Filip Hronek during the ongoing World Championships led to his recent decision to leave the Czechia team and return home. Simon took responsibility for the incident, citing emotions from a recent game and from his personal life that led to his attempt to provoke a fight with Hronek.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Stu Cowan laments the deluge of sports betting ads on Hockey Night in Canada during the Stanley Cup playoffs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I understand why the NHL and HNiC are pushing gambling given the league’s recent tapping into the lucrative sports betting market. However, they’re going overboard with the neverending ads during commercial breaks and the constant huckstering by the HNiC staff. I also share Cowan’s unease over the effect it could have on compulsive gamblers and their families.

NORTH JERSEY.COM: New Jersey Devils play-by-play announcer Steve Cangialosi is stepping down after 11 seasons.

VEGAS HOCKEY NOW: The Savannah Ghost Pirates will be the ECHL affiliate of the Vegas Golden Knights.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Love the name of the franchise and the logo. I’ll have to look into buying a Ghost Pirates hat or a jersey at some point.










Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – May 8, 2022

Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup – May 8, 2022

Could the Sharks shop Erik Karlsson or Brent Burns this summer? Has Mark Scheifele requested a trade from the Jets?

WILL THE SHARKS TRADE KARLSSON OR BURNS THIS SUMMER?

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports it appears there were some “very preliminary” trade talks this year involving San Jose Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson and a couple of teams. He doesn’t believe those discussions got far but it seems the Sharks may recognize that having two elite, right-shot former Norris Trophy winners on their blueline hasn’t meshed as well as they’d hoped. That other defenseman, of course, is Brent Burns.

San Jose Sharks defenseman Erik Karlsson (NHL Images).

The Sharks are currently searching for a new general manager after long-time GM Doug Wilson stepped down for health reasons earlier this year. They still wish to contend but carrying Karlsson and Burns may be a luxury they cannot continue to afford in a salary-cap world.

Friedman pointed out Burns has less term on his contract than Karlsson. He feels the Sharks will listen if a rival club makes an offer they like for one of them.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: Sheng Peng last week also weighed in on the Sharks blueline with his takeaways of acting GM Joe Will’s remarks during his end-of-season press conference. He noted Will saying that players have choices, thoughts and prerogatives on where they are in their careers.

Peng noted that there were rumblings last summer suggesting Burns could be open to being traded to a contender. He also pointed out the long-time Sharks rearguard did little to quell that speculation during his exit interview.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sharks are pressed for cap space next season with Cap Friendly showing them carrying over $73 million invested in 19 active players for 2022-23. That’s not counting any penalty they might receive if an arbitrator rules against them in Evander Kane’s grievance hearing over his contract termination in January.

Karlsson is signed through 2026-27 with an annual average value of $11.5 million and a full no-movement clause. Burns’ deal goes through 2024-25 with an $8 million annual cap hit and has a list of just three acceptable trade destinations.

Moving either guy this summer could prove difficult. The Sharks might be forced to retain some salary or take back a toxic contract to make it happen.

Karlsson and Burns aren’t the only defensemen the Sharks could part ways with during the offseason. There’s talk of buying out Marc-Edouard Vlasic and the remaining four years of his contract. Meanwhile, Radim Simek claims he got the runaround from management and the coaching staff when he questioned the decline in his playing time over the second half of the season.

WILL THE DEVILS TARGET FIALA IN THE OFFSEASON?

Jeff Marek reported the New Jersey Devils could target Kevin Fiala as GM Tom Fitzgerald looks to add an impact player in the offseason and is willing to shop his 2022 first-round pick. The 25-year-old Minnesota Wild winger netted 85 points this season and Marek believes the Devils see him skating alongside fellow Swiss forward Nico Hischier.

The Wild face a salary-cap crunch after this season with over $12 million in dead cap space from last summer’s buyouts of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter. That will make it challenging to sign Fiala as the 25-year-old winger is a restricted free agent with arbitration rights.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Offering up that first-rounder could be enticing to Wild GM Bill Guerin if he knows he can’t afford to re-sign Fiala. The winger is completing a one-year, $5.1 million contract and is in line for a lucrative new deal.

If Fitzgerald can’t swing a trade, perhaps he’ll attempt to go the offer sheet route. Such moves are scarce and rarely successful but the Devils have the cap space to make it work provided Fiala is interested.

NO TRADE REQUEST FROM SCHEIFELE

Elliotte Friedman reports Mark Scheifele did not ask for a trade during his exit interview last week with Winnipeg Jets management. The 29-year-old center raises eyebrows earlier in the week with comments regarding his future. Friedman said we’ll see where everything goes in the offseason as the Jets have a lot of choices to make.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Winnipeg pundits believe Scheifele could be on his way out while some Jets fans on social media have called for general manager Kevin Cheveldayoff to trade him. There’s a belief of a lack of accountability within the Jets’ dressing room over their disappointing performance this season.

Scheifele has two years remaining on his contract with an annual average value of $6.125 million plus a 10-team no-trade list. While his defensive game draws criticism, his scoring will ensure he attracts plenty of interest if Cheveldayoff shops him this summer.










NHL Rumor Mill – May 7, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – May 7, 2022

The Devils are open to trading their 2022 first-round pick plus a look at the Sabres’ roster needs in the NHL rumor mill.

DEVILS COULD PEDDLE THEIR 2022 FIRST ROUNDER

THE SCORE: Kayla Douglas cited New Jersey Devils general manager Tom Fitzgerald indicating his willingness to put his 2022 first-round pick into play in this summer’s trade market. The Devils currently hold the fifth-best odds (8.5%) of winning the 2022 NHL Draft Lottery on Tuesday.

Fitzgerald said he’d be open to using that pick to acquire a player “that we know and feel will help impact the results that we are looking for.” The Devils GM believes it is time for his young team to start contending for the playoffs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fitzgerald’s comments have already prompted some observers to muse over what type of player the Devils would want in exchange for that pick. Vancouver Hockey Now’s Rob Simpson recently examined the pros and cons of the Canucks’ offering up J.T. Miller if they’re unable to sign him to a contract extension.

Simpson is merely spitballing here as there’s no indication Miller is on the trade block. Nevertheless, you get the idea of the type of player it could take to pry that first-rounder away from the Devils, especially if they win the draft lottery. Fitzgerald would probably prefer someone with more than a year of term remaining on their contract.

New Jersey Devils forward Pavel Zacha (NHL Images)

Speaking of the Devils, THE ATHLETIC’s Shayna Goldman believes Pavel Zacha is the most likely of their current roster to be traded in the offseason. The 25-year-old spent most of this season on the wing but prefers playing center. He’s a restricted free agent with arbitration rights who isn’t worth much more than his current $2.25 million annual average value.

Goldman also believes the Devils face a big decision regarding Mackenzie Blackwood. Injuries have hampered his development as a starting goaltender over the past two seasons. They must determine if there’s still room for improvement or if he’d be better off with a fresh start elsewhere. She suggested it could depend if a UFA goaltender like St. Louis’ Ville Husso or Colorado’s Darcy Kuemper is willing to sign with them.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Zacha’s name popped up around midseason linking him to the Canucks. Its’ believed they’ll be seeking affordable talent in the early-to-mid twenties. We’ll find out at some point this summer if there’s a potential fit for him in Vancouver.

Goaltending was the Devils’ undoing this season. Blackwood cannot be faulted for his injury history and his struggles attempting to regain his form upon his return to action. Nevertheless, this franchise needs an upgrade between the pipes to have a fighting chance of becoming a playoff contention next season. It’s up to Fitzgerald to address that issue, be it shipping out Blackwood or putting him in a backup role to an established starter.

WHAT ARE THE SABRES’ OFFSEASON NEEDS?

THE ATHLETIC: John Vogl recently examined what roster issues the Buffalo Sabres should address during the offseason.

Goaltending is their most pressing need. Craig Anderson, 40, will take a month or two to decide if he wants to return or retire. Sabres GM Kevyn Adams will look at all his options. Vogl speculated they could sign a second-tier unrestricted free agent such as Braden Holtby, Casey DeSmith or Martin Jones.

They could also acquire a goalie with a year left on his contract to serve as a bridge to young netminders such as Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen, Devon Levi and Erik Portillo. Options could include the New York Islanders’ Semyon Varlamov, the Carolina Hurricanes’ Antti Raanta, Minnesota Wild’s Cam Talbot or Los Angeles Kings’ Jonathan Quick.

Adams must also improve his defense corps. Vogl believes they should add a right-handed shot to their heavy left-shot blueline but Adams stressed the importance of finding the right fit.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Adams might have better luck signing one of those second-tier UFA goalies. The Sabres could be part of Varlamov’s 16-team no-trade list, Raanta has a long injury history, the Wild could stick with Talbot ($3.666 million) if they’re unable to re-sign Marc-Andre Fleury and the Kings’ could allow the 36-year-old Quick to finish his career in Los Angeles.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 5, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 5, 2022

The Hurricanes take a 2-0 series lead over the Bruins, the Lightning, Oilers and Wild tie their opening-round series, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The Carolina Hurricanes became the first team in the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs to open a 2-0 lead in the opening-round best-of-seven series with a 5-2 victory over the Boston Bruins. Pyotr Kochetkov made 30 saves in relief of an injured Antti Raanta for the win in his first-ever NHL playoff game. Sebastian Aho and Nino Niederreiter each scored twice for the Hurricanes. Patrice Bergeron scored both goals for the Bruins, who also lost defenseman Hampus Lindholm following a thunderous hit from Hurricanes winger Andrei Svechnikov in the second period.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Raanta was sidelined in the first period following a collision with Bruins winger David Pastrnak. His status, and that of Lindholm, remains uncertain as there was no update on their respective conditions following this game.

Dominated by the Hurricanes for lengthy stretches in the first two games, the Bruins have been forced to play catch-up thus far in this series. I expect Jeremy Swayman to replace Linus Ullmark in goal for the Bruins as the series shifts to Boston for the next two games.

The Canes, meanwhile, will be hoping Raanta or sidelined starter Frederik Andersen will be ready for at least backup duty in Game 3. Third-stringer Kochetkov played well in Game 2 but they’re running out of healthy netminders with NHL experience.

Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman (NHL Images).

Tampa Bay Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman had a goal and three assists as his club held off the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-3, tying their first-round series at a game apiece. Nikita Kucherov had a goal and two assists for the Lightning. Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner each had two points for the Leafs while teammate Michael Bunting scored in his return to the lineup after being sidelined by injury on April 23. The series moves to Tampa Bay for the next two games.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Lightning rebounded well from their lopsided loss in Game 1. They made the Leafs pay for their undisciplined play in this contest, going three for seven on the power play.

Speaking of bounce-back performances, the Edmonton Oilers blanked the Los Angeles Kings 6-0 to tie their opening-round series 1-1. Mike Smith picked up the shutout with a 30-save effort while Evander Kane scored twice and collected an assist. Games 3 and 4 of this series will be played in Los Angeles.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers blew this one open with three goals in the second period, outshooting the Kings 19-9 in that frame. They remain lethal with the man advantage in this series, going two for four on the power play for the second straight contest.

Minnesota Wild winger Kirill Kaprizov had a hat trick and teammate Joel Eriksson Ek tallied twice in a 6-2 victory over the St. Louis Blues, tying their series at one apiece. Marc-Andre Fleury kicked out 32 shots for the win. Vladimir Tarasenko had a goal and an assist for the Blues.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kaprizov continues setting franchise records for the Wild. He became the first player in team history to record a postseason hat trick.

St. Louis defenseman Robert Bortuzzo left the game after being struck in the head by a puck in the first period. Blues rearguards Marco Scandella and Nick Leddy missed Game 2 with injuries while sidelined Scott Perunovich won’t be ready for Game 3.

HEADLINES

NHL.COM: Anaheim Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf, Colorado Avalanche center Nazem Kadri, New Jersey Devils defenseman P.K. Subban and Vegas Golden Knights winger Max Pacioretty are among this season’s 32 players nominated for the King Clancy Memorial Trophy. The award is presented annually to the player “who best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice and has made a noteworthy humanitarian contribution to the community.”

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Capitals winger Tom Wilson (lower-body injury) is a game-time decision for Game 2 of his club’s series with the Florida Panthers on Thursday.

TRIBLIVE.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins announced goaltender Casey DeSmith (undisclosed injury) and winger Rickard Rakell (upper body) are listed as day-to-day. Each remains under evaluation. The Penguins recalled netminder Alex D’Orio from their AHL affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With Penguins starter Tristan Jarry still rehabbing an injured right foot, Louis Domingue will get the call for tonight’s game if DeSmith isn’t cleared to play.

TSN: Don’t expect any change to the current NHL playoff format. League commissioner Gary Bettman yesterday dismissed the notion of expanding the format, claiming the current one creates greater competition and more meaningful games during the regular season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The league’s expansion to 32 franchises has some pundits calling for an expansion from the current 16-team setup to 20 or 22 with a “play-in” round. The only way I see Bettman changing his mind is if it can be proven that expanding the format will bring about a significant increase in revenue. Any change to the current format will have to come from a majority of the NHL board of governors.

NORTHJERSEY.COM: The New Jersey Devils parted ways with assistant coaches Mark Recchi and Alain Nasreddine. No word on the future of head coach Lindy Ruff, who has a year remaining on his contract.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Former NHL player Mike Ribeiro has been charged with sexual assault stemming from two incidents last June in East Texas. He was arrested on April 28 and released the same day on a $200,000 bond.

DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: Frans Nielsen intends to retire after he plays for Denmark in the upcoming 2021 World Championships. The 38-year-old center spent 15 seasons with the New York Islanders and Detroit Red Wings and was bought out of the final year of his contract with the Wings last summer. He spent this season with Eisbaren Berlin, helping them win the German DEL championship.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nielsen was considered a solid two-way center during his playing prime. He finished with 167 goals and 306 points for 473 points in 925 NHL contests. Best wishes to Nielsen in his future endeavors.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 19, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 19, 2022

The Canucks keep their slim playoff hopes alive, Cale Makar sets a franchise record, Johnny Gaudreau reaches two scoring milestones, the stars of the week are revealed and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The Vancouver Canucks remained in the chase for the final Western Conference playoff berth with a 6-2 win over the Dallas Stars. Elias Pettersson scored twice and added an assist, Brock Boeser and Jason Dickson each had three points and Thatcher Demko made 28 saves. Roope Hintz tallied twice for the Stars while Jake Oettinger got the hook after giving up four goals on 19 shots. The Stars hold the final Western wild-card spot with 91 points. Winners of six straight games, the Canucks sit five points back.

Meanwhile, the Vegas Golden Knights’ efforts to gain ground on the Stars and widen their lead over the Canucks took a hit with a 3-2 loss to the New Jersey Devils. Andrew Hammond kicked out 42 shots while Nathan Bastian had a goal and an assist for the Devils. The Golden Knights remain four points behind the Stars and are now just one point ahead of the Canucks.

Alex Ovechkin scored his 48th goal of the season and Marcus Johansson netted the game-winner as the Washington Capitals defeated the Colorado Avalanche 3-2, snapping the latter’s nine-game winning streak. Ovechkin tied Teemu Selanne for the most goals in a season by a player aged 36-or-older. The Avalanche’s Cale Makar picked up an assist to set a franchise record of 83 points by a defenseman.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Avs remain atop the overall standings with 116 points, two points up on the Florida Panthers. Earlier in the day, they announced defenseman Devon Toews will take the next four games off to recover from a couple of minor injuries before the playoffs. Having clinched a playoff berth over the weekend, the Capitals (96 points) are one point behind the third-place Pittsburgh Penguins in the Metropolitan Division.

Calgary Flames winger Johnny Gaudreau (NHL Images).

Calgary Flames winger Johnny Gaudreau scored two goals in a 5-2 win over the Chicago Blackhawks. Gaudreau passed the 600-point milestone and became the first player since Jaromir Jagr in 1995-96 to reach 85 even-strength points in a season. Matthew Tkachuk collected two assists as the Flames (103 points) hold a nine-point lead over the Edmonton Oilers for first place in the Pacific Division.

The Carolina Hurricanes downed the Arizona Coyotes 5-3 to take over sole possession of first place in the Metropolitan Division with 106 points. Max Domi and Nino Niederreiter each had a goal and an assist for the Hurricanes while Coyotes goalie Karel Vejmelka made 46 saves.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Earlier in the day, the Hurricanes announced forwards Jordan Staal and Jesperi Kotkaniemi are day-to-day with injuries. Goaltender Frederik Andersen underwent an MRI yesterday for a lower-body injury and will be re-evaluated in a week’s time.

Seattle Kraken rookie Matty Beniers scored to collect his third point in his first three NHL games in a 4-2 win over the Ottawa Senators. Kraken defenseman Vince Dunn collected three assists. Senators captain Brady Tkachuk scored his 28th goal of the season.

HEADLINES

NHL.COM: St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko, Minnesota Wild winger Kevin Fiala and Edmonton Oilers goaltender Mike Smith are the league’s three stars for the week ending April 17.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: David Pastrnak, Hampus Lindholm and Linus Ullmark remained sidelined and won’t be traveling with the Bruins on their two-game road trip to St. Louis and Pittsburgh.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins have clinched a playoff berth so there’s no need to rush those players back into action. They’ll want them healthy for the upcoming playoffs.

MLIVE.COM: Detroit Red Wings captain Dylan Larkin will miss his club’s final six games of this season after undergoing core muscle surgery.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A disappointing end to Larkin’s season. He’s their leading scorer with 31 goals and 69 points, marking his best performance since his career-high 32-goal, 73-point effort in 2018-19.

NEW YORK POST: Islanders center Mathew Barzal was fined $2,500.00 by the department of player safety for making contact with Toronto Maple Leafs winger Mitch Marner from the bench on Sunday. Barzal grabbed Marner’s jersey and held on to him for a couple of seconds.

TWINCITIES.COM: Minnesota Wild winger Marcus Foligno was placed in COVID protocol ahead of tonight’s game against the Montreal Canadiens.

NEW YORK POST‘s Mollie Walker yesterday tweeted that Rangers winger Kaapo Kakko (lower body) is listed as week-to-week.

NHL.COM: Canadiens forward Michael Pezzetta received a two-game suspension for an illegal check on Capitals winger T.J. Oshie on Saturday.

TSN: Former NFL running back Marshawn Lynch and recording artist Macklemore are joining the Seattle Kraken’s minority investor group.

WASHINGTON HOCKEY NOW: The Capitals will be bringing back their “screaming eagle” logo for 2022-23.

THE ATHLETIC: Long-time Flyers trainers Jim McCrossin and Sal Raffa are suing the club’s ownership claiming they were unknowingly exposed to cancer-causing chemicals used in Zambonis at the club’s training facility.