NHL Rumor Mill – April 22, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – April 22, 2023

A look at possible offseason moves by the Canucks and Sabres in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


THE ATHLETIC: Harman Dayal and Thomas Drance recently looked at who stays and who could go for the Vancouver Canucks.

They don’t see the Canucks buying out the remainder of Oliver Ekman-Larsson’s contract but aren’t ruling it out.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly indicates that buying out Ekman-Larsson would count against their cap for the next eight seasons. It would be particularly expensive in years three and four when the cap hit would be $4.76 million annually.

General manager Patrik Allvin will listen if teams express an interest in J.T. Miller but praised his performance over the final 30 games of the season. Dayal and Drance don’t see the Canucks moving him just to shed his contract or to blow another big hole in their depth at center after moving out Bo Horvat this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: We can’t rule out a Miller trade but it would have to be one heck of an offer to convince them to do it. If they’re going to pull the trigger it’ll have to be before July 1 when his no-movement clause kicks in.

Brock Boeser, Conor Garland, Anthony Beauvillier and Tyler Myers could be the Canucks’ cost-cutting trade candidates.

Vancouver Canucks winger Brock Boeser (NHL Images).

How much talent is available among right wingers in this summer’s trade market could determine how much interest there is in Boeser, who carries a $6.65 million cap hit through 2024-25. He recently stated that he was glad he wasn’t moved at the trade deadline.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dayal and Drance suggest it could come down to moving Boeser or Garland, whose average annual value is $4.95 million through 2025-26. They believe the club needs to reallocate cap dollars toward adding a third-line center and improving the blueline.

The Canucks acquired Beauvillier in the Bo Horvat trade. They’d likely prefer to keep him but his speed, work ethic, playoff experience and his expiring contract could give him more trade value than Boeser or Garland.

Myers only has a year left on his contract but moving him won’t be easy. He carries a $6 million cap hit of which $5 million is a signing bonus to be paid out on September 1. He also has a 10-team no-trade list.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think moving Beauvillier would be a desperate last-resort move if they can’t move any of those other candidates. As for Myers, they’re likely stuck with him until the trade deadline.


THE ATHLETIC: Matthew Fairburn looked at several questions facing the Buffalo Sabres this offseason.

Addressing their goaltending could be the priority. It would be risky riding a goalie in his first full NHL season like Devon Levi unless they have another reliable option.

The Sabres still have Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen and Eric Comrie under contract for next season. They’ll have to part with one or both of them if they seek an upgrade between the pipes.

THE BUFFALO NEWS: Lance Lysowski reported Sabres head coach Don Granato said he’d be very comfortable going into next season with Levi and Luukkonen as their tandem. However, he added that nobody has earned the net (the starter’s job) yet, suggesting that could be determined by internal competition among his goalies.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Inconsistent goaltending contributed to the Sabres’ inability to clinch a playoff berth this season. A young tandem could fly or become the anchor that drags them down.

Levi played well in his late-season debut but it’s difficult to determine if he’s ready yet for the rigors of a full-time NHL starter. Luukkonen showed flashes of promise this season but also had his difficulties.

Pursuing a reliable veteran to mentor Levi seems the wisest course of action but that could mean parting ways with Luukkonen, Comrie or both. Adams could end up forced to stick with his young netminders if he can’t find a suitable veteran option via the trade market or fails to woo any of the limited options in the free-agent market.

Fairburn also wondered what the future holds for winger Victor Olofsson as younger Sabres emerge as scorers. He’s a year away from UFA status and carries a $4.75 million cap hit for next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Olofsson is going to become the odd man out with the emergence of young forwards like Casey Mittelstadt, JJ Peterka and Jack Quinn. He could become a trade candidate this summer, perhaps to add a goalie or an experienced top-four defenseman.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 19, 2023

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 19, 2023

Recaps of Tuesday’s playoff action feature the Kraken’s first-ever playoff win, Connor Bedard topping Central Scouting’s final rankings of North American prospects, plus the latest on Patrice Bergeron, Joe Pavelski and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.


NHL.COM: The Seattle Kraken made franchise history with their first playoff game win by upsetting the defending Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche 3-1 in Game 1 of their best-of-seven first-round series. Eeli Tolvanen opened the scoring with the Kraken’s first-ever postseason goal, Alex Wennberg tallied the game-winner and former Colorado goaltender Philipp Grubauer made 34 saves against his former club. Mikko Rantanen replied for the Avalanche.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A big win for the Kraken and one that was well-deserved. They took the early lead, didn’t get rattled when the Avalanche tied it, gained confidence from Grubauer’s solid play and Wenneberg’s tie-breaker, and worked hard throughout this contest.

New York Rangers winger Chris Kreider (NHL Images).

The New York Rangers spanked the New Jersey Devils 5-1 in Game 1 of their opening-round series. Chris Kreider scored twice to set a franchise record for most playoff goals with 36 while Adam Fox collected four assists to tie a franchise record for most assists in one playoff game. Devils forward Jack Hughes scored his first-ever playoff goal on a penalty shot.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The young Devils got schooled in this contest by the experienced Rangers. The Blueshirts neutralized their opponent’s power play, successfully killing off four penalties. Rangers goalie Igor Shesterkin was also sharp in this game, making several key saves.

Brayden Point scored twice, Nikita Kucherov collected three points and Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 28 shots as the Tampa Bay Lightning thumped the Toronto Maple Leafs 7-3 in Game 1 of their opening-round series. Mitch Marner assisted on all three Leafs’ goals while goalie Ilya Samsonov got the hook after giving up six goals on 29 shots through two periods.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Lightning got the win despite losing defensemen Victor Hedman and Erik Cernak and forward Michael Eyssimont to upper-body injuries. An update on their conditions could be announced today. Leafs winger Michael Bunting received a match penalty for an illegal hit to the head on Cernak and has a hearing with the league today which could result in a suspension for at least Game 2 on Thursday.

The Leafs crapped the bed in this contest. There’s no other way to put it. Yes, there were some questionable calls by the officiating (though the Bunting call was undeniably the correct one) but the Leafs were their own worst enemies once again. They have plenty of time to right the ship and win this series but another poor effort against the former champions in Game 2 could be devastating.

Winnipeg Jets winger Blake Wheeler had a goal and two assists in a 5-1 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 1 of their first-round series. Adam Lowry scored twice while Connor Hellebuyck made 16 saves for the win. William Karlsson replied for the Golden Knights. Jets’ forward Morgan Barron received 75 stitches to his face after being accidentally sliced by the skate of Vegas goalie Laurent Brossoit but returned to finish the game.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets’ best players have to step up if they hope to win this series and they certainly did so in this game. Kyle Connor and Pierre-Luc Dubois staked them to an early 2-0 lead, Wheeler led by example and Hellebucyk was solid even though he faced a lighter workload. They also drew inspiration from Barron’s return from that gruesome injury. The Golden Knights seemed nervous in this one, making too many mistakes that proved costly.


NHL.COM: Regina Pats center Connor Bedard topped Central Scouting’s final rankings of the 2023 North American skaters. He finished this WHL season with 143 points in 57 games.

Hobey Baker Award winner Adam Fantilli of the University of Michigan and center William Smith of the USA Hockey’s National Team Development Program (USNTDP) finished second and third among North American skaters

Center Leo Carlsson of Orebro in the Swedish Hockey League is ranked as the top international skater. Right wing Matvei Michkov of KHL club SKA St. Petersburg and center Dalibor Dvorsky of AIK in Sweden finished second and third.

The 2023 NHL Draft is scheduled for June 28-29 at Nashville’s Bridgestone Arena.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bedard is considered the top overall prospect and expected to be chosen first overall in this year’s draft by whichever team wins the NHL Draft Lottery scheduled for May 8.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron (stomach flu, upper-body injury) remains questionable for Game 2 tonight against the Florida Panthers. The Bruins hold a 1-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Stars head coach Peter DeBoer is uncertain if winger Joe Pavelski will be able to play in Game 2 tonight against the Minnesota Wild. Pavelski left Game 1 following a high hit by Wild defenseman Matt Dumba, who received a minor penalty and will not face supplemental discipline. The Wild lead the series 1-0.

CBS SPORTS: Los Angeles Kings forward Gabriel Vilardi declared himself good to go for Game 2 tonight against the Edmonton Oilers after missing the first game with an upper-body injury. The Kings hold a 1-0 lead in this series.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Washington Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom turned down an invitation to play for Sweden in next month’s IIHF World Championships. He’s prioritizing his offseason training after missing half the season recovering from hip surgery.

THE PROVINCE: A broken foot suffered during last year’s World Championships hampered Vancouver Canucks defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson this season, particularly his defensive game. It affected his offseason training, putting him behind schedule and limiting his mobility and agility. He’s looking forward to a healthier offseason and being in better shape for training camp in September.

DAILY FACEOFF: Former NHL winger Nigel Dawes has announced his retirement at age 38. He spent five seasons with the New York Rangers, Arizona Coyotes, Calgary Flames, Atlanta Thrashers and Montreal Canadiens from 2006-07 to 2010-22, totaling 39 goals and 84 points in 212 NHL games.

Dawes went on to spend 10 seasons in the KHL, becoming one of the highest scorers in that league’s history, followed by two seasons with the Mannheim Eagles in Germany’s elite league.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Dawes in his future endeavors.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 23, 2023

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 23, 2023

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.

NHL Rumor Mill – March 15, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – March 15, 2023

More speculation over the futures of Canucks forwards J.T. Miller and Brock Boeser plus concern over what next season’s salary cap will look like in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Thomas Drance was asked about the chances of the Vancouver Canucks moving J.T. Miller before his no-trade clause kicks in on July 1.

Vancouver Canucks center J.T. Miller (NHL Images).

Drance believes Miller’s hefty contract (seven years, $56 million commencing July 1) would make teams wary of adding a liability of that size to the books. However, he also suspects there could be some clubs that might sense a potential bargain and hope to get paid a sweetener by the Canucks to take Miller’s contract off their hands.

Suspecting Miller’s trade value could be limited before his NTC begins, Drance thinks Miller is moveable in a package where the Canucks retain part of his salary, pays a sweetener, or takes back a lesser player on an inefficient contract. However, he’s skeptical the Canucks will move him when they’re prioritizing winning in the short term.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I can’t disagree with those scenarios. A Miller trade is possible and, as Drance pointed out, there were reports before the trade deadline that the Canucks were looking into it.

However, that’s a contract that might not be easy to move before July 1. Given their reluctance to retain salary to move Brock Boeser before the trade deadline, they’ll likely want an interested club to take the full amount of Miller’s contract. They won’t want to part with a first-round pick or a top prospect as a sweetener, but they also don’t want to take back a bad contract in return.

Asked about the best routes for the Canucks to clear cap space for next season, Drance suggested buyouts as one method. Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Brock Boeser and Conor Garland could be worth watching when the first buyout window opens on June 15.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks are more likely to try trading Boeser or Garland than buy them out. Ekmar-Larsson is a prime candidate but, as Cap Friendly points out, it’ll be on their books for eight seasons, with a $4.76 million cap hit in 2025-26 and 2026-27.

THE PROVINCE: In a Q&A with Ben Kuzma, Canucks winger Brock Boeser revealed he’s working through “some mental stuff” on a personal level following the death of his father last year. He admitted that affected his game over the past two seasons. The 26-year-old winger also acknowledged seeing his name in trade rumors this season also affected his performance.

Boeser said it was a relief when he knew he would be staying in Vancouver. He’s in the first season of a three-year contract with an average annual value of $6.65 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Boeser’s on-ice struggles this season affected his trade value but there were teams reportedly interested in him, including his hometown Minnesota Wild. However, the Canucks were said to be unwilling to retain a portion of his annual cap hit to facilitate a trade. General manager Patrik Allvin also said that he would be comfortable retaining Boeser and working with him to help him regain his scoring form.


DAILY FACEOFF: Frank Seravalli speculates NHL commissioner Gary Bettman could face some pressure from team owners about potentially increasing the salary cap above the projected $1 million raise to $83.5 million for 2023-24.

Seravalli doesn’t expect Bettman will provide any answers about that when he addresses the media today following the three-day meeting of NHL general managers. He anticipates the commissioner will say that calculations and projections for next season aren’t final or on track yet to reduce the players’ escrow debt to the owners to a negligible level.

Nevertheless, Seravalli thinks Bettman could get some heat from the NHL executive committee to get into negotiations with the NHL Players Association about finding a way to raise the cap by more than just $1 million for the fourth straight season. He pointed out that the players’ debt to the owners would likely be paid off within the first few weeks of next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: An increase in next season’s cap by more than $1 million would have a significant effect on this summer’s trade and free-agent markets. Teams would suddenly have much more cap space to work with, which in turn will affect what moves they can make to improve their rosters for 2023-24.

NHL Rumor Mill – March 6, 2023

NHL Rumor Mill – March 6, 2023

Will J.T. Miller and Brock Boeser still be with the Canucks next season? Could they trade Tyler Myers or buy out Oliver Ekman-Larsson? Check out the latest in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.


THE PROVINCE: The NHL trade deadline is over but Patrick Johnston believes the speculation over the futures of J.T. Miller and Brock Boeser will continue during the offseason. The two Vancouver Canucks forwards appeared in trade rumors in the weeks leading up to Friday’s deadline.

Vancouver Canucks center J.T. Miller (NHL Images).

Johnston observed the Canucks’ current salary commitments already leave them out of salary-cap space for 2023-24, with the total committed falling short of a full roster. He believes management faces some hard decisions this summer.

Trading Miller and/or Boeser could be among their options.

Miller’s seven-year, $56 million contract extension with its full no-movement clause doesn’t kick in until July 1. Johnston noted that the Canucks clearly engaged in talks with other teams about moving the 29-year-old forward. It’s believed they sought a return that included a young center to replace Miller in what would’ve been a complicated deal perhaps involving a third team.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Miller is to be moved it must be before July 1 as he still lacks no-trade protection on his current contract. Teams will have more cap space to work with during the offseason but how many will commit to a seven-year contract worth an AAV of $8 million for a center who turns 30 on March 14? It’ll be interesting to see if they find any takers.

Boeser has struggled this season and carries a $6.65 million cap hit for two more seasons. The Canucks don’t want to retain any portion of his salary but Johnston believes reducing his cap hit to $5 million could make him easier to move. The Pittsburgh Penguins were reportedly interested in Boeser before the trade deadline but opted instead to acquire Mikael Granlund from the Nashville Predators.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Boeser is 26 and has had injury and consistency issues. Nevertheless, his scoring ability still makes him an attractive trade option provided the Canucks are willing to retain some salary. If not, he’ll likely return to their lineup next season.

Johnston also wondered if it would be possible for the Canucks to trade Tyler Myers. The 33-year-old defenseman has a year left on his contract with an average annual value of $6 million, of which $5 million would be paid as a signing bonus on July 1, leaving him with $1 million in actual salary for the rest of these.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With just one year left on his contract, Myers could be tradeable given his salary breakdown. A rebuilding club looking to stay near the salary-cap floor for next season and in need of experienced blueline depth could come calling. The Canucks might not want much of a return to clear his cap hit from their books.

The Canucks could also consider buying out the remaining four years of Oliver Ekman-Larsson’s contract. General manager Patrik Allvin would prefer not to go the buyout route but Johnston suggests it could become an unavoidable option.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s likely the option of last resort if they can’t move Miller, Boeser or Myers. At some point, they’ll buy out Ekman-Larsson but doing so this June would leave him on their books for eight years as per Cap Friendly. It would be more affordable if they can wait until 2025 after the salary cap has significantly increased as projected.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 19, 2023

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 19, 2023

The Hurricanes down the Capitals in their Stadium Series game, Bruins winger Jake DeBrusk gets two points in his return from injury and Ryan O’Reilly gets his first point with the Maple Leafs. Details on these and other game stories in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

NHL.COM: The Carolina Hurricanes defeated the Washington Capitals 4-1 in front of a sellout crowd of 56,961 at Raleigh’s Carter-Finley Stadium. Martin Necas led the way with a goal and two assists for the Hurricanes (37-10-8), who sit second overall in the Eastern Conference with 82 points, seven back of the first-overall Boston Bruins. The Capitals dropped to 28-24-6 (62 points) and are one point behind the New York Islanders for the final Eastern Conference wild-card berth.

Carolina Hurricanes celebrate their 4-1 Stadium Series win over the Washington Capitals (NHL.com).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was the Hurricanes’ first outdoor game and the first outdoor NHL game in North Carolina. It proved to be a big success. “The league got everything it could ever have wanted: A full stadium, a unique experience, a memorable evening, a made-for-broadcast spectacle right down to Dave Doeren in a Hurricanes jersey slamming a Coors Light on live TV,” wrote Luke DeCock of the Raleigh News & Observer.

Capitals winger Tom Wilson was activated off injured reserve for this game. He’s been sidelined since Jan. 24 with a lower-body injury.

Speaking of the league-leading Bruins, they beat the Islanders by a score of 6-2. Boston winger Jake DeBrusk had a goal and an assist in his first game since being sidelined by a lower-body injury on Jan. 2. Trent Frederic scored twice for the 42-8-5 Bruins (89 points) as they remain seven points ahead of the Hurricanes in the overall standings. The Islanders (28-24-7) cling to the final Eastern Conference wild-card spot.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Islanders also lost center Mathew Barzal in the first period with what appeared to be a knee injury. Head coach Lane Lambert gave no update on his condition following the game.

The Toronto Maple Leafs got two goals from Michael Bunting in a 5-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens. Ryan O’Reilly collected an assist in his debut with the Leafs after they acquired him on Friday in a three-team trade. Auston Matthews collected two assists as the Leafs improved to 34-14-8 and opened a three-point lead over the Tampa Bay Lightning for second place in the Atlantic Division with 76 points. Josh Anderson replied for the Canadiens as they slipped to 23-29-4 on the season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Canadiens center Kirby Dach missed his second straight game with a non-COVID-related illness. The Habs also moved defenseman Arber Xhekaj (shoulder) to injured reserve. They currently have 11 regulars sidelined by injuries or illness.

Colorado Avalanche defenseman Bowen Byram scored two goals to down the St. Louis Blues by a score of 4-1. Mikko Rantanen had a goal and an assist while Justus Annunen made 19 saves to pick up the win in his season debut. The Avalanche rose to 30-19-5 and sit in third place in the Central Division with 65 points. Sammy Blais scored for the Blues as they dropped to 26-26-3 since trading Ryan O’Reilly and Noel Acciari to the Leafs on Friday.

The New Jersey Devils got two goals and two assists from captain Nico Hischier in a 5-2 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins. Jack Hughes collected two assists for the Devils (36-14-5) in his first game since being sidelined on Feb. 6 with an upper-body injury. With 77 points, they’re five back of the second-place Hurricanes in the overall standings. Evgeni Malkin scored both goals for the 27-19-9 Penguins as they remain in the first Eastern wild-card spot with 63 points and four games in hand over the Islanders.

Nashville Predators defensemen Roman Josi and Ryan McDonagh each collected three points in a 7-3 drubbing of the Florida Panthers. Tommy Novak scored twice for the 26-21-6 Predators (58 points) as they moved to within five points of the Minnesota Wild for the final Western Conference wild-card berth. Brandon Montour had two assists for the Panthers (28-25-6) as they remain one point behind the Islanders with 62 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Panthers defenseman Radko Gudas left this game in the second period after being struck by a shot on his right wrist. There was no post-game update regarding his condition.

The Vegas Golden Knights picked up their fifth straight win by holding off the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-4. Shea Theodore had a goal and two assists and Jonathan Marchessault tallied twice as the Golden Knights (34-18-4) overtook the Dallas Stars for first place in the Western Conference with 72 points. Corey Perry and Vladislav Namestnikov each had a goal and an assist for the 35-17-3 Lightning as they sit in third place in the Atlantic Division with 73 points.

Columbus Blue Jackets forward Mathieu Olivier had a goal and two assists in a 4-1 upset of the Dallas Stars. Joonas Korpisalo stopped 28 shots for the win as the Blues Jackets improved to 18-34-4. Scott Wedgewood made 33 saves for the 30-15-12 Stars as they slipped to second in the Western Conference with 72 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Blue Jackets winger Johnny Gaudreau missed this game with a lower-body injury, ending his consecutive games streak at 349.

Shootout goals by Gabriel Vilardi and Adrian Kempe gave the Los Angeles Kings a 6-5 win over the Arizona Coyotes after the latter overcame a 5-1 deficit in regulation. Kevin Fiala had two goals and an assist for the 32-18-7 Kings (71 points) as they sit one behind Vegas in second place in the Pacific Division. Clayton Keller scored twice for the Coyotes as they fell to 19-28-9.

The Seattle Kraken doubled up the Detroit Red Wings 4-2. Jordan Eberle scored twice and collected an assist while Matty Beniers had two assists for the Kraken (32-18-6) as they are one point behind the Kings in third place in the Pacific Division with 70 points. Pius Suter and Dylan Larkin scored for the 26-21-8 Red Wings (60 points) as they sit three points out of the final Eastern wild-card spot.

An overtime goal by Mikael Backlund lifted the Calgary Flames to a 3-2 victory over the New York Rangers, snapping the latter’s seven-game win streak. Andrew Mangiapane and Nazem Kadri gave the Flames a 2-0 lead but the Rangers rallied on goals by Vladimir Tarasenko and Alexis Lafreniere. The win gives the Flames 63 points (26-19-11) to tie the Minnesota Wild but the latter holds the final Western Conference playoff spot with three more wins and a game in hand. The Rangers (33-14-9) sit two points back of the Devils in third place in the Metropolitan Division with 75 points.

Third-period goals by Jeff Skinner and Alex Tuch lifted the Buffalo Sabres past the San Jose Sharks 4-2. Dylan Cozens reached the 20-goal plateau for the first time in his career while Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen kicked out 33 shots as the 28-22-4 Sabres (60 points) sit three points out of the final Eastern wild-card spot. The Sharks sank to 17-29-11 on the season.

Vancouver Canucks center Elias Pettersson scored twice and collected three assists in a 6-2 win over the Philadelphia Flyers. Anthony Beauvillier tallied two goals for the 22-30-4 Canucks while the Flyers slipped to 22-25-10.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks played without Oliver Ekman-Larsson as the defenseman is expected to miss several weeks with an ankle sprain. Forward Curtis Lazar remains day-to-day with a lower-body injury. They also placed defenseman Travis Dermott on injured reserve.