NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 29, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 29, 2021

The Capitals take over the top spot in the overall standings, the Leafs tie their franchise record for consecutive road wins, speculation over the next Canadiens’ general manager, Matt Murray demoted, Evander Kane on waivers, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: John Carlson scored and set up two others as the Washington Capitals doubled up the Carolina Hurricanes 4-2, vaulting over the Hurricanes into first place in the overall standings. The Hurricanes overcame a 2-0 deficit to tie the game but Washington defenseman Dmitry Orlov potted the game-winner with a power-play goal late in the third period. Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin tallied his 19th goal of the season. Lars Eller returned to Washington’s lineup after missing six games due to COVID-19.

Washington Capitals defenseman John Carlson (NHL Images).

The Toronto Maple Leafs tied a franchise record with their seventh straight road victory by downing the Anaheim Ducks 5-1. Jack Campbell made 39 saves, Auston Matthews tallied his 10th goal of the season and John Tavares (22 points) maintained his place as the Leafs’ leading scorer with two assists. Leafs forward Ondrej Kase missed the game with an upper-body injury. Toronto (16-6-1) has won nine of their last 10 games. They’re tied in points with Washington (33) but the latter holds first overall by having a game in hand.

New Jersey Devils forward Andreas Johnson enjoyed a four-point performance (two goals, two assists) in a 5-2 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers, who’ve dropped six straight games. Devils defenseman Dougie Hamilton also scored using a custom stick in honor of Thea, a young girl Hamilton grew close with in Calgary who passed away from cancer. He put her name on his stick as part of the NHL’s Hockey Fights Cancer Night. “It’s great to score for her and her family,” said Hamilton. The Flyers, meanwhile, have lost six straight games.

Brad Marchand and David Pastrnak scored in the third period as the Boston Bruins nipped the Vancouver Canucks 3-2, handing the latter their ninth loss in the last 10 games. Linus Ullmark got the win with 36 saves.

Third-period goals by Ryan Hartman and Marcus Foligno lifted the Minnesota Wild over the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-2. Wild winger Mats Zuccarello missed this contest with an undisclosed injury. Lightning forward Mathieu Joseph left the game in the second period with an undisclosed injury.

San Jose Sharks goaltender James Reimer made 29 saves for his first shutout of the season by blanking the Chicago Blackhawks 2-0. Timo Meier scored both goals for the Sharks.

HEADLINES

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens owner and president Geoff Molson will hold a press conference today to address the firings on Sunday of general manager Marc Bergevin and head scout Trevor Timmins, the resignation of assistant GM Scott Mellanby on Saturday, and the hiring yesterday of former New York Rangers GM Jeff Gorton as executive vice-president of hockey operations.

TVA SPORTS: Tampa Bay Lightning director of hockey operations Mathieu Darche and Anaheim Ducks assistant general manager Martin Madden Jr are among two of the rumored candidates to become the next Canadiens general manager.

Others included Quebec Remparts GM Patrick Roy, Florida Panthers advisor Roberto Luongo, former senior VP of NHL player safety Stephane Quintal and ECHL Maine Mariners president Daniel Briere.

RDS.CA: Hockey analyst Vincent Damphousse and San Diego Gulls head coach Joel Bouchard are also among the rumored candidates.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Briere indicated he’d listen carefully to a proposal from the Canadiens but he hasn’t been contacted yet. Neither has Roy, whose name inevitably pops up whenever there’s talk of the Canadiens getting a new GM.

The reason why none of them have been called thus far is that Gorton will be the one who’ll do the hiring. Some pundits believe he will be running the show regardless of who becomes the next general manager.

That doesn’t mean the next GM will be a figurehead or puppet for Gorton. Whoever gets the job will work closely with the new hockey ops VP. However, Gorton will likely have the final say on all significant management decisions while Molson takes a step back from the day-to-day operations.

The next Canadiens general manager must be bilingual, a policy that for years limited the depth of talent the club could draw upon for available experienced management. The current list of available candidates with NHL management experience is rather thin. Having the unilingual Gorton in charge of overall hockey operations is a clever workaround, enabling the Habs to bring in a respected, well-seasoned NHL executive.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: The San Jose Sharks yesterday placed winger Evander Kane on waivers in anticipation of the completion of his 21-games suspension on Nov. 30. If he clears waivers later today, he’s expected to report to their AHL.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: If Kane doesn’t report he will be suspended without pay. Sharks assistant GM Joe Will didn’t dismiss the possibility of the troubled winger getting traded. I’ll have more on that in today’s rumor mill.

OTTAWA SUN: Senators goaltender Matt Murray cleared waivers yesterday and has been assigned to their AHL affiliate in Belleville.

Los Angeles Kings winger Brendan Lemieux faces an in-person hearing via Zoom on Tuesday with NHL VP of player safety George Parros for biting Senators captain Brady Tkachuk on the hand on Saturday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lemieux could face a suspension of over five games, which would take a bite out of his salary. Sorry, couldn’t resist the pun.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Fenway Sports Group has signed a purchase agreement to assume a controlling stake in the Pittsburgh Penguins. Senior management is expected to remain in place following the sale of the club. Current co-owner Mario Lemieux is also supposed to stay with the club in some capacity.

POST-GAZETTE: Speaking of the Penguins, winger Bryan Rust (lower body) was placed on injured reserve.

WGR 550: The Buffalo Sabres signed center Mark Jankowski to a one-year, $750K contract.










NHL Rumor Mill – June 10, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – June 10, 2021

The Bruins face some free-agent decisions, some recent speculation linking the Flyers to Seth Jones, and the latest on the Sharks in today’s NHL rumor mill.

WHAT NEXT FOR THE BRUINS?

ESPN.COM: Emily Kaplan reports the Boston Bruins must decide on the futures of goaltender Tuukka Rask and center David Krejci. Rask is a polarizing figure among Bruins fans but remains among the NHL’s best goaltenders. It’s unclear what the 34-year-old Rask intends to do but the emergence of Jeremy Swayman makes the club feel better about its’ future plans.

Has Tuukka Rask played his final game with the Boston Bruins? (NHL Images)

Krejci remains a reliable center at age 35 but not at his current $7.25 million cap hit. The chemistry he developed with Taylor Hall and Craig Smith could lead management to try and bring him back at a reduced rate.

Kaplan also believes the Bruins should attempt to re-sign trade-deadline acquisitions Taylor Hall and Mike Reilly. Hall’s been campaigning to remain a Bruins since his arrival in Boston.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins could bring back Rask if he’ll accept a short-term deal for perhaps a little less than his current $7 million cap hit. He’ll also have to share more of the goalie duties with Swayman. If not, they’ll go with Swayman and perhaps add an experienced backup as his mentor.

I can see Krejci returning at a reduced rate on a two-year deal, or perhaps a one-year, bonus-laden contract. He doesn’t seem keen to leave the only NHL team he’s played for. The club’s performance this season suggests they could have enough left for another shot at a Cup run next season, depending of course on their offseason moves. Krejci will probably want to be part of that.

The Bruins were pleased with the play of Hall and Reilly. The latter, however, will be easier to re-sign than the former. Kaplan said Hall would prefer long-term stability. If he wants that from the Bruins, he’ll likely have to accept less than market value.

Hall salvaged his reputation with a strong performance in Boston after his disastrous turn earlier this season with the Buffalo Sabres. That will make him an intriguing option for playoff contenders if he heads to free agency this summer.

COULD THE FLYERS LAND SETH JONES?

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Jordan Hall recently cited Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman suggesting the Philadelphia Flyers as a viable trade destination for Seth Jones. The 26-year-old defenseman last month informed the Columbus Blue Jackets of his intention to test next summer’s UFA market.

Appearing last week on SiriusXM NHL Network Radio, Friedman said he felt the Flyers could make that trade. He wondered how Jones would feel about that but wouldn’t be shocked if the blueliner ends up in Philadelphia.

THE PHILADELPHIA INQUIRER: Sam Carchidi was asked by a reader if the Flyers could acquire Jones, or Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Dougie Hamilton, or Calgary Flames winger Johnny Gaudreau.

Carchidi believes Gaudreau would help the Flyers’ offensive attack. However, he believes their top priority should be acquiring a right-shot defenseman such as Jones or Hamilton.

While Hamilton would be a perfect fit, Carchidi believes he’ll re-sign with the Hurricanes. Jones would be a great consolation prize, but the Flyers will need assurances he’ll re-sign with them before acquiring him.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Every team interested in Jones will want to know if he’ll sign a contract extension with them. If he won’t, Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher could look elsewhere to address his right-side defense needs.

If Jones is willing to talk contract extension, Fletcher must decide how much he’s willing to spend in return and salary. Others clubs, such as the Los Angeles Kings and Chicago Blackhawks, have the cap space and tradeable assets to outbid the Flyers. We also can’t rule out teams like the Colorado Avalanche or Dallas Stars finding a creative way to acquire him.

LATEST ON THE SHARKS

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: Marcus White suggested five players from teams eliminated from the opening round of the playoffs as target targets for the San Jose Sharks. They are Toronto’s Mitch Marner or William Nylander, Washington’s Lars Eller, Minnesota’s Cam Talbot, and Edmonton’s Ryan Nugent-Hopkins.

White suggested offering up a package including a winger such as Timo Meier ($6 million cap hit) and Kevin Labanc ($4.725 million) for Marner or Nylander. The Capitals’ limited cap space could make them receptive to an offer of draft picks for Eller.

Talbot could be an option if the Wild risk losing him to the Seattle Kraken in the expansion draft or of giving up assets to the Kraken to retain him. With $11 million in salary-cap space, the Sharks could be positioned to offer Nugent-Hopkins more money on a short-term deal via free agency.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sharks GM Doug Wilson has a well-earned reputation for making bold moves and could do so this summer. I don’t see him prying Marner or Nylander away from the Leafs or winning a bidding war in free agency for Nugent-Hopkins. Pursuing Talbot or Eller are more reasonable options, though we don’t know if either guy will be on Wilson’s radar this summer.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 18, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 18, 2021

The Bruins tied their series with the Capitals, the Avalanche and Hurricanes draw first blood in their respective series, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Brad Marchand’s goal 39 seconds into overtime lifted the Boston Bruins over the Washington Capitals 4-3 to even their best-of-seven first-round series at one game apiece. Boston winger Taylor Hall scored the tying goal late in the third period to send the game into the extra frame. Garnet Hathaway scored twice for Washington, who got a 44-save performance from goaltender Craig Anderson. Capitals center Lars Eller left the game in the second period with a lower-body injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Questionable officiating saw this game deteriorate into a sloppy contest. Game 3 goes Wednesday evening in Boston.

Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon (NHL Images)

Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon scored twice and set up another in a series-opening 4-1 victory against the St. Louis Blues. Gabriel Landeskog had a goal and two assists as the Avalanche broke the game open with three goals in the third period. Jordan Binnington kicked out 46 shots for the Blues.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Binnington was the only reason this game was tied through two periods before the Avs blew it open in the final frame. This series will end quickly if he doesn’t get more help from his teammates. Games 2 is on Wednesday evening.

The Carolina Hurricanes got two goals from captain Jordan Staal to defeat the Nashville Predators 5-2 in Game 1 of their first-round series. Nino Niederreiter tallied the game-winner by snapping a 2-2 tie early in the third period. Juuse Saros turned aside 33 shots for the Predators.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Predators defeated the Hurricanes in the final two games of the season but the latter took six of eight in their regular-season series. The Canes dominated the play through the final two periods of this one. The two sides face off again in Game 2 on Wednesday.

HEADLINES

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens goaltender Carey Price and winger Brendan Gallagher played in the Laval Rocket’s 2-0 loss to the Toronto Marlies last night. Price and Gallagher were on a long-term injury conditioning stint with the Habs’ farm club before their opening-round series against the Maple Leafs. Price allowed two goals on 15 shots while Gallagher had two shots on goal and a double-minor penalty for high-sticking.

ESPN.COM: The NHL department of player discipline handed a one-game suspension to Florida Panthers forward Sam Bennett for boarding Tampa Bay Lightning forward Blake Coleman in Game 1 of their series on Sunday.

TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs promoted Dr. Hayley Wickenheiser to senior director of player development and Danielle Goyette has joined the department as a director.

Speaking of the Leafs, TSN’s Kristen Shilton reports defenseman Ben Hutton has a non-COVID, non-hockey-related medical issue that is being monitored by the team.

NEW YORK POST: ESPN hired Leah Hextall as the first woman to do play-by-play as a regular part of a national NHL TV package. She did play-by-play of an NHL game last season for Sportsnet.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hextall previously worked for CTV Winnipeg, NESN and Sportsnet. Hockey runs in her family. She’s a cousin of Pittsburgh Penguins GM Ron Hextall and her grandfather was Hall of Famer Bryan Hextall. 

AWFUL ANNOUNCING: Veteran NHL reporter Frank Seravalli has decided to leave TSN after six seasons. Speculation suggests he might join ESPN or Turner Sports ahead of their coverage of the NHL starting next season.

OTTAWA SUN: The Senators have offered up Canadian Tire Centre to the city and the province of Ontario as a mass vaccination site.

TSN: A civil lawsuit has been filed against Vancouver Canucks winger Jake Virtanen alleging he sexually assaulted a young woman in 2017.

CHICAGO TRIBUNE: A lawyer representing a former Chicago Blackhawks player in a sexual assault lawsuit against the team intends to call a former teammate to the stand as a witness in the case.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: The Stars signed forward Tanner Kero to a two-year, two-way contract.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 14, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 14, 2021

Recaps of Saturday’s action, including the Lightning finally raising their Stanley Cup banner, plus the latest on Erik Karlsson, Keith Yandle and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Artemi Panarin collected an assist in his return to the New York Rangers lineup in a 4-0 victory over the Boston Bruins. Keith Kinkaid made 18 saves for the shutout while Chris Kreider, Mika Zibanejad and Pavel Buchnevich each collected two points. The Bruins (32 points) maintain a three-point lead over the Philadelphia Flyers for fourth place in the MassMutual East Division. The Bruins played without winger Jake DeBrusk as he was placed on the league’s COVID-19 protocol list.

An overtime goal by Zach Werenski lifted the Columbus Blue Jackets past the Dallas Stars 4-3, giving the Jackets their first win in four contests. Jack Roslovic collected three assists while Max Domi had a goal and an assist for the Jackets (28 points), who sit five behind the fourth-place Chicago Blackhawks in the Discover Central Division.

Calgary Flames center Sean Monahan (NHL Images).

Two first-period goals by Sean Monahan gave the Calgary Flames a 3-1 victory over the Montreal Canadiens. Monahan now has 200 career goals. Jeff Petry tallied his league-leading 11th goal among NHL defensemen for the Canadiens (31 points), who hold only a two-point lead over the Flames in the Scotia North Division. It’s the Flames’ second straight win in as many games under new head coach Darryl Sutter.

Pittsburgh Penguins backup Casey DeSmith made 24 saves for a 3-0 blanking of the Buffalo Sabres, handing the latter their 10th straight loss. Penguins captain Sidney Crosby tallied his 10th of the season as his club (35 points) opened a three-point lead over the slumping Bruins for third in the East Division.

The New York Islanders picked up their eighth straight victory by edging the New Jersey Devils 3-2. The Isles overcame a 2-1 deficit on third-period goals by Kieffer Bellows as they maintained their lead in the East Division with 40 points.

Alex Ovechkin scored his 716th career goal as his Washington Capitals held off the Philadelphia Flyers 5-4. Ovechkin is one goal behind Phil Esposito for sixth place on the all-time goal-scoring list. Washington (38 points) sit two back of the first-place Islanders in the East Division. Capitals center Lars Eller left the game in the first period with an apparent injury to his right leg.

The Tampa Bay Lightning raised their 2020 Stanley Cup championship banner in front of 3,800 fans at Amelie Arena prior to defeating the Nashville Predators 6-3. Tyler Johnson and Blake Coleman each had a goal and an assist for the Bolts (40 points), who hold possession of first place in the Central Division with a game in hand over the Florida Panthers.

Speaking of the Panthers (40 points), they got two goals from captain Aleksander Barkov to double up the Chicago Blackhawks 4-2. Before the game, the Panthers honored defenseman Keith Yandle for recently passing the 1,000 game milestone. They also hold a one-point lead over the third-place Carolina Hurricanes in the Central.

Third-period goals by Adam Lowry, Nikolaj Ehlers and Mark Scheifele carried the Winnipeg Jets over the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-2. The first-place Leafs (40 points) sit four points ahead of the Jets in the North Division but they’ve also dropped four of their five games.

Vegas Golden Knights captain Mark Stone tallied twice in a 5-1 victory over the St. Louis Blues. Max Pacioretty scored and collected two helpers as the Golden Knights (37 points) sit in first place in the Honda West Division, four points up on the Minnesota Wild.

The Vancouver Canucks snapped the Edmonton Oilers’ four-game win streak with a narrow 2-1 victory. Tyler Myers scored the winner in the third period while Thatcher Demko kicked out 34 shots for the win. The Oilers (36 points) slip into third place in the North Division.

Evander Kane scored in his third straight game as the San Jose Sharks downed the Anaheim Ducks 3-1. Martin Jones made 26 saves for the Sharks.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 14, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 14, 2020

Recaps of Thursday’s playoff games, Canadiens coach Claude Julien hospitalized, Dan Hamhuis retires, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

Vegas Golden Knights winger Reilly Smith (NHL Images).

  NHL.COM: The Vegas Golden Knights edged the Chicago Blackhawks 4-3 on Reilly Smith’s overtime goal in Game 2 of their first-round series, which Vegas now leads 2-0. It was goalie Robin Lehner’s seventh straight win in as many starts with the Golden Knights, who were without winger Max Pacioretty (unfit to play) in Game 2. His replacement, Tomas Nosek, left the game in the second period. Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane collected three assists.

 

    Dougie Hamilton’s third-period goal lifted the Carolina Hurricanes to a 3-2 win over the Boston Bruins in Game 2 of their series, tying it at a game apiece. Hurricanes winger Andrei Svechnikov had a goal and an assist. Brad Marchand and David Krejci each had a goal and an assist for the Bruins, who were without winger David Pastrnak following an apparent leg injury suffered in Game 1.  

 

 

Boston goalie Tuukka Rask, meanwhile, raised eyebrows with his post-game comments comparing the atmosphere in this playoff bubble to playing exhibition games. “To be honest with you, it really doesn’t feel like playoff hockey out there,” said Rask. “There are no fans, so it’s kind of like playing an exhibition game.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rask probably isn’t the only player feeling that way, which could account in part for why some teams and notable players seem to struggle to regain their intensity in the early going. Those who adjust more quickly could have an advantage through the opening round.

Joonas Korpisalo made 36 savers backstopping the Columbus Blue Jackets over the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-2 in Game 2 of their first-round series, which now stands knotted at a game apiece. Oliver Bjorkstrand snapped a 1-1 tie in the second period, Alexander Wennberg put the game away with his third-period tally and Pierre-Luc Dubois picked up two assists. Nikita Kucherov scored for the Lightning.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s the same story with the Blue Jackets. They get outshot by a big margin (37-22 in this game) but weather the storm and break your heart with their timely offense.

The Dallas Stars tied their series with the Calgary Flames at a game apiece as Jamie Oleksiak’s goal with 40 seconds remaining in regulation gave them a 5-4 victory. Stars blueliner Miro Heiskanen scored twice while teammates Alexander Radulov and Corey Perry each had a goal and an assist. Ben Bishop returned to the Stars net after being unfit to play in Game 1 while Taylor Fedun filled in for the sidelined Stephen Johns. Flames winger Matthew Tkachuk left the game following a third-period collision with Oleksiak and Jamie Benn.

HEADLINES

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens head coach Claude Julien was rushed to hospital after suffering chest pains following his club’s 2-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers in Game 1 of their first-round series. His condition isn’t related to COVID-19. Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin said Julien won’t return for the remainder of the series. Assistant coaches Kirk Muller, Dominque Ducharme, and Luke Richardson will share the coaching duties in Julien’s absence.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bergevin indicated he’d received some good news about Julien’s condition yesterday afternoon but didn’t elaborate. Here’s hoping the Habs bench boss makes a quick and full recovery.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom is in concussion protocol and won’t take part in Game 2 against the New York Islanders later today. Backstrom was injured following a late hit by Islanders’ captain Anders Lee. Lars Eller will replace Backstrom after returning to the club following the birth of his son.

AZCENTRAL.COM: The Arizona Coyotes hope to have center Nick Schmaltz in the lineup for Game 2 against the Colorado Avalanche later today. He’s been absent since being injured during an exhibition game two weeks ago.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The low-scoring Coyotes could use Schmaltz’s offense against the Avs. He was their leading scorer during the regular season.

THE SCORE: Defenseman Dan Hamhuis announced his retirement after 16 NHL seasons with the Nashville Predators, Vancouver Canucks, and Dallas Stars. He played in 1,184 games, netting 356 points. Hamhuis played in two games of the 2011 Stanley Cup Final until a groin injury sidelined him for the rest of the series. He won a gold medal with Team Canada at the 2014 Winter Olympics.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Hamhuis in his future endeavors. He was among the league’s best defensive blueliners during his playing prime.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 6, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 6, 2020

In today’s NHL morning coffee headlines, recaps of Wednesday’s games plus the latest on Jake Muzzin,  Mark Scheifele, Patrik Laine, Micheal Ferland, and more.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Jeff Petry scored his second game-winning goal as the Montreal Canadiens overcame a 3-1 deficit to edge the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-3, taking a 2-1 lead in their qualifying-round series. Habs captain Shea Weber led the way with a goal and two assists.

 

Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens seemed done like dinner midway through the second period. They’re now poised to eliminate the Penguins in Game 4 on Friday. And speaking of potential upsets…

The Chicago Blackhawks got two unanswered third-period goals by Matthew Highmore and Jonathan Toews to nip the Edmonton Oilers 4-3 and take a 2-1 lead in their qualifier. Toews finished the game with two goals while teammate Corey Crawford made 25 saves to become the 20th goaltender in NHL history to record his 50th career playoff win. Leon Draisaitl scored twice and set up another for the Oilers. Edmonton defenseman Adam Larsson was unfit to play while Oilers winger Tyler Ennis left the game in the second period with an apparent leg injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The bounces went the Blackhawks’ way as Highmore’s goal was a deflection from a point shot while Toews’ deflected shot bounced in off an Oilers’ defenseman. They’re now poised to eliminate the Oilers if they win Game 4 on Friday.

The Boston Bruins won’t be the top seed in the 2020 playoffs after dropping a 3-2 decision to the Tampa Bay Lightning in round-robin play. Tyler Johnson tallied the winning goal late in the third period. Bruins goalie Tuukka Rask made 32 saves in his return to action after being unfit to play in their first round-robin game.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s the first time in NHL history the season’s Presidents’ Trophy winner won’t be the top seed in the playoffs. The Bruins are 0-2 in round-robin play. While they are guaranteed a playoff spot, they risk drawing a tougher first-round opponent the lower they sink in the round-robin seedings.

The Florida Panthers avoided elimination by hanging on for a 3-2 victory over the New York Islanders. Third-period goals by Mike Hoffman and Brian Boyle broke a 1-1 tie while Sergei Bobrovsky made 20 saves for the win. A rare penalty by Islanders goaltender Semyon Varlamov for playing the puck beyond the trapezoid behind his net led to Hoffman’s power-play goal. The Isles hold a 2-1 series lead.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was the Panthers’ first postseason victory since the 2016 playoffs. It certainly came at the right time. They also shook up their lineup yesterday, scratching Mike Matheson and Frank Vatrano after their disappointing performances in the first two games.

Three unanswered third-period goals by Conor Garland, Taylor Hall, and Carl Soderberg lifted the Arizona Coyotes over the Nashville Predators 4-1. The Coyotes hold a 2-1 series lead. Darcy Kuemper enjoyed a bounce-back effort in this contest with a 39-save performance.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Coyotes weathered the first-period onslaught from the Predators and opened the scoring on their first shot of the game. They finally got some productions from Hall and Garland, who’d been held goalless in the first two games.

Colorado Avalanche goaltender Pavel Francouz kicked out 27 shots to shut out the Dallas Stars 4-0 in round-robin action. Cale Makar tallied the game-winner while Joonas Donskoi and Andre Burakovsky each had a goal and an assist.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Stars were without starting goalie Ben Bishop and defenseman John Klingberg in this game. Both were declared unfit to play. Under league protocols, no reason was given for their absence, but it doesn’t appear as though it’s COVID-related.

HEADLINES TORONTO SUN: Maple Leafs defenseman Jake Muzzin won’t be available for the remainder of his club’s qualifying-round series with the Columbus Blue Jackets. He was injured in Game 2 and taken to hospital with what appeared to be a head or neck injury. Muzzin was released yesterday and returned to the Leafs hotel within the safety zone and will remain in quarantine until cleared. Martin Marincin will replace him in the lineup for today’s match with the Jackets.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Blue Jackets center Pierre-Luc Dubois won’t face supplemental discipline for the hit that sent Muzzin to hospital after colliding awkwardly with Jackets forward Oliver Bjorkstand.

NHL.COM: The Winnipeg Jets aren’t ruling out Mark Scheifele and Patrik Laine for Game 4 of their qualifier with the Calgary Flames later today. Both players have been sidelined since Game 1. The Flames hold a 2-1 series lead and could wrap it up with a win today.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets need some help following a dispiriting loss in Game 3. They also need Blake Wheeler and Kyle Connor to start cashing in or this series will be over later tonight.

THE PROVINCE: Vancouver Canucks winger Micheal Ferland is out of action and has returned to his home in Brandon, Manitoba. He’s been declared “unfit to play”, raising speculation it’s tied to the concussion symptoms that sidelined him for most of this season.

NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Capitals forward Lars Eller returned to Washington to be with his wife as she gives birth to their second child. He’ll rejoin his teammates following a period of quarantine and testing in the first round of the playoffs.

SPORTSNET: A report from a Swedish media outlet indicates winger Oskar Lindblom will be traveling to the Toronto bubble to join his Philadephia Flyers teammates. He missed the bulk of this season battling a rare form of bone cancer and finished his treatment on July 2. He could return to action in September if the Flyers are still in the playoffs by then.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: San Jose Sharks winger Tomas Hertl has resumed skating for the first time since suffering a season-ending knee injury in January.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Oilers winger Jesse Puljujarvi has re-signed a one-year contract with Finland’s Karpat. It’s believed the deal contains an out-clause should Puljujarvi return to the Oilers next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Recent reports suggest the relationship between Puljujarvi and the Oilers has improved after he spent last season in Finland. With the NHL tentatively planning a full 82-game schedule in December, it makes sense for him to get in some meaningful playing time in Finland before NHL camps open in November.

THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): The general managers of the seven non-playoff teams have submitted a proposal to the league allowing their clubs a two-week mini-camp before training camp for all clubs open in November.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sounds like a reasonable proposal. Those teams haven’t played since the regular season was derailed in mid-March and they’re now amid an unusually long off-season.