NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 7, 2019
Recaps of the final games of the 2018-19 season, first-round playoff matchups set, Nikita Kucherov wins Art Ross Trophy, Bob Cole signs off, and much more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: The Tampa Bay Lightning tied the league record for most wins in a season (62) by defeating the Boston Bruins 6-3. Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov tallied a goal and set up another to finish the season with 128 points, winning the Art Ross Trophy as the league’s leading scorer and scoring the most points in one season by a Russian-born player. The Lightning will face the Columbus Blue Jackets in the opening round of the 2018 Stanley Cup playoffs.
Montreal Canadiens center Ryan Poehling scored his first NHL goal, collected his first big-league hat trick, and tallied his first game-winning and shootout goals in a 6-5 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs. Despite Poehling’s four-goal debut, the Canadiens missed the playoffs with 96 points. The Leafs go on to face the Bruins in the opening round. This game was also the last for Hockey Night in Canada play-by-play man Bob Cole. The 85-year-old is retiring following a 50-year career.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Growing up in the 1970s, Danny Gallivan was my favorite hockey play-by-play man. After Gallivan’s retirement in 1984, Cole became the voice of Saturday night for me. So many great games, so many memories. For me, the best game he ever called was Game Five of the 1984 Patrick Division semi-final between the New York Islanders and New York Rangers.
Edmonton Oilers winger Leon Draisaitl reached the 50-goal plateau for the first time in a 3-1 victory over the Calgary Flames. His achievement was overshadowed by team captain Connor McDavid leaving the game with an injured left leg. X-rays revealed no broken bones but he’s slated for an MRI on Monday. The Flames, meanwhile, will face the Colorado Avalanche in the opening round.
Sidney Crosby reached 100 points for the sixth time in his career but his Pittsburgh Penguins were nipped 4-3 by the New York Rangers in overtime. Penguins winger Jake Guentzel reached the 40-goal plateau for the first time. Ryan Strome scored the winning goal for the Rangers. The Penguins will face off against the New York Islanders in the first round.
The Islanders, meanwhile, got a 29-save shutout from Robin Lehner and two goals by Valtteri Filppula as they blanked the Washington Capitals 3-0. Lehner and Thomas Greiss won the William M. Jennings Trophy for the league’s lowest goals-against average. Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin finished the season with 51 goals to win his eighth career Rocket Richard Trophy. He also set a record by leading the league in goals for the eighth time.
Nashville Predators winger Viktor Arvidsson set a franchise record for most goals in a season (34) as his club downed the Chicago Blackhawks 5-2. Filip Forsberg and Nick Bonino each had a goal and an assist for the Predators, whose first-round opponent will be the Dallas Stars. Blackhawks winger Chris Kunitz, 39, is a free agent this summer and uncertain of what his NHL future might be.
Ben Bishop set a Dallas Stars record with the highest single-season save percentage (.934) and Tyler Seguin scored two goals to blank the Minnesota Wild 3-0. Wild head coach Bruce Boudreau is hopeful of returning behind the bench next season. He’s got a year remaining on his contract and there’s no indication the club is considering a coaching change.
Shootout goals by Ryan O’Reilly and David Perron gave the St. Louis Blues a 3-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks. The Blues will face off against the Winnipeg Jets in the opening round of the playoffs.
Pierre-Luc Dubois scored twice as the Columbus Blue Jackets romped to a 6-2 win over the Ottawa Senators. Oliver Bjorkstrand also had a three-point night for the Blue Jackets, who’ll face the Lightning in the opening round.
Buffalo Sabres left wing Jeff Skinner scored twice to reach the 40-goal mark for the first time as his club thumped the Detroit Red Wings 7-1. Red Wings captain Niklas Kronwall said he hasn’t made up his mind yet if he’ll return for another season. The 38-year-old had one of his healthiest seasons in years, prompting speculation he might have one more season left in him.
Aleksander Barkov set a Florida Panthers record by reaching 96 points in a 4-3 overtime loss to the New Jersey Devils. Nathan Bastian scored two goals and Travis Zajac netted the game-winner.
Carolina Hurricanes forwards Jordan Staal and Teuvo Teravainen each had a goal and an assist as their club nipped the Philadelphia Flyers 4-3. The Hurricanes’ opening-round opponent will be the Washington Capitals.
Mark Scheifele and Kyle Connor each tallied a goal and an assist as the Winnipeg Jets doubled up the Arizona Coyotes 4-2. The Jets will open the playoffs at home against the Blues.
Ilya Kovalchuk scored two goals to give the Los Angeles Kings a season-ending 5-2 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights, who dropped seven of their final eight regular-season contests. The Golden Knights face off against the San Jose Sharks in the opening round.
Erik Karlsson returned to the San Jose Sharks lineup for the first time since Feb. 26 in a 5-2 win over the Colorado Avalanche. He was held pointless but skated over 22 minutes and finished the night with a plus-minus of plus-three.
The complete 2019 Stanley Cup playoff bracket can be found here.