Game recaps, injury updates, plus milestones for Patrik Laine and James van Riemsdyk in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: The Nashville Predators extended their points streak to 13 games by downing the Arizona Coyotes 3-2 on third-period goals by Kyle Turris and Kevin Fiala. With 102 points, the Predators hold the top spot in the overall standings. Earlier in the day, however, they learned center Calle Jarnkrok will miss the rest of the regular season with an upper-body injury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Winners of nine of their last 10 games, the Predators are the league’s hottest team right now. With the playoffs looming, they’re peaking at the right time.
Winnipeg Jets 19-year-old winger Patrik Laine set an NHL record for consecutive points by a teenaged player. (Photo via NHL Images)
The Winnipeg Jets (94 points) strengthened their grip on second place in the Central Division by thumping the Chicago Blackhawks 6-2. Jets winger Patrik Laine collected an assist to extend his point streak to 14 games, setting a record for the longest NHL points streak by a teenage player. Kyle Connor also scored twice for Winnipeg. Before the game, the Jets learned center Matt Hendricks will miss the remainder of the regular season and the opening round of the playoffs with a lower-body injury.
The Washington Capitals (87 points) maintained their hold on first in the Metropolitan Division by crushing the New York Islanders 7-3. T.J. Oshie scored two goals while Nicklas Backstrom and Evgeny Kuznetsov had three-point performances. The Isles (70 points) sit ten back of the New Jersey Devils for the final wild-card berth in the East.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Barring an impressive late surge by the Isles, their playoff hopes are all but dashed now. With just one victory in their last 10 games, they’ve lost too much ground in the standings.
Patrick Hornqvist scored twice and Evgeni Malkin netted his 40th goal of the season as the Pittsburgh Penguins overcame an early 2-0 deficit to defeat the Montreal Canadiens 5-3. Bryan Rust returned to the Pittsburgh lineup and collected two points. The Penguins remain tied with the Capitals for top spot in the Metro Division, though the Caps hold the advantage by having two games in hand.
Cam Atkinson’s hat trick powered the surging Columbus Blue Jackets to a 5-3 win over the Philadelphia Flyers. The Jackets (81 points) have won six straight games and hold the first wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference. The Jackets also announced yesterday the signing of veteran forward Nathan Gerbe to a two-year, two-way contract.
Toronto Maple Leafs winger James van Riemsdyk had his second straight multi-goal game to lead his club to a 5-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres. He tallied twice to reach a career-best single-season mark of 31 goals. No update on the status of Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen, who remains sidelined with an upper-body injury suffered during Wednesday’s game against Dallas.
A four-point effort by Anze Kopitar gave the Los Angeles Kings (84 points) a 4-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings. Kopitar had a goal and set up three others, while teammate Drew Doughty collected three assists. The Kings sit third in the Pacific Division.
Colorado Avalanche forwards Nathan MacKinnon and Miko Rantanen each scored twice to lead their club to a 4-1 victory over the St. Louis Blues. The Avs (84 points) hold the first wild-card spot in the Western Conference. For the Blues (79 points), the loss puts them five points out of a playoff spot.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blues have won only three of their last 10 contests. With 12 games remaining in the season, they’re running out of time to turn things around.
James Riemer made 46 saves as the Florida Panthers shut out the Boston Bruins 3-0. Nick Bjugstad had a goal and an assist while Evgenii Dadonov picked up two assists. The Panthers sit three points back of the Devils for the final Eastern Conference playoff spot. The Bruins were playing without defenseman Zdeno Chara and winger Jake DeBrusk, who are both sidelined with upper-body injuries.
TSN: Over four years after a group of former players filed a lawsuit against the NHL over its perceived inability to protect them from concussion injuries, the two sides will face off Friday for the first time in court.