NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 1, 2024
Another milestone for Marc-Andre Fleury, the Senators make some front office changes and the Golden Knights prepare to face off against the Kraken in the 2024 Winter Classic. Details on these and other stories in the NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
NHL.COM: Minnesota Wild goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury appeared in his 1,000th career NHL game but his club dropped a 3-2 decision to the Winnipeg Jets. Fleury made 26 saves and Frederick Gaudreau had a goal and an assist for the 16-15-4 Wild (36 points) as they sit four points out of a Western Conference wild-card berth. Laurent Brossoit stopped 24 shots while Dominic Toninato snapped a 2-2 tie in the third period as the Jets (22-9-4) extended their points streak to eight games and sit one point out of first place in the Central Division with 48 points.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fleury became just the fourth goaltender in NHL history to reach the 1,000-game plateau, joining Martin Brodeur (1,266), Roberto Luongo (1,044) and Patrick Roy (1,029) on the all-time list.
The Ottawa Senators defeated the Buffalo Sabres 5-1. Anton Forsberg kicked out 45 shots while Thomas Chabot collected two assists in his first game back with the Senators since being sidelined on Dec. 2 with a leg injury. Tage Thompson tallied for the Sabres, who sank to 14-19-4 while the Senators are 14-18-0.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Before the game, the Senators announced several front-office moves. President of hockey operations and interim general manager Steve Staios becomes the full-time general manager, former NHL player and TSN hockey analyst Dave Poulin is their new senior Vice-President of Hockey Operations and Ryan Bowness becomes associate general manager.
The Senators made a management change earlier this season when Staios replaced GM Pierre Dorion on Nov. 2. They also replaced head coach D.J. Smith on Dec. 18 with Jacques Martin on an interim basis. It’s expected they’ll announce a full-time replacement in the offseason.
With Staios now fully in charge of the front office, the focus is likely to shift toward possible roster moves if the Senators fail to show any significant improvement between now and the March 8 trade deadline.
Speaking of the Sabres, Zemgus Girgensons returned to action after being sidelined since Nov. 24 by a lower-body injury.
Edmonton Oilers winger Warren Foegele had a career-high five points (two goals, three assists) as his club thumped the Anaheim Ducks 7-2. Leon Draisaitl has a goal and two assists for the 18-15-1 Oilers (37 points) as they won their fifth straight game and sit three points out of the final Western wild-card spot. John Gibson made 32 saves for the 13-23-0 Ducks.
The Tampa Bay Lightning overcame a 2-0 deficit in a 4-3 win over the Montreal Canadiens. Nikita Kucherov had a goal and an assist to become the first player to reach 60 points this season as the Lightning (17-11-6) vaulted one point over the idle Washington Capitals into the final Eastern Conference wild-card spot with 41 points. Cole Caufield, Johnathan Kovecevic and Nick Suzuki replied for the 15-16-5 Canadiens as they dropped their third straight game.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Canadiens center Christian Dvorak missed this game with an upper-body injury and is sidelined indefinitely.
Dallas Stars winger Mason Marchment netted a hat trick and set up another goal in an 8-1 drubbing of the Chicago Blackhawks. Tyler Seguin had a goal and two assists for the 22-9-4 Stars, who sit in third place behind the Jets in the Central Division with 48 points. Philipp Kurashev netted the lone goal for the 11-23-2 Blackhawks.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Winnipeg and Dallas have identical records but the Jets hold second place in the Central with 20 regulation wins.
Boston Bruins forward Trent Frederic scored twice and set up another as his club defeated the Detroit Red Wings 5-3. Charlie McAvoy collected three assists for the 22-7-6 Bruins (50 points) as they moved to within one point of the league-leading New York Rangers. Patrick Kane’s six-game points streak came to an end as the Red Wings dropped to 17-16-4.
The Pittsburgh Penguins got a 37-save performance from Alex Nedeljkovic in a 3-1 victory over the New York Islanders. Lars Eller scored twice for the 18-13-4 Penguins (40 points) as they picked up their third straight win and extended their points streak to six games, sitting one point out of the final Eastern wild-card berth. Ilya Sorokin stopped 35 shots for the 18-15-5 Islanders as they sit in the first Eastern wild-card spot with 43 points.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Islanders defenseman Scott Mayfield returned to the lineup after missing the last eight games with an upper-body injury.
Calgary Flames forward Blake Coleman got a goal and an assist in his 500th career NHL game while Andrew Mangiapane collected three assists to nip the Philadelphia Flyers 4-3. Dennis Gilbert also had a goal and an assist for the 15-16-5 Flames. Travis Konecny had two helpers for the 19-12-5 Flyers as they remain in third place in the Metropolitan Division with 43 points.
Third-period goals by Valeri Nichushkin and Josh Manson lifted the Colorado Avalanche to a 3-1 win over the San Jose Sharks. Nathan MacKinnon picked up two assists to extend his home points streak to 19 games as the Avalanche (23-11-3) hold first place in the Central Division with 49 points. Tomas Hertl scored for the 9-25-3 Sharks, who’ve dropped eight straight games and also lost top defenseman Mario Ferraro with a suspected shoulder injury following a check by MacKinnon.
IN OTHER NEWS…
NHL.COM: The Vegas Golden Knights will face off against the Seattle Kraken at Seattle’s T-Mobile Park at noon PT on Jan. 1. This will be the Kraken’s first outdoor game and the second for the Golden Knights.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ll watch it for the novelty of seeing an outdoor game as usual. Besides, there are no World Junior Championship games scheduled for today.
DAILY FACEOFF: The Toronto Maple Leafs placed goaltender Ilya Samsonov on waivers before sending him to their AHL affiliate. Meanwhile, the Buffalo Sabres placed goalie Eric Comrie on waivers before sending him to their AHL affiliate in Rochester.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Both netminders are expected to clear waivers today. Samsonov has struggled this season and the Leafs intend to work with him during his time with the Marlies to help him improve his game. Comrie, meanwhile, is the third man out behind Devon Levi and Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen among the Sabres’ goalies.
NEW JERSEY HOCKEY NOW: Devils forward Timo Meier left Saturday’s game against the Boston Bruins with an injury. There’s been no update yet regarding his status.