NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 26, 2021
Mika Zibanejad lights up the Flyers again, Sidney Crosby reaches another career milestone, the Canadian government will reportedly loosen quarantine rules for players, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: An overtime goal by Anthony Beauvillier lifted the New York Islanders over the Boston Bruins 4-3. The Isles overcame a 2-0 deficit to take a 3-2 lead until Boston’s Anders Bjork tied it late in the third. Beauvillier finished with two points while teammate Jean-Gabriel Pageau had a goal and two assists. Bruins backup Jaroslav Halak made 17 saves in relief of Tuukka Rask, who left the game following the first period with an upper-body injury. With 48 points, the Islanders hold a two-point lead over the Washington Capitals for first place in the MassMutual East Division. The Bruins (37 points) hold a three-point lead over the New York Rangers for fourth place.
Mika Zibanejad enjoyed a six-point game, including a natural hat trick, as the Rangers thumped the Philadelphia Flyers 8-3. Zibanejad set an NHL record with consecutive six-point performances against the same opponent. Adam Fox collected five assists, Ryan Strome had a goal and three assists and Pavel Buchnevich scored twice. The Rangers (34 points) surged past the Flyers into fifth place in the MassMutual East Division.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Carter Hart was shelled for five goals before getting the hook from the Flyers net. The 22-year-old goaltender looks nothing like last season’s promising starter when he out-dueled Montreal’s Carey Price in the playoffs. His confidence is completely shot and he hasn’t received much help from his defense. The Rangers, meanwhile, have played their way into the playoff race in the East Division, though the Bruins have three games in hand.
The Washington Capitals picked up their eighth win in their last nine contests by edging the New Jersey Devils 4-3. Evgeny Kuznetsov tallied twice while Alex Ovechkin scored his 721st career goal. The Capitals (46 points) hold a two-point lead over the third-place Pittsburgh Penguins in the East Division.
Sebastian Aho’s overtime goal gave the Carolina Hurricanes a 4-3 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Hurricanes defenseman Dougie Hamilton extended his assist streak to 13 games while Blue Jackets rearguard Seth Jones collected three helpers. The Hurricanes (47 points) sit three points behind the first-place Tampa Bay Lightning in the Discover Central Division while the Blue Jackets (34 points) are three back of the fourth-place Chicago Blackhawks.
The Toronto Maple Leafs nipped the Ottawa Senators 3-2 on an overtime goal by Justin Holl. Senators netminder Anton Forsberg made 38 saves in his first start in a year. The Leafs (44 points) move into sole possession of first place in the Scotia North Division, two points up on the Winnipeg Jets and Edmonton Oilers.
Sidney Crosby collected three assists to lead the Pittsburgh Penguins over the Buffalo Sabres 4-0, handing the latter their 16th straight defeat. Crosby became the eighth-fastest player to reach 1,300 career points. Casey DeSmith kicked out 36 shots for the shutout while rookie Radim Zohorna’s first NHL goal proved to be the game-winner. Before the game, the Penguins announced winger Kasperi Kapanen is sidelined week-to-week with an undisclosed injury. With 44 points, the Penguins sit in third place in the East Division. Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams took over his club’s coaching duties after interim head coach Don Granato and assistant Matt Ellis went onto the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list two hours before game time.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: What happened to Granato and Ellis is just the latest blow in a season that represents the nadir of a decade of suck for the once-proud Sabres.
A 37-save shutout by Cam Talbot carried the Minnesota Wild to a 2-0 blanking of the St. Louis Blues. Marcus Johansson and Kirill Kaprizov were the goal scorers as the Wild (43 points) picked up their 11th straight home win and sit two points behind the second-place Colorado Avalanche in the Honda West Division. Wild defenseman Matt Dumba returned to action after missing three games with a lower-body injury. The fourth-place Blues (37 points) sits six points back of the Wild.
Chicago Blackhawks goalie Kevin Lankinen kicked out 41 shots in a 3-0 shutout of the Florida Panthers. Patrick Kane had a goal and an assist for the Blackhawks (37 points), who hold a three-point lead over the Blue Jackets for fourth in the Central Division. Panthers winger Patric Hornqvist left the game in the third period with an undisclosed injury following a hard hit by Blackhawks defenseman Nikita Zadorov. He’s listed as day-to-day as the Panthers (44 points) sit three points behind the second-place Hurricanes in the Central.
The Colorado Avalanche scored five unanswered goals in a 5-1 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights. Gabriel Landeskog and Cale Makar each had a goal and an assist as the Avalanche moved into a tie with the first-place Golden Knights (45 points), though the latter holds a game in hand.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Avalanche have won eight of their last 10 and picked up points in all but one of those games.
A late third-period goal by Roope Hintz lifted the Dallas Stars over the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-3. Hintz and Joe Pavelski each had a goal and two assists. Lightning goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy saw his winning streak end at 12 games. The Bolts remain atop the NHL’s overall standings with 50 points.
The Nashville Predators moved to within four points of the fourth-place Blackhawks in the Central Division by crushing the Detroit Red Wings 7-1. Rocco Grimaldi scored four goals, including three in a span of 2:34 as the Predators have won five of their last six contests.
TSN: The Canadian government is reportedly poised to approve reducing the 14-day quarantine on NHL players crossing the border from the United States into Canada to seven days.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This would allow the Canadian general managers who could be buyers more time to make moves in the days leading up to the April 12 trade deadline. Under the 14-day quarantine, a player acquired by a Canadian team acquired at the April 12 trade deadline would be unable to join the roster until April 27. A seven-day quarantine means they can join the roster more quickly.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens GM Marc Bergevin said one of his two players on their COVID-19 protocol list tested positive for one of the coronavirus variants. He wouldn’t say who the player was but indicated he was feeling ok. No other Habs have tested positive. The Canadiens had four games postponed by the league but could return to action early next week. Bergevin also suggested his club’s season could last a little longer to make up those games.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The regular season is slated to end on May 8 and the playoffs begin on May 11. The Habs could play on May 9 and 10, or the league could extend the start date of the playoffs by a couple of days to accommodate teams with postponed games to be played.
THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: Four Anaheim Ducks players (Danton Heinen, Ben Hutton, Jacob Larsson and Anthony Stolarz) are off the COVID-19 protocol list due to false-positive tests. Alexander Volkov goes on the list for seven days as per league protocols for traded players.
SPORTSNET: Edmonton Oilers defenseman Oscar Klefbom underwent successful shoulder surgery on Thursday and is on track to return to action next season.
CBS SPORTS: Arizona Coyotes forward Tyler Pitlick was placed on injured reserve with an undisclosed injury.