Game recaps, injury updates, Sabres suspend Berglund, and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Mikko Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog each scored twice and linemate Nathan MacKinnon had a four-point game as the Colorado Avalanche beat the Dallas Stars 6-4. Rantanen’s personal point streak has reached 14 games. Tyler Seguin scored twice for the Stars.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: There seems no stopping the Avalanche’s top line. Rantanen (56 points) and MacKinnon (52 points) sit one-two in the NHL scoring race while MacKinnon and Landeskog (21 goals apiece) sit among the league’s leading goal scorers.
Florida Panthers center Aleksander Barkov’s first career hat trick powered his club to a 4-3 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs. (Photo via NHL Images)
Aleksander Barkov’s first career hat trick, including the game-winner in overtime, lifted the Florida Panthers to a 4-3 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs. Mitch Marner scored twice for the Leafs, who overcame 2-0 and 3-2 deficits to force the extra frame. The Leafs have dropped four of their last five games, including two overtime defeats.
Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin scored his seventh goal in his last three games to defeat the Buffalo Sabres 4-3. Ovechkin now has a league-leading 29 goals. Sabres captain Jack Eichel scored twice in a losing cause. Earlier in the day, the Sabres announced forward Patrik Berglund was suspended indefinitely for failing to report to the teams. It’s unknown when or if he’ll return and the reason behind the suspension is unclear.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Berglund joined the Sabres this summer from St. Louis as part of the deal that sent Ryan O’Reilly to the Blues. He has three years remaining on his contract with an annual average value of $3.85 million. Berglund spent most of this season on the checking lines and was a healthy scratch for a couple of games. It remains to be seen if he’ll return to the club later this season or if we’ll find out the reason behind his suspension.
The Calgary Flames picked up their seventh win in their last eight games by downing the Minnesota Wild 2-1 in a fight-filled contest. Matthew Tkachuk tallied the winner in the third period. Wild defenseman Matt Dumba left the game in the first period with an undisclosed injury. An update on his status is expected later today.
The Pittsburgh Penguins blew a two-goal lead but Phil Kessel’s overtime tally gave them a 4-3 victory over the Los Angeles Kings. Penguins goaltender Matt Murray made 38 saves in his first start since Nov. 17. Penguins winger Tanner Pearson commemorated his first game against his former club with a goal. Earlier in the day, the Penguins revealed defenseman Kris Letang (left-leg injury) is listed as day-to-day.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That news on Letang comes as a relief for the Penguins, as there were fears his injury would sideline him for a lengthy period. With Justin Schultz out of the lineup until March, they cannot afford to lose their best defenseman.
Four unanswered third-period goals gave the Montreal Canadiens a 5-2 win over the Ottawa Senators and head coach Claude Julien his 600th career NHL victory. Habs captain Shea Weber potted the game-winning goal after Artturi Lehkonen’s goal was overturned on a questionable diving call.
A three-goal first period enabled the Vancouver Canucks to cruise to a 5-1 win over the Philadelphia Flyers. Canucks winger Brock Boeser had a goal and an assist. Flyers goaltender Anthony Stolarz left the game in the first period with a lower-body injury. The loss is stoking speculation over head coach Dave Hakstol’s future with the struggling club.
New York Islanders center Mathew Barzal scored the only goal in a shootout to give his club a 4-3 win over the Detroit Red Wings. Barzal also had a goal and an assist in regulation play. Red Wings winger Thomas Vanek had a three-point night, including the game-tying goal.
Daniel Sprong scored twice to give the Anaheim Ducks a 2-1 overtime victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: After struggling to crack the Pittsburgh Penguins roster, Sprong seems rejuvenated with the Ducks, netting three goals in five games.
Nashville Predators goaltender Jusse Saros kicked out 33 shots in regulation and overtime and Ryan Johansen potted the game-winner in a shootout to defeat the New Jersey Devils 2-1.
SPORTSNET: Edmonton Oilers defenseman Oscar Klefbom will miss six-to-eight weeks following surgery to repair an injured finger.
STLTODAY.COM: The St. Louis Blues re-signed defenseman Robert Bortuzzo to a three-year contract extension worth an annual average value of $1.375 million. He was slated to become an unrestricted free agent at season’s end.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s a slight pay bump from the $1.15-million AAV of his current contract. This should also put to rest any speculation suggesting he could be a trade candidate.
LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: Vegas Golden Knights center Erik Haula underwent knee surgery last month and is unlikely to return this season.
THE SCORE: A fan at the United Center got into a scrap with Chicago Blackhawks mascot Tommy Hawk following the club’s 4-3 overtime loss to the Winnipeg Jets. Police were notified and the team is looking into the incident.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tommy Hawk gave a good account of himself in this slobber knocker. You know the Blackhawks season is going poorly when a fan starts taking out his frustrations on the mascot.