NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 22, 2017

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 22, 2017

Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby reacts after being struck in the mouth by the stick of Buffalo Sabres winger Evander Kane.

Game recaps, Bettman remains pessimistic over Olympic participation & more in your NHL morning coffee headlines. 

NHL.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins clinched a playoff berth by downing the Buffalo Sabres 3-1. The Pens (101 points) also moved into second place in the Metropolitan Division and Eastern Conference standings, one point behind the Washington Capitals and one ahead of the Columbus Blue Jackets.

It was an eventful game for Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, who scored a one-handed highlight-reel goal, speared Sabres center Ryan O’Reilly in the groin and lost some teeth after taking a high stick in the mouth from Sabres winger Evander Kane. Sabres defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen, meanwhile, could face disciplinary action from the league after a bad hit on Penguins center Jake Guentzel. 

Alex Ovechkin had a goal and two assists to lead the Washington Capitals to a 4-2 victory over the Calgary Flames. The Capitals (102 points) remain atop the Metropolitian, Eastern Conference and league overall standings. Flames goalie Brian Elliott saw his 11-game win streak come to an end. The Flames (86 points) remain in the first wild-card berth in the Western Conference, one point back of the Edmonton Oilers and Anaheim Ducks in the Pacific Division. 

Kyle Turris scored twice, including the winning goal in the third period, as the Ottawa Senators edged the Boston Bruins 3-2. The Sens (88 points) moved within three points of the Atlantic Division leading Montreal Canadiens and opening a six-point lead over the third-place Bruins. 

Anthony Mantha scored in overtime as the Detroit Red Wings upset the Montreal Canadiens 2-1. The Habs (91 points) picked up a point to remain three ahead of the Senators. 

Charlie Coyle’s second period goal stood as the winner as the Minnesota Wild nipped the San Jose Sharks 3-2, snapping their five-game losing skid and extending the Sharks’ to four games. The Wild (94 points) remains second in the Central Division and the Sharks (91 points) still hold a four-point lead over Edmonton and Anaheim for top spot in the Pacific. Sharks defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic missed the game with the flu.

The Vancouver Canucks blew a 4-1 lead but defeated the Chicago Blackhawks 5-4 on an overtime goal from Daniel Sedin. The Hawks (100 points) still picked up a point, opening a six-point over Minnesota for top spot in the Western Conference. Brandon Sutter netted two goals for the Canucks. 

Patrik Berglund scored twice as the St. Louis Blues doubled up the Colorado Avalanche 4-2, moving the Blues into third place in the Central Division. 

Joseph Blandisi’s overtime goal lifted the New Jersey Devils to a 3-2 victory over the New York Rangers, who picked up a point but remain in the first wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference with 94 points. 

Third-period goals from Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Radim Vrbata and Connor Murphy gave the Arizona Coyotes a 5-3 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning, leaving the latter (77 points) four back of the Toronto Maple Leafs for the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. 

Jeff Skinner scored the tying and winning goals to give the Carolina Hurricanes a 4-3 win over the Florida Panthers. A bright spot for the Panthers was the return of defenseman Aaron Ekblad, who’d been sidelined for several games by a concussion. It was his third in the last 14 months. 

Mark Scheifele, Blake Wheeler and Mathieu Perreault each had a goal and an assist as the Winnipeg Jets beat the fading Philadelphia Flyers 3-2. 

USA TODAY: NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said yesterday that “as things stand now people should assume we are not going” to the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bettman continues to leave the door open for possible participation, as he has yet to officially state that the NHL won’t be taking part. 

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: The Blue Jackets re-signed Center Lukas Sedlak, left wing Markus Hannikainen and defenseman Scott Harrington to two-year, one-way contract extensions. 

TWINCITIES.COM: Former Minnesota Wild goaltender Josh Harding is now a high school goaltending coach in Edina, Minnesota. Hardin’s now at peace with his life after his playing career was ended by multiple sclerosis.