Dallas Stars Stumbling At Quarter-Point Of The NHL Season
The Lightning take a 3-1 lead in the Stanley Cup Final, the Senators intend to buy out Bobby Ryan, the Canadiens re-sign Jeff Petry, and much more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Kevin Shattenkirk scored in overtime as the Tampa Bay Lightning edged the Dallas Stars 5-4 in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final to take 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven series. Shattenkirk’s goal came on a power play after Stars captain Jamie Benn was whistled off for tripping Lightning forward Tyler Johnson. Tampa Bay’s Brayden Point and Dallas’ Joe Pavelski each scored twice.
Several milestones were reached in this game by four Stars. Pavelski tied Joe Mullen’s NHL record for most playoff goals by an American-born player with 60. He also holds the record for most goals scored in one postseason (12) by a player 36-or-older.
Meanwhile, teammates Miro Heiskanen and John Klingberg are only the second pair of defensemen on the same team to each reach 20 points in one postseason. Paul Coffey and Charlie Huddy were the first to do so with the 1985 Edmonton Oilers.
Corey Perry also scored in this game, making him the third player in NHL history to go at least 13 years between Stanley Cup Final goals, joining Mark Recchi (15 years) and Dino Ciccarelli (14).
The Lightning were without captain Steven Stamkos. After scoring a goal during a brief appearance in Game 3, Stamkos was unfit to play in Game 4.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was the most entertaining game of this series. The Stars took 2-0 and 3-2 leads only to see the Lightning battled back to tie the game. The Bolts took their first lead when Alex Killorn made it 4-3 in the third period but Pavelski tied it with his second of the game.
Benn’s penalty sparked criticism from the Stars but it was an obvious infraction the officials couldn’t ignore. Besides, the Stars had a great opportunity earlier in the extra frame with the man advantage after Lightning defenseman Mikhail Sergachev was called for holding Tyler Seguin but they failed to capitalize.
Both clubs have little time to dwell on this one. Game 5 goes tonight at 8 pm ET with the Lightning just one win away from becoming Stanley Cup champions and the Stars desperate to keep their Cup hopes alive.
OTTAWA SUN: The Senators yesterday placed winger Bobby Ryan on waivers with the intention of buying out the final two years of his contract. Cap Friendly indicates the Senators will be tagged with a $3.58 million salary-cap hit for the next two seasons, followed by about $1.83 million annually for the last two seasons. Ryan won the Masterton Trophy this season for perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was a bit of a surprise but one the Senators made for business reasons. The 33-year-old Ryan is not the scorer he used to be and his $7.25 million annual average value was more than the rebuilding Sens were willing to keep paying. This move allows Ryan an opportunity to have a fresh start with a playoff contender at a more affordable price.
THE ATHLETIC (subscription required): Aaron Portzline reports the Columbus Blue Jackets are considering a contract buyout of center Alexander Wennberg. The move would save the Jackets over $10 million over the next three years. Wennberg is 26, but because he was 25 in June, as per the CBA the buyout will be at one-third the remaining value, rather than two-thirds.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Portzline reports neither Wennberg or his agent have heard anything about a buyout from the Jackets, while GM Jarmo Kekalainen declined to comment. His annual average value is $4.9 million for the next three seasons.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: The Oilers won’t be buying out James Neal or any other players this year.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens yesterday re-signed defenseman Jeff Petry to a four-year, $25 million contract extension. The annual average value is $6.25 million. His new deal also includes a no-movement clause and a 15-team no-trade list.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This deal provides Petry a slight raise over his current $5.5 million AAV, but otherwise isn’t much different from the final three years of his present contract in terms of movement and no-trade clauses. It’s a good move by the Habs to ensure veteran stability on the right side of their blueline. Petry’s been a reliable, sometimes underrated member of the Canadiens core. The move won’t affect their 2020-21 salary-cap payroll.
NBC SPORTS: The Philadelphia Flyers re-signed goaltender Alex Lyon to a one-year, one-way contract worth $700K.
TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs added Paul MacLean to their coaching staff.
One little nugget from my #mnwild GM Bill Guerin interview this morning: BG says the Wild aren’t buying out Victor Rask, that he’s been treated unfairly & scored big goals for them when he played.
My gut: He’d trade him if he could, … but no buyout (which we’ve suspected).
— Michael Russo (@RussoHockey) September 24, 2020
The Stars and Islanders advance to the second round, Matt Niskanen gets a one-game suspension for a cross-check that fractured Brendan Gallagher’s jaw and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Denis Gurianov scored four times as the Dallas Stars overcame a 3-0 deficit with seven unanswered goals to crush the Calgary Flames 7-3, winning their opening-round series four games to two. Five of those goals came in the second period. Stars defenseman Miro Heiskanen had a goal and three assists while teammate Joe Pavelski tallied one goal and set up two others.
— Spector’s Hockey (@SpectorsHockey) August 21, 2020
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A well-deserved victory for the Stars in this game and in this series. They’ll face the Colorado Avalanche in the second round. I was very impressed with Heiskanen’s performance in this series. The 21-year-old NHL sophomore is rapidly blossoming into an elite defenseman. Pavelski, meanwhile, continues to prove at 36 he’s still a reliable postseason performer. As for the Flames, some big changes could be coming after this meltdown.
Anthony Beauvillier scored twice, including the game-winner, as the New York Islanders blanked the Washington Capitals 4-0 to take their first-round series four games to one. Semyon Varlamov made 21 saves for the shutout.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A dominant performance by the Islanders, shutting down the league’s second-best offensive team. It was a master class by Isles bench boss Barry Trotz as he outcoached the Capitals’ Todd Reirden in this series. Two years following the Caps’ Stanley Cup championship, some changes could be in store for the roster and behind the bench.
NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: The NHL Department of Player Safety handed a one-game suspension to Flyers defenseman Matt Niskanen for cross-checking Montreal Canadiens winger Brendan Gallagher in the face during Game 5 of their first-round series.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: Niskanen’s cross-check fractured Gallagher’s jaw, sidelining the Canadiens winger for the remainder of this series and possibly longer should the Habs advance to the second round.
CBS SPORTS: Vancouver Canucks defenseman Tyler Myers suffered a slightly separated shoulder. He’ll be sidelined for the remainder of the Canucks’ series with the St. Louis Blues. Canucks winger Tyler Toffoli (lower-body injury) could be in the lineup for Game 6 tonight.
THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Former NHL coach Bill Peters has tested positive for COVID-19. The head coach of Avtomobilist Yekaterinburg, Peters is reportedly asymptomatic.
Recaps of Monday’s games, plus updates on Tuukka Rask, Micheal Ferland, Michael Raffl, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Connor McDavid’s first NHL career playoff hat trick led the Edmonton Oilers over the Chicago Blackhawks 6-3, tying their best-of-five qualifying round series at one game apiece. Oilers forward Ryan Nugent-Hopkins picked up three assists. Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane has a goal and an assist while teammate Alex DeBrincat collected two assists. Chicago rookie Dominik Kubalik was held scoreless after tallying five points in the series opener.
— Scott King (@ScottKingMedia) August 4, 2020
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This series isn’t what you’d call a defensive struggle. Indeed, it’s been a throwback to the freewheeling style of the 1980s: fast-paced, high-scoring, sloppy, and entertaining. It’s my favorite of the qualifiers thus far.
Andrei Svechnikov tallied his first playoff hat trick and Sebastian Aho collected three assists to lead the Carolina Hurricanes over the New York Rangers 4-1. Artemi Panarin replied for the Rangers. Svechnikov’s hat trick was also the first in franchise history, including its years as the Hartford Whalers. The Hurricanes hold a 2-0 series lead and can wrap things up today in Game 3.
The FIRST PLAYOFF HAT TRICK in @Canes franchise history. Andrei Svechnikov x 3 🎩🎩🎩 #LetsGoCanes Presented by: @Enterprise pic.twitter.com/vbfMElJjtf — #StanleyCup Qualifiers on NBC (@NHLonNBCSports) August 3, 2020
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was a dominant performance by the Hurricanes’ one-two punch of Svechnikov and Aho, and by the team as a whole. Their aggressive forecheck overwhelmed the Rangers, smothering their offense and forcing them to play catch-up throughout the game.
Nikolaj Ehlers’ third-period goal snapped a 2-2 tie as the Winnipeg Jets edged the Calgary Flames 3-2, tying their best-of-five qualifying round series at a game apiece. Jansen Harkins and Adam Lowry gave the Jets an early lead but the Flames tied it on goals by Elias Lindholm and Sam Bennett. It was Ehlers’ first NHL playoff goal. Connor Hellebuyck made 28 saves for the win.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A big bounce-back win for the Jets after dropping Game 1 and losing scorers Mark Scheifele and Patrik Laine. No word yet as to when those two will return to the lineup, but their teammates did a fine job compensating for their absence.
The Pittsburgh Penguins evened their series with the Montreal Canadiens with a 3-1 victory. Sidney Crosby opened the scoring and Jason Zucker tallied the game-winner late in the third period. Jesperi Kotkaniemi replied for the Habs, who were kept in this game by Carey Price’s stellar goaltending.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Penguins were more dominant in this contest compared to the series opener, generating more quality scoring chances and keeping the underdog Canadiens on their heels. If not for Price’s performance, the Penguins would’ve enjoyed a wider margin of victory.
Four unanswered third-period goals by Mark Stone, Nate Schmidt, William Carrier, and William Karlsson powered the Vegas Golden Knights over the Dallas Stars 5-3 in round-robin play. Stars defenseman Miro Heiskanen assisted on all of his club’s three goals. Before the game, Stars’ Tyler Seguin and Jason Dickinson and Golden Knights’ Ryan Reaves and Robin Lehner took a knee during the national anthems in support of racial equality.
— Here’s Your Replay ⬇️ (@TheReplayGuy) August 4, 2020
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Not to take anything away from the Golden Knights’ comeback, but the Stars gave this game away. They were in control entering the third period but sat back on the lead and it cost them.
The Tampa Bay Lightning edged the Washington Capitals 3-2 in round-robin action on shootout goals by Brayden Point and Nikita Kucherov. The Capitals played without defenseman John Carlson, who remains sidelined after leaving last week’s exhibition game against the Hurricanes.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Still no word on when Carlson will return. He could be back before the end of the week.
NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Tuukka Rask was back in the Bruins’ net during practice yesterday after being “unfit to participate” over the weekend with a cough. He was tested multiple times for COVID-19 before being allowed to return.
NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Flyers winger Michael Raffl will miss some time after suffering an undisclosed injury during a round-robin game Sunday with the Bruins. Raffl appeared to be favoring a leg as he left the game following a collision with Bruins defenseman Jeremy Lauzon.
THE PROVINCE: Vancouver Canucks winger Micheal Ferland received a $5,000.00 fine for spearing Minnesota Wild forward Ryan Hartman during Game 1 of their qualifier.
DETROIT FREE PRESS: The Red Wings have loaned prospect defenseman Moritz Seider to his old German club (Adler Mannheim) with the understanding he’ll return to the Wings for training camp ahead of next season. The NHL’s 2020-21 campaign is tentatively slated to begin Dec. 1.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Expect more European prospects on the seven non-playoff teams to follow the Red Wings lead. Given the usually long off-season facing those clubs, it’s best to try and get those kids some playing time where possible.
SPORTSNET: The NHL received no positive COVID-19 tests during the first week of Phase 4 of its return-to-play plan. Over 7,000 tests were administered during that time.
Sami Vatanen has now played in both game 1 and game 2 against NY. As a result, and based on the revised conditions of the trade that sent Vatanen to Carolina, the NJ Devils are now guaranteed a 4th RD pick in either 2020 or 2021 (which could also still become a 3rd RD pick). https://t.co/CfS76vTOFr — CapFriendly (@CapFriendly) August 3, 2020
Check out the latest on the Leafs and Oilers in today’s NHL rumor mill.
SHOULD THE LEAFS PURSUE MURRAY OR HEISKANEN?
SPORTSNET: During a recent mailbag segment, Luke Fox was asked what a contract extension for Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen might look like, and if the Leafs should attempt to acquire Matt Murray. He believes they could push Andersen’s extension to 2021 and dismissed the notion of acquiring Murray.
Despite Murray’s two Stanley Cup rings, Fox is not convinced that the Pittsburgh Penguins netminder is better than Andersen, pointing out the latter has more wins over the past four seasons and a better career save percentage. Murray is also a restricted free agent with arbitration rights this summer.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Forget about the comparisons of Andersen’s and Murray’s career stats, the Leafs can’t afford the latter even if they wanted to acquire him. As per Cap Friendly, they have almost $77 million invested in 16 players for 2020-21, with $6.65 million going to Andersen and Jack Campbell. Unless they intend on trading Andersen (and I don’t believe they do), there’s no room to take on Murray.
Fox was asked if the Leafs should trade Mitch Marner to the Dallas Stars for Miro Heiskanen. He doesn’t see the Stars parting with their 20-year-old stud defenseman. He also cites Stars beat reporter Sean Shapiro declaring Heiskanen untouchable but speculates they could be willing to part with blueliner John Klingberg.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: So, Marner for Klingberg, Leafs fans? Discuss!
LATEST PULJUJARVI SPECULATION
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Kurt Leavins cited a New York source claiming there was “renewed smoke” over the possibility of a trade that would see the Oilers ship winger Jesse Puljujarvi to the New York Rangers for center Lias Andersson. However, word out of New York is Oilers general manager Ken Holland would also demand a first-round pick from the Rangers, with the Oilers including another mid-level prospect in a two-for-two swap.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Under that scenario, I envision it ending with Rangers GM Jeff Gorton rolling his eyes skyward, politely thanking Holland for his offer, and hanging up the phone.
Jim Matheson doesn’t expect to see the Oilers trading Puljujarvi to the Florida Panthers for center Henrik Borgstrom. The Panthers currently value centers over wingers, especially after trading away Vincent Trocheck. The Panthers also don’t need Puljujarvi when they’ve got Owen Tippett and Grigori Denisenko in their pipeline. Speaking of Tippett, sources consider swapping him for Puljujarvi a non-starter.
Regarding a recent suggestion of the Oilers shopping Puljujarvi to the Ottawa Senators for their third first-round pick in the 2020 draft, Matheson said sources indicate the Senators are lukewarm on the Oilers winger because they’re deep in farm forwards ready to make the jump to the NHL.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Matheson also indicates Holland won’t be talking to other GMs about Puljujarvi’s rights until hockey resumes. In other words, the aforementioned rumors are probably just media spitballing.