NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 5, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 5, 2022

The Avalanche push the Oilers to the brink of elimination in the Western Conference Finals but lose Nazem Kadri to injury. Check out the game recap and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines

NHL.COM: The Colorado Avalanche are one win away from advancing to the Stanley Cup Final with a 4-2 victory over the Edmonton Oilers in Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals. J.T. Compher snapped a 2-2 tie at 12:42 of the third period and Mikko Rantanen put the insurance goal into an empty net. Valeri Nichushkin scored twice, Devon Toews collected two assists and Pavel Francouz stopped 27 shots for the Avalanche, who hold a commanding 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.

Colorado Avalanche center Nazem Kadri (NHL Images).

Edmonton captain Connor McDavid opened the scoring just 38 seconds into the game but Nichushkin’s two goals had the Avalanche up 2-1 by the end of the second period. The Oilers rallied to tie it in the third on a goal by Ryan McLeod before Compher potted the game winner. Oilers netminder Mike Smith did all he could to keep his team in this contest, finishing with 39 saves.

It was a costly victory for Colorado as second-line center Nazem Kadri left the game early in the first period after being hit from behind into the boards by Oilers winger Evander Kane, who was assessed a five-minute major penalty. Following the game, Avalanche coach Jared Bednar said Kadri was out for the remainder of the series and possibly longer. Bednar didn’t disclose the center’s condition but it’s believed he injured his right thumb.

The Avalanche can sweep the series with a win in Game 4 on Monday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This game was Edmonton’s best effort in this series and yet it still wasn’t enough to garner a much-needed win. Despite the loss of Kadri, the Avs still generated more sustained pressure and scoring opportunities while holding the Oilers’ best scorers to just one goal. Indeed, they might’ve widened their second-period lead if not for Smith’s acrobatics in the Oilers’ crease.

The Avalanche adjusted to Kadri’s absence in this game but it could have long-term consequences for them in this series and beyond if they advance to the Final. In my opinion, he was their MVP in this postseason and it won’t be easy to replace him if he’s done for the playoffs. There’s speculation the NHL department of player safety could review the hit, which could lead to supplemental discipline for Kane.

Edmonton center Leon Draisaitl wound up limping off the ice at one point following a hit near his bench. He returned to action but it’s obvious he’s still hampered by the high-ankle sprain suffered earlier in the postseason.

With Draisaitl playing on one good leg and McDavid mostly contained by the Avs checking, it’s not looking good for the Oilers’ chances in Game 4. Only four teams in NHL history (the 1942 Toronto Maple Leafs, 1975 New York Islanders, 2010 Philadelphia Flyers and 2014 Los Angeles Kings) have overcome a 3-0 deficit to win a series.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Lightning center Brayden Point has been ruled out of today’s Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Final against the New York Rangers. He’s been sidelined with a lower-body injury since Game 7 of their first-round series against the Toronto Maple Leafs. The Rangers lead the series 2-0.

NEW YORK POST: Ryan Lindgren is the unsung hero of the Rangers’ playoff run this spring. His teammates, however, appreciate his physical defensive play and all-out effort even when he’s physically not at 100 percent.

TORONTO SUN: Former NHL defenseman Larry Hillman passed away on Friday at age 85. He spent 19 seasons with the Detroit Red Wings, Boston Bruins, Toronto Maple Leafs, Minnesota North Stars, Montreal Canadiens, Philadelphia Flyers, Los Angeles Kings and Buffalo Sabres. In 791 regular-season games, he scored 36 goals and 232 points.

Hillman won six Stanley Cups with the Red Wings (1955), Maple Leafs (1962, 1963, 1964 and 1967) and Canadiens (1969). He also holds the NHL record as the youngest player to have his name engraved on the Cup at 18 years, two months and nine days. That record won’t be broken under current league rules which stipulate a player must be 18 on Sept. 15 to be eligible to play in his rookie year.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Hillman’s family, friends and former teammates.