NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 28, 2023
Three division leaders suffering upset defeats, the Panthers’ Sergei Bobrovsky reaches a career milestone and the Wild fire head coach Dean Evason. Details on these and other stories in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
NHL.COM: Buffalo Sabres winger Alex Tuch scored two goals as his club upset the league-leading New York Rangers 5-1. Casey Mittelstadt had a goal and two assists and Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen stopped 25 shots as the Sabres improved to 10-10-2 on the season. Mika Zibanejad replied for the Rangers (15-4-1), who remain in first place in the overall standings with 31 points.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Rangers also lost winger Kaapo Kakko as he left the game in the second period with what appeared to be an injured left knee. There was no postgame update regarding his condition.
The Boston Bruins suffered their third straight defeat as a result of a 5-2 upset at the hands of the Columbus Blue Jackets. Yegor Chinakhov had a goal and an assist while Spencer Martin made 31 saves for the Blue Jackets (7-12-4), who’ve won three of their last four games following a nine-game losing skid. Matthew Poitras and John Beecher scored for the Bruins, who also have 31 points but remain behind the Rangers with a record of 14-4-3.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins’ defensive play was becoming a legitimate concern before this game, in part because they’ve faced tougher opponents in recent games. Those worries won’t be alleviated by falling to the lowly Blue Jackets while giving up five goals for the fourth time in five games.
An overtime goal by MacKenzie Weegar lifted the Calgary Flames to a 2-1 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights. A.J. Greer also scored while Dan Vladar got the win with a 25-save performance as the Flames boosted their record to 9-10-3, sitting in the final Western Conference wild-card berth with 21 points. William Karlsson tallied for the Golden Knights (14-5-3), who remain in first place in the Western Conference with 31 points and third in the overall standings.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flames were forced to use an emergency backup goalie named Dusty Nickel after starter Jacob Markstrom was sidelined by an illness. There was a moment early in the first period when it appeared Nickel would have to relieve Vladar after the latter was briefly shaken up but he was able to finish the game.
The Colorado Avalanche got two goals from Ryan Johansen to beat the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-1, extending their win streak to four games. Alexandar Georgiev kicked out 37 shots while Cale Makar had a goal and an assist as the Avalanche (15-6-0) sit atop the Central Division with 30 points, one back of the Golden Knights in the conference standings. Anthony Cirelli scored for the Lightning as they slipped to 10-7-5.
Florida Panthers goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky made 20 saves for his 40th career shutout in a 5-0 blanking of the Ottawa Senators. Sam Reinhart tallied twice while Aleksander Barkov collected three assists for the 13-7-1 Panthers. Joonas Korpisalo made 33 saves for the Senators (8-9-0), who dropped into last place in the Eastern Conference standings with 16 points.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Panthers and Senators combined for 167 penalty minutes with most of those coming in the third period as a result of a line brawl with 7:22 remaining in the frame. That resulted in every player on the ice receiving 10-minute misconducts.
A third-period goal by Luke Kunin carried the San Jose Sharks over the Washington Capitals 2-1. Fabian Zetterlund also scored while Mackenzie Blackwood turned aside 33 shots for the 5-12-2 Sharks, who remain at the bottom of the overall standings with 12 points. Evgeny Kuznetsov had the only goal for the 10-6-2 Capitals.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sharks got the win without Tomas Hertl as he was sidelined with an injury to his midsection. He is listed as day-to-day. Meanwhile, the Capitals placed winger T.J. Oshie (upper body) on injured reserve and activated defenseman Martin Fehervary off IR.
STARTRIBUNE.COM: The Minnesota Wild fired Dean Evason as head coach on Monday, replacing him with John Hynes.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Coming off a 103-point performance last season, the Wild have been in a swoon since October. They are in the midst of a seven-game losing skid which prompted general manager Bill Guerin to make the coaching change.
Guerin had defended Evason earlier this month, stressing that improvement would have to come from within. That’s because the cap-strapped Wild can’t afford to make a significant trade to shake things up in a league where only five teams have at least $5 million in cap space.
Perhaps the Wild can rediscover their winning ways under a proven NHL bench boss like Hynes. If not, a roster retool could be next starting at the trade deadline when clubs will accrue sufficient cap room to make deals with each other.
Speaking of the Wild, Ryan Hartman received a two-game suspension from the NHL department of player safety for tripping Detroit Red Wings forward Alex DeBrincat on Sunday.
NHL.COM: Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid, Tampa Bay Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov and Nashville Predators goaltender Juuse Saros are the league’s three stars for the week ending Nov. 26.
NYI HOCKEY NOW: Islanders defenseman Sebastian Aho (upper body) was placed on IR retroactive to Nov. 24.
PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: The Penguins and Panthers will honor Patric Hornqvist during their Dec. 8 game in Florida. Hornqvist played for both clubs during his 15-season NHL career before retiring due to injuries following last season.
NHL.COM: The player draft will be returning to NHL All-Star Weekend this season as part of a new event called NHL All-Star Thursday.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The player draft was one of the few ideas that worked to make the All-Star Game a little more interesting than the pond-hockey yawnfest it usually tends to be.