NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 31, 2022
Connor McDavid reaches 100 points again, Leon Draisaitl and Chris Kreider make the race for the Richard Trophy interesting, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Connor McDavid netted his league-leading 100th point of the season and Leon Draisaitl tallied his 49th goal of the campaign as the Edmonton Oilers downed the Los Angeles Kings 4-3. Both players also scored in the shootout for the Oilers. Alexander Edler and Carl Grundstrom each had two points for the Kings (82 points), who hold a one-point lead over the Oilers for second place in the Pacific Division.
An overtime goal by Andrew Copp lifted the New York Rangers over the Detroit Red Wings 5-4. Chris Kreider’s game-tying goal was his 46th of the season while Artemi Panarin had a goal and two assists for the Rangers (93 points) as they sit three points behind the first-place Carolina Hurricanes in the Metropolitan Division.
Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Logan Thompson made 22 saves for his first NHL shutout to blank the Seattle Kraken 3-0. Shea Theodore, Michael Amadio and Jonathan Marchessault were the goal scorers as the Golden Knights (78 points) regained the final wild-card berth in the Western Conference, sitting one point up on the Dallas Stars.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Kraken became the fourth team officially eliminated from playoff contention, joining the Arizona Coyotes, Montreal Canadiens and Philadelphia Flyers.
Blake Wheeler potted the deciding goal in the shootout in the Winnipeg Jets’ 3-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres. Connor Hellebuyck got the win with a 35-save performance while Zemgus Girgensons scored twice for the Sabres. The Jets have won seven of their last 10 games and sit two points behind the Golden Knights.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets played without leading scorer Kyle Connor and defenseman Nate Schmidt after both entered COVID protocol yesterday.
The St. Louis Blues regained third place in the Central Division by holding off the Vancouver Canucks 4-3. Ryan O’Reilly had a goal and an assist for the Blues, who sit three points behind the second-place Minnesota Wild with 83 points. With 73 points, the Canucks are five points behind the Golden Knights.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s the second straight loss for the Canucks, putting their playoff hopes in jeopardy. Earlier in the day, they also learned forward Nils Hoglander may be done for the season after suffering a groin injury during practice on March 16.
Arizona Coyotes goaltender Karel Vejmelka made 39 saves and Jan Jenik scored two goals in a 5-2 victory over the San Jose Sharks. It was a costly win for the Coyotes as leading scorer Clayton Keller was stretchered from the game in the third period after falling awkwardly into the boards. Keller was transported to a hospital for further examination.
OTTAWA SUN: Anthony LeBlanc, the Senators president of business operations, confirmed the club had held talks with Quebec City, but only about entering a joint bid to host the 2023 IIHF World Junior Championship.
A report in La Presse yesterday claimed NHL commissioner Gary Bettman had spoken to the Quebec government about the Senators playing five of its home games in Quebec City next season. LeBlanc said the possibility of playing neutral site games there was floated but never really discussed. “The idea that we (Senators) are going to be playing in Quebec City is very disingenuous,” said LeBlanc.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some folks seem to be jumping to conclusions by taking this story as an indication the Senators could be relocated to Quebec City. Coming two days after the death of Senators owner Eugene Melnyk, the La Presse report stirred unease for a fan base that is, according to the Ottawa Sun’s Ken Warren, insecure over the franchise’s future in Ottawa.
Part of that is uncertainty over what Melnyk’s successors intend to do with the Senators. However, Bettman recently indicated an ownership structure is in place and he anticipated the franchise will continue operating as it has. Part of it could also be tied to the late Melnyk’s attempts to build a new arena in downtown Ottawa.
If the Melnyk family decides to sell the Senators, the priority will be to find a buyer who will keep the team in its current location. Any sale of the franchise has to be approved by the NHL board of governors.
NHL.COM: The NHL department of player safety fined Boston Bruins winger Taylor Hall $5,000.00 for roughing Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman Ilya Lyubushkin on Tuesday. Nashville Predators forward Tanner Jeannot was fined $2,000.00 for kneeing Ottawa Senators winger Brady Tkachuk on Tuesday.
CBS SPORTS: The Maple Leafs placed winger Ondrej Kase on long-term injury reserve. He’s been sidelined by a concussion since March 19.
SPORTSNET: Former NHL player Jake Virtanen will go to trial starting on July 18 for sexual assault charges.