NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 7, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 7, 2021

Oilers Darnell Nurse and Islanders Adam Pelech sign lucrative long-term contracts, concern about season ticket sales and much more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: The Oilers signed Darnell Nurse to an eight-year, $74 million contract extension. The 26-year-old defenseman’s annual cap hit is $9.25 million.

Edmonton Oilers defenseman Darnell Nurse (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nurse’s new contract raise eyebrows around the league. He’s a very good defenseman but the overall consensus is the Oilers overpaid to keep him in Edmonton. He is also the fifth blueliner this summer to sign a long-term deal worth $9 million or more annually, joining Columbus’ Zach Werenski ($9.583 million), Chicago’s Seth Jones ($9.5 million), Colorado’s Cale Makar ($9 million) and New Jersey’s Dougie Hamilton ($9 million).

The Oilers had little choice. Nurse is their top defenseman and they couldn’t risk losing him next summer to free agency. That would leave them scrambling to find a replacement as they did following Adam Larsson’s surprise departure to Seattle last month. Often, the replacement is more affordable but of lesser skill.

This move ensures some stability on the Oilers’ blueline. Over time, however, it could have long-term salary-cap implications if Nurse’s performance declines over the second half of this deal.

NEW YORK POST: The Islanders avoided salary arbitration with Adam Pelech by signing the 26-year-old defenseman to an eight-year, $46 million contract. The annual average value is $5.75 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The announcement of Nurse’s contract overshadowed the Pelech signing. Islanders fans should be delighted with this deal. Pelech is a solid stay-at-home blueliner who’s become a key part of his club’s defense corps. The term is a little long as it takes Pelech well past his prime years. However, the cap hit is quite reasonable and shouldn’t be a drag on the Isles’ payroll during the latter years of the contract.

THE SEATTLE TIMES: The Kraken avoided arbitration with defenseman Vince Dunn by reaching an agreement on a two-year contract worth $4 million per season. They also signed free-agent forward Marcus Johansson to a one-year, $1.5 million deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dunn was among the players selected by the Kraken in last month’s expansion draft. He was coming off a one-year, $1.875 million deal with the St. Louis Blues. This is a “show-me” contract for the 24-year-old Dunn. He’s coming off his fourth-straight 20-point campaign but has struggled with consistency.

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: The Blackhawks signed forward Brandon Hagel to a three-year contract worth $1.5 million annually.

THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: Anaheim Ducks centers Isac Lundestrom and Sam Steel accepted their one-year, two-way contracts yesterday. Each will receive over $874K at the NHL level.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes signed defenseman Conor Timmins to a two-year, $1.75 million contract. They acquired the 22-year-old blueliner from the Colorado Avalanche as part of the return in the Darcy Kuemper trade earlier this week. They also hired Larry Pleau as a special advisor to general manager Bill Armstrong.

THE ATHLETIC: Some NHL executives are concerned over a dip in season-ticket sales for the 2021-22 seasons. Fans are opting more for partial season-ticket plans rather than full-season packages. That includes some fans who were used to opt for the full-season deals in the past.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Despite the new broadcasting deals, gambling deals and the addition of a new franchise in Seattle, the NHL remains a gate-driven league. The worry about season-ticket sales comes amid concerns the cap could remain flattened over the next several years if league revenue doesn’t significantly increase.

As reported by Frank Seravalli yesterday and confirmed by The Athletic’s Sean Shapiro based on his multiple sources, the players owe the league approximately $1 billion because salaries exceeded revenue over the past two seasons. Until that’s paid back, the salary cap will only rise by $1 million per season only if revenue exceeds $4.8 million each season. That’s expected to happen for the coming season.

The amount owed by the players will be repaid through escrow rates agreed upon in last year’s CBA extension. If the debt isn’t fully repaid by 2025-26, the CBA will be extended for another season at a higher escrow rate until the owners’ share is made whole.

Perhaps those partial ticket sales are tied to fans’ concerns over another spike in COVID-19 resulting in another shortened season or restrictions on attendance. That could change in the long term if the league gets through 2021-22 without reductions to the schedule or limitations on the number of fans in the stands.

THE SCORE: Speaking of concerns over rising COVID numbers, The Athletic’s Michael Russo tweeted out the league has issued a memo to its 32 teams prohibiting the players from all corporate, charity and community-based interaction with fans.

The league and the NHLPA will continue observing vaccination rates and the spread of COVID variants during this offseason to determine whether similar measures will be required for training camp.

TSN: Rick Westhead reports a lawyer for a former Chicago Blackhawks player has asked the U.S. Center for SafeSport to investigate Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman for allegedly covering up the sexual abuse of two former Blackhawks players.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 30, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 30, 2021

Connor McDavid wins both MVP awards as the remainder of the major individual player awards are announced, the First and Second Team All-Stars revealed, and much more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid won the Hart Memorial Trophy as the NHL’s most valuable player and the Ted Lindsay Award as league MVP as voted by the NHLPA membership. It’s the second time he’s won the Hart and the third time he’s taken home the Lindsay Award.

Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid (NHL Images).

McDavid became just the second player in NHL history to receive 100 percent of the first-place votes for the Hart. The last player to do so was Wayne Gretzky in 1981-82.

New York Rangers defenseman Adam Fox won the James Norris Memorial Trophy as the league’s top blueliner. He’s the first Ranger to do so since Brian Leetch in 1996-97.

Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury took home his first Vezina Trophy as the league’s top netminder. He’s the first goalie in Golden Knights history to win the Vezina.

Minnesota Wild winger Kirill Kaprizov won the Calder Memorial Trophy as rookie of the year. He’s the first player in Wild history to win this award.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Congratulations to all the winners for their well-deserved honors during an unusual season.

The NHL’s First All-Star Team for 2020-21 includes Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy, defensemen Adam Fox of the Rangers and Cale Makar of the Colorado Avalanche, Oilers center Connor McDavid, Toronto Maple Leafs right wing Mitch Marner and Boston Bruins left wing Brad Marchand.

The Second All-Star Team features Golden Knights goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, defensemen Victor Hedman of the Lightning and Dougie Hamilton of the Carolina Hurricanes, Leafs center Auston Matthews, Colorado Avalanche right wing Mikko Rantanen and Florida Panthers left wing Jonathan Huberdeau.

The NHL’s All-Rookie Team for 2020-21 features Hurricanes netminder Alex Nedeljkovic, defensemen K’Andre Miller of the Rangers and Ty Smith of the New Jersey Devils, and forwards Kirill Kaprizov of the Wild, Josh Norris of the Ottawa Senators and Jason Robertson of the Dallas Stars.

TSN: Montreal Canadiens defenseman Shea Weber was fined $5,000.00 for slashing Tampa Bay Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov during Game 1 of the Stanley Cup Final.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens are asking the Quebec government to allow 50 percent capacity (10,500 fans) for Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final on Friday.

NHL.COM: Lightning winger Alex Killorn is questionable for Game 2 tonight after leaving Game 1 in the third period with a suspected leg injury.

WGR 550: The Buffalo Sabres have named Don Granato as their head coach, signing him to a three-year contract. Granato took over on an interim basis midway through this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sabres showed obvious improvement after Granato replaced Ralph Krueger. It’ll be interesting to see how the players respond to his coaching over the course of a full 82-game schedule. This club’s constant changes behind the bench in recent years have contributed to their ongoing mediocrity.

FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: The Panthers have hired former NHL player Tuomo Ruutu as an assistant coach. Ruutu spent the past two seasons with the New York Rangers and was their assistant director of player development last season.

THE ATHLETIC: The Columbus Blue Jackets will hire Sylvain Lefebvre as an assistant coach. He’s spent the past nine seasons coaching in the AHL.

ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes have reportedly done extensive vetting of Ottawa 67s head coach Andre Tourigny. They’re seeking a new bench boss after parting ways with Rick Tocchet last month.

TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs signed winger Wayne Simmonds to a two-year contract extension with an annual average value of $900K.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A two-year deal seems a little long for a player who didn’t have as big an impact as hoped when he joined the Leafs this season. Part of the reason was a broken wrist he suffered in February. If Simmonds doesn’t work out they can bury the full value of his contract in the minors.

THE DENVER POST: The Colorado Avalanche re-signed goaltender Jonas Johansson to a one-year, two-way contract worth $750K at the NHL level.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Avalanche backup Pavel Francouz is under contract for next season with a $2 million cap hit. He missed the entire season with to a lower-body injury that required surgery in April. Francouz is expected to be healthy for next season but Johansson will be insurance should he become sidelined again.

TORONTO STAR: TSN’s Ray Ferraro and Sportsnet’s Cassie Campbell-Pascall have joined ESPN’s NHL broadcasting team. Both will continue at their current networks while doing their new ESPN gigs.

THE PROVINCE: The Vancouver Canucks have officially announced their AHL affiliation deal with Abbotsford, BC. The new deal is for five years with options for renewal that could run as long as 20 years.

PORTLAND PRESS-HERALD: The Maine Mariners are expected to announce today that they will become the ECHL affiliate of the Boston Bruins.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 22, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 22, 2021

The Bruins and Avalanche take commanding series leads, the Jets take a 2-0 series lead over the Oilers, the Predators battle back against the Hurricanes, Nazem Kadri gets an 8-game suspension, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The Boston Bruins pushed the Washington Capitals to the brink of elimination with a 4-1 victory in Game 4 of their first-round series. Boston goaltender Tuukka Rask made 19 saves to set a franchise record for most career playoff wins with 54. Charlie McAvoy had three assists and David Pastrnak had a goal and an assist. Alex Ovechkin tallied the sole Capitals goal. The series heads back to Washington for Game 5 on Sunday with the Bruins up three games to one.

Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask (NHL Images).

Bruins defenseman Kevan Miller left the game following a high hit to the head by Capitals blueliner Dmitry Orlov. Miller was sent to a local hospital for tests. Orlov received a double-minor for roughing.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Orlov could face supplemental discipline for that hit. Meanwhile, his club played what I consider one of the worst postseason games of the Ovechkin era. After three closely contested contests that could’ve gone either way, the Capitals were listless in Game 4 and find themselves facing elimination on home ice on Sunday.

Colorado Avalanche goaltender Philipp Grubauer made 31 stops as his club beat the St. Louis Blues 5-1, taking a commanding 3-0 lead in their opening-round series. Colorado defenseman Ryan Graves celebrated his birthday with a goal and two assists. Tyler Bozak replied for the Blues. The Avalanche can close out this series on Sunday.

The Blues played without defensemen Justin Faulk, Robert Bortuzzo and Vince Dunn. Faulk and Bortuzzo were both sidelined in Game 2 by hits to the head.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun reports Blues general manager Doug Armstrong wants a serious discussion in the offseason about player safety. That could become a front-burner topic within the league this summer following several puzzling decisions handed down this season by the league’s department of player safety and the growing criticism of those rulings.

Connor Hellebuyck turned in a 38-save shutout as his Winnipeg Jets blanked the Edmonton Oilers 1-0 on an overtime goal by Paul Stastny. Oilers stars Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl were held off the score sheet for the second straight game. With the Jets up 2-0, the series shifts to Winnipeg for Game 3 on Sunday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets are doing a good job neutralizing the Oilers’ dynamic duo of McDavid and Draisaitl. Hellebuyck is reminding everyone why he won the Vezina Trophy last year.

Matt Duchene scored in double-overtime as the Nashville Predators nipped the Carolina Hurricanes 5-4 for their first win in this series. Filip Forsberg and Ryan Ellis each had a goal and an assist. Sebastian Aho collected a goal and two assists for the Hurricanes, who still lead the series two games to one. Game Four goes tomorrow in Nashville.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was an entertaining game that seesawed back and forth between the two clubs. Hurricanes head coach Rod Brind’Amour claimed his team was “fighting the refs”, pointing out his club had been whistled for more penalties (14) than the Predators (six) over the last two games. Meanwhile, Predators winger Viktor Arvidsson missed this matchup with an upper-body injury.

HEADLINES

NHL.COM: Avalanche center Nazem Kadri received an eight-game suspension from the department of player safety for an illegal hit to the head of Blues defenseman Justin Faulk during Game 2 of their opening-round series. The suspension began in Game 3 last night.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is Kadri’s third suspension for reckless postseason play. If the Avalanche sweeps their series with the Blues, he could return for Game 7 of their next series if it goes that far.

TORONTO STAR: Maple Leafs captain John Tavares was released from the hospital yesterday but is sidelined indefinitely with a concussion. Tavares was injured during the first period of Game 1 of the Leafs’ opening-round series with the Montreal Canadiens after being accidentally struck in the head by the knee of Canadiens winger Corey Perry.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Here’s hoping Tavares makes a complete recovery and returns to action soon.

NEW YORK POST: The Islanders are mulling a goaltending change after starter Semyon Varlamov’s shaky performance in Game 3 of their series with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rookie Ilya Sorokin was in goal for the Isles’ Game 1 victory filling in for the sidelined Varlamov, who returned for the next two games.

CALGARY SUN: Flames defenseman Chris Tanev spent the final month-and-a-half of the regular season playing with two broken ribs and a torn pectoral muscle.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Even with access to the best medical treatment, that still had to be painful for Tanev. Unreal.

TWINCITIES.COM: Minnesota Wild forward Marcus Johansson suffered a broken left arm during Game 3 of his club’s 5-2 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Maybe Zach Parise will make his debut in this series. He was a healthy scratch in the first three games.

THE PROVINCE: As expected, the Vancouver Canucks signed head coach Travis Green to a contract extension. It’s believed the new deal will keep him in Vancouver until at least 2023.

WGR 550: Former NHL coaches Bruce Boudreau and Rick Tocchet are among those the Buffalo Sabres will interview for their head coach position. Interim bench boss Don Granato is also in the mix.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 23, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 23, 2021

Recaps of Monday’s action, Oilers-Canadiens game postponed over COVID-19 concerns, stars of the week and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Third-period goals by Chris Kreider and Kaapo Kakko lifted the New York Rangers over the Buffalo Sabres 5-3, handing the landing their 14th consecutive defeat. Kreider and Kakko tallied twice for the Rangers. Dustin Tokarski played his first NHL games since 2016, making 33 saves after taking over for sidelined Sabres goalie Carter Hutton early in the first period. With the win, the Rangers (32 points) moved within two points of the fifth-place Philadelphia Flyers and within four of the fourth-place Boston Bruins in the MassMutual East Division.

Dougie Hamilton collected an assist to extend his points streak to 12 games as the Carolina Hurricanes blanked the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-0. Alex Nedeljkovic made 19 saves for the shutout and Sebastian Aho picked up two assists. The Hurricanes (45 points) vaulted into second place in the Discover Central Division with a one-point lead over the Florida Panthers. The Blue Jackets (33 points) are tied with the Chicago Blackhawks but slipped to fifth place.

A third-period goal by Chris Tierney gave the Ottawa Senators a 2-1 win over the Calgary Flames. Rookie goaltender Filip Gustavsson kicked out 35 shots for his first NHL victory. The Flames (33 points) remain in sixth place in the Scotia North Division, four points back of the fourth-place Montreal Canadiens.

An overtime goal by Anthony Beauvillier lifted the New York Islanders to a 2-1 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers. Isles rookie goalie Ilya Sorokin made 36 saves for his eighth straight win. Flyers center Sean Couturier returned to the lineup after missing one game with a hip injury. The Islanders sit in first place in the MassMutual East, two points up on the Washington Capitals. Meanwhile, the Flyers (34 points) sit two points behind the fourth-place Bruins.

Vegas Golden Knights captain Mark Stone (NHL Images).

The Minnesota Wild edged the Anaheim Ducks 2-1 on a third-period goal by Nick Bjugstad. With 39 points, the Wild remains two points ahead of the St. Louis Blues for third place in the Honda West Division. Marcus Johansson returned to the Wild lineup after missing 16 games with an upper-body injury.

Mark Stone scored twice as the Vegas Golden Knights tallied four unanswered goals to down St. Louis 5-1. The Golden Knights have won six of their last seven contests and sit in first place in the West with 45 points, three points up on the Colorado Avalanche. The Blues remain in fourth place with 37 points.

Winnipeg Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck turned in a 22-save shutout and Adam Lowry scored twice to beat the Vancouver Canucks 4-0. Canucks center Brandon Sutter missed the game with an undisclosed injury while captain Bo Horvat limped off in the third period after being struck by a shot from teammate Alex Edler. The Jets sit in third place in the North Division, two points behind the Edmonton Oilers and three up on the Canadiens.

The Colorado Avalanche picked up their seventh straight victory by downing the Arizona Coyotes 5-1. Joonas Donskoi scored two goals and Philipp Grubauer picked up the win with 24 saves. Coyotes defenseman Niklas Hjalmarsson left the game with an upper-body injury. With 42 points, the Avs hold a four-point lead over the Wild for second place in the West Division.

San Jose Sharks goaltender Martin Jones made 41 saves backstopping his club over the Los Angeles Kings 2-1. Ryan Donato tallied the game-winner in the third period. The loss leaves the Kings with 32 points, five back of the fourth-place Blues in the West.

HEADLINES

Monday’s game between the Edmonton Oilers and Montreal Canadiens was postponed after Canadiens forwards Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Joel Armia were placed on the COVID-19 protocol list. The Habs also canceled practice for today.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is the first North Division game to be postponed this season. The Canadiens will be awaiting the results of further testing. Placing Kotkaniemi and Armia on the list doesn’t necessarily mean they’ve contracted the coronavirus. Further information is expected later today. If all players pass the subsequent testing there’s talk this game could be played tonight.

The additions of Kotkaniemi and Armia to the COVID protocol list pushed the total number to 10 players. The Boston Bruins have five players on the list, including David Pastrnak, David Krejci and Jake DeBrusk.

The Canadiens also announced forward Tyler Toffoli will be sidelined until at least Sunday with a lower-body injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s assuming the remainder of the Canadiens’ games for this week aren’t postponed.

Nashville Predators forward Calle Jarnkrok, Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid and New York Rangers center Mika Zibanejad are the NHL’s three stars for the week ending March 21.

TORONTO SUN: Maple Leafs goaltender Frederik Andersen is day-to-day with a lower-body injury.

THE PROVINCE: The Vancouver Canucks claimed forward Travis Boyd off waivers from the Toronto Maple Leafs. It’s the second time in a week the Canucks have plucked a player off the Leafs roster, having claimed Jimmy Vesey on March 17.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some see those moves as the Canucks positioning themselves to become sellers by the April 12 trade deadline. That may well be the case if they fail to gain any ground in the North Division playoff race.

SPORTSNET: NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said the league isn’t expecting to have full arenas this season despite more American teams allowing limited numbers of socially distanced fans to attend their games.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 21, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 21, 2021

Recaps of Saturday’s action, the Avalanche acquire goalie Jonas Johansson from the Sabres, plus the latest on Connor McDavid, Sean Couturier and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Connor McDavid became the first player to reach 60 points this season as his Edmonton Oilers overcame a 2-0 deficit to double up the Winnipeg Jets 4-2. McDavid had a goal and an assist for the Oilers (42 points), moving them into a tie with the first-place Toronto Maple Leafs in the Scotia North Division. He’s also tied with Toronto’s Auston Matthews for the league lead in goals with 21.

Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: McDavid is making a convincing case for the Hart Memorial Trophy this season.

Jack Campbell returned to the Toronto Maple Leafs net and turned in a 30-save shutout to douse the Calgary Flames 2-0. Campbell had been sidelined three weeks with a lower-body injury. Jason Spezza and Zach Hyman scored for the Leafs, who end a three-game losing skid and remain atop the North Division with 42 points with two games in hand over the second-place Oilers. Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen was unavailable to back up Campbell because of a lower-body injury, forcing an emergency recall of Michael Hutchinson.

Andrei Vasilevskiy made 30 saves for his 11th straight victory as the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Chicago Blackhawks 4-1. Victor Hedman had three assists while Steven Stamkos tallied a goal and picked up an assist. The Lightning (46 points) have the league’s best record and sit atop the Discover Central Division. The Blackhawks (33 points) find themselves tied with the Columbus Blue Jackets for fourth.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: After exceeding expectations through the first two months the Blackhawks appear to be crashing back to earth. They’ve dropped four straight games and seven of nine contests in March.

Panthers’ goaltender Chris Driedger made 21 saves to shut out the Nashville Predators 2-0. Anthony Duclair had a goal and an assist for the Panthers (44 points), who sit two behind the first-place Lightning in the Central Division.

Sidney Crosby collected two assists and Bryan Rust tallied the game-winner as the Pittsburgh Penguins downed the New Jersey Devils 3-1. The Penguins played without Branden Tanev as he was a late scratch with an upper-body injury. With 39 points, the Penguins hold a three-point lead over the fourth-place Boston Bruins in the MassMutual East Division.

A 31-save shutout by Philipp Grubauer carried the Colorado Avalanche to a 6-0 blanking of the Minnesota Wild. Nathan MacKinnon collected three assists while Gabriel Landeskog had a goal and two helpers as the Avalanche (40 points) sit three points behind the first-place Vegas Golden Knights in the Honda West Division. Earlier in the day, the Avalanche acquired goaltender Jonas Johansson from the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for a sixth-round pick in the 2021 NHL Draft.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Avs also recalled Adam Werner from their AHL affiliate. The Athletic’s Peter Baugh doesn’t believe the Johansson acquisition resolved the Avalanche’s need for a reliable backup for Grubauer. “The moves feel like a stopgap, not a solution,” he said, pointing out neither Johansson nor Werner has a save percentage better than .900 or more than 15 games of NHL experience.

Mika Zibanejad tallied the game-winner as the New York Rangers upset the Washington Capitals 3-1. Zibanejad and Pavel Buchnevich each had a goal and an assist. Earlier in the day, the Rangers confirmed Kris Knoblauch will remain acting head coach for at least two more games as head coach David Quinn remains on the COVID-19 protocol list. They also announced defenseman Jack Johnson will be sidelined for the remainder of the season recovering from core-muscle surgery. Meanwhile, the Capitals (44 points) remain atop the Eastern Division.

A four-goal first period carried the New York Islanders over the Philadelphia Flyers 6-1. Casey Cizikas scored twice while defenseman Thomas Hickey picked up two assists in his first game with the Isles in nearly two years after his career was nearly derailed by injuries. Flyers center Sean Couturier was a late scratch with a lower-body injury. The Isles (44 points) have the same amount of points as Washington but sit second in the East as the Capitals hold a game in hand. The Flyers, meanwhile, remain in fifth place with 33 points.

Shootout goals by Patrik Laine and Oliver Bjorkstand gave the Columbus Blue Jackets a 3-2 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes. Seth Jones tied the game for the Jackets with 29 seconds left in regulation while Elvis Merzlikins kicked out 35 shots for the win. The Jackets are tied with the fourth-place Blackhawks in the Central while the Hurricanes (43 points) are two points back of the second-place Panthers.

The Dallas Stars shut out the Detroit Red Wings 3-0 on a 21-save effort by Anton Khudobin. Tanner Kero, Andrej Sekera and Ty Dellandrea were the goal scorers. With 27 points, the Stars move to within five points of the Blue Jackets and Blackhawks for fourth in the Central.

Tomas Tatar tallied the shootout winner as the Montreal Canadiens edged the Vancouver Canucks 5-4, snapping a nine-game losing skid for the Habs in extra time. Tatar also had a goal and an assist in regulation for Montreal. The Canadiens played without Tyler Toffoli, who’s day-to-day with a lower-body injury. The win gives the fourth-place Habs (37 points) a two-point lead over the Canucks in the North Division.

Ryan O’Reilly and David Perron each had a goal and three assists to give the St. Louis Blues a 5-2 decision over the San Jose Sharks. Jordan Kyrou scored twice and picked up an assist for the Blues (37 points), who are tied with the Wild in the West Division but remain in fourth place because the Wild have two games in hand. Earlier in the day, they announced forward Oskar Sundqvist is done for the season with a torn ACL in his left knee.

A hat trick by Derick Brassard carried the Arizona Coyotes over the Anaheim Ducks 5-1. Jakob Chychrun had a goal and an assist for the Coyotes.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 20, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 20, 2021

Alex Ovechkin extends his goal streak, the Leafs’ struggles continue, the Canucks surge in the standings while the Bruins’ next two games are postponed over COVID-19 concerns. Details plus updates on Evgeni Malkin, Matt Dumba and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Alex Ovechkin scored twice in the third period to lead the Washington Capitals over the New York Rangers 2-1. Vitek Vanecek made 32 saves for the win while Artemi Panarin scored the Rangers’ only goal. The Capitals (44 points) moved two points up on the New York Islanders into first place in the MassMutual East Division.

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ovechkin now has 720 career goals. He also has 14 on the season, moving to within seven of Toronto’s Auston Matthews and his league-leading 21 goals.

Mark Giordano’s power-play goal in the second period held up as the game-winner as the Calgary Flames edged the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-3, handing the latter their sixth loss in their last seven games. While the Leafs (40 points) still hold first place in the Scotia North Division, the Flames (33 points) picked up their fourth win in their last five contests and sit two points behind the fourth-place Montreal Canadiens. Leafs winger Wayne Simmonds picked up an assist in his first game since suffering a broken wrist on Feb. 6.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Toronto goalie Frederik Andersen gave up four goals on 18 shots as he continues to struggle with a nagging lower-body injury. Leafs fans are hoping a healthy Jack Campbell can provide some much-needed stability between the pipes when he returns from injury tonight against the Flames.

Despite the Leafs’ position in the standings, the race in the North is tightening. The Edmonton Oilers and Winnipeg Jets are breathing down their necks while the Flames and Vancouver Canucks are surging. Only six points separate Toronto from the fifth-place Canucks.

Speaking of the Canucks, they handed the Canadiens their ninth straight defeat in extra time with a 3-2 overtime victory. J.T. Miller tallied the game-winner as Vancouver (34 points) has won four straight and moved to within one point of the fourth-place Habs. Earlier in the day, they announced winger Tanner Pearson will be sidelined four weeks with a sprained ankle and placed center Elias Petterssen (wrist) on long-term injury reserve.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks were being written off a month ago and are still considered by some observers as a potential seller by the trade deadline. Their recent improvement, however, has put them back in the playoff picture, especially with the Canadiens struggling to hang onto the final playoff spot in the North Division.

Max Pacioretty scored twice as the Vegas Golden Knights picked up their fifth straight win by doubling up the Los Angeles Kings 4-2. Vegas netminder Robin Lehner made 23 saves in his first game since being sidelined by a concussion on Feb. 7. With 43 points, the Golden Knights opened a five-point lead over the Colorado Avalanche for the top spot in the Honda West Division. The Kings (30 points) sit five back of the fourth-place St. Louis Blues.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pacioretty now has 16 goals, moving to within five of Matthews.

The Blues, meanwhile, snapped a five-game losing skid by nipping the San Jose Sharks 2-1 on a shootout goal by Vladimir Tarasenko. Jordan Binnington made 30 saves for the win while Tyler Bozak tied the game for the Blues with a shorthanded goal.

HEADLINES

The Boston Bruins’ next two games (Saturday against Buffalo, Tuesday against the New York Islanders) have been postponed over COVID-19 concerns as four Bruins (Jake DeBrusk, David Krejci, David Pastrnak and Craig Smith) were added to the COVID protocol list on Friday. This comes one day after the Bruins canceled practice when Sean Kuraly was added to the list. They played the Sabres on Thursday.

TRIBLIVE.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins listed center Evgeni Malkin as week-to-week with a lower-body injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Losing Malkin will be a big test for the Penguins as they strive to move further up the East Division standings. With 37 points, they just one up on the fourth-place Bruins and four ahead of the fifth-place Philadelphia Flyers.

STARTRIBUNE.COM: Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba is doubtful for today’s rematch with the Colorado Avalanche after suffering a lower-body injury during the Wild’s 5-1 loss to the Avs on Thursday.

WGR 550: Speaking of the Avalanche, they are reportedly close to acquiring Sabres goaltender Jonas Johansson.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nothing confirmed as of this morning and no indication as to what the Sabres would receive in return. Johansson was not on the ice for Sabres practice yesterday while the club announced the signing of netminder Michael Houser. The Avs are believed in the market for a reliable backup with Pavel Francouz sidelined indefinitely.

THE DETROIT NEWS: The Red Wings are listing goaltender Jonathan Bernier as day-to-day after he suffered a lower-body injury during Thursday’s win over the Dallas Stars. However, they’re awaiting clarification as to the severity of his injury.

SPORTSNET: Senators goalie Joey Daccord will be out long-term with an apparent leg injury suffered during Wednesday’s loss to the Vancouver Canucks. There’s speculation he could be done for the season.