Game recaps, three stars of the week plus updates on Nick Foligno, Rick Nash, Johnny Gaudreau and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
William Karlsson tallied his 40th goal of the season as his Vegas Golden Knights beat the Colorado Avalanche 4-1 (Photo via NHL Images)
NHL.COM: William Karlsson tallied his 40th goal of the season as the Vegas Golden Knights defeated the Colorado Avalanche 4-1, becoming the fifth NHL club to clinch a playoff spot this season. The Golden Knights (103 points) sit atop the Pacific Division.
Alex Ovechkin tallied his 45th goal of the season as the Washington Capitals doubled up the New York Rangers 4-2. With 97 points, the Capitals widened their lead atop the Metropolitan Division by five points over the Pittsburgh Penguins.
The San Jose Sharks picked up their eighth consecutive win by edging the Chicago Blackhawks 4-3 on shootout goals by Logan Couture and Kevin Labanc. The Sharks (97 points) hold a six-point lead over the Anaheim Ducks for second place in the Pacific Division.
Jonathan Quick turned in a 23-save shutout effort backstopping the Los Angeles Kings to a 3-0 win over the Calgary Flames, officially eliminating the latter from playoff contention. Anze Kopitar and Dion Phaneuf each had a goal and an assist for the Kings (91 points), who hold the first-wild card spot in the Western Conference. The Avs (90 points) sit in the second wild-card spot, one point up on the St. Louis Blues. The Flames, meanwhile, were playing without winger Johnny Gaudreau. He’s in New Jersey with his father, who’s recovering from a heart attack.
The Florida Panthers (85 points) moved to within a point of the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference by blanking the New York Islanders 3-0. James Reimer made 32 saves while teammates Keith Yandle and Evgenii Dadonov each had two points. With the loss, the Islanders are officially eliminated from playoff contention. Islanders forward Casey Cizikas missed the game with an upper-body injury.
The Carolina Hurricanes kept their slim playoff hopes alive by downing the Ottawa Senators 4-1. With 79 points, the Hurricanes sit seven points out of a playoff berth in the Eastern Conference.
Clayton Keller set the Arizona Coyotes’ rookie goal scoring record by helping his club upset the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-1. Keller had a goal and an assist, giving him 23 goals and 61 points this season.
Unanswered third-period goals by Casey Nelson and Jack Eichel lifted the Buffalo Sabres to a 3-2 upset of the Toronto Maple Leafs, snapping the latter’s 13-game home winning streak. Eichel collected two goals in this games.
Brendan Gallagher scored twice to lead the Montreal Canadiens to a 4-2 win over the Detroit Red Wings. Gallagher reached the 30-goal plateau for the first time in his NHL career.
Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid, St. Louis Blues goaltender Jake Allen and Winnipeg Jets winger Kyle Connor were the NHL stars for the week ending March 25, 2018.
COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno is sidelined two-to-four weeks with an upper-body injury.
BOSTON GLOBE: The Bruins remain mum on the status of winger Rick Nash, who is expected to miss his fifth straight game when his club meets the Winnipeg Jets tonight.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins gave up a lot to acquire Nash from the New York Rangers before last month’s NHL trade deadline. His ongoing absence is generating speculation over the severity of the injury and how long he could be sidelined.
NJ.COM: New Jersey Devils forward Marcus Johansson had some harsh words for Boston Bruins winger Brad Marchand. Johansson has only recently returned to practice after suffering a concussion from a blindside hit by Marchand on Jan. 23, called the Bruins winger’s actions “sad” and “stupid”. “There was no hockey play there whatsoever. I think it’s sad to see that there’s still guys out there that are trying to hurt other guys. I think there’s nothing else to say about it.” He added that he hopes Marchand doesn’t end someone’s career.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Marchand’s received several fines and suspensions over his career for his dirty play but nothing seems to deter him. Seems to be the case for elite players like him. If he was a marginally talented fourth liner, his punishments would likely be much worse.
YAHOO SPORTS: Former NHL enforcer and current sports radio personality Georges Laraque has apologized for recent comments claiming the Edmonton Oilers traded winger Taylor Hall because he’d gone through a stint in rehab. “After further verifications I can say that this information was 100% wrong, I was wrong and apologize to Taylor for the mistake,” tweet Laraque.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Laraque should’ve gotten that additional verification first before blurting it out during a radio interview. This makes him look very unprofessional and damages his credibility.
CHATHAM DAILY NEWS: Former NHL forward Ken Houston died of cancer on March 10. He was 64. Houston spent nine seasons in the NHL from 1975-76 to 1983-84 with the Atlanta/Calgary Flames, Washington Capitals and Los Angeles Kings. Seven of those seasons were spent with the Flames. He exceeded the 20-goal plateau six times and finished with 328 points in 570 games.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Houston’s family, friends and former teammates.