NHL Rumor Mill – May 10, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – May 10, 2022

Where could Barry Trotz end up after being fired as Islanders head coach? Who could the Isles hire as his replacement? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.

THE ATHLETIC: Kevin Kurz reported on the New York Islanders’ surprising decision to fire head coach Barry Trotz on Monday. He speculates Trotz’s handling of young forward Oliver Wahlstrom and the reduction in Mathew Barzal’s role and ice time may have factored into general manager Lou Lamoriello’s decision to part ways with Trotz.

Former New York Islanders head coach Barry Trotz (NHL.com).

A source with knowledge of the Islanders’ dressing room pushed back against Lamoriello’s claim the decision was made without input from the players. The source said making that move after conducting the players’ exit interviews indicated the Isles GM was listening to their comments.

Kurz speculates Trotz’s physically demanding style of play in a season that started with a 13-game road trip followed by a COVID outbreak might have contributed to the club’s disappointing performance. The coach himself also pondered that possibility.

As for Trotz’s potential replacements, Kurz’s list included former NHL coaches such as Mike Babcock, Joel Quenneville, and Claude Julien, as well as current Isles assistant coach Lane Lambert.

NYI HOCKEY NOW: Stefen Rosner also weighed in on the next Islanders head coach, claiming he’s been told Lamoriello has looked into Paul Maurice and John Tortorella. He also speculated Peter DeBoer could be an option if he’s fired by the Vegas Golden Knights.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lamoriello gave no timetable for naming Trotz’s replacement. Nevertheless, it wouldn’t be surprising if he reaches a decision before the 2022 NHL Draft in early July.

It’ll be interesting to see whether Lamoriell opts for someone with plenty of NHL experience and success, promotes Lambert, or considers an option outside the box for many observers. We probably won’t get any indication of which way the always-secretive Isles GM will go before he announces his choice.

Speaking of DeBoer, Vegas Hockey Now’s Owen Krepps wondered if he’ll join Trotz among the ranks of unemployed NHL head coaches. If so, he suggested the Golden Knights might look at Trotz as a replacement.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Mike Stephens suggested the Philadelphia Flyers, Seattle Kraken and Winnipeg Jets as three landing spots for Trotz.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flyers replaced Alain Vigneault last December with Mike Yeo on an interim basis and are in the hunt for a new full-time head coach after announcing Yeo won’t return in the role next season.

Paul Maurice stepped down as Jets head coach in December. Assistant coach Dave Lowry was named interim bench boss but, like Yeo, won’t be returning in that role next season.

Stephens feels the Kraken lacks structure under current head coach Dave Hakstol. So far, there’s no indication Seattle GM Ron Francis intends to make a coaching change but someone as well-respected as Trotz becoming available could prove tempting.

WINNIPEG SUN: Paul Friesen believes the Jets should be in pursuit of Winnipeg native Trotz. He cited his impressive record of success with the Islanders, as well as with the Washington Capitals and Nashville Predators.

PHILLY HOCKEY NOW: Sam Carchidi believes Trotz would be a perfect fit to revitalize the sorry-looking Flyers if he’s interested in the challenge.

DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: Kevin Allen suggested the Red Wings could be a landing spot for Trotz. He also indicated the Chicago Blackhawks are among the NHL teams seeking a new head coach.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Trotz won’t be out of a job for long. He’s reportedly taking a couple of weeks to rest and ponder his next move. I won’t be surprised if he’s got a new coach gig before the end of June.

It could come down to whether he’d prefer to join a retooling team (or one that needs to retool) like the Jets or looks for the challenge of joining a rebuilding squad like the Wings.










NHL Rumor Mill – May 5, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – May 5, 2022

Do Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews fit into the Blackhawks’ rebuild process? What could be in store this summer for the Islanders and Kraken? Find out in today’s NHL rumor mill.

CHICAGO TRIBUNE: Phil Thompson reported Blackhawks general manager Kyle Davidson cleared up any ambiguity about a fast rebuild for his club. He didn’t put a timeline on it but suggested it could take at least three-to-five years.

Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews (NHL Images).

Long-time Blackhawks stars Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews recently remarked they saw no reason the club couldn’t turn things around within a year or two. With a year remaining on their respective contracts, they have no choice but to go along with Davidson’s plans unless they agree to waive their no-movement clauses and ask to be traded.

Davidson believes Kane and Toews have a place in the club’s plans and made his expectations clear to both during their exit interviews.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: NBC Sports Chicago’s Charlie Roumeliotis reported Davidson also said those conversations were healthy and productive and he’s pleased with how they went. It’s believed the Blackhawks GM intends to keep his two aging stars in the loop regarding the club’s direction.

Whether that silences the trade speculation about those two (especially Kane) that surfaced in the final weeks of the regular season remains to be seen.

THE ATHLETIC: Kevin Kurz recently examined the New York Islanders’ offseason priorities.

Finding a high-end winger for first-line center Mathew Barzal topped his list. He advocated the cap-strapped Islanders pull off some “salary-cap gymnastics” to pursue Calgary’s Johnny Gaudreau, Nashville’s Filip Forsberg or Florida’s Claude Giroux if they become available in this summer’s unrestricted free agent market.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Cap Friendly shows the Isles with $70.2 million invested in 18 active players for 2022-23 with Noah Dobson as their only notable free agent to re-sign. General manager Lou Lamoriello would have to shed considerable salary to free up space to make a serious offer for Gaudreau, Forsberg or Giroux.

Gaudreau could seek $10 million annually if he hits the open market while Forsberg could come in around $8 million. Giroux is 34 and would be more affordable but a lot could depend on how well the Panthers do in this postseason.

Kurz also suggested the Isles need to sort out their goalie tandem. Semyon Varlamov made it clear he was happy not being moved at the March trade deadline. However, it remains to be seen if he’s willing to take a back seat next season to Ilya Sorokin.

If not, perhaps the Isles should attempt to trade Varlamov and the remaining year on his contract this summer. He carries a $5 million cap hit plus a 16-team no-trade clause.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There was talk of teams calling the Islanders about Varlamov. Given general manager Lou Lamoriello’s secretive nature, we have no idea if those calls were seriously entertained or even took place.

Moving Varlamov and his cap hit would make it easier for Lamoriello to pursue a top-six winger for Barzal’s line. Sorokin has proven himself as an NHL starter but he and Varlamov work well together as a tandem. Lamoriello could be reluctant to break that up for next season.

THE SEATTLE TIMES: Geoff Baker reports Seattle Kraken general manager Ron Francis intends to see more goal-scoring for his club in the offseason via free agency. He’ll be looking for someone who can play in their top-six or top-nine. Francis also mentioned he could seek a blueline upgrade, especially for someone who is offensively inclined.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Kraken has the cap space to invest in a scoring winger or a puck-moving defenseman this summer if they’re willing to spend toward the cap. They have $59.6 million committed to 14 players next season with no expensive core players to re-sign.

Francis was able to woo Philipp Grubauer and Jaden Schwartz to Seattle in last summer’s UFA market. I wouldn’t discount the possibility of him landing another notable free-agent player.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 4, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 4, 2022

The Penguins down the Rangers in triple OT, the Avalanche bury the Predators, the Flames blank the Stars and the Capitals tame the Panthers in the opening games of their first-round playoff series. Details and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Evgeni Malkin scored in triple overtime as the Pittsburgh Penguins downed the New York Rangers 4-3 in Game 1 of their best-of-seven first-round series in the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Jake Guentzel scored two goals in regulation, Bryan Rust had a goal and two assists and Sidney Crosby collected two assists. Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin made 79 saves in the six-period marathon while Chris Kreider and Mike Zibanejad each had two points.

Pittsburgh Penguins center Evgeni Malkin (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Penguins’ third-string goalie Louis Domingue got the win after replacing Casey DeSmith in the second overtime when the latter suffered a lower-body injury. DeSmith is being evaluated and his status is listed as day-to-day. Penguins starter Tristan Jarry’s been out since April 14 with a lower-body injury.

DeSmith wasn’t the only Penguin injured in this game. Winger Rickard Rakell suffered a head injury following a hit by Rangers defenseman Ryan Lindgren in the first period and didn’t return. He’s also being evaluated.

A five-goal first period carried the Colorado Avalanche to a lopsided 7-2 victory over the Nashville Predators in the first game of their best-of-seven opening-round series. Nathan MacKinnon, Cale Makar and Mikko Rantanen led the way with three points each. Matt Duchene scored both Nashville goals while Predators goalie David Rittich got the hook after giving up five goals on 13 shots.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: To say the Predators missed sidelined starting goaltender Juuse Saros in this contest is an understatement. Nevertheless, the Predators still would’ve lost this game even with a healthy Saros between the pipes, only it wouldn’t have been quite so one-sided. The Avalanche dominated this game from the opening puck drop. The Predators will need a better team effort as well as better goaltending or this series will be over quickly.

Calgary Flames goalie Jacob Markstrom had a 16-save shutout and Elias Lindholm scored the only goal in a 1-0 blanking of the Dallas Stars in Game 1 of their first-round series. Stars goaltender Jake Oettinger acquitted himself well in his first-ever playoff game with 25 saves.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A line brawl broke out during the first period after Flames forward Matthew Tkachuk hit Dallas defenseman John Klingberg behind the Stars net. Tkachuk wound up scrapping with Michael Raffl while Klingberg wound up tangling with Flames defenseman Rasmus Andersson. Both blueliners received game misconducts.

The Washington Capitals got three third-period goals from Evgeny Kuznetsov, T.J. Oshie and Lars Eller to double up the Florida Panthers 4-2 in Game 1 of their first-round series. Panthers goalie Sergei Bobrovsky made 34 saves in a losing cause. It was a costly win for the Capitals as winger Tom Wilson left the game in the first period with a lower-body injury. He is being evaluated and his status for Game 2 remains uncertain.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wilson’s injury was the only blight on what was a solid defensive effort by the Capitals in neutralizing the Panthers’ vaunted offense.

HEADLINES

THE PROVINCE: Vancouver Canucks president of hockey operations Jim Rutherford said head coach Bruce Boudreau will not receive a contract extension. They are instead willing to bring him back on his current deal, which has an option year in which either side can opt-out by June 1.

Rutherford praised Boudreau’s performance after the club went 32-15-10 when he took over from Travis Green in December. However, the club president pointed out his interim bench boss did not coach a full season. He said that Boudreau was informed that the club wants him back next season on his current deal.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: So the decision now rests with Boudreau if he’ll return for next season or look elsewhere for a long-term coaching job. He shouldn’t have any trouble finding a new team given the fine work he did in reversing the Canucks’ sagging fortunes this season.

Rutherford’s announcement also gives the impression he’d like to bring in a coach of his choosing. He inherited Boudreau, who was hired days beforehand.

NHL.COM: Toronto Maple Leafs forward Kyle Clifford receive a one-game suspension for boarding Lightning forward Ross Colton in Game 1 of their first-round series on Monday. Lightning forwards Pat Maroon and Corey Perry and Leafs winger Wayne Simmonds received fines for unsportsmanlike conduct during that contest.

Minnesota Wild captain Jared Spurgeon was fined $5,000.00 for cross-checking St. Louis Blues winger Pavel Buchenvich during the first game of their opening-round series on Monday.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Bruins head coach Bruce Cassidy is tinkering with his top-four defense pairings for Game 2 of their series against the Carolina Hurricanes on Wednesday. Matt Grzelcyk will move up alongside Charlie McAvoy on the left side of the first pairing while Hampus Lindholm drops to the second pairing with Brandon Carlo.

VEGAS HOCKEY NOW: Golden Knights head coach Peter DeBoer said he’ll be meeting with club management to discuss his future with the franchise. He has a year remaining on his contract. DeBoer also confirmed starting goalie Robin Lehner will undergo shoulder surgery on Wednesday while backup Laurent Brossoit will require an offseason medical procedure.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: DeBoer expressed his hope to return with the Golden Knights next season. We’ll find out soon if management gives him that opportunity after the club missed the playoffs for the first time in franchise history.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Multiple knee injuries have forced Flyers defenseman Samuel Morin to end his playing career. The 26-year-old has spoken with management about an off-ice role with the club.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Morin was a highly-touted blueliner who was chosen 11th overall by the Flyers in the 2013 NHL Draft. He made his NHL debut in 2017 but the knee injuries began soon afterward, derailing what could’ve been a promising career.

THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: The Anaheim Ducks hired St. Louis Blues director of player personnel Rob DiMaio as their new assistant general manager.

THE ATHLETIC: The Seattle Kraken parted ways with goaltending coach Andrew Allen.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Former and current Canadiens, hockey luminaries, politicians and fans bide a final farewell to Hall-of-Famer Guy Lafleur during his state funeral in Montreal on Tuesday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rest in peace, Flower. You will never be forgotten.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 21, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 21, 2022

Alex Ovechkin reaches 50 goals for the ninth time, the Golden Knights keep their playoff hopes alive while ending those of the Jets, the date for the 2022 Draft Lottery is revealed, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin scored twice, including his 50th goal of the season, but it wasn’t enough to prevent his club from dropping a 4-3 decision to the Vegas Golden Knights. Shea Theodore tallied the winner in overtime for the Golden Knights (89 points), who moved within two points of the Dallas Stars for the final Western Conference wild-card berth.

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin (NHL Images).

Ovechkin, meanwhile, reached an important scoring milestone, joining Hall-of-Famers Wayne Gretzky and Mike Bossy as the only NHL players to score 50 goals in nine seasons. His Capitals are tied with the Pittsburgh Penguins with 97 points but the Penguins still hold third place in the Metropolitan Division on the basis of regulation plus overtime wins.

The Golden Knights’ win over the Capitals officially eliminated the Winnipeg Jets from playoff contention.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Golden Knights head coach Pete DeBoer raised eyebrows by replacing starting goaltender Robin Lehner with Logan Thompson following the first period with the score tied at one after he gave up just one goal on 13 shots. DeBoer claimed the move was made to shift the momentum during the game.

Connor McDavid scored and collected two assists to lead the Edmonton Oilers over the Dallas Stars 5-2. The Oilers hold a four-point lead over the Los Angeles Kings for second place in the Pacific Division with 96 points while the Stars failed to widen their lead over the Golden Knights. McDavid regained first place in the NHL scoring race with 113 points, two ahead of Florida Panthers winger Jonathan Huberdeau.

Seattle Kraken goaltender Philipp Grubauer made 25 saves as his club held on for a 3-2 upset of his former club, the Colorado Avalanche. Kraken rookie Matty Beniers picked up an assist to extend his points streak to four games. With the loss, the Avalanche drop to second place in the overall standings behind the Florida Panthers. Avs center Nazem Kadri returned to action after missing eight games with an upper-body injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Beniers only has four games of NHL experience but he’s not looking out of place with the Kraken. The second-overall pick in the 2021 NHL Draft appears to be on his way toward a bright future in Seattle.

Chicago Blackhawks winger Alex DeBrincat’s 40th goal of the season was also the game-winner as his club nipped the Arizona Coyotes 4-3 in overtime. The Coyotes have dropped eight in a row.

HEADLINES

NHL.COM: The 2022 NHL Draft Lottery will be held on May 10 at 6:30 PM ET, setting the order for the 16 teams that failed to qualify for the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Central Scouting’s final rankings will be released on May 5 while the annual Scouting Combine is set for May 29 to June 4 in Buffalo.

TSN: Evander Kane’s grievance hearing over the San Jose Sharks’ termination of his contract will require a second day. The date has yet to be determined.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Tristan Jarry’s status remains “week-to-week” with a lower-body injury. His right foot appeared to be in a boot cast during their recent annual team photograph.

The Penguins also announced Amanda Kessel will be joining their executive management program. Kessel, an Olympic gold medalist in women’s hockey, is the sister of former Penguin and current Arizona Coyotes winger Phil Kessel.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Bruins goaltender Linus Ullmark is expected to return to the lineup this weekend. He’s been sidelined since last Thursday with an upper-body injury. The Bruins are still waiting on sidelined winger David Pastrnak and defenseman Hampus Lindholm.

MLIVE.COM: Longtime Detroit Red Wings Zamboni driver Al Sobotka was reportedly fired because another employee caught him urinating into a drain used for ice runoff at Little Caesars Arena. He’s filed a lawsuit claiming he was discriminated against due to his age and disability.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 19, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 19, 2022

The Canucks keep their slim playoff hopes alive, Cale Makar sets a franchise record, Johnny Gaudreau reaches two scoring milestones, the stars of the week are revealed and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: The Vancouver Canucks remained in the chase for the final Western Conference playoff berth with a 6-2 win over the Dallas Stars. Elias Pettersson scored twice and added an assist, Brock Boeser and Jason Dickson each had three points and Thatcher Demko made 28 saves. Roope Hintz tallied twice for the Stars while Jake Oettinger got the hook after giving up four goals on 19 shots. The Stars hold the final Western wild-card spot with 91 points. Winners of six straight games, the Canucks sit five points back.

Meanwhile, the Vegas Golden Knights’ efforts to gain ground on the Stars and widen their lead over the Canucks took a hit with a 3-2 loss to the New Jersey Devils. Andrew Hammond kicked out 42 shots while Nathan Bastian had a goal and an assist for the Devils. The Golden Knights remain four points behind the Stars and are now just one point ahead of the Canucks.

Alex Ovechkin scored his 48th goal of the season and Marcus Johansson netted the game-winner as the Washington Capitals defeated the Colorado Avalanche 3-2, snapping the latter’s nine-game winning streak. Ovechkin tied Teemu Selanne for the most goals in a season by a player aged 36-or-older. The Avalanche’s Cale Makar picked up an assist to set a franchise record of 83 points by a defenseman.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Avs remain atop the overall standings with 116 points, two points up on the Florida Panthers. Earlier in the day, they announced defenseman Devon Toews will take the next four games off to recover from a couple of minor injuries before the playoffs. Having clinched a playoff berth over the weekend, the Capitals (96 points) are one point behind the third-place Pittsburgh Penguins in the Metropolitan Division.

Calgary Flames winger Johnny Gaudreau (NHL Images).

Calgary Flames winger Johnny Gaudreau scored two goals in a 5-2 win over the Chicago Blackhawks. Gaudreau passed the 600-point milestone and became the first player since Jaromir Jagr in 1995-96 to reach 85 even-strength points in a season. Matthew Tkachuk collected two assists as the Flames (103 points) hold a nine-point lead over the Edmonton Oilers for first place in the Pacific Division.

The Carolina Hurricanes downed the Arizona Coyotes 5-3 to take over sole possession of first place in the Metropolitan Division with 106 points. Max Domi and Nino Niederreiter each had a goal and an assist for the Hurricanes while Coyotes goalie Karel Vejmelka made 46 saves.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Earlier in the day, the Hurricanes announced forwards Jordan Staal and Jesperi Kotkaniemi are day-to-day with injuries. Goaltender Frederik Andersen underwent an MRI yesterday for a lower-body injury and will be re-evaluated in a week’s time.

Seattle Kraken rookie Matty Beniers scored to collect his third point in his first three NHL games in a 4-2 win over the Ottawa Senators. Kraken defenseman Vince Dunn collected three assists. Senators captain Brady Tkachuk scored his 28th goal of the season.

HEADLINES

NHL.COM: St. Louis Blues winger Vladimir Tarasenko, Minnesota Wild winger Kevin Fiala and Edmonton Oilers goaltender Mike Smith are the league’s three stars for the week ending April 17.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: David Pastrnak, Hampus Lindholm and Linus Ullmark remained sidelined and won’t be traveling with the Bruins on their two-game road trip to St. Louis and Pittsburgh.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins have clinched a playoff berth so there’s no need to rush those players back into action. They’ll want them healthy for the upcoming playoffs.

MLIVE.COM: Detroit Red Wings captain Dylan Larkin will miss his club’s final six games of this season after undergoing core muscle surgery.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A disappointing end to Larkin’s season. He’s their leading scorer with 31 goals and 69 points, marking his best performance since his career-high 32-goal, 73-point effort in 2018-19.

NEW YORK POST: Islanders center Mathew Barzal was fined $2,500.00 by the department of player safety for making contact with Toronto Maple Leafs winger Mitch Marner from the bench on Sunday. Barzal grabbed Marner’s jersey and held on to him for a couple of seconds.

TWINCITIES.COM: Minnesota Wild winger Marcus Foligno was placed in COVID protocol ahead of tonight’s game against the Montreal Canadiens.

NEW YORK POST‘s Mollie Walker yesterday tweeted that Rangers winger Kaapo Kakko (lower body) is listed as week-to-week.

NHL.COM: Canadiens forward Michael Pezzetta received a two-game suspension for an illegal check on Capitals winger T.J. Oshie on Saturday.

TSN: Former NFL running back Marshawn Lynch and recording artist Macklemore are joining the Seattle Kraken’s minority investor group.

WASHINGTON HOCKEY NOW: The Capitals will be bringing back their “screaming eagle” logo for 2022-23.

THE ATHLETIC: Long-time Flyers trainers Jim McCrossin and Sal Raffa are suing the club’s ownership claiming they were unknowingly exposed to cancer-causing chemicals used in Zambonis at the club’s training facility.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 17, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 17, 2022

The Avalanche clinch the top seed in the Western Conference, the Flames, Blues and Bruins secure playoff berths, Kirill Kaprizov sets a new Wild scoring record, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Colorado Avalanche secured the top seed in the Western Conference with 116 points by defeating the Carolina Hurricanes 7-4. Nathan MacKinnon and J.T. Compher each scored twice while rookie forward Ben Meyers scored in his first NHL game. Jordan Staal scored twice for Carolina but left the game with an undisclosed injury following a hit by Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar. Hurricanes goaltender Frederic Andersen left the game in the third period with an apparent injury to his left leg. The Hurricanes remain in first place in the Metropolitan Division with 104 points.

Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon (NHL Images).

Calgary Flames forwards Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk each had two goals and two assists in a 9-1 drubbing of the Arizona Coyotes. Elias Lindholm had a goal and three assists for the Flames, who sit in first place in the Pacific Division with 101 points. They clinched a playoff berth earlier in the day following the Edmonton Oilers’ win over the Vegas Golden Knights.

Speaking of the Oilers, they blanked the Golden Knights 4-0 with Mike Smith kicking out 39 shots for his second shutout in as many games. Kris Russell, Cody Ceci, Warren Foegele and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins for the goal scorers as the Oilers sit in second place in the Pacific Division with 94 points. The Golden Knights (87 points) sit four points out of the final Western Conference wild-card berth.

After blowing leads of 4-1 and 5-3, the St. Louis Blues bested the Minnesota Wild 6-5 on an overtime goal by Brayden Schenn to clinch a playoff berth. Schenn and teammate Pavel Buchnevich each had a goal and two assists as the Blues hold second place in the Central Division with 100 points. Minnesota center Ryan Hartman scored twice and collected an assist while teammate Kirill Kaprizov tallied his 43rd goal to set a single-season franchise record. The Wild are one point back of the Blues.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Blues defenseman Nick Leddy left the game after taking a stick near one of his eyes. He’ll be undergoing further evaluation. Meanwhile, Wild forward Tyson Jost suffered a lower-body injury and will miss today’s game against the San Jose Sharks.

The Boston Bruins secured a playoff berth by holding off the Pittsburgh Penguins 2-1 thanks to early first-period goals by Trent Frederic and Erik Haula and a 23-save effort by goaltender Jeremy Swayman. With 97 points, they hold the first wild-card position in the Eastern Conference. Danton Heinen replied for the Penguins, who sit in third place in the Metropolitan Division with 97 points. Earlier in the day, they announced goalie Tristan Jarry is listed as week-to-week with a lower-body injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Penguins have already clinched a playoff berth so Jarry’s absence won’t hurt them in that regard. However, this could be a problem if he’s still sidelined when the playoffs open in early May.

New York Rangers netminder Igor Shesterkin made 20 saves to shut out the Detroit Red Wings 4-0. Alexis Lafreniere put the game out of reach with two third-period goals. The Rangers are tied with the Hurricanes with 104 points but the former holds first in the Metro division with 42 regulation wins.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rangers winger Kaapo Kakko left this game in the first period with a lower-body injury. It was only his fourth match since missing 31 games with a wrist injury. On Friday, the club revealed winger Tyler Motte will be sidelined for at least the remainder of the regular season with an upper-body injury.

An overtime goal by Mark Giordano gave the Toronto Maple Leafs a 5-4 win over the Ottawa Senators. Giordano finished the game with a goal and two assists while Mitch Marner scored twice for the Leafs (104 points) as they tied a franchise record with their 49th win of the season. They hold a four-point lead over the third-place Tampa Bay Lightning in the Atlantic Division.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Senators played without Colin White as the 25-year-old center was placed in COVID protocol yesterday.

The Lightning, meanwhile, got four-point performances from Nikita Kucherov and Victor Hedman to down the Winnipeg Jets 7-4. Kyle Connor tallied his 43rd goal of the season for the Jets, who sit 10 points out of a wild-card spot in the Western Conference.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets aren’t eliminated yet from the postseason chase but they’re on the brink.

Meanwhile, the Dallas Stars (91 points) maintained their grip on that final Western wild-card position by nipping the San Jose Sharks 2-1. Tyler Seguin and Michael Raffl scored for the Stars while Jake Oettinger made 23 saves for the win.

Nashville Predators defenseman Roman Josi scored his 20th goal of the season as his club held off the Chicago Blackhawks 4-3. Juuse Saros picked up the win by stopping 28 shots while Mikael Granlund had a goal and an assist. The Predators are tied with the Stars but they hold the first wild-card spot with 35 regulation wins.

The Los Angeles Kings strengthened their hold on third place in the Pacific Division with a 2-1 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Dustin Brown and Phillip Danault scored first-period goals and Jonathan Quick made 21 stops as the Kings sit three points ahead of the Golden Knights with 90 points and are four back of the Oilers.

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin netted his 47th goal in an 8-4 thrashing of the Montreal Canadiens. Anthony Mantha and Dmitry Orlov each had four-point performances as the Capitals hold the final Eastern wild-card spot with 94 points. Canadiens center Nick Suzuki reached the 20-goal plateau for the first time in his career while Ryan Poehling tallied twice.

The Seattle Kraken got a shootout goal from Ryan Donato to defeat the New Jersey Devils 4-3. Kraken rookie Matty Beniers scored his first NHL goal in his second game while Philipp Grubauer made 23 saves for the win.

Buffalo Sabres defenseman Rasmus Dahlin had a goal and an assist while teammate Kyle Okposo netted his 20th goal of the season in a 4-3 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers.