Recaps of Thursday’s action, the Blues re-sign Jordan Binnington, the latest injury updates and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Brad Marchand collected three assists while Jaroslav Halak made 27 saves as the Boston Bruins shut out the New York Rangers 4-0. Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci each had a goal and an assist. The Bruins (32 points) sit one point behind the third-place Pittsburgh Penguins in the MassMutual East Division and one up on the Philadelphia Flyers.
A goal and an assist by Evgeni Malkin helped the Pittsburgh Penguins defeat the Buffalo Sabres 5-2. The Penguins have won four straight while the Sabres have dropped nine consecutive games. Sabres forward Dylan Cozens was injured in the third period by a hit from Zach Aston-Reese. Earlier in the day, the Sabres revealed captain Jack Eichel will be sidelined for at least 7-10 days with a neck-related injury.
Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin (NHL Images).
The New York Islanders picked up their seventh straight victory with a 5-3 win over the New Jersey Devils. Isles captain Anders Lee left the game in the first period with an undisclosed injury. The Islanders (38 points) sit in first place in the East Division, two ahead of the Washington Capitals.
Speaking of the Capitals, Alex Ovechkin tallied his 715th career goal and John Carlson reached 500 career points in a 5-3 win over the Philadelphia Flyers. Ovechkin is within two points of Phil Esposito for sixth place on the all-time goals list.
The Carolina Hurricanes picked up their seventh straight victory by downing the Nashville Predators 5-1. Rookie Morgan Geekie scored his first two goals of the season while James Reimer made 32 saves for the win. The Hurricanes moved ahead of the Tampa Bay Lightning into first place in the Discover Central Division with 39 points.
An overtime goal by Frank Vatrano capped a four-goal rally by the Florida Panthers to edge the Columbus Blue Jackets 5-4. Blue Jackets winger Patrik Laine snapped a seven-game points drought with a goal and an assist but played just 14:43 in the game and was benched for the final 6:53 of regulation and for the overtime period. After the game, Laine said, “I thought I was playing good, but I guess I thought wrong.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ll just leave this here…
Auston Matthews’ league-leading 21st goal of the season came in overtime to lift the Toronto Maple Leafs past the Winnipeg Jets 4-3, snapping the Leafs’ three-game losing skid. Nikolaj Ehlers tallied twice for the Jets (34 points), who remain in second place in the Scotia North Division, six points back of the first-overall Leafs. Earlier in the day, the Jets announced defenseman Nathan Beaulieu (upper body) was placed on injured reserve.
The Detroit Red Wings upset the Tampa Bay Lightning 6-4, picking up their first regulation win over the Bolts since 2015. Anthony Mantha had a goal and two assists for the Red Wings while Ondrej Palat also had a goal and two helpers for the Lightning, who sit one point behind the Hurricanes in the Central Division but ahead of the Panthers because of a game in hand.
Darryl Sutter got his first win in his return behind the Calgary Flames bench as his club beat the Montreal Canadiens 2-1. Josh Leivo scored twice for the Flames (27 points), who sit four back of the fourth-place Habs in the North Division. Canadiens defenseman Ben Chiarot returned to Montreal for evaluation of an upper-body injury.
The Chicago Blackhawks scored three second-period goals to double up the Dallas Stars 4-2. Kevin Lankinen kicked out 28 shots while Patrick Kane collected two assists. The Blackhawks (33 points) hold a five-point lead over the Blue Jackets for fourth in the Central Division.
STLTODAY.COM: The St. Louis Blues signed Jordan Binnington to a six-year, $36 million contract extension. The 27-year-old goaltender was slated to become an unrestricted free agent this summer.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Binnington backstopped the Blues to their first-ever Stanley Cup in 2019 but he’s struggled at times to regain the dominating form of that remarkable rookie season. Nevertheless, management showed their faith in him as their starter with this long-term commitment.
This new contract represents a big raise for Binnington over the $4.4 million annual average value of his current deal. Cap Friendly indicates the annual salary-cap hit is $6 million and comes with a full no-trade clause for the first three years following by a modified no-trade for the final three.
LAS VEGAS SUN: Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury was placed on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list and will likely miss at least this weekend’s games against the Blues.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Oilers defenseman Oscar Klefbom will undergo shoulder surgery later this month.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Klefbom’s missed the entire season receiving treatment for his shoulder. With surgery, he could be sidelined six-to-nine months.
OTTAWA SUN: Senators forward Colin White is listed as day-to-day with an injured left leg.
NHL.COM: League commissioner Gary Bettman remains optimistic the NHL will return to business as normal next season. He envisions a full 82-game schedule with no limitations on fan attendance starting in October and a return to the regular divisional alignments. Bettman also indicated the league wants to return to outdoor games with fans in attendance next season and resume playing some early-season games in Europe if possible.
Deputy commissioner Bill Daly said the league is still working to determine whether the playoff semifinalists from the North Division will be allowed to host games given the travel restrictions between Canada and the United States.
Daly added he’s been in frequent communication with the International Olympic Committee regarding NHL participation in the 2022 Winter Games in Beijing but the IOC’s focus right now is on the 2021 Tokyo Summer Games. He also believes the 2021 NHL Draft will more likely than not still be held as scheduled in July.