NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 8, 2022
Auston Matthews tallies his 40th goal of the season, Cale Makar reaches 20 goals, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines
NHL.COM: Auston Matthews tallied his league-leading 40th goal as his Toronto Maple Leafs held off the Columbus Blue Jackets 5-4. It’s the fourth time in six seasons the Leafs center has reached the 40-goal plateau. Matthews, Mitch Marner, Michael Bunting and T.J. Brodie each finished the night with two points. The Leafs are third in the Atlantic Division with 76 points.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Matthews is the defending Richard Trophy winner. He’s in a tight race for this season’s goal-scoring crown with the Edmonton Oilers’ Leon Draisaitl and the New York Rangers’ Chris Kreider nipping at his heels. Nevertheless, he remains the favorite to take home the Richard Trophy again this season. Since his debut season (2016-17), Matthews is currently tied with Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin for the most goals with 239.
The league-leading Colorado Avalanche tallied four goals in the third period, then hung on for a 5-4 win over the New York Islanders. Nathan MacKinnon and Cale Makar each collected three points for the Avalanche with Makar reaching the 20-goal plateau for the first time in his career. Isles goaltender Semyon Varlamov made 44 saves while teammate Anders Lee scored twice and added an assist. The Avs (87 points) hold a four-point lead for first overall over the Carolina Hurricanes.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Makar is the first defenseman to reach 20 goals since the San Jose Sharks’ Brent Burns in 2016-17. He leads all NHL blueliners in goals and points with 63. Meanwhile, teammate Tyson Jost suited up after undergoing several hours of surgery on Saturday and Sunday to repair a fractured jaw and damaged teeth after being struck in the face by a puck during Saturday’s game against the Calgary Flames.
Speaking of the Flames, they remain red-hot by downing the Edmonton Oilers 3-1 to extend their home points streak to 13 games. Tyler Toffoli scored twice, Johnny Gaudreau had a goal and an assist while Jacob Markstrom made 27 saves. The Flames (75 points) hold a four-point lead over the Los Angeles Kings for first place in the Pacific Division while the Oilers (64 points) remain two points behind the Nashville Predators for the final Western Conference wild-card berth.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Toffoli has scored seven goals in 10 games since being acquired from the Montreal Canadiens. Earlier in the day, the Oilers placed defenseman Tyson Barrie on injured reserve.
The Florida Panthers regained first place in the Atlantic Divison by thumping the Buffalo Sabres 6-1. Spencer Knight (29 saves) got the win in his first start since Feb. 1 while teammates Aleksander Barkov and Mason Marchment each collected three points. With 81 points, the Panthers sit one ahead of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Panthers rookie Anton Lundell left the game in the first period with an apparent leg injury and is listed as day-to-day.
An overtime goal by Andreas Athanasiou lifted the Los Angeles Kings to a 3-2 victory over the Boston Bruins. Cal Petersen made 29 saves for the win as the Kings (71 points) sit four points behind the first-place Flames in the Pacific Division. Craig Smith and Charlie Coyle each had two points for the Bruins, who hold the first Eastern Conference wild-card berth with 73 points. Bruins defenseman Matt Grzelcyk missed the game with an upper-body injury.
TSN: The NHL is suspending its dealings with the Russian-based Kontinental Hockey League (KHL). This decision could make it difficult to sign players from that league. It’s the NHL’s latest move in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This move could affect NHL teams trying to bring over their Russian prospects next season. This likely won’t have any effect upon NHL free agents signing with KHL teams this summer, but the increasingly tightened sanctions on Russia could make that league a less-desirable destination for those players.
NHL.COM: Dallas Stars left wing Jason Robertson, Arizona Coyotes center Nick Schmaltz and New York Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin are the NHL’s three stars for the week ending March 6, 2022.
SPORTSNET: Montreal Canadiens defenseman Jeff Petry is listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury.