Catching up on some notable late trades and free-agent signings, including the Avalanche acquiring Darcy Kuemper, plus a look at the notable free-agents still available in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes traded goaltender Darcy Kuemper to the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for defenseman Conor Timmins, a first-round pick in 2022 and a conditional third-round pick in 2024.
Arizona Coyotes trade goaltender Darcy Kuemper to the Colorado Avalanche (NHL Images).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Avalanche needed a suitable replacement for Philipp Grubauer after he signed with the Seattle Kraken yesterday. They had to move quickly as several teams had some interest in Kuemper. That’s why Avs general manager Joe Sakic paid such a steep price to get him.
In the short term, the 31-year-old Kuemper should offset Grubauer’s absence provided he can stay healthy. He’s been sidelined in recent seasons by a variety of injuries and is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer.
Coyotes GM Bill Armstrong, meanwhile, is doing a superb job trimming payroll while laying the groundwork to restock his prospect pipeline. Timmins is a promising young defenseman who could be a good fit on this rebuilding team. The Coyotes now have two first-round picks and five second-rounders in next year’s draft. They could get more when Armstrong starts shopping some of his pending unrestricted free agents at next year’s trade deadline.
NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: The Capitals reacquired goaltender Vitek Vanecek from the Seattle Kraken in exchange for a second-round pick in the 2023 NHL Draft. The Kraken selected Vanecek during last week’s expansion draft.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Getting back Vanecek maintains the Capitals’ goalie tandem from last season. His reacquisition spares them from shopping for a backup goalie that would’ve cost more than Vanecek’s $716, 667 salary-cap hit.
BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: The Bruins traded goaltender Dan Vladar to the Calgary Flames for a 2022 third-round pick.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The signing of Linus Ullmark and the emergence of Jeremy Swayman made Vladar the odd man out among the Bruins goaltenders, especially if they bring back Tuukka Rask next year following his recovery from hip surgery.
WGR 550: The Buffalo Sabres signed veteran goaltenders Craig Anderson and Aaron Dell to one-year contracts.
SPORTSNET: The Sabres also acquired defenseman Will Butcher and a 2022 fifth-round pick from the New Jersey Devils in exchange for future considerations.
SI.COM/THE HOCKEY NEWS: David Krejci, Kyle Palmieri and Brandon Saad are among the best players still available in the free-agent market. Others include Tomas Tatar and Zach Parise.
THE SCORE: Josh Wegman ranks the winners and losers from the opening day of free agency.
TSN: Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist is hopeful of returning to action in 2021-22 once he receives medical clearance to do so. The 39-year-old goaltender signed last season with the Washington Capitals but heart surgery sidelined him for the entire campaign.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: There will be interest in Lundqvist if he’s cleared to resume playing. It’ll be interesting to see if he gets a contract with a playoff contender.
OTTAWA SUN: The Senators signed head coach D.J. Smith to a two-year contract extension.
The Sabres traded Taylor Hall to the Bruins, the Kings ship Jeff Carter to the Penguins, plus recaps of Sunday’s action and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
TSN: The Buffalo Sabres trade left wing Taylor Hall and center Curtis Lazar to the Boston Bruins in exchange for winger Anders Bjork and a second-round draft pick in 2021. The Sabres also retain 50 percent of Hall’s $8 million cap hit to facilitate the trade.
Buffalo Sabres trade Taylor Hall to the Boston Bruins (NHL Images).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins hope Hall will regain his offensive form and provide them with much-needed secondary scoring. Lazar should bring some depth to their checking lines.
It’s a disappointing return for the Sabres, who were believed seeking at least a first-round pick for Hall. It’s indicative of perhaps how much the former Hart Trophy winner’s stock has fallen this season. Bjork struggled to play up to expectations in Boston and might benefit from a fresh start in Buffalo.
TRIBLIVE.COM: The Los Angeles Kings traded forward Jeff Carter to the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for a conditional third-round pick in the 2022 NHL Draft and a conditional 2023 fourth-rounder. The Kings also retain 50 percent of Carter’s $5.272 million cap hit.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The conditions are based on how long the 36-year-old Carter plays. He has a year remaining on his contract. Carter’s tallied 20 goals 11 times in his career but his offense has declined in recent years. He has just 19 points in 40 games this season. Nevertheless, he should be a solid addition to the Penguins’ injury-depleted bottom-six forward lines.
TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs acquired goaltender David Rittich from the Calgary Flames in exchange for a 2022 third-round pick. The Flames also retained 50 percent of the pending UFA’s $2.75 million cap hit.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This move provides additional experienced goaltending depth for the Leafs behind Frederik Andersen and Jack Campbell. It also raises questions over how long Andersen could be sidelined by a lower-body injury.
NHL.COM: The Ottawa Senators traded defenseman Mike Reilly to the Boston Bruins in exchange for a third-round pick in the 2022 NHL draft. They also shipped blueliner Braydon Coburn to the New York Islanders for a 2022 seventh-rounder.
NHL.COM: Colorado Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog had a goal and two assists to lead his club over the Anaheim Ducks 4-1. Nathan MacKinnon had a goal and an assist as the Avs hold a four-point lead atop the Honda West Division with 60 points and moved into first in the overall standings.
Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury moved into fourth place on the NHL’s all-time wins list by blanking the Arizona Coyotes 1-0. Fleury now has 484 career victories and also picked up his 66th career shutout. Tomas Nosek tallied the only goal as the Golden Knights remain four points behind the Avalanche in the West. With 43 points, the Coyotes remain one point behind the fourth-place St. Louis Blues.
Two-goal performances by T.J. Oshie, Lars Eller and Conor Sheary carried the Washington Capitals to an 8-1 romp over the Boston Bruins. The Capitals are tied with the New York Islanders with 58 points but hold first place in the MassMutual East Division on the basis of regulation wins with 20. The Bruins, meanwhile, remain in fourth place with 48 points.
Speaking of the Islanders, they edged the New York Rangers 3-2 on an overtime goal by Ryan Pulock. Kyle Palmieri tallied his first goal since joining the Isles in a trade from the New Jersey Devils.
A hat trick by Jake Guentzel powered the Pittsburgh Penguins past the New Jersey Devils 5-2. Colton Sceviour also scored twice for the Penguins (56 points), who sit two points back of the Capitals and Islanders.
Three goals late in the third period by Jeff Skinner, Rasmus Asplund and Casey Mittelstadt rallied the Buffalo Sabres over the Philadelphia Flyers 5-3. Sabres goalie Linus Ullmark finished with 40 saves. The loss moved the Flyers into a tie with the Rangers (44 points) but the latter hold fifth place with 16 regulation wins.
The Nashville Predators edged the Dallas Stars 3-2 on a shootout goal by Ryan Johansen. The Predators sit in fourth place in the Discover Central Division, holding a four-point lead over the Chicago Blackhawks.
IN OTHER NEWS…
NEW YORK POST: Washington Capitals goaltender Henrik Lundqvist announced on social media yesterday he will not be returning to play this season. Lundqvist said he’s making progress since undergoing heart surgery in January but it will be a few more months before he’s fully recovered.
THE PROVINCE: The Vancouver Canucks plan to open their practice facility was postponed to Monday after sidelined forward Jay Beagle was placed on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list. The Canucks are scheduled to return to action on Friday against the Edmonton Oilers.
FLORIDA HOCKEY NOW: The Panthers signed winger Nikita Gusev to a prorated one-year, $1 million contract. Gusev became an unrestricted free agent on April 10 after his contract with the New Jersey Devils was terminated.
NHL.COM: The department of player safety suspended Nashville Predators forward Michael McCarron two games for an illegal hit to the head of Tampa Bay Lightning forward Yanni Gourde.
Patrice Bergeron reaches a career milestone, Artemi Panarin has a four-point performance, Carey Price sidelined, an update on Henrik Lundqvist, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Patrice Bergeron tallied a hat trick and reached his 900th career NHL point leading the Boston Bruins over the Philadelphia Flyers 4-2. Brad Marchand had a goal and three assists. Boston defenseman Charlie McAvoy missed the game with an upper-body injury. With 46 points, the Bruins hold fourth place in the MassMutual East Divison, sitting four points behind the third-place Pittsburgh Penguins. The Flyers (41 points) slip to sixth place.
Boston Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron (NHL Images).
The New York Islanders edged the Washington Capitals 1-0. Semyon Varlamov had a 29-save shutout while Brock Nelson scored the only goal and Josh Bailey collected his 500th career NHL point. Washington goalie Vitek Vanecek kicked out 38 shots. The Islanders moved into a tie with the Capitals (54 points) but the latter holds first place in the East Division on the basis of regulation plus overtime wins.
Artemi Panarin had a goal and three assists as the New York Rangers romped to an 8-4 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins. Pittsburgh defenseman John Marino left the game in the third period with an undisclosed injury. The loss leaves the Penguins in third place in the East while the Rangers move into fifth place with 41 points.
The Carolina Hurricanes got two goals from captain Jordan Staal to down the Florida Panthers 5-2, snapping the latter’s six-game winning streak. Carolina center Sebastian Aho collected three assists while Florida captain Aleksander Barkov tallied both of his club’s goals. The Hurricanes moved into second place in the Discover Central Division with 55 points, one point back of the first-place Panthers.
A 36-save performance by Joonas Korpisalo carried the Columbus Blue Jackets to a 4-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning. Max Domi and Jack Roslovic each had a goal and an assist for the Blue Jackets (38 points), putting them five points behind the fourth-place Nashville Predators in the Central. The Lightning, meanwhile, slipped to third place with 54 points. They’ve won just two of their last seven contests.
Speaking of the Predators, shootout goals by Ryan Johansen and Roman Josi gave them a 3-2 win over the Detroit Red Wings. Nashville holds fourth place with 43 points in the Central.
The Chicago Blackhawks remain two points behind the Predators after doubling up the Dallas Stars 4-2. Patrick Kane and Alex DeBrincat each had a goal and an assist and Kirby Dach tallied his first of the season since returning from a broken wrist on March 27.
A 34-save performance by John Gibson gave the Anaheim Ducks a 5-1 victory over the San Jose Sharks. The Sharks remain in sixth place in the Honda West Division with 38 points, five behind the fourth-place Arizona Coyotes.
The Buffalo Sabres beat the New Jersey Devils 5-3. Rasmus Dahlin and Casey Mittelstadt each had a goal and an assist for the Sabres, who’ve won three of their last four following their 18-game winless skid.
TSN: Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price is listed as day-to-day after suffering a lower-body injury during Monday’s 3-2 win over the Edmonton Oilers. The club called up goalie Cayden Primeau from the AHL’s Laval Rocket.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Price will remain in Montreal receiving treatment as the club travels to Toronto to face the Maple Leafs tonight.
Frank Seravalli reported Washington Capitals goalie Henrik Lundqvist remains intent on resuming his playing career as he recovers from open-heart surgery earlier this year. He’s continuing to skate as he awaits word from his doctors later this week. The Capitals aren’t ruling out Lundqvist returning to play later this season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Capitals have come up in recent media chatter suggesting they could pursue an experience rental goaltender before the April 12 trade deadline. That conjecture will cease immediately if Lundqvist gets the green light to return to action this season.
SPORTSNET: Jake Virtanen was the latest member of the Vancouver Canucks added to the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list. Eighteen Canucks players are now on the list.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Virtanen is among several Canucks still popping up in recent trade chatter for some bizarre reason. Who the hell is gonna pursue a trade-deadline deal with Vancouver now?
CBS SPORTS: Columbus Blue Jackets forward Riley Nash will be sidelined for four-to-six weeks with a sprained knee.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nash had popped up in trade talks before his injury. He’s an unrestricted free agent this summer and may have played his final game with the Jackets.
OTTAWA SUN: The Senators re-assigned former goaltender coach Pierre Groulx to a scouting and development while Zac Bierk takes over the Sens goalie coach.
Recaps of Friday’s action plus updates on Nikita Kucherov, Artemi Panarin, Henrik Lundqvist and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid became the first player to reach the 50-point plateau this season in a 6-2 victory over the Ottawa Senators. McDavid scored a goal and collected two assists while teammates Leon Draisaitl and Tyler Ennis each had a goal and an assist. With 36 points, the Oilers move four behind the first-place Toronto Maple Leafs in the Scotia North Division and two ahead of the Winnipeg Jets.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: With 51 points in 29 games, McDavid is seven points ahead of Draisaitl as the league’s leading scorer. He remains on pace to reach 100 points in 56 games.
Minnesota Wild rookie Kirill Kaprizov tallied his first career NHL hat trick in a 4-0 blanking of the Arizona Coyotes. Cam Talbot picked up the shutout with 25 saves while Mats Zuccarello collected three assists. Kaprizov leads the Wild and all NHL rookies with 10 goals and 23 points.
An overtime goal by Reilly Smith lifted the Vegas Golden Knights over the St. Louis Blues 5-4. Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury returned to the lineup after being taken off the league’s COVID-19 protocol list for a false positive test. The Golden Knights (35 points) sit two points ahead of the Blues and Wild in first place in the Honda West Division.
The Colorado Avalanche got a goal and an assist from Mikko Rantanen in a 2-0 victory over the Los Angeles Kings. Philipp Grubauer made 18 saves for the shutout while Kings netminder Cal Petersen made 44 stops. With the win, the Avs (32 points) opened a four-point lead over the Kings for fourth place in the West Division, sitting one behind the Blues and Wild.
San Jose Sharks goalie Devan Dubnyk kicked out 34 shots to shut out the Anaheim Ducks 6-0. Kevin Lebanc had a goal and two assists while Tomas Hertl, Evander Kane and Timo Meier each had a goal and an assist.
NEW YORK POST: Good news for the Rangers as Artemi Panarin is expected to return to the lineup for today’s matinee against the Boston Bruins. Panarin was absent for nine games as he dealt with an unsubstantiated accusation by a former KHL coach claiming he assaulted a young Latvian woman in 2011.
CBS SPORTS: Tampa Bay Lightning right winger Nikita Kucherov has begun skating and remains on track to rejoin the club in time for the playoffs. He will miss the entire regular season due to offseason hip surgery.
SPORTSNET: Washington Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan isn’t ruling out a possible return of Henrik Lundqvist later this season. The 39-year-old goaltender is recovering from heart surgery and recently posted a video of himself on the ice taking shots less than two months following the procedure.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: MacLellan acknowledged it’s “probably unlikely” but he seems to be leaving the door open if Lundqvist receives medical clearance to return to action.
The New York Islanders yesterday announced team captain Anders Lee is out indefinitely with a lower-body injury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That could put the Isles into the market for a forward leading up to the trade deadline depending on the severity of Lee’s injury.
TSN: Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Jack Campbell remains day-to-day with a lower-body injury and will be reevaluated today.
Speaking of the Leafs, they traded defenseman Mikko Lehtonen to the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for goaltender Veini Vehvilainen.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lehtonen was considered the best defenseman in Europe when the Leafs signed him. Maybe the “Finnish Bobby Orr” will have better luck in Columbus than he did in Toronto.
Recaps of Thursday’s action, Jeff Skinner’s status with the Sabres concerns his agent, updates on Auston Matthews and Henrik Lundqvist, some notable injury news and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: The New York Islanders tallied five unanswered third-period goals to upset the Boston Bruins 7-2. Semyon Varlamov made 34 saves while teammates Mathew Barzal, Anders Lee and Adam Pelech each had a goal and an assist for the Islanders. The Bruins have dropped three of their last four games.
Three straight third-period goals lifted the Washington Capitals over the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-2. Nicklas Backstrom, T.J. Oshie and Lars Eller each had a goal and an assist. Tom Wilson tallied the game-winner and also received a two-minute minor penalty for injuring Penguins forward Mark Jankowski with a late hit in the first period. Earlier in the day, the Penguins placed winger Jason Zucker (lower body) on injured reserve.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wilson has a history of questionable hits but it doesn’t appear as though he’ll receive supplemental discipline for this one.
The Tampa Bay Lightning scored twice in the third period in a 3-1 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes. Yanni Gourde netted the game-winner as the Lightning won their third straight over the Hurricanes, moving into second place in the Discover Central Division with 27 points.
A three-goal third-period rallied the Florida Panthers over the Dallas Stars 3-2. Sergei Bobrovsky made 37 saves while Aleksander Barkov, Anton Stralman and Frank Vatrano tallied for the Panthers, who sit atop the Discover Central Division with 28 points. Stars forward Roope Hintz missed his second straight game with a lower-body injury.
Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane is playing his way into the Hart Memorial Trophy conversation (NHL Images).
Patrick Kane tallied his 399th career goal and Malcolm Subban made 26 saves for his first shutout with the Chicago Blackhawks in a 2-0 blanking of the Columbus Blue Jackets. Carl Soderberg also scored for the Hawks, who sit third in the Central with 26 points.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blackhawks keep finding ways to win thanks in part to Kane’s production and leadership. He’s moved into a tie with Toronto’s Auston Matthews (31 points) for third place in the NHL scoring race and continues to be considered among the early favorites for the Hart Memorial Trophy.
The Ottawa Senators are on their first three-game win streak of the season after upsetting the Calgary Flames 6-1. Matt Murray made 29 saves, Colin White scored twice and Drake Batherson scored for the fourth straight game.
Earlier in the day, the Senators placed center Derek Stepan on injured reserve among reports he suffered a season-ending shoulder injury against the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday. They also placed little-used forward Filip Chlapik on unconditional waivers for the purpose of buying out his contract. Meanwhile, the Flames placed goaltender Jacob Markstrom (upper body) on injured reserve.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Senators’ improvement throughout February is due in part to giving more ice time to their younger players. They still have more rebuilding to do but they’ve served notice in recent weeks that they’re no longer an easy two points. The Flames, meanwhile, have dropped five of their last six.
An overtime goal by Pavel Zacha lifted the New Jersey Devils over the Buffalo Sabres 4-3. The Sabres made winger Jeff Skinner a healthy scratch for the third straight game, prompting his agent to contact general manager Kevyn Adams to express his concern over his client’s status. Sabres captain Jack Eichel was a late scratch with a lower-body injury while goalie Linus Ullmark left the game following the first period with an undisclosed injury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Skinner’s poor production this season is cause for concern for the Sabres but critics question if he’s being properly utilized by head coach Ralph Krueger. It’s yet another issue for a team whose playoff hopes are fading while raising questions about Eichel’s future in Buffalo.
Sam Gagner tallied his third career hat trick as the Detroit Red Wings downed the Nashville Predators 5-2. Jonathan Bernier made 37 saves for the win.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The mounting losses for the Predators continue to stoke speculation they’ll become sellers at the Apr.12 trade deadline. I’ll have more in today’s Rumor section.
Blake Wheeler had a goal and two assists while Kyle Connor scored twice as the Winnipeg Jets overcame 2-0 and 3-1 deficits to beat the Montreal Canadiens 6-3. The Habs dropped their fourth straight, spoiling the debut of interim head coach Dominique Ducharme. Canadiens winger Josh Anderson left the game in the first period after an apparent slew foot by Jets defenseman Dylan DeMelo. He’ll undergo more tests but Ducharme said his injury isn’t considered to be too serious.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ducharme declared a clean slate for his players before this game. What he got was a strong start undone by more shaky goaltending from Carey Price, sloppy defensive play and a collapse of confidence as the game rolled along. The Habs (22 points) still hold a playoff spot in the Scotia North Division only because the Flames and Vancouver Canucks are playing worse than they are. Speaking of the Canucks…
Edmonton Oilers goaltender Mike Smith turned in a 32-save shutout in a 3-0 victory over the Canucks. Alex Chiasson, Jesse Puljujarvi and Connor McDavid were the goal scorers.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks have only two victories in 13 games this month.
TSN: Toronto Maple Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe said center Auston Matthews has been dealing with a wrist injury for most of this season. Matthews appeared to aggravate the injury during Wednesday’s 2-1 win over the Flames but Keefe feels it hasn’t gotten worse.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Matthews was scoring at a goal-per-game pace prior to Wednesday. He has a shot at becoming the first player since Brett Hull in 1991-92 to score 50 goals in 50 games.
NEW YORK POST: Henrik Lundqvist returned to the ice earlier this week after undergoing open-heart surgery seven weeks ago. However, the 39-year-old goaltender said it will be months before he can reach a decision on whether he’ll continue his playing career.
NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: Saturday’s game between the San Jose Sharks and St. Louis Blues will continue as scheduled after the Sharks announced no new positive COVID-19 tests. Thursday’s game between the two clubs was postponed after Sharks forward Tomas Hertl tested positive. He’s expected to miss some time as he remains on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list.
TSN: The number of players on the league’s protocol list shrunk to seven players with three of those being members of the Philadelphia Flyers.
THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: The Blue Jackets are preparing to increase the number of fans attending their home games after Ohio governor Mike DeWine announced indoor sports and entertainment events in the state to 25 percent capacity. The Jackets currently have a plan approved by the state that allows 10 percent capacity.
BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: The Bruins will soon welcome fans back to TD Garden as the state of Massachusetts will allow 12 percent capacity starting on March 22.
Canadiens fire head coach Claude Julien, recaps of Tuesday’s games, the latest on Artemi Panarin, injury updates and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines
The Montreal Canadiens have fired head coach Claude Julien and assistant coach Kirk Muller. Assistant coach Dominique Ducharme has become interim head coach while Alex Burrows has joined the coaching staff.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: After bursting from the gate with a 7-1-2 record the Canadiens were 2-6-2 and in danger of falling out of playoff contention in the North Division. General manager Marc Bergevin was busy in the offseason improving the roster. A coaching change was the next step. It’ll be interesting to see how the Habs respond to this move.
Ducharme spent eight seasons coaching in the QMJHL, guiding the Halifax Mooseheads to the Memorial Cup in 2013. He was also a two-time bench boss of Canada’s World Junior team, coaching them to a gold medal in 2018. He joined the Habs’ coaching staff as an assistant later that year. Following his NHL career, Burrows joined the Canadiens’ farm team in Laval as an assistant coach.
NHL.COM: Buffalo Sabres goaltender Linus Ullmark made 41 saves in a 4-1 victory over the New Jersey Devils, handing the latter their third straight loss. Buffalo winger Sam Reinhart collected two assists. Earlier in the day, the Sabres announced defenseman William Borgen will be sidelined up to two months following surgery on Tuesday to repair a broken right forearm.
The Pittsburgh Penguins picked up their third straight win by edging the Washington Capitals 3-2. Kasperi Kapanen tallied the winner in overtime as he and Jake Guentzel each had a goal and an assist. It was a costly win for the Penguins as Jason Zucker and Kris Letang left the game with injuries.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Zucker’s injury looked serious as he had to be helped off the ice after crashing awkwardly into the boards. An update on both players could be made later today.
Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane (NHL Images).
Patrick Kane scored his 398th career goal and collected three assists as the Chicago Blackhawks nipped the Columbus Blue Jackets 6-5. Alex DeBrincat tallied the game-winner in a shootout while Carl Soderberg had three points for the Hawks. Patrik Laine and Oliver Bjorkstrand each scored twice for the Jackets.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kane is playing his way into the Hart Memorial Trophy conversation. He’s the engine driving a Blackhawks team that wasn’t expected to be a playoff contender this season. They’re third in the Discover Central Division with 24 points, two behind the first-place Florida Panthers.
Shootout goals by Tim Stutzle and Josh Norris gave the Ottawa Senators a 5-4 victory over the Montreal Canadiens, handing the latter their sixth loss in their last eight games. Brady Tkachuk tallied twice for the Senators, including the game-tying goal after the Canadiens overcame a 3-1 deficit to take a 4-3 lead. Shea Weber tallied twice for the Habs. Senators center Derek Stepan left the game in the first period with an upper-body injury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Canadiens winger Brendan Gallagher wasn’t happy after his apparent game-winning goal in the dying seconds of regulation was overturned by what he considered a questionable goaltender interference call. Regardless of the validity of Gallagher’s complaint, the Canadiens once again struggled against the worst team in the league. The loss led to today’s firing of Claude Julien as head coach.
Pekka Rinne had a 24-save shutout as the Nashville Predators blanked the Detroit Red Wings 2-0. Filip Forsberg had a goal and an assist as both goals came in the third period.
The Edmonton Oilers scored four unanswered goals (three in the third period) to beat the Vancouver Canucks 4-3. Dominik Kahun tallied twice and Leon Draisaitl collected three assists for the Oilers. Canucks center Elias Pettersson had a goal and an assist.
NEW YORK POST: Four of Artemi Panarin’s former KHL teammates dispute their former coach’s claim the New York Rangers winger assaulted a young woman in Riga, Latvia in 2011. The allegation by former Vityaz coach Andrei Nazarov forced Panarin to take a leave of absence from the Rangers. Nazarov, a supporter of Russian President Vladimir Putin, has publicly criticized Panarin in the past for his outspoken views of the Putin regime.
Larry Brooks reports there’s been no corroboration thus far of Nazarov’s account. Sources say the NHL hasn’t opened an independent investigation and has no intention of doing so due to the lack of credible evidence. There’s no timeline for Panarin’s absence. A source refuted a report the winger sought and was granted two weeks. He remains at his Connecticut home.
Brooks cites a source claiming Nazarov didn’t have a good relationship with Panarin when the winger played for him. Another suggested Nazarov was trying to curry favor with the Russian Ice Hockey Federation in hope of being rewarded with a coaching job.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some have wondered why Panarin needs to take time away from the Rangers after claiming Nazarov’s accusation is baseless. He still has family in Russia and is apparently concerned about the effect of this story on them.
Nazarov reportedly claimed Panarin was detained by local police officials and there were a criminal case and trial. That should be easily verified by local records but nothing has been produced thus far to back up that claim.
SPORTSNET: Henrik Lundqvist is back on the ice less than two months after undergoing open-heart surgery. He was in full gear taking shots.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: No indication if this means a return to action for Lundqvist is in the near future. Nevertheless, it’s great to see him back on the ice again as he continues his recovery.
NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Flyers captain Claude Giroux returned to practice yesterday for the first time after testing positive for COVID-19 two weeks ago. The Flyers will evaluate him in practice today to determine if he’ll face the Rangers tonight. Teammates Jakub Voracek, Travis Konecny, Oskar Lindblom, Scott Laughton and Justin Braun remain on the COVID protocol list.
THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Carolina Hurricanes winger Teuvo Teravainen has been sidelined indefinitely by a concussion. He suffered the injury during last Friday’s game against the Blackhawks.
STLTODAY.COM: Blues defenseman Carl Gunnarsson suffered a season-ending knee injury during Monday’s loss to the Los Angeles Kings. It could also end his tenure with the Blues as he’s an unrestricted free agent at season’s end.
NHL.COM: The league released another update to its schedule to account for games previously postponed by COVID-19 protocols and recent winter storms in Texas.