TORONTO STAR: The Toronto Maple Leafs placed defenseman Alexei Marchenko on unconditional waivers. He’ll be joining KHL team CSKA Moscow. The move would free up $1.45 million in salary-cap space for the Leafs .
NBC SPORTS: Nashville Predators goaltender Marek Mazanec signed a one-year deal with KHL club Slovan Bratislava.
SPORTSNET: NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly isn’t ruling out the possibility of an NHL franchise in Kansas City, but stressed market demographics and whether there’s qualified and interested ownership “remain a work in progress.” Daly was responding to ESPN’s Dave Caldwell, who asked him about the interest expressed by Lamar Hunt Jr, owner of the ECHL’s Kansas City Mavericks a dnson of Kansas City Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt, in bringing an NHL franchise to that city.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kansas City has an NHL-worthy venue in the 17,500 Spirit Center. Caldwell reported Hunt didn’t get into the bidding for an expansion club two years ago because he wasn’t happy with the $500 million expansion fee. If an existing NHL franchise is to be moved, however, Kansas City, could remain a viable destination.
Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby scores one of his two goals against the St. Louis Blues.
Game recaps, Devils trade Fiddler to Predators and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Sidney Crosby scored twice and set up another to lead the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 4-1 victory over the St. Louis Blues. Crosby is the first player to reach 30 goals this season and is only three points shy of 1000 for his NHL career. The Blues also lost winger Robby Fabbri in the first period to an apparent left-leg injury.
Mikael Granlund netted a hat trick and added an assist as the Minnesota Wild doubled up the Vancouver Canucks 6-3. Granlund has a 12-game point streak going, collecting 17 points during that stretch.
Peter Budaj picked up his league-leading seventh shutout and Jeff Carter scored the only goal as the Los Angeles Kings blanked the Philadelphia Flyers 1-0.
The Toronto Maple Leafs blew a 4-1 lead but would go on to beat the Boston Bruins 6-5. James van Riemsdyk tallied the winner late in the third period and teammate William Nylander netted his first career NHL hat trick. David Pastrnak scored twice for the Bruins. Earlier in the day, the Leafs claimed defenseman Alexey Marchenko off waivers from the Detroit Red Wings and placed blueliner Frank Corrado on waivers.
Nicklas Backstrom’s early third-period goal stood as the winner as the Washington Capitals edged the Montreal Canadiens 3-2. Capitals goaltender Braden Holtby made 20 saves for his 10th straight win.
Taylor Hall scored twice and Cory Schneider made 31 saves to give the New Jersey Devils a 5-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Earlier in the day, the Devils shipped center Vernon Fiddler to the Nashville Predators for a fourth-round pick in the 2017 NHL Draft.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fiddler, 36, is an unrestricted free agent this summer who no longer fit into the Devils long-term plans. The move now gives the Devils 10 picks in this year’s draft. Some of them could be used as trade bait to land a quality player either by the trade deadline or leading up to this year’s draft weekend in June. Fiddler is returning to the team where his NHL career began and should provide the Preds with checking-line depth at center as they push to secure a playoff berth.
Speaking of the Predators, they fell 1-0 to the Detroit Red Wings, with Petr Mrazek making 42 saves for his first shutout of the season and Mike Green scoring the only goal.
Robin Lehner turned in a 37-save shutout performance and Jack Eichel collected two assists as the Buffalo Sabres downed the Ottawa Senators 4-0.
Corey Crawford made 31 saves while teammates Artem Anisimov and Marian Hossa each collected two assists to give the Chicago Blackhawks a 5-3 win over the Dallas Stars.
Ron Hainsey scored twice, including the winner in overtime, as the Carolina Hurricanes squeaked past the New York Islanders 5-4. Anders Lee and Josh Bailey each had a goal and an assist for the Isles.
Brian Boyle’s shootout goal gave the Tampa Bay Lightning a 3-2 win over the Anaheim Ducks, snapping the Bolts three-game losing skid. Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov had two assists. The Lightning were playing without winger Ondrej Palat, who’s listed as day-to-day with an undisclosed injury.
Matt Duchene collected three assists and Jarome Iginla scored a goal and set up another to lead the Colorado Avalanche to a 5-2 victory over the Winnipeg Jets, snapping the Avs nine-game losing streak.
Mike Smith made 38 saves and Radim Vrbata tallied the game winner in a shoot out as the Arizona Coyotes defeated the San Jose Sharks 3-2.
NBC SPORTS: Yesterday was the deadline for all NHL goaltenders to switch to the new streamlined goalie pants. Some, such as Arizona’s Mike Smith and Chicago’s Scott Darling, aren’t pleased with the change, with Darling claiming netminders are being punished for getting better at their position.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Goaltenders will adapt to this equipment change, just as they did with previous modifications. It could be worse, the league could’ve gone to a bigger net. The only problem I have with this change is the timing. It should’ve been implemented at the start of 2017-18, rather than midseason.
THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: The Anaheim Ducks depth in defensemen could make blueliner Josh Manson the odd man out when they submit their list of protected players for this June’s expansion draft.
Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel celebrates one of his two goals against the LA Kings.
Game recaps, stars of the week, injury updates and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.com: Jamie Benn tallied one goal and set up two others while Tyler Seguin had two assists to lead the Dallas Stars to a 6-2 win over the Anaheim Ducks. The Stars scored five unanswered goals in the third to overcome a 2-1 deficit.
Jack Eichel scored twice and set up another as the Buffalo Sabres overcame a 2-0 deficit to defeat the Los Angeles Kings 6-3. Jeff Carter netted two goals for the Kings.
Mike Fisher scored twice as the Nashville Predators netted six straight goals to beat the St. Louis Blues 6-3.
Jeff Skinner tallied twice as the Carolina Hurricanes scored six third-period goals to overcome a 5-2 deficit and defeat the Vancouver Canucks 8-6. Sven Baertschi scored twice and set up another in a losing cause for the Canucks.
Justin Braun and Joe Pavelski helped the San Jose Sharks overcome a 2-0 deficit, setting the stage for Logan Couture’s shootout winner to defeat the Toronto Maple Leafs 3-2. Auston Matthews had a goal and an assist for the Leafs.
Matt Niskanen scored twice as the Washington Capitals doubled up the New York Islanders 4-2.
Sam Gagner tallied a goal and an assist as the Columbus Blue Jackets collected their seventh straight victory by defeating the Edmonton Oilers 3-1.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It wasn’t a particularly good night for defensive hockey, as comebacks were definitely the recurring theme.
Devan Dubnyk turned in a 29-save performance backstopping the Minnesota Wild to their fifth straight win by downing the Florida Panthers 5-1. Jason Zucker, Jonas Brodin and Jason Pominville each collected two points.
Scott Darling turned in a 33-save performance as the Chicago Blackhawks edged the New York Rangers 2-1.
Jamie McGinn scored twice to lead the Arizona Coyotes to a 4-1 victory over the Detroit Red Wings, who also lost defenseman Alexey Marchenko to a shoulder injury.
ESPN.COM: Philadelphia Flyers winger Jakub Voracek, New York Rangers goaltender Antti Raanta and Columbus Blue Jackets forward Sam Gagner were the NHL’s three stars for he week ending Dec. 11.
THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche goalie Semyon Varlamov is listed as day-to-day with a groin injury.
NJ.COM: The New Jersey Devils claim they weren’t expecting free-agent winger Patrik Elias to return during the first half of this season. Elias is still rehabbing from off-season knee surgery.
YAHOO SPORTS: Actor and NHL fan Alan Thicke has died at the age of 69. Thicke suffered a heart attack yesterday while playing hockey with his youngest son. He was a long-time fan of the Los Angeles Kings and a close friend of Wayne Gretzky.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Thicke’s family, friends and family.
LA Kings center Jeff Carter (77) celebrates one of his two goals against the Anaheim Ducks.
Game recaps, injury updates, state of the Islanders & more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Jeff Carter scored twice and collected his 600th career point to lead the Los Angeles Kings to a 3-2 win over the Anaheim Ducks. Earlier in the day, the Ducks announced they called up defenseman Shea Theodore.
Vincent Trocheck and Aleksander Barkov scored in a shootout to lift the Florida Panthers to a 3-2 victory over the New York Rangers, who also lost center Mika Zibanejad to a broken fibula earlier in the game.
Alexander Wennberg’s late power-play goal lifted the Columbus Blue Jackets to a 3-2 win over the Washington Capitals. Washington coach Barry Trotz hopes the league fines Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno for embellishment that led to a high-sticking penalty on Nicklas Backstrom, resulting in the Jackets’ game-winning goal.
Victor Rask scored his eighth goal of the season as the Carolina Hurricanes picked up their fourth straight victory with a 3-1 win over the Winnipeg Jets.
MIkael Backlund scored the game winner and Dougie Hamilton collected three assists as the Calgary Flames edged the Detroit Red Wings 3-2. The Wings also lost defenseman Alexey Marchenko to an upper-body injury.
NEW YORK POST: Larry Brooks believes a series of bad moves by the New York Islanders not only threatens the future of general manager Garth Snow and head coach Jack Capuano, but also that of captain John Tavares, who’s eligible in 2018 for unrestricted free agency. Brooks considers the departures of Kyle Okposo, Frans Nielsen and Matt Martin last summer via free agency, the signing of Andrew Ladd and the club’s poor draft record in recent years among the reasons for their struggles this season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Once again, the Isles are a mess. Losing Okposo, Nielsen and Martin hurt team chemistry, Ladd’s been a huge bust thus far, Tavares has third liners as his wingers while Brock Nelson, Ryan Strome and Anthony Beauvillier are struggling to score. Factor in the ongoing problems of playing at Barclays Center, and this season is shaping up to be another disaster for the Isles.
DALLAS MORNING NEWS: The Stars placed veteran defenseman Johnny Oduya on injured reserve and recalled Esa Lindell and Julius Honka.
OTTAWA SUN: Senators goaltender Andrew Hammond cleared waivers and was demoted to their AHL affiliate in Binghamton.
ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes returned center Dylan Strome to the Erie Otters of the OHL for the remainder of the season.