NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 7, 2024

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 7, 2024

The Bruins defeat the Panthers in Game 1 of their second-round series, the draft lottery will be held today, Jets coach Rick Bowness retires, the Senators are poised to hire a new coach, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

NHL.COM: The Boston Bruins defeated the Florida Panthers 5-1 in Game 1 of their best-of-seven second-round series. Jeremy Swayman kicked out 38 shots while Mason Lohrei and Jonathan Brazeau each scored their first NHL playoff goals for the Bruins. Matthew Tkachuk replied for the Panthers. Game 2 is Wednesday, May 8 at 7:30 pm EDT.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Panthers opened the scoring in the second period but the Bruins quickly seized contract soon afterward with goals by Morgan Geekie, Lohrei and Brandon Carlo. Brazeau’s goal in the third period put this out of reach.

Boston Bruins goaltender Jeremy Swayman (NHL Images).

Swayman was once again the difference for the Bruins. He’s their MVP thus far in this postseason.

Carlo missed practice yesterday as his wife gave birth to their son at 3 am back in Boston. The club flew him to Florida on a private jet in time to suit up for this game.

The 2024 NHL Draft Lottery will be held today at 6:30 pm EDT at NHL Network studios in Secaucus, New Jersey. The San Jose Sharks have the best odds of winning (18.5 percent) after finishing last in the regular-season standings.

Boston University center Macklin Celebrini is the prize. Winner of the 2024 Hobey Baker Award, the 17-year-old is considered the top prospect in this year’s draft class.

WINNIPEG SUN: Jets head coach Rick Bowness announced his retirement on Monday. The 69-year-old spent 38 seasons in the NHL in various coaching roles.

Bowness’ 2,726 games behind the bench as a head coach or assistant coach are the most by anyone in league history. He served as a head coach for this incarnation of the Jets over the past two years and one season with the original club in 1988-89. Bowness was also the head coach of the Boston Bruins, Ottawa Senators, New York Islanders, Arizona Coyotes and Dallas Stars.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bowness said he still loves the game and coaching but personal reasons were behind his decision. He took a month-long leave of absence earlier this season after his wife, Judy, was hospitalized by a seizure. Bowness also took some time away for a medical procedure. Here’s hoping he and his wife enjoy a happy and healthy retirement.

OTTAWA SUN: The Senators are expected to announce Travis Green as their new head coach by as early as Wednesday. He served as the interim coach of the New Jersey Devils after Lindy Ruff was fired in early March. Green was considered a top candidate for the full-time position but Devils management appears to be waiting for better options, allowing Green to speak with other clubs.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Green spent nearly five seasons with the Vancouver Canucks during a time of considerable upheaval in the front office as the club attempted to rebuild its roster. He faces the challenge of coaching a Senators club filled with good young players who have missed the playoffs over the past seven seasons.

TORONTO SUN: Maple Leafs head coach Sheldon Keefe took full responsibility on Monday for his club’s first-round elimination by the Boston Bruins. In what many believe was his final press conference as Leafs coach, Keefe said he still believes in the team and in himself but admitted his fate was out of his control.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Keefe sounds like he knows he’s coached his last game with the Leafs. His fate could be decided later this week.

Leafs center Auston Matthews explained his absence from Games 5 and 6 of that series against Boston. He said he was “really, really sick” following Game 2 and tried to play through it during the next two games. “Then I took a weird hit and I couldn’t go any longer. That’s as detailed as I’m going to get into it.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That explains why Matthews appeared to be at half speed during Games 3 and 4. His illness contributed to the Leafs’ elimination by the Bruins.

Matthews’ teammate Mitch Marner said he wants to be part of the Leafs’ long-term plans. He has a year remaining on his contract.

I’ve expressed my love for this place, this city,” said Marner. “I grew up here. We’ll start thinking about that now and trying to figure something out.” He said it means the world to him to play in Toronto.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Marner also said he and his teammates are looked on as “kind of gods” in Toronto. That raised some hackles and criticism in Leafs Nation but he’s not wrong. The problem is that these “gods” keep coming up short after eight seasons of hype and expectation.

Marner’s teammates also came to his defense about the criticism of his play in recent years, expressing their hope that he’ll remain part of the team’s future. Whether management feels the same way remains to be seen. I’ll have more on Marner in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

Maple Leafs Sports & Entertainment CEO Keith Pelley, team president Brendan Shanahan and general manager Brad Treliving will meet with the media on Friday. The press conference was originally scheduled for Thursday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The fact Shanahan is part of this presser suggests he’ll be completing the final year of his contract. His future beyond that remains in doubt and will hinge on the club’s performance in 2024-25.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Oilers forwards Evander Kane and Adam Henrique missed recent practices in favor of maintenance days to get healthy. Head coach Kris Knoblauch expects they’ll resume practicing on Tuesday and be ready for Game 1 of their second-round series against the Canucks on Wednesday.

Kane has been hampered by a sports hernia this season. Henrique suffered what appeared to be a leg injury during the Oilers’ first-round series against the Los Angeles Kings.

THE PROVINCE: Canucks center J.T. Miller is expected to be matched up against Oilers center Connor McDavid in the upcoming series between their two clubs. He admitted it will be challenging to contain the Oilers captain. “He’s different than anybody,” said Miller. “You can play what seems to be a perfect shift and all of a sudden he’s gone.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That matchup will be a crucial factor in determining the outcome of this series.

LOS ANGELES TIMES: Kings general manager Rob Blake shot down recent speculation suggesting his club should buy out Pierre-Luc Dubois. He said they have no intention of buying out the final seven seasons of his contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Dubois had a disappointing first season with the Kings, ending up on their fourth line during the playoffs and finishing the regular season with only 40 points. The criticism of his play was justified but the notion of a buyout was absurd.

Whether at one-third or two-thirds of the remaining value depending on Dubois’ age during the buyout, it would count against the Kings’ cap for twice the remaining term. That means 14 years if they bought him out in June.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 5, 2024

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 5, 2024

The Bruins eliminated the Maple Leafs from the first round again, the second round schedule for the Eastern Conference is released, the Lady Byng Trophy finalists are revealed, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

NHL.COM: The Boston Bruins advanced to the second round of the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs with a 2-1 overtime victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs in Game 7 of their first-round series. David Pastrnak scored in overtime to send his team into a second-round showdown with the Florida Panthers, who eliminated the Bruins from the first round of the 2023 playoffs. Hampus Lindholm tied the game for the Bruins after the Leafs’ William Nylander opened the scoring midway through the third period.

Boston Bruins goaltender Jeremy Swayman (NHL Images).

Auston Matthews collected an assist as he returned to the Leafs lineup after missing two games with an undisclosed illness. Ilya Samsonov made 29 saves for the Leafs as he replaced Joseph Woll, who was injured in Game 6. Jeremy Swayman stopped 30 shots for the Bruins.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Swayman was the hero of this series for the Bruins. He played in six of the seven games, sporting a 1.49 goals-against average and a .950 save percentage, giving up two goals or less in five of those contests. Pastrnak was challenged to step up his game by Bruins coach Jim Montgomery following Game 6 and responded with what has to be the biggest goal of his NHL career.

The Leafs deserve kudos for overcoming a 3-1 series deficit but the final result remains the same. Since 2017, they’ve been eliminated from the first round in seven of eight postseason series. Five of those series went seven games, three against the Bruins, whom they haven’t beaten in a playoff series since 1959.

Leafs goalie Ilya Samsonov faced justified criticism over his shaky play earlier in this series but cannot be faulted for their Game 7 loss. He was steady throughout, giving the Leafs a chance to win. Samsonov is an unrestricted free agent this summer and won’t be re-signed but his final game as a Leaf gave him a bit of redemption.

The calls for change from Leafs Nations cannot be ignored. It started last year with the replacement of Kyle Dubas as general manager. There will be more significant moves to come. I’ll have more on this topic in the Sunday NHL Rumor Roundup.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: The Bruins made NHL history with 16 Game 7 victories. They also appeared in a league-record 31 Game 7s’.

NHL.COM: The Eastern Conference second-round playoff schedule was announced following the Bruins-Leafs game. The Carolina Hurricanes and New York Rangers face off starting at 4 pm EDT on Sunday, May 5. The Bruins meet the Florida Panthers starting Monday, May 6, at 8 pm ET.

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews, Vancouver Canucks center Elias Pettersson and Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Jaccob Slavin are this year’s finalists for the Lady Byng Memorial Trophy, awarded annually to the league’s most gentlemanly player.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Congratulations to the three finalists. This is the first time Pettersson has been a finalist. It’s the third in five years for Matthews and the third time in four years for Slavin.

SPORTSNET: Hurricanes defenseman Brett Pesce will miss the first two games of his team’s second-round series against the Rangers. He’s been sidelined by a lower-body injury since Game 2 of the Hurricanes’ first-round series against the New York Islanders.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 4, 2024

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 4, 2024

The Canucks advance to the second round, the Golden Knights force Game 7 with the Stars, the Jack Adams Award finalists are revealed, the Penguins make a change to their coaching staff, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines


NHL.COM: The Vancouver Canucks advanced to the second round of the 2024 Stanley Cup playoffs by eliminating the Nashville Predators with a 1-0 victory in Game 6 of their first-round series. Pius Suter scored the only goal with 1:39 remaining in the game and Arturs Silovs made 28 saves as the Canucks will face the Edmonton Oilers in the next round. Juuse Saros stopped 28 shots for the Predators.

Vancouver Canucks goaltender Arturs Silovs. (NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was the fourth straight game in this series that was decided by one goal with the Canucks winning three of those contests. They also got those victories with three different goaltenders. Thatcher Demko won Game 1, Casey DeSmith took Game 3 filling in for the injured Demko, and Silovs got their other two wins from Game 4 onward after DeSmith was sidelined.

The Predators’ popgun powerplay was their biggest weakness, scoring just twice with 22 man-advantage opportunities. They also blew the lead in Games 1 and 4 which proved costly in this series.

There will be a seventh and deciding game in the first-round series between the Dallas Stars and the defending Stanley Cup champion Vegas Golden Knights. Noah Hanifin and Mark Stone scored in the third period and Adin Hill made 23 saves as the Golden Knights shut out the Stars 2-0. Jake Oettinger turned aside 28 shots for the Stars. Game 7 goes on Sunday, May 5 in Dallas at 7:30 pm EDT.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A solid defensive effort by Vegas made the difference in a goaltender’s duel between Hill and Oettinger. This was also a better-disciplined effort by the Golden Knights, avoiding the costly penalties that led to the Stars’ victories in Games 4 and 5.


NHL.COM: Rick Bowness of the Winnipeg Jets, Andrew Brunette of the Nashville Predators, and Rick Tocchet of the Vancouver Canucks are the finalists for the Jack Adams Award as the league’s Coach of the Year for 2023-24.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Congratulations to Bowness, Brunette and Tocchet. This is the first time Bowness and Tocchet have been named as finalists for this award. It’s the second time for Brunette as he was runner-up in 2021-22 with the Florida Panthers.

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: The Penguins fired associate coach Todd Reirden on Friday. He’d been with the club since 2020-21 and oversaw the club’s power play, which fell to 30th overall this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: General manager Kyle Dubas and head coach Mike Sullivan were rumored to be in a “power struggle” over the coaching staff. However, it was clear a change had to be made given the club’s woeful performance on the power play this season.

This could further stoke rumors that Sullivan might quit or get fired but I don’t see either scenario happening. If he were getting fired it would’ve happened by now, especially with notable former NHL coaches like Craig Berube, Todd McLellan, Dean Evason and Gerard Gallant available. Reirden’s firing shouldn’t be a deal-breaker for Sullivan.

TSN: Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews is progressing in his recovery from an undisclosed illness. However, there’s been no determination regarding his availability for Saturday’s Game 7 against the Boston Bruins. The Leafs scoring star was sidelined for Games 5 and 6.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This will likely be a game-time decision by Matthews and the Leafs depending on how he feels following practice on Saturday.

NEW YORK POST: The Islanders confirmed general manager Lou Lamoriello and head coach Patrick Roy will return next season. Lamoriello sounded open to the possibility of roster changes during the offseason. Eight players are slated to become free agents, five of them unrestricted.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bolstering the offense should be Lamoriello’s priority. The Isles’ limited scoring punch nearly derailed their playoff hopes and proved costly in their elimination from the first round by the Carolina Hurricanes.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Washington Capitals winger Max Pacioretty isn’t sure what the future holds after this season. The 34-year-old staged a comeback from double Achilles surgery in 2022-23 and played in 47 games this season but admitted being “a shell of my former self” with four goals and 23 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pacioretty is on a one-year, $2 million contract. With the Capitals transitioning toward younger players, it seems unlikely he’ll be brought back.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 30, 2024

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 30, 2024

The Panthers eliminate the Lightning, the Stars tie their series with the Golden Knights, the Vezina Trophy finalists are announced and the Kraken fire head coach Dave Hakstol. Details and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.


NHL.COM: The Florida Panthers defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning 6-1 to win their best-of-seven first-round series in five games. Carter Verhaeghe and Aleksander Barkov each scored twice and collected an assist for the Panthers, who will play the winner of the Boston Bruins-Toronto Maple Leafs first-round series in the second round.

Florida Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lightning head coach Jon Cooper was critical of two goalie interference calls that went against his club in this game. Those goals might’ve changed the outcome of this game had they counted but would’ve only delayed his club’s inevitable elimination. After years in the Lightning’s shadow, the Panthers emerged this season as the dominant NHL club in Florida.

This is the second straight season that the former Stanley Cup champion Lightning have been eliminated in the first round. The main reason is steady depletion of their roster due to salary cap constraints.

The future of Steven Stamkos is the biggest question facing the Lightning in this offseason. The long-time Tampa Bay captain is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent this summer.

Following this game, Stamkos said he hadn’t thought about it as he was focused on trying to help his team win this season. Cooper believes Stamkos knows he belongs with the Lightning. That will depend on whether he and Lightning general manager Julien BriseBois can agree to a new contract before free agency begins on July 1.

The Dallas Stars scored three unanswered goals as they overcame a 2-1 deficit to double up the Vegas Golden Knights 4-2 in Game 4 of their first-round series. Wyatt Johnston tied the game, Ty Dellandrea scored the winning goal and Jake Oettinger stopped 32 shots as the Stars tied this series at two games apiece. Michael Amadio and Jack Eichel scored for the Golden Knights.


NHL.COM: Sergei Bobrovsky of the Florida Panthers, Thatcher Demko of the Vancouver Canucks, and Connor Hellebucyk of the Winnipeg Jets are the finalists for the Vezina Trophy as the NHL’s top goaltender in 2023-24.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Congratulations to the three finalists. Hellebuyck seems the most likely to win this award, joining Bobrovsky as the only active goalies to win the Vezina at least twice.

THE SEATTLE TIMES: The Kraken fired head coach Dave Hakstol after three seasons behind their bench. Hakstol guided the club to its first postseason in its second NHL season but they failed to qualify for the playoffs this season. Assistant coach Paul McFarland also won’t be returning.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Kraken’s disappointing follow-up to last season’s surprising performance isn’t solely on Hakstol. Matty Benier’s sophomore slump, another injury-shortened season for Andre Burakovsky and the offseason departures of Daniel Sprong and Morgan Geekie were contributing factors. Still, it’s usually the head coach who bears the responsibility when a team struggles.

There’s no shortage of candidates to replace Hakstol. They include former NHL bench bosses like Craig Berube, Todd McLellan, Gerard Gallant, and Dean Evason. The Times’ Geoff Baker suggested keeping an eye on Carolina Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour, whose current contract expires at the end of this season.

TORONTO STAR: The Maple Leafs are preparing to play Game 5 against the Bruins without Auston Matthews. The Leafs center missed practice on Monday with an ongoing illness and is questionable for tonight’s game.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Bruins goaltender Linus Ullmark would love to start Game 5 against the Maple Leafs. However, he’s said he won’t be a “salty crybaby” if Jeremy Swayman gets the call. Swayman has played three of the four games thus far, winning all three.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins can advance to the second round with a win over the Leafs in Game 5.

THE PROVINCE: Vancouver Canucks head coach Rick Tocchet expects a better effort from his club as they look to eliminate the Nashville Predators in Game 5. He said his players were pleased with their comeback effort in Game 4 but they knew their play in that contest was average. Tocchet indicated they are focused on improvement.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This series would be tied at two games apiece if not for those frantic final minutes for the Canucks in Game 4. They can’t afford another average performance against a desperate Predators team in Game 5.

TSN: Winnipeg Jets forward Vladislav Namestnikov suffered a fractured cheekbone after being struck by a shot by teammate Nate Schmidt during Sunday’s game against the Colorado Avalanche. However, he hasn’t been ruled out for Game 5 of the first-round series between the two clubs on Tuesday. The Avalanche hold a 3-1 series lead.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: Carolina Hurricanes head coach Rod Brind’Amour is shaking up three of his lines for Game 5 against the New York Islanders. Jack Drury will move up to center the second line, winger Teuvo Teravainen drops down to the third line and Jesperi Kotkaniemi moves to the fourth line.

CBS SPORTS: New York Islanders forward Matt Martin will miss Game 5 against the Carolina Hurricanes with a lower-body injury.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 29, 2024

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 29, 2024

The Rangers sweep the Capitals while the Avalanche, Canucks and Oilers are on the verge of advancing to the second round. Check out the details in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.


NHL.COM: The New York Rangers became the first team in the 2024 postseason to advance to the second round with a 4-2 win over the Washington Capitals to sweep their best-of-seven series 4-0. Artemi Panarin broke a 2-2 tie in the third period, Jack Roslovic netted the insurance goal and Igor Shesterkin made 23 saves for the win. Martin Fehervary and Hendrix Lapierre replied for the Capitals. The Rangers await the winner of the Carolina Hurricanes-New York Islanders series.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Rangers’ roster depth and special teams proved too much for the Capitals.

For the first time in his long career, Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin was held pointless in a playoff series. The Rangers did a fine job limiting his scoring opportunities.

Following Game 4, Capitals forward Dylan Strome revealed teammate T.J. Oshie played with a broken hand. Oshie faces an uncertain future after dealing with a concussion and lingering back issues during the regular season.

I’ll have more about the Capitals in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

Vancouver Canucks winger Brock Boeser (NHL Images).

A hat trick by Brock Boeser set the stage for Elias Lindholm’s overtime goal as the Vancouver Canucks overcame a 3-1 deficit in Game 4 to defeat the Nashville Predators 4-3. Boeser scored twice in the final three minutes of regulation after the Canucks pulled goaltender Arturs Silovs for an extra attacker. Silovs made 27 saves and J.T. Miller collected three assists for the Canucks to take a 3-1 lead in the first-round series. Mark Jankowski, Gustav Nyquist and Filip Forsberg scored for the Predators. The Canucks can wrap up the series in Game 5 on Tuesday, Apr. 30 at 10 pm EDT in Vancouver.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Silovs got the start as Casey DeSmith was dealing with an undisclosed injury. He’s the third goalie to start for the Canucks in this series as Thatcher Demko is sidelined for the series with a knee injury.

Colorado Avalanche winger Valeri Nichushkin scored a hat trick in a dominant 5-1 victory over the Winnipeg Jets in Game 4 of their opening-round series. Nathan McKinnon had two assists while Cale Makar scored a highlight-reel end-to-end goal for the Avalanche, who can wrap up this series in Game 5 in Winnipeg on Tuesday starting at 9:30 pm EDT.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: After dropping the opening game, the Avalanche have dominated the Jets in this series. They’ve controlled the game with speed, two-way play and special teams.

Jets forward Vladislav Namestnikov left the game early in the third period after being struck in the face by a shot from teammate Nate Schmidt. He was helped off the ice and was taken to a hospital. There was no postgame report about his condition.

Edmonton Oilers goaltender Stuart Skinner turned in a 33-save shutout to blank the Los Angeles Kings 1-0 in Game 4 of their first-round series. Evan Bouchard scored the only goal for the Oilers, who hold a 3-1 series lead as the series returns to Edmonton for Game 5 on Wednesday, May 1 (start time TBA). Connor McDavid collected an assist to become the first player in this postseason to reach 10 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Kings outplayed the Oilers but the latter put up a stingy defense around their net. Skinner earned this shutout but his teammates did a good job limiting the number of high-danger shots sent his way.


TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs are giving center Auston Matthews as much time as he needs to recover from an illness that forced him to leave Game 4 of their first-round series with the Boston Bruins. Head coach Sheldon Keefe didn’t indicate what type of illness Matthews has but said it’s gotten worse when he’s playing. Game 5 of their series takes place on Tuesday in Boston with the Leafs on the verge of elimination.

DAILY FACEOFF: Toronto Marlies forward (and former Leaf) Kyle Clifford went after Belleville Senators winger Bokondji Imama in the handshake line after the Senators won the best-of-three playoff series. It’s unclear what sparked Clifford’s angry reaction but the two players have a history of ill will toward each other.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Marlies play-by-play man Todd Crocker claimed what precipitated the exchange was Imama saying “some horrible things” to Clifford on the bench during Game 2. It remains to be seen if the Marlie will file a protest to the AHL or if the league will investigate the incident.

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins head coach J.D. Forrest and assistant coach Kevin Porter will not have their contracts renewed. The club is the AHL affiliate of the Pittsburgh Penguins.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 23, 2024

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 23, 2024

The Oilers and Golden Knights win the opening games of their first-round series, the Hurricanes rally back to beat the Islanders and the Leafs even their series with the Bruins. Details and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.


NHL.COM: Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid collected five assists in a 7-4 victory over the Los Angeles Kings in Game 1 of their best-of-seven opening-round series with the Los Angeles Kings. Zach Hyman had a hat trick and an assist and Evan Bouchard had four helpers for the Oilers. Adrian Kempe had a goal and an assist for the Kings. Game 2 goes on Wednesday at 10 pm ET in Edmonton.

Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Oilers took a 4-0 lead and never looked back. The Kings cut the lead in half by the end of the second period but third-period power-play goals by Leon Draisaitl and Hyman put this out of reach.

McDavid became the eighth player in NHL history to pick up five assists in a playoff game. The record is six held by Mikko Leinonen (1982) and Wayne Gretzky (1987).

The Carolina Hurricanes overcame a 3-0 deficit to defeat the New York Islanders 5-3, taking a 2-0 lead in their first-round series. Sebastian Aho and Jordan Martinook scored nine seconds apart in the third period with the tying and winning goals and Seth Jarvis had a goal and two assists for the Hurricanes. Semyon Varlamov made 34 saves for the Islanders. The series heads to UBS Center in Belmont Park for Games 3 and 4 with the third game on Thursday at 7:30 PM ET.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Islanders played well in the first period. However, the momentum shifted in the Hurricanes’ favor in the second period after Teuvo Teravainen’s power-play goal got them on the board. This loss cannot be hung on Varlamov as he did all he could to help his team hang onto their lead. The Isles managed just one shot in the third period while the Hurricanes peppered Varlamov with 17.

Carolina goaltender Frederik Andersen was the hero in his club’s Game 1 victory. He was shaky in this one, giving up three goals on 12 shots. Hurricanes defenseman Brett Pesce left the game with a lower-body injury. There was no word regarding his status for Game 3.

Islanders forward Jean-Gabriel Pageau returned to action after missing Game 1 with a lower-body injury.

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews scored the game-winner and had two assists in a 3-2 win over the Boston Bruins, tying their first-round series at a game apiece. Max Domi had a goal and an assist and Ilya Samsonov stopped 27 shots for the Leafs. Morgan Geekie and David Pastrnak scored for the Bruins and Linus Ullmark made 30 saves. This series shifts to Toronto for Games 3 and 4 starting Wednesday at 7 pm ET.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A much better effort for the Leafs compared to their debacle in Game 1. Matthews answered his critics as his teammates rallied from 1-0 and 2-1 deficits. Leafs winger William Nylander remains sidelined with an undisclosed injury.

Bruins head coach Jim Montgomery praised Ullmark’s performance, citing several big saves he made during this contest. He blamed the loss on his club’s lack of production.

The defending Stanley Cup champion Vegas Golden Knights defeated the Dallas Stars 4-3 to take Game 1 of their first-round series. Mark Stone opened the scoring in his first game since Feb. 20 and teammates Jonathan Marchessault and Tomas Hertl netted their first goals of this postseason. Joel Oettinger gave up four goals on 15 shots while Jamie Benn, Jason Robertson and Mason Marchment scored for the Stars. Game 2 is on Wednesday at 9:30 PM ET.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Stars spent this game chasing the Golden Knights but ran out of time to get the equalizer. It’s a trend that’s carried over from the regular season. Half of their total wins came after falling behind early. The Golden Knights special teams made the difference, going two-for-two on the power play while killing off both of the Stars’ power-play advantages.


BUFFALO HOCKEY NOW: The Sabres announced yesterday that Lindy Ruff will become their next head coach. Ruff previously coached the club from 1997-98 to 2012-13, guiding them to the 1999 Stanley Cup Final.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This isn’t a nostalgia hire by the Sabres. General manager Kevyn Adams said he was looking for a new coach with NHL experience. Few are more experienced than Ruff. He’s fifth all-time in wins with 864 and 1,775 games coached with the Sabres, Stars and New Jersey Devils. Ruff won the Jack Adams Award in 2006 and was a finalist for the award in 2007 and 2023.

COLORADO HOCKEY NOW: Despite Alexandar Georgiev’s poor performance against the Winnipeg Jets in Game 1, the Avalanche starter could get the nod in Game 2. Backup Justus Annunen is battling an illness. Third-stringer Arvid Holm could back up Georgiev if Annunen can’t play tonight.

DAILY FACEOFF: Washington Capitals defenseman Vincent Iorio is listed as day-to-day with an upper-body injury suffered against the New York Rangers in Game 1 of their opening-round series on Sunday.

THE SEATTLE TIMES: Kraken general manager Ron Francis said he intends to open contract talks with Matty Beniers and Eeli Tolvanen soon. Both are restricted free agents on July 1. Beniers is completing his entry-level contract while Tolvanen has arbitration rights.