NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 27, 2022
The Lightning defeat the Predators in their Stadium Series, Mitch Marner collects six points in wild Leafs win over the Red Wings, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos had a goal and two assists as his club held off the Nashville Predators 3-2 in their 2022 Stadium Series game before a sellout crowd of 68, 619 fans at Nissan Stadium in Nashville. Nikita Kucherov had a goal and an assist and Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 24 shots as the Lightning (74 points) moved within a point of the first-place Florida Panthers in the Atlantic Division. Lightning defenseman Erik Cernak left the game in the first period following a high hit from Nashville center Ryan Johansen. With 64 points, the Predators hold the first wild-card berth in the Western Conference.
Mitch Marner enjoyed a career-high six-point performance (four goals, two assists) as his Toronto Maple Leafs downed the Detroit Red Wings 10-7. Austin Matthews tallied his league-leading 37th goal of the season and collected three-assist while rookie Michael Bunting had a goal and four assists. Red Wings defenseman Filip Hronek had a four-point night (one goal, three assists) while rookie winger Lucas Raymond scored twice and added an assist. The Leafs sit three points behind the second-place Lightning in the Atlantic Division.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: At one point, the Leafs led 7-2 before the Wings made it interesting by cutting the lead to 7-6 and then to 8-7 before the Leafs finally put it away. It wasn’t a good night for either club’s defenses or goaltenders. The Leafs’ Jack Campbell gave way to Petr Mrazek after giving up four goals early in the third period while the Wings Alex Nedeljkovic got the hook in the first period but returned in the third.
Edmonton Oilers forward Derek Ryan netted his first career hat trick as his club hung on for a 4-3 victory over the Florida Panthers, handing the latter their third-straight defeat. Mikko Koskinen kicked out 44 shots and Connor McDavid collected two assists for the Oilers, who opened a two-point lead over the Dallas Stars for the final Western Conference wild-card berth with 61 points. The Panthers (75 points) remain second overall in the Eastern Conference.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was a costly win for the Oilers as Ryan Nugent-Hopkins left the game in the first period with a suspected shoulder injury. He’ll be re-evaluated today.
The league-leading Colorado Avalanche (82 points) got two unanswered goals by J.T. Compher and Nathan MacKinnon to down the Vegas Golden Knights 3-2. Darcy Kuemper turned aside 34 shots for the Avs, who sit six points over the Carolina Hurricanes in the overall standings. The Golden Knights have just one victory in their last six contests and six in third place in the Pacific Division with 62 points.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Golden Knights’ stumble could force them into the trade market before the March 21 deadline. There’s speculation they’re looking for goaltending help with starter Robin Lehner sidelined by what’s believed to be a shoulder injury.
Speaking of the Pacific Division, the Calgary Flames (68 points) hold a three-point lead over the second-place Los Angeles Kings after thumping the Minnesota Wild 7-3. Matthew Tkachuk and Tyler Toffoli each scored twice and picked up an assist. Flames defenseman Oscar Kylington left the game in the third period after an awkward fall into the boards but head coach Darryl Sutter said he’ll be fine. The Wild sit in third place in the Central Division with 65 points.
The Kings, meanwhile, remain three points behind the Flames by dropping the New York Islanders 5-2 to extend their winning streak to five games. Trevor Moore and Matt Roy each had a goal and an assist while Cal Petersen picked up the win with a 26-save performance. Islanders center Mathew Barzal left the game with a lower-body injury as did Zdeno Chara with an upper-body injury.
Tristan Jarry turned in a 27-save shutout and Evgeni Malkin potted the only goal as the Pittsburgh Penguins blanked the New York Rangers 1-0 to snap a three-game losing skid. With 72 points, the Penguins moved one point ahead of the Rangers into second place in the Metropolitan Division.
Boston Bruins winger Brad Marchand scored two goals and chipped in an assist to lead his club to a 3-1 victory over the San Jose Sharks. With 66 points, the Bruins have won four straight and moved one point up on the Washington Capitals into the first Eastern Conference wild-card spot. The Sharks have lost 10 of their last 12 and also lost defenseman Mario Ferraro to a leg injury.
As for the Capitals, they dropped a 2-1 decision to the Philadelphia Flyers. Cam Atkinson scored and set up another while Carter Hart made 27 saves for the win.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Capitals hold a 10-point lead over the Columbus Blue Jackets but they’ve been struggling in recent weeks. There’s talk they could go shopping for a goaltender or a top-six winger before the March 21 trade deadline.
The Montreal Canadiens extended their winning streak to five games by nipping the Ottawa Senators 2-1. Artturi Lehkonen scored both of the Canadiens’ goals while Andrew Hammond made 26 saves against his former team. Colin White scored for the Senators in his season debut after being sidelined by shoulder surgery.
THE SCORE: Wayne Gretzky called upon the international hockey world to ban Russia from participating in the 2022 World Junior Championship in Edmonton as a protest over that country’s invasion of Ukraine. Gretzky pointed to Poland’s Men’s soccer team as inspiration as that club intends to boycott its World Cup playoff game against Russia on March 24.
SPORTSNET: NHL Hall-of-Fame goaltender Dominik Hasek took to Twitter calling on the NHL to suspend the contracts of all Russian players in the wake of Russia’s actions against Ukraine. He also criticized Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin over his “no more war” remarks on Friday, calling Ovechkin an “ablist” and a “liar” among other pointed comments.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The NHL won’t be suspending the contracts of Russian players. If they did, the NHL Players Association would immediately file grievances against the league. As for Gretzky’s remarks, there’s no indication of what the International Ice Hockey Federation intends to do regarding Russia’s participation in the WJC this summer.
YARDBARKER: Columbus Blue Jackets forward Alexandre Texier remains a few weeks away from returning from a finger injury.
WGR 550: Buffalo Sabres defenseman Henri Jokiharju will be sidelined for at least two games with a lower-body injury.
TSN: Los Angeles Kings head coach Todd McLellan entered COVID-19 protocol yesterday.
THE PROVINCE: The Vancouver Canucks placed defensemen Kyle Burroughs and Tucker Poolman on injured reserve.