NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 2, 2017
Game recaps, top star and rookie for March and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Connor McDavid scored and set up two others to lead the Edmonton Oilers to a 3-2 overtime win over the Anaheim Ducks. Milan Lucic scored the game-tying goal and Leon Draisaitl potted the winner. Both clubs are now tied with 97 points for top spot in the Pacific Division with four games left. The Oilers are red hot, extending their win streak to five games.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was a terrific game with a playoff-like atmosphere between two talented clubs who could meet later this spring in the postseason. The Oilers are now only one point back of the Minnesota Wild for second overall in the Western Conference. That’s an impressive achievement for a club that missed the playoffs last season and were considered a marginal playoff contender entering this season.
The Philadelphia Flyers 3-0 victory over the New Jersey Devils was overshadowed by the collapse of goaltender Michal Neuvirth early in the first period. He was stretchered from the ice conscious and alert and spent the night in hospital. No reason was given for Neuvirth’s condition, but it’s believed he was suffering from the flu. The win kept the Flyers within six points of the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was certainly a scary moment and you could’ve heard a pin drop in the arena as Neuvirth was being tended to by medical staff. Here’s hoping he is okay and his condition isn’t serious.
Patrice Bergeron scored twice as the Boston Bruins beat the Florida Panthers 5-2. With the win, the Bruins (90 points) opened a four-point lead over the Tampa Bay Lightning for the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference and moved within a point of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators for second in the Atlantic Division.
Bruins winger Jimmy Hayes left the game with a lower-body injury and is questionable for Sunday’s tilt against the Chicago Blackhawks. Panthers enforcer and former Bruin Shawn Thornton was named third star in his final game in Boston’s TD Garden. He’ll retire at season’s end.
The Leafs moved into a tie with the Senators by edging the Detroit Red Wings 5-4. Leafs rookie Auston Matthews scored twice and set up another while fellow rookies William Nylander and Mitch Marner also found the back of the net. Speaking of Nylander, he was named NHL rookie of the month for March 2017. He also received that honor back in October.
The Senators continue to struggle, dropping a 4-2 decision to the Winnipeg Jets. Already playing without team captain Erik Karlsson (lower-body injury), blueliner Cody Ceci left the game with a lower-body injury and will miss Monday’s game against Detroit. The Sens have won only twice in their last 10 games.
Alexander Radulov’s overtime goal gave the Montreal Canadiens a 2-1 victory over the Lightning. The Habs (99 points) remain atop the Atlantic Division, holding an eight-point lead over the Leafs and Senators. Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov was name NHL star of the month for March 2017.
Pekka Rinne turned in a 31-save shutout performance as the Nashville Predators blanked the Minnesota Wild 3-0. The Predators (91 points) hold the final wild-card berth in the Western Conference and can clinch a trip to the playoffs with a win today against the St. Louis Blues.
The Carolina Hurricanes playoff hopes suffered a blow with a 3-0 loss to the Dallas Stars. Kari Lehtonen made 24 saves for the shutout, as the Hurricanes (84 points) remain six points out of a wild-card spot in the East.
NEWSDAY: New York Islanders center John Tavares’ season is over as he’s listed as week-to-week with a left hamstring injury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: With five games remaining and sitting six points out of a playoff berth, losing Tavares at this crucial point in the season is too big an obstacle for the Isles to overcome.
TRIBLIVE.COM: Chris Kunitz (lower-body injury) joined the lengthy list of sidelined Pittsburgh Penguins that includes Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang, Carl Hagelin, Trevor Daley and Olli Maatta.
STLTODAY.COM: The Blues recent road trip was made more special with 11-year-old cancer patient Arianna “Ari” Dougan joining them as a guest of Blues star Vladimir Tarasenko.
SPORTSNET: O’Leary, PEI, is the winner of Kraft Hockeyville 2017. In addition to $100K in upgrades to their arena, O’Leary will also host a preseason game between the New Jersey Devils and Ottawa Senators on September 25, 2017.
CBC SPORTS: Calgary Flames president and CEO Ken King said his club will move if it can’t strike a deal with the city of Calgary for a new arena. Despite the lengthy negotiations, Calgary mayor Naheed Nenshi remains confident the project will proceed.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Can’t blame King if he’s feeling a little impatient over how arena talks have dragged for nearly five years. Still, threatening to move the club is a textbook move by any team owner hoping to squeeze a city for public funds to construct a new venue. I don’t believe King is bluffing, but I also don’t see the Flames moving. As with their neighbor in Edmonton (the Oilers), who underwent the same process several years ago, a new arena will get built to house the Flames.