NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 10, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 10, 2022

The Maple Leafs and Rangers clinch playoff berths, Auston Matthews, Chris Kreider and Alex Ovechkin each approach significant scoring milestones, the Avalanche tie a franchise record, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Auston Matthews scored twice as the Toronto Maple Leafs clinched a playoff berth by holding off the Montreal Canadiens 3-2. Matthews reached 58 goals on the season, becoming the ninth player in league history to score 50 goals in a 50-game period. The Leafs sit in second place in the Atlantic Division with 100 points. Montreal defenseman Jeff Petry returned to action after missing seven games with a lower-body injury. However, Canadiens goaltender Jake Allen left the game in the first period with a lower-body injury.

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Matthews is two goals away from becoming the NHL’s first 60-goal scorer since the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Steven Stamkos reached that mark in 2011-12. Meanwhile, Allen’s injury is not expected to hasten the timeline for Carey Price’s return to the Canadiens’ net. Earlier in the day, the club announced winger Jonathan Drouin underwent season-ending wrist surgery on Friday.

The New York Rangers also clinched a postseason berth with a 5-1 victory over the Ottawa Senators. Chris Kreider tallied two goals to reach 49 on the season while Artemi Panarin had a goal and two assists. With 100 points, the Rangers are tied with the Carolina Hurricanes but the latter holds first place in the Metropolitan Division with a game in hand.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kreider sits third in the goal-scoring race and is poised to become the third player to reach the 50-goal plateau this season. He’s also five away from tying Jaromir Jagr for the single-season franchise record of 54 goals.

Three unanswered third-period goals lifted the Washington Capitals over the Pittsburgh Penguins 6-3, handing the latter their fourth straight loss. Alex Ovechkin scored his 44th goal of the season while Tom Wilson and John Carlson each collected two points for the Capitals, who hold the final Eastern Conference wild-card spot with 88 points. Pittsburgh, meanwhile, sits just four points ahead of the Capitals for third place in the Metro Division. Penguins winger Jason Zucker returned to the lineup after missing three games with a core-muscle injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ovechkin is tied with Gordie Howe for the second-most goals scored in a season by a player 36-or-old. He’s four behind record-holder Teemu Selanne. The Capitals captain also needs six more goals to tie Wayne Gretzky and Mike Bossy for the most 50-goal seasons (nine) in a career.

Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon scored the tying goal and the only goal in the shootout in a 2-1 victory over the Edmonton Oilers. Darcy Kuemper turned in a 49-save performance as Colorado tied a franchise single-season record with 52 wins. The Avalanche sits two points ahead of the Florida Panthers for first in the overall standings with 110 points. With 90 points, the Oilers hold a four-point lead over the Los Angeles Kings for second place in the Pacific Division.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Avalanche defenseman Samuel Girard returned to action after missing 13 games with a lower-body injury.

Speaking of the Panthers, they picked up their seventh straight victory by dropping the Nashville Predators 4-1. Jonathan Huberdeau scored to extend his points streak to 11 games while Spencer Knight got the win by stopping 24 shots. The Predators hold the first wild-card spot in the Western Conference with 86 points.

Calgary Flames defenseman Noah Hanifin collected assists on each of his club’s goals on route to a 4-1 victory over the Seattle Kraken. With 97 points, the Flames are seven points up on the Oilers for first place in the Pacific Division.

The St. Louis Blues took over sole possession of second place in the Central Division with 94 points as they thumped the New York Islanders 6-1. Justin Faulk scored two goals and collected an assist as his club extended its points streak to eight games. Vladimir Tarasenko and Robert Thomas each had a goal and an assist. The Islanders were playing without Casey Cizikas, who served a one-game suspension for boarding Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Brendan Smith on Friday.

New Jersey Devils captain Nico Hischier had a goal and an assist to lead his club to a 3-1 win over the Dallas Stars. The loss leaves the Stars two points behind the Predators and clinging to the final Western Conference wild-card berth with 84 points.

Max Pacioretty scored in his return to the Vegas Golden Knights lineup as they crushed the Arizona Coyotes 6-1. Pacioretty had missed 12 games with an undisclosed ailment. Brayden McNabb had a goal and two assists while Robin Lehner turned aside 29 shots. The Golden Knights are tied with the Stars but the latter has two games in hand.

The Vancouver Canucks remain alive in the chase for the final Western wild-card berth by doubling up the San Jose Sharks 4-2. Thatcher Demko stopped 35 shots while Alex Chiasson had a goal and an assist for the Canucks, who are four points behind the Stars and Golden Knights.

A hat trick by Jack Roslovic, including the winner in overtime, powered the Columbus Blue Jackets to a 5-4 win over the Detroit Red Wings, handing the latter their eighth defeat in their last nine contests. Jakub Vrana tallied twice for the Wings.

Anaheim Ducks center Trevor Zegras scored two goals to beat the Philadelphia Flyers 5-3. Flyers forward Joel Farabee missed this game as he’s suffering from the flu.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 26, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 26, 2022

Cale Makar sets an Avalanche record, Johnny Gaudreau reaches a goal-scoring milestone, the ongoing fallout from the overturned Dadonov trade, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Cale Makar set a Colorado Avalanche record in his club’s 6-3 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers. Makar scored twice to set the club’s single-season record for most goals by a defenseman with 24. Nazem Kadri had a goal and two assists for the Avalanche, who’ve won five of their last six games and sit atop the overall standings with 97 points. Flyers winger Travis Konecny missed this game with a lower-body injury and is listed as day-to-day.

Colorado Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar (NHL Images).

Calgary Flames winger Johnny Gaudreau scored his 200th career goal in a 4-2 victory over the Arizona Coyotes. Gaudreau also had two assists while Matthew Tkachuk had two points for Calgary (86 points), who hold a seven-point lead over the Los Angeles Kings for first place in the Pacific Division. Flames center Sean Monahan was a healthy scratch.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Monahan hasn’t been the same since struggling through a hip injury last season which ultimately required surgery last May. It generated speculation the Flames could attempt to trade him before the recent trade deadline.

The New York Rangers downed the Pittsburgh Penguins 5-1. Chris Kreider scored twice to tie the Edmonton Oilers’ Leon Draisaitl for second place in the goal-scoring race with 44. Andrew Copp tallied his first goal since the Rangers acquired him at the trade deadline from the Winnipeg Jets. Pittsburgh (88 points) hold a one-point lead over the Rangers for second place in the Metropolitan Division. Penguins center Evgeni Malkin missed the game with an undisclosed illness.

Speaking of the Jets, they kept their playoff hopes alive with a 4-3 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets, spoiling Patrik Laine’s return to Winnipeg for the first time since being traded to the Jackets last year. Nikolaj Ehlers scored the winner in overtime while teammate Kyle Connor netted his 41st goal of the season. Laine was held scoreless. With 72 points, the Jets are three points behind the Dallas Stars for the final wild-card berth in the Western Conference.

Shootout goals by Evgeny Kuznetsov and Alex Ovechkin lifted the Washington Capitals over the Buffalo Sabres 4-3. Ovechkin also scored in regulation and has 41 on the season while Jeff Skinner scored twice for the Sabres. The Capitals (82 points) sit two points back of the Tampa Bay Lightning for the first wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.

HEADLINES

TSN: Pierre LeBrun believes the NHL is going to push for changes to the submission process of a player’s no-trade list. This comes after the league overturned a trade that would’ve sent winger Evgenii Dadonov from the Vegas Golden Knights to the Anaheim Ducks following confusion about whether Dadonov filed his no-trade list on time last summer.

Under the current system, the list is submitted solely between the player’s agent and the club. The NHL and the NHLPA don’t keep track of no-trade lists. LeBrun believes the league seeks a change whereby the NHL Central Registry and the PA each get copies of the lists.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I find the current setup unusual given how a modified no-trade clause gives a player a measure of control over possible trade destinations. It’s surprising it took this long before a screw-up (like what happened to Dadonov) took place.

THE SCORE: Speaking of Dadonov, he admitted having “a stressful couple of days” awaiting a decision by the league. The Ducks were on his no-trade list that the Golden Knights and the league mistakenly believed hadn’t been filed on time. He had felt “upset” at the time but “wasn’t really mad” about the situation.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Following the league’s decision, Dadonov received a big cheer from Golden Knights fans on Thursday after being named the second star in their 6-1 win over the Nashville Predators.

CAP FRIENDLY: The Golden Knights placed winger Reilly Smith on long-term injury reserve yesterday. His annual cap hit is $5 million.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Golden Knights attempted to trade Dadonov to free up salary-cap space in order to eventually take Alec Martinez or Mark Stone off LTIR before the end of this season. It was assumed they might have to make a cost-cutting trade with a non-playoff club. Putting Smith on LTIR could address that problem provided he’s out for the remainder of the regular season.

DAILY FACEOFF: More bad news for the Golden Knights as winger Max Pacioretty suffered a setback in his recovery from an undisclosed injury and isn’t available in the near future.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pacioretty could become another LTIR candidate if the setback was serious.

SPORTSNET: Montreal Canadiens winger Jonathan Drouin is out indefinitely with an upper-body injury while teammate Brendan Gallagher is out one week with a lower-body injury.

The Edmonton Oilers are suing four of their insurance companies over unreimbursed losses suffered during the COVID-19 pandemic.










NHL Rumor Mill – December 31, 2021

NHL Rumor Mill – December 31, 2021

How will the Golden Knights clear salary-cap space for Jack Eichel’s return in February? Could the Canadiens trade Brendan Gallagher or Tyler Toffoli before the March trade deadline? Check out the latest in today’s NHL rumor mill.

VEGAS HOCKEY NOW: Evgenii Dadonov and Reilly Smith top Owen Krepps’ list of potential cost-cutting Vegas Golden Knights trade candidates to clear salary-cap space for Jack Eichel’s return to action in February.

Vegas Golden Knights winger Reilly Smith (NHL Images).

The Golden Knights acquired Eichel in an early-season trade from the Buffalo Sabres. He’s been on long-term injury reserve after recovering from neck surgery last fall and is expected to make his Golden Knights’ debut in late February.

Eichel carries a $10 million annual salary-cap hit. His return would put the Golden Knights over the $81.5 million salary-cap ceiling by $4.6 million.

Krepps considered Dadonov the most likely trade candidate, pointing to his lack of consistency this season. He felt the winger could be of interest to rebuilding clubs like the Ottawa Senators or Detroit Red Wings. Dadonov’s annual cap hit is $5 million through 2022-23 and he carries a modified no-trade clause.

Smith is also earning $5 million and is slated to become an unrestricted free agent in July. That could make him a trade candidate and he could fetch a good return. However, he’s producing at a better level than Dadonov and could be worthwhile retaining for the playoffs.

Other trade candidates include Brayden McNabb and Mattias Janmark. Krepps also suggests they could get some cap relief if defenseman Alec Martinez remains on LTIR recovering from a facial injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Krepps piece was published before Golden Knights winger Max Pacioretty was sidelined indefinitely by wrist surgery. As NBC Sports’ James O’Brien points out, Pacioretty’s $7 million cap hit won’t totally cancel out Eichel’s $10 million but it would alleviate much of that potential salary-cap strain if the veteran winger goes on LTIR for the remainder of the season.

The Golden Knights could still be forced to move Dadonov or Smith if Pacioretty and Martinez return before Eichel’s debut or soon afterward. While Krepps believes Dadonov is the more likely trade candidate, I think it’s Smith who ends up moving despite his value to the Golden Knights.

Dadonov’s inconsistency, the extra year on his contract and his 10-team no-trade list would make him harder to move than the productive Smith, who lacks no-trade protection. I doubt the Senators are interested in bringing Dadonov back. Meanwhile, the Red Wings are jockeying for a wild-card berth and could prefer Smith over Dadonov if they’re in the market for a scoring winger.

SPORTSNET: Eric Engels made three bold predictions for the Montreal Canadiens in 2022. He doesn’t believe they’ll trade winger Brendan Gallagher before the March 21 trade deadline but felt winger Tyler Toffoli could be on the move by then.

Engels points out Gallagher is in the first year of a six-year, $39 million contract with a no-movement clause and partial no-trade clause. He considers the idea of retaining some of his salary and recouping good value in a trade to be farfetched. Engels also believes Gallagher would be of more worth to the Canadiens as their captain leading a crop of new up-and-coming players.

Toffoli, on the other hand, has an affordable $4.25 million annual cap hit and lacks no-trade protection. Despite his recent hand injury, he’s the type of player postseason contenders could be interested in as the deadline approaches.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bear in mind that Engels is merely making “bold predictions” here and isn’t citing sources indicating what the Canadiens intend to do with Gallagher and Toffoli. They still haven’t chosen a new general manager yet and we don’t know what they and Jeff Gorton (their new executive VP of hockey operations) intend to do at the trade deadline.

Nevertheless, I concur with Engels that Toffoli would be more likely to move before the trade deadline than Gallagher if the Canadiens intend to commence a full roster rebuild.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 31, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 31, 2021

Jonathan Huberdeau enjoys a five-point performance for the Panthers, the latest COVID wave’s ongoing effect upon the schedule, and Max Pacioretty sidelined indefinitely in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Jonathan Huberdeau collected five points (one goal, four assists) as the Florida Panthers romped to a 9-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning. It was the fourth five-point performance of Huberdeau’s career. Anthony Duclair scored two goals and Spencer Knight picked up the win with 39 saves. The Panthers (44 points) moved to within two points of the Lightning for first place in the Eastern Conference.

Florida Panthers winger Jonathan Huberdeau (NHL Images).

The Carolina Hurricanes blanked the depleted Montreal Canadiens 4-0 with Antti Raanta making 26 saves for this first shutout of the season. Hurricanes center Sebastian Aho collected two assists for his sixth straight multi-point game while Teuvo Teravainen scored twice. Canadiens winger Brendan Gallagher suffered an undisclosed injury in the second period while Jonathan Drouin missed the game with a non-COVID-related illness.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens began this game with just three players with salary-cap hits over $1 million. That dropped to two when Gallagher was sidelined. It’s the latest lowlight in a season of suck for the hapless Habs.

A shootout goal by Gustav Nyquist lifted the Columbus Blue Jackets to a 4-3 win over the Nashville Predators. Blue Jackets winger Patrik Laine scored in his return to action since being sidelined by injury on Nov. 3 and the recent passing of his father. Matt Duchene collected two assists for the Predators.

Mathew Barzal had a goal and two assists in his return from COVID protocol as his New York Islanders downed the Buffalo Sabres 4-1. Barzal extended his points streak to seven games. Isles goalie Semyon Varlamov kicked out 36 shots.

Calgary Flames winger Johnny Gaudreau had two goals as his club downed the Seattle Kraken 6-4. Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuk each finished the night with three points. Kraken captain Mark Giordano also collected three points (one goal, two assists) in his first game against his former club.

The Vancouver Canucks suffered their first loss under head coach Bruce Boudreau as they dropped a 2-1 shootout decision to the Los Angeles Kings with Viktor Arvidsson tallying the game-winner. Jaroslav Halak made 34 saves in a losing cause for the Canucks, who remain unbeaten in eight regulation games (7-0-1).

Tomas Hertl’s overtime goal gave the San Jose Sharks a 3-2 victory over the Philadelphia Flyers. Hertl now has points in eight straight games. Flyers goalie Felix Sandstrom turned aside 36 shots in his NHL debut. With the win, the Sharks (35 points) moved within a point of a wild-card berth in the Western Conference.

LATEST NHL COVID HEADLINES

THE ATHLETIC: Pierre LeBrun reports NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said he still believes the league will complete a full 82-game schedule despite the recent outbreak of the Omicron version of COVID-19. He indicated the schedule is being revised to use what would’ve been the Olympic break in February to fill replacement dates for recently postponed games.

Daly remains hopeful that by mid-January there should be a normalization of the schedule. Nevertheless, he acknowledged it’s been a daily balancing act in recent weeks given how quickly the latest COVID outbreaks have spread around the league.

Regarding attendance restrictions for Canadian clubs, Daly said the league is trying to be as cooperative and flexible as possible when it comes to making up those games or moving them. They’re exploring all alternatives, including playing those games in empty home arenas or on the road until local restrictions are lifted.

SPORTSNET: Speaking of attendance restrictions for Canadian teams, the Ontario government yesterday announced stadium capacity will be reduced to 1,000 fans. They also announced the reduction of isolation for fully-vaccinated people with COVID symptoms from 10 days to five if those symptoms improve and all public health and safety measures are followed.

Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment announced there will be no sold tickets for Toronto Maple Leafs and Toronto Raptors home games for at least the next three weeks.

TSN’s Gord Miller yesterday reported Canadian-based NHL teams are asking the league to shift their home dates to later in the season.

NHL.COM: The number of postponed games reached 81 with the league announcing Sunday’s contest between the Dallas Stars and Arizona Coyotes will be rescheduled for COVID-related reasons.

SPORTSNET: has the latest updated list of NHL players and coaching staff in COVID protocols.

IN OTHER NEWS…

LAS VEGAS SUN: Vegas Golden Knights winger Max Pacioretty is sidelined indefinitely after undergoing wrist surgery. Pacioretty has missed 17 games earlier this season with a broken foot.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That could have an effect upon the Golden Knights’ possible plans for freeing up cap space for Jack Eichel’s anticipated February return from neck surgery.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Flyers center Sean Couturier (upper body) is listed as week-to-week after being placed on injured reserve.

CBS SPORTS: New York Islanders winger Kyle Palmieri (lower body) was placed on injured reserve backdated to Dec. 16. There’s no timetable for his return.

TWINCITIES.COM: The Minnesota Wild announced multi-year contract extensions for head coach Dean Evason and his staff.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Evason and his staff have done a fine job since last season turning around the Wild. They finished with last season’s ninth-best record and are just two points out of first place entering tomorrow’s Winter Classic at Target Field against the St. Louis Blues.

ESPN.COM: Canadia women’s hockey player Brigette Lacquette has been hired as a scout by the Chicago Blackhawks. She becomes the first Indigenous woman to become an NHL scout.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Congratulations to Lacquette, who also made history in 2018 by becoming the first First Nations woman to play for Canada’s Women’s Olympic hockey team.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 13, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 13, 2021

Andre Burakovsky pots his first career hat trick, Max Pacioretty sets a Golden Knights record, Alex Pietrangelo has concerns about COVID protocols for the Winter Olympics, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.com: Colorado Avalanche winger Andre Burakovsky tallied his first career hat trick in a 3-2 win over the Florida Panthers. Burakovsky broke a 2-2 tie in the third period as the Avs picked up their fourth straight win while snapping the Panthers’ five-game points streak.

Colorado defenseman Jacob MacDonald was stretchered from the ice in the second period following a hit by the Panthers’ Ryan Lomberg. He was said to be “alert, responsive and has full movement” and undergoing further evaluation. The Avs also played without captain Gabriel Landeskog as he’s sidelined for two weeks with a lower-body injury. Earlier in the day, they placed goaltender Jonas Johansson on waivers after recalling Pavel Francouz from their AHL affiliate.

Vegas Golden Knights winger Max Pacioretty (NHL Images).

Max Pacioretty pushed his goals streak to a franchise-record six games as the Vegas Golden Knights downed the Minnesota Wild 6-4. Pacioretty and Mark Stone each had a goal and two assists to extend their points streaks to eight games while teammate Chandler Stephenson picked up four assists. The Wild (39 points) still lead the Western Conference but have lost two straight games.

The Vancouver Canucks picked up their fourth win in as many games under new head coach Bruce Boudreau by holding off the Carolina Hurricanes 2-1. Brock Boeser and Elias Pettersson scored for the Canucks. Martin Necas replied for the Hurricanes, who played without leading scorer Sebastian Aho due to a non-COVID-related illness.

Nashville Predators goaltender Juuse Saros had a 32-save shutout to blank the New York Rangers 1-0. Philip Tomasino scored the game’s only goal in the Predators’ fifth consecutive win, bringing Rangers’ goalie Alexandar Georgiev’s three-game win streak to an end. Earlier in the day, the Predators placed center Ryan Johansen in COVID protocol.

The Anaheim Ducks defeated the St. Louis Blues 3-2 on an overtime goal by Troy Terry, who also scored the tying goal in the third period on a penalty shot. St. Louis forward Nathan Walker had a goal and an assist. Blues forward Jordan Kyrou missed the game with an upper-body injury.

HEADLINES

LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL: Golden Knights defenseman Alex Pietrangelo has expressed concern about the potential COVID-19 protocols in Beijing and is uncertain if he’ll participate in the 2022 Winter Olympics. Pietrangelo was already named to Canada’s roster along with the Edmonton Oilers Connor McDavid and the Pittsburgh Penguins Sidney Crosby.

I’ve got four kids that are under the age of 3 1/2. For me to be potentially locked up there for five weeks plus the Olympics, that’s a long time being away from my family,” said Pietrangelo. He indicated he won’t make a decision until the players receive further clarification on the COVID protocols for the Olympics.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Chinese law states people who test positive for COVID-19 face a quarantine period of between three to five weeks. It remains to be seen if there will be exemptions for Olympic participants.

The NHL and NHLPA have until Jan. 10 to opt-out of Olympic participation without facing financial consequences. League commissioner Gary Bettman expressed concern last week over those protocols but said he’d leave it up to the players to decide if they’ll participate in the Beijing Games.

Other NHL players could share Pietrangelo’s concerns. A number of them could back out of participation rather than risk a lengthy quarantine in China without pay if they contract COVID-19 during the Olympic tournament.

THE ATHLETIC: Aaron Portzline reports Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Joonas Korpisalo faces a deadline to fulfill his mandatory military service in Finland before the end of the regular season. All Finnish males between 18 and 28 must serve a required number of days of compulsory service.

The Finnish government released a statement indicating athletes like Korpisalo, who turns 29 on Apr. 28, will begin their service on Apr. 11. However, the Blue Jackets regular season ends on Apr. 29. The required service is 165, 255 or 347 days depending on the assignment.

Korpisalo said he put off his service due to his offseason training schedule. His passport expires in a year’s time and the Finnish government won’t issue him a new one until he completes his service.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Portzline pointed out it was easier in the past for Finnish athletes to avoid service but the rules were changed several years ago. Korpisalo said he wouldn’t leave the Jackets to do his service while their season was ongoing. However, this could affect his chances of getting a new NHL contract this summer when he becomes eligible for unrestricted free agent status.

ESPN.COM: The Chicago Blackhawks placed forward Reese Johnson on injured reserve with a broken right clavicle.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 25, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – November 25, 2021

The Panthers tied a winning-streak record, McDavid and Draisaitl reach scoring milestones, Alex Ovechkin tallies his most assists through 20 games, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Florida Panthers picked up their 11th straight home win to start the season as they downed the Philadelphia Flyers 2-1. Aaron Ekblad tallied in overtime as the Panthers tied the 1963-64 Chicago Blackhawks for the longest season-opening home win streak at 11-0-0. The victory also propelled them into first overall with 31 points.

Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl (NHL Images).

Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid each scored two goals and collected two assists to lead the Edmonton Oilers to a 5-3 win over the Arizona Coyotes. Zack Kassian also chipped in a goal and two assists while the Coyotes Clayton Keller had a three-point performance. Draisaitl has a league-leading 20 goals and 40 points, joining Wayne Gretzky as the only Oiler to score 20 goals in less than 20 games. McDavid, meanwhile, netted his 400th career assist. Earlier in the day, the Coyotes placed goaltender Carter Hutton in COVID protocol.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Draisaitl maintains a four-point lead over McDavid in the NHL scoring race.

Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin collected three assists in a 6-3 win over the Montreal Canadiens. Ovechkin (33 points) has 18 assists in 20 games, exceeding his previous best (17) in 2008-09. He joins Mario Lemieux, Johnny Bucyk, Gordie Howe and Martin St. Louis as the only players’ age 36 or older to reach at least 18 assists in their first 20 games of the season. Capitals defenseman Justin Schultz left the game with an upper-body injury. Canadiens rookie Cole Caufield potted his first goal of the season.

Colorado Avalanche center Nazem Kadri had two points to extend his points streak to 10 games to help his club beat the Anaheim Ducks 5-2. Kadri has netted 21 points during that streak. Sonny Milano scored both goals for the Ducks. Earlier in the day, the Ducks listed Adam Henrique as day-to-day with an upper-body injury.

The Toronto Maple Leafs netted four goals in the second period on route to a 6-2 victory over the Los Angeles Kings. Auston Matthews and John Tavares each had a goal and an assist while Rasmus Sandin chipped in three helpers. The Leafs have won seven of their last eight. Earlier in the day, the Kings placed forward Andreas Athanasiou in COVID protocol.

A four-goal first period powered the Boston Bruins over the Buffalo Sabres 5-1. David Pastrnak, Charlie Coyle and Nick Foligno each collected two points for the Bruins, handing the Sabres their fourth straight loss. Bruins netminder (and former Sabre) Linus Ullmark didn’t start as he’s nursing a minor undisclosed injury but served as a backup in this contest.

Minnesota Wild winger Kevin Fiala scored in the shootout as his club nipped the New Jersey Devils 3-2. Wild goalie Cam Talbot made 40 saves in regulation and overtime and was perfect in the shootout. The Devils overcame a 2-0 deficit on goals by Pavel Zacha and Yegor Sherangovich with Nico Hischier assisting on both.

A 36-save performance by Tristan Jarry carried the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 4-1 victory over the Vancouver Canucks 4-1. The Penguins have won four straight while the Canucks have dropped seven of their last eight contests.

Elvis Merzlikins kicked out 36 shots for his first shutout of the season as the Columbus Blue Jackets blanked the Winnipeg Jets 3-0, spoiling Pierre-Luc Dubois’ return to Columbus for the first time since getting traded to Winnipeg in January.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets’ usually reliable offense has dried up of late, managing just four goals in their last four games. Meanwhile, the Blue Jackets continue to exceed expectations, winning seven of their last 10 contests.

The Detroit Red Wings got 35 saves from Alex Nedeljkovic to snap a four-game losing streak by doubling up the St. Louis Blues 4-2. Adam Erne broke a 2-2 tie while Robby Fabbri had a goal and an assist. Blues center Brayden Schenn returned to action after missing nine games with an upper-body injury. Earlier in the day, the Wings placed defenseman Danny DeKeyser in COVID protocol.

Chris Kreider and Kevin Rooney each scored twice to lead the New York Rangers to a 4-1 win over the New York Islanders, who had seven players in COVID protocol. The Isles have lost seven straight games. Adding to their misery, defenseman Noah Dobson is listed as day-to-day with a lower-body injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Athletic’s Arthur Staple shot down a rumor claiming Isles general manager Lou Lamoriello asked the league for a postponement. NHL sources said they didn’t believe any such request came from Lamoriello. The league continues to monitor the Isles’ situation closely. Yesterday was the first time in a week the club had no new COVID cases.

Max Pacioretty collected an assist as the Vegas Golden Knights defeated the Nashville Predators 5-2. Pacioretty missed 17 games with a fractured foot. Filip Forsberg scored both Predators’ goals as he returned from a nine-game absence with an upper-body injury.

The Seattle Kraken got 35 saves from Philipp Grubauer and a late goal in the third period by Marcus Johansson to upset the Carolina Hurricanes 2-1. Jared McCann tallied the tying goal on a power play in the second period for the Kraken (6-12-1), giving them their second straight win. The Hurricanes (14-3-1) sit two points behind the first-overall Panthers.

A three-point effort by Timo Meier (one goal, two assists) gave the San Jose Sharks a 6-3 win over the Ottawa Senators. Sharks forward Nick Bonino also scored in what was his 700th career game. Brady Tkachuk had a goal and an assist for the Senators.