NHL Playoffs: Vegas Golden Knights vs Minnesota Wild Game 2 Preview
The Lightning, Wild and Islanders win the first games of their opening-round series, plus the latest on Carey Price, Brendan Gallagher, Nathan MacKinnon and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Tampa Bay Lightning center Brayden Point scored the game-tying and winning goals as his club squeaked past the Florida Panthers 5-4 in Game 1 of their opening-round series. Tampa Bay winger Nikita Kucherov tallied two power-play goals in his first game after missing the regular season recovering from offseason hip surgery. Jonathan Huberdeau had a goal and two assists for the Panthers. Game 2 of this series is on Tuesday evening.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was the best game of the playoffs thus far. It could end up being the best series of the first round if the Lightning and Panthers maintain the pace this set in Game 1. Kucherov showed no signs of rust in his first game of this season. The Panthers must play a more disciplined style. Three of the Bolts’ goals came with the man advantage.
An overtime goal by Joel Eriksson Ek gave the Minnesota Wild a 1-0 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 1 of their first-round series. Cam Talbot kicked out 42 shots for the shutout while Vegas’ Marc-Andre Fleury made 29 saves. They meet again in Game 2 on Tuesday.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was an entertaining game despite the low score. Both clubs had plenty of good scoring opportunities but the goaltenders were superb. The Golden Knights were without sniper Max Pacioretty. He’s been sidelined since May 1 by an undisclosed injury.
The New York Islanders nipped the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-3 on an overtime goal by Kyle Palmieri, who also opened the scoring. Ilya Sorokin picked up the first playoff victory of his career with a 39-save performance while teammate Jean-Gabriel Pageau had a three-point game. Game 2 of this series is also on Tuesday night.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pittsburgh goaltender Tristan Jarry was shaky in this contest. Every goal beat him high to the glove side. Penguins center Evgeni Malkin missed the game with an undisclosed injury. Sorokin got the start as Isles starter Semyon Varlamov was out with a lower-body injury.
An overtime goal by Elias Lindholm lifted the Calgary Flames over the Vancouver Canucks 6-5 after the Canucks overcame a 5-1 deficit to force overtime. Brock Boeser scored twice for the Canucks. Both clubs face each other two more times before their regular-season schedule is complete.
SPORTSNET: Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price and winger Brendan Gallagher have been assigned to the club’s AHL affiliate in Laval on a long-term injury conditioning stint. Both are expected to be in the Canadiens lineup for Game 1 of their first-round series against the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Some Canadiens followers freaked out on social media over this decision because they’re afraid one or both could get hurt playing a meaningless AHL game. However, the Habs want both players to get in some game action before Game 1 due to their long absences from the lineup.
THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon will be in the lineup when his club faces off tonight against the St. Louis Blues in the opening game of their first-round series. He missed four of the Avs’ final five regular-season contests with minor injuries.
NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Evgeny Kuznetsov and Ilya Samsonov returned to the ice yesterday for the Capitals optional practice. Both had been on the COVID-19 protocol list since May 4.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s unclear who will back up Craig Anderson for Game 2 tonight against the Boston Bruins. Anderson replaced Vitek Vanecek in Game 1 when the latter suffered a lower-body injury. Kuznetsov, meanwhile, could be several days away from rejoining the lineup.
TORONTO SUN: Jack Campbell will get the start for the Maple Leafs when they faced the Canadiens on Thursday. Winger Zach Hyman is also expected to return to action after being sidelined since April 18 by a sprained knee.
THE ATHLETIC: John Tortorella reportedly wanted to step down last offseason as head coach of the Columbus Blue Jackets. One of the reasons he stayed was because Nick Foligno convinced him to return for one last season.
Recaps of Monday’s action following the trade deadline, the stars of the week are revealed, the Kings re-sign Alex Iafallo, the Flyers re-up Scott Laughton, and much more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Nathan MacKinnon extended his points streak to 10 games with a goal and an assist as the Colorado Avalanche held off the Arizona Coyotes 4-2. Mikko Rantanen scored twice for Colorado as they’ve won 16 of their last 19 contests. With 62 points, the Avalanche sit atop the Honda West Division and the NHL’s overall standings. The Coyotes (43 points) remain one point back of the fourth-place St. Louis Blues.
Vegas Golden Knights winger Max Pacioretty netted his 300th career NHL goal as his club scored four unanswered goals to beat the Los Angeles Kings 4-2. The Golden Knights remain four points behind the first-place Avs in the West Division.
A franchise-record 46-save shutout performance by Anthony Stolarz carried the Anaheim Ducks over the San Jose Sharks 4-0. Alexander Volkov scored two goals for the Kings. The loss leaves the Sharks (40 points) four points behind the Blues.
The Montreal Canadiens doubled up the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-2 to snap Leafs goalie Jack Campbell’s 11-game winning streak. Montreal winger Tomas Tatar scored twice while Leafs star Auston Matthews tallied his league-leading 32nd of the season. The Canadiens sit in fourth place in the Scotia North Division with 45 points, 14 back of the first-place Leafs.
Ottawa Senators winger Brady Tkachuk tallied two goals in a 4-2 upset of the Winnipeg Jets. Senators forward Connor Brown extended his goal-scoring streak to eight games. The Jets remain in second place in the North with 53 points.
An overtime goal by Brandon Hagel gave the Chicago Blackhawks a 4-3 victory over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Patrik Laine scored twice for the Jackets, who sit eight points behind the fourth-place Nashville Predators in the Discover Central Division. The fifth-place Blackhawks, meanwhile, sit just two points back of the Predators.
The Detroit Red Wings spoiled the 1,000th career NHL game of Carolina Hurricanes captain Jordan Staal by dropping the Hurricanes 3-1. Wings goaltender Jonathan Bernier made 37 saves as his teammates tallied three third-period goals. The loss leaves the Hurricanes tied with the Tampa Bay Lighting with 58 points but the latter holds first place in the Central Division on the basis of wins.
The NHL postponed Monday’s game between the St. Louis Blues and Minnesota Wild. The game is rescheduled for May 12.
NHL.COM: Winnipeg Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck, Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews and Dallas Stars forward Roope Hintz are the three stars for the week ending April 11, 2021.
LOS ANGELES TIMES: The Kings signed forward Alex Iafallo to a four-year contract extension worth an annual average value of $4 million.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Contract talks between the Kings and Iafallo went through most of Monday before an agreement was reached before the 3 pm ET trade deadline. Having traded long-time veteran forward Jeff Carter to Pittsburgh, the Kings cleared sufficient cap room to keep the 27-year-old Iafallo as they continue their rebuild.
NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: The Flyers signed forward Scott Laughton to a five-year contract extension worth an annual salary-cap hit of $3 million.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Like Iafallo, Laughton’s contract talks carried on until close to the trade deadline. Both players were considered potential trade candidates if their respective teams failed to re-sign them before the 3 pm ET deadline. This is an affordable signing by the Flyers, retaining a versatile, energetic 26-year-old player who could help them rebound from this difficult season going forward.
WIVB.COM: Buffalo Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams said Jack Eichel will remain sidelined for a while. The Sabres captain has been out since March 7 with an upper-body injury. With 15 games remaining, this could be season-ending for Eichel.
THE ORANGE COUNTRY REGISTER: Anaheim Ducks defenseman Hampus Lindholm could miss the remainder of the season with a fractured wrist suffered on Feb. 27 against the Vegas Golden Knights.
TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins forward Branden Tanev could be sidelined for the rest of the regular season with an undisclosed injury.
OTTAWA SUN: The Senators claimed defenseman Victor Mete off waivers from the Montreal Canadiens.
NJ.COM: The Dallas Stars claimed blueliner Sami Vatanen off waivers from the New Jersey Devils.
Recaps of Sunday’s action, updates on Max Pacioretty and Ryan McDonagh, the Kings re-sign Matt Roy, the Capitals re-up Trevor van Riemsdyk, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Tyler Johnson scored the winning goal in the third period as the Tampa Bay Lightning defeat the Florida Panthers 5-3. Brayden Point and Yanni Gourde each had a goal and an assist for the Lightning. They’ve won four straight and sit atop the Discover Central Division with 48 points, opening a four-point lead over the Panthers. It was a costly win for the Lightning as defenseman Ryan McDonagh left the game with a lower-body injury.
The Los Angeles Kings downed the Vegas Golden Knights 3-1 to snap the latter’s five-game win streak. Goaltender Cal Petersen made 41 saves and Anze Kopitar collected two assists for the Kings (32 points), who sit five points behind the fourth-place St. Louis in the Honda West Division. Vegas winger Max Pacioretty was scratched from this contest with a lower-body injury and is listed as day-to-day. The Golden Knights (43 points) sit atop the West Division.
An overtime goal by Jesper Bratt lifted the New Jersey Devils to a 2-1 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins. Sidney Crosby scored for the Penguins and Sami Vatanen replied for the Devils, who got a 35-save performance by Mackenzie Blackwood. Pittsburgh (40 points) picked up a point to open a four-point lead over the fourth-place Boston Bruins in the MassMutual East Division. Penguins forward Brandon Tanev missed the game with an undisclosed injury and is considered day-to-day.
The Nashville Predators overcame a two-goal deficit to nip the Dallas Stars 4-3 on a shootout goal by Calle Jarnkrok. Eeli Tolvanen had a three-point performance, including scoring the game-tying goal. With the win, the Predators (29 points) moved within four points of the fourth-place Columbus Blue Jackets in the Central. Stars forwards Radek Faksa and Joel Kiviranta left the game with lower-body injuries.
TSN: The Kings announced they’ve signed defenseman Matt Roy to a three-year, $9.45 million contract extension. The annual average value is $3.145 million.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A seventh-round pick by the Kings in 2015, Roy has steadily risen up the club’s blueline depth chart since his debut in 2018. He skates on their second defense pairing and has become a reliable presence on the blue line.
NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: The Capitals signed defenseman Trevor van Riemsdyk to a two-year contract extension worth an annual average value of $950K.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: J.J. Regan speculates this move could be insurance for this summer’s expansion draft as the Capitals could lose a rearguard like Justin Schultz or Nick Jensen to the Seattle Kraken.
THE PROVINCE: The Vancouver Canucks have had preliminary discussions with local health officials about a plan to host some fans at Rogers Arena this season. The Montreal Canadiens have also pitched the Quebec government about allowing a limited number of fans at the Bell Centre.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Currently none of the seven Canadian franchises are allowing fans in their arenas. The Edmonton Oilers, Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators have also broached the subject with their respective provincial governments. Much will depend upon COVID-19 case counts and vaccine distribution. If all goes well, whatever four Canadian clubs qualify for the playoffs in May could be allowed to welcome back some fans for postseason games.
Alex Ovechkin extends his goal streak, the Leafs’ struggles continue, the Canucks surge in the standings while the Bruins’ next two games are postponed over COVID-19 concerns. Details plus updates on Evgeni Malkin, Matt Dumba and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Alex Ovechkin scored twice in the third period to lead the Washington Capitals over the New York Rangers 2-1. Vitek Vanecek made 32 saves for the win while Artemi Panarin scored the Rangers’ only goal. The Capitals (44 points) moved two points up on the New York Islanders into first place in the MassMutual East Division.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ovechkin now has 720 career goals. He also has 14 on the season, moving to within seven of Toronto’s Auston Matthews and his league-leading 21 goals.
Mark Giordano’s power-play goal in the second period held up as the game-winner as the Calgary Flames edged the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-3, handing the latter their sixth loss in their last seven games. While the Leafs (40 points) still hold first place in the Scotia North Division, the Flames (33 points) picked up their fourth win in their last five contests and sit two points behind the fourth-place Montreal Canadiens. Leafs winger Wayne Simmonds picked up an assist in his first game since suffering a broken wrist on Feb. 6.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Toronto goalie Frederik Andersen gave up four goals on 18 shots as he continues to struggle with a nagging lower-body injury. Leafs fans are hoping a healthy Jack Campbell can provide some much-needed stability between the pipes when he returns from injury tonight against the Flames.
Despite the Leafs’ position in the standings, the race in the North is tightening. The Edmonton Oilers and Winnipeg Jets are breathing down their necks while the Flames and Vancouver Canucks are surging. Only six points separate Toronto from the fifth-place Canucks.
Speaking of the Canucks, they handed the Canadiens their ninth straight defeat in extra time with a 3-2 overtime victory. J.T. Miller tallied the game-winner as Vancouver (34 points) has won four straight and moved to within one point of the fourth-place Habs. Earlier in the day, they announced winger Tanner Pearson will be sidelined four weeks with a sprained ankle and placed center Elias Petterssen (wrist) on long-term injury reserve.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canucks were being written off a month ago and are still considered by some observers as a potential seller by the trade deadline. Their recent improvement, however, has put them back in the playoff picture, especially with the Canadiens struggling to hang onto the final playoff spot in the North Division.
Max Pacioretty scored twice as the Vegas Golden Knights picked up their fifth straight win by doubling up the Los Angeles Kings 4-2. Vegas netminder Robin Lehner made 23 saves in his first game since being sidelined by a concussion on Feb. 7. With 43 points, the Golden Knights opened a five-point lead over the Colorado Avalanche for the top spot in the Honda West Division. The Kings (30 points) sit five back of the fourth-place St. Louis Blues.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Pacioretty now has 16 goals, moving to within five of Matthews.
The Blues, meanwhile, snapped a five-game losing skid by nipping the San Jose Sharks 2-1 on a shootout goal by Vladimir Tarasenko. Jordan Binnington made 30 saves for the win while Tyler Bozak tied the game for the Blues with a shorthanded goal.
The Boston Bruins’ next two games (Saturday against Buffalo, Tuesday against the New York Islanders) have been postponed over COVID-19 concerns as four Bruins (Jake DeBrusk, David Krejci, David Pastrnak and Craig Smith) were added to the COVID protocol list on Friday. This comes one day after the Bruins canceled practice when Sean Kuraly was added to the list. They played the Sabres on Thursday.
TRIBLIVE.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins listed center Evgeni Malkin as week-to-week with a lower-body injury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Losing Malkin will be a big test for the Penguins as they strive to move further up the East Division standings. With 37 points, they just one up on the fourth-place Bruins and four ahead of the fifth-place Philadelphia Flyers.
STARTRIBUNE.COM: Minnesota Wild defenseman Matt Dumba is doubtful for today’s rematch with the Colorado Avalanche after suffering a lower-body injury during the Wild’s 5-1 loss to the Avs on Thursday.
WGR 550: Speaking of the Avalanche, they are reportedly close to acquiring Sabres goaltender Jonas Johansson.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nothing confirmed as of this morning and no indication as to what the Sabres would receive in return. Johansson was not on the ice for Sabres practice yesterday while the club announced the signing of netminder Michael Houser. The Avs are believed in the market for a reliable backup with Pavel Francouz sidelined indefinitely.
THE DETROIT NEWS: The Red Wings are listing goaltender Jonathan Bernier as day-to-day after he suffered a lower-body injury during Thursday’s win over the Dallas Stars. However, they’re awaiting clarification as to the severity of his injury.
SPORTSNET: Senators goalie Joey Daccord will be out long-term with an apparent leg injury suffered during Wednesday’s loss to the Vancouver Canucks. There’s speculation he could be done for the season.
Recaps of Friday’s games, Brent Seabrook retires, Sabres GM speaks about his club’s poor performance and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Brad Marchand scored twice and set up another to lead the Boston Bruins over the Washington Capitals 5-1. Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom collected an assist to give him 700 for his career. Capitals winger Tom Wilson could face supplemental discipline after he drilled Bruins defenseman Brandon Carlo in the head during the first period. Wilson was unpenalized on the play while Carlo left the game and was taken to hospital for his injury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wilson has a history of questionable hits stretching back to 2015. His previous antics earned him four fines and three suspensions totaling 23 games.
A shootout goal by Philipp Kurashev lifted the Chicago Blackhawks to a 4-3 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning. Alex DeBrincat scored twice, Patrick Kane collected two helpers and Malcolm Subban made 39 saves for the win.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blackhawks have proven to be a handful for the Lightning in this series compared to their previous one earlier in the season. It’s indicative of how much the Hawks have improved since the opening weeks of the schedule.
David Perron’s game-tying goal late in the third period set the stage for Mike Hoffman’s overtime winner as the St. Louis Blues edged the Los Angeles Kings 3-2. Perron scored twice while Ryan O’Reilly assisted on every Blues goal. The Kings have dropped four straight.
The Colorado Avalanche got an overtime goal by Valeri Nichushkin to nip the Anaheim Ducks 3-2. Avs center Nathan MacKinnon remained sidelined by an apparent head injury suffered during Wednesday’s game against San Jose. He received clearance to play but was a late scratch to avoid further injury. Head coach Jared Bednar believes MacKinnon could miss a couple of more games.
A three-goal first period powered the Minnesota Wild to a 5-1 win over the Arizona Coyotes. Jordan Greenway and Mats Zuccarello each had a goal and an assist while Kirill Kaprizov and Marcus Foligno both collected two assists.
Max Pacioretty scored in overtime as the Vegas Golden Knights downed the San Jose Sharks 5-4. Pacioretty scored twice and added an assist. Vegas goalie Oscar Dansk made 24 saves to pick up his first win since 2017.
NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: Blackhawks defenseman Brent Seabrook announced his playing career is over due to injuries. The 35-year-old blueliner’s last game was Dec. 15, 2019, after which he underwent surgery on both of his hips and right shoulder. He then suffered a back injury during the opening day of training camp in January. Seabrook finishes his career with three Stanley Cups (2010, 2013, 2015), an Olympic Gold Medal (2010) and 464 points in 1,114 games.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Seabrook spent his entire 15-year NHL career with the Blackhawks and played a crucial role in their rise from league laughingstock to three-time Stanley Cup champion. He hasn’t officially retired, however, as he has three years and $15 million in actual salary remaining on his contract. He’ll remain on long-term injury reserve, which will provide the Blackhawks with a measure of salary-cap relief.
WGR 550: Buffalo Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams expressed his unhappiness yesterday over his club’s poor performance. He called where the team was at this time “unacceptable”, criticized what he called a lack of competitiveness by the players, emphasized he has “full authority on hockey decisions,” indicated “everything is being evaluated” when asked about head coach Ralph Krueger’s status and claimed team captain Jack Eichel has not requested a trade.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Adams’ statement seemed to be the club’s attempt to mollify Sabres fans upset with the club’s lack of progress. Talk is one thing, action is another. The fans are more interested in what, if anything, the current management intends to do to end this team’s decade of mediocrity.
MONTREAL GAZETTE: Former Canadiens goaltending coach Stephane Waite said the club expected starting goalie Carey Price would struggle in January and February as he adjusted to sharing his workload this season with backup Jake Allen. Price was expected to improve as the season wore on and saw more starts.
Waite also said the long-time Habs netminder isn’t at 100 percent physically but he can still play. “He’s not hurt but he has some stiffness. He has to learn to play with the pain and that’s why we need a very good backup and that’s what we have in Montreal right now.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This will further stoke debate among Canadiens fans over whether Price will ever regain his once-dominant form on a consistent basis.
THE SCORE: Vancouver Canucks GM Jim Benning said he’s not looking to make a coaching change. Bench boss Travis Green is in the final season of his contract but Benning believes Green and his staff “have done a good job with our group”. As for trades, the Canucks GM said his struggling team has to figure this out from within as new players would have to quarantine for two weeks and regain their conditioning.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: So, no Jake Virtanen to the Anaheim Ducks for Danton Heinen as rumored a week ago?
NEW YORK POST: The Rangers are breathing a sigh of relief as they learned goaltender Igor Shesterkin suffered a mild groin strain during Thursday’s win over the New Jersey Devils. He had to be helped off the ice at the end of the third period when he was unable to put weight on his right leg. He’s listed as day-to-day.
STARTRIBUNE.COM: Former 1980 Team USA forward Mark Pavelich, 63, was found dead in a Minnesota treatment facility. Pavelich helped Team USA upset the powerful Soviet Union squad on route to winning Olympic gold in 1980. He went on to spend six seasons in the NHL with the New York Rangers, Minnesota North Stars and San Jose Sharks, tallying 329 points in 355 games.
Pavelich was arrested in 2019 and charged with a violent assault on his neighbor but was found mentally incompetent to stand trial. Family and friends believe his condition was linked to head trauma suffered during his playing career. He was receiving treatment for his condition and was believed to be making progress at the time of his death.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Pavelich’s family, friends and former teammates.