NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 7, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 7, 2021

Patrice Bergeron reaches a career milestone, Artemi Panarin has a four-point performance, Carey Price sidelined, an update on Henrik Lundqvist, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Patrice Bergeron tallied a hat trick and reached his 900th career NHL point leading the Boston Bruins over the Philadelphia Flyers 4-2. Brad Marchand had a goal and three assists. Boston defenseman Charlie McAvoy missed the game with an upper-body injury. With 46 points, the Bruins hold fourth place in the MassMutual East Divison, sitting four points behind the third-place Pittsburgh Penguins. The Flyers (41 points) slip to sixth place.

Boston Bruins captain Patrice Bergeron (NHL Images).

The New York Islanders edged the Washington Capitals 1-0. Semyon Varlamov had a 29-save shutout while Brock Nelson scored the only goal and Josh Bailey collected his 500th career NHL point. Washington goalie Vitek Vanecek kicked out 38 shots. The Islanders moved into a tie with the Capitals (54 points) but the latter holds first place in the East Division on the basis of regulation plus overtime wins.

Artemi Panarin had a goal and three assists as the New York Rangers romped to an 8-4 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins. Pittsburgh defenseman John Marino left the game in the third period with an undisclosed injury. The loss leaves the Penguins in third place in the East while the Rangers move into fifth place with 41 points.

The Carolina Hurricanes got two goals from captain Jordan Staal to down the Florida Panthers 5-2, snapping the latter’s six-game winning streak. Carolina center Sebastian Aho collected three assists while Florida captain Aleksander Barkov tallied both of his club’s goals. The Hurricanes moved into second place in the Discover Central Division with 55 points, one point back of the first-place Panthers.

A 36-save performance by Joonas Korpisalo carried the Columbus Blue Jackets to a 4-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning. Max Domi and Jack Roslovic each had a goal and an assist for the Blue Jackets (38 points), putting them five points behind the fourth-place Nashville Predators in the Central. The Lightning, meanwhile, slipped to third place with 54 points. They’ve won just two of their last seven contests.

Speaking of the Predators, shootout goals by Ryan Johansen and Roman Josi gave them a 3-2 win over the Detroit Red Wings. Nashville holds fourth place with 43 points in the Central.

The Chicago Blackhawks remain two points behind the Predators after doubling up the Dallas Stars 4-2. Patrick Kane and Alex DeBrincat each had a goal and an assist and Kirby Dach tallied his first of the season since returning from a broken wrist on March 27.

A 34-save performance by John Gibson gave the Anaheim Ducks a 5-1 victory over the San Jose Sharks. The Sharks remain in sixth place in the Honda West Division with 38 points, five behind the fourth-place Arizona Coyotes.

The Buffalo Sabres beat the New Jersey Devils 5-3. Rasmus Dahlin and Casey Mittelstadt each had a goal and an assist for the Sabres, who’ve won three of their last four following their 18-game winless skid.

HEADLINES

TSN: Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price is listed as day-to-day after suffering a lower-body injury during Monday’s 3-2 win over the Edmonton Oilers. The club called up goalie Cayden Primeau from the AHL’s Laval Rocket.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Price will remain in Montreal receiving treatment as the club travels to Toronto to face the Maple Leafs tonight.

Frank Seravalli reported Washington Capitals goalie Henrik Lundqvist remains intent on resuming his playing career as he recovers from open-heart surgery earlier this year. He’s continuing to skate as he awaits word from his doctors later this week. The Capitals aren’t ruling out Lundqvist returning to play later this season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Capitals have come up in recent media chatter suggesting they could pursue an experience rental goaltender before the April 12 trade deadline. That conjecture will cease immediately if Lundqvist gets the green light to return to action this season.

SPORTSNET: Jake Virtanen was the latest member of the Vancouver Canucks added to the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list. Eighteen Canucks players are now on the list.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Virtanen is among several Canucks still popping up in recent trade chatter for some bizarre reason. Who the hell is gonna pursue a trade-deadline deal with Vancouver now?

CBS SPORTS: Columbus Blue Jackets forward Riley Nash will be sidelined for four-to-six weeks with a sprained knee.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nash had popped up in trade talks before his injury. He’s an unrestricted free agent this summer and may have played his final game with the Jackets.

OTTAWA SUN: The Senators re-assigned former goaltender coach Pierre Groulx to a scouting and development while Zac Bierk takes over the Sens goalie coach.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 4, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 4, 2021

Brad Marchand and Alex Wennberg each tally a hat trick, the Stars and Sharks keep their playoff hopes alive and more Canucks added to the COVID-19 protocol list. Details and more in the NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Brad Marchand tallied a hat trick and David Pastrnak scored twice to lead the Boston Bruins over the Pittsburgh Penguins 7-5. Pittsburgh forwards Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel each had a goal and two assists. With the win, the Bruins (43 points) opened a four-point lead over the Philadelphia Flyers for fourth place in the MassMutual East Division. The Penguins (50 points) are seven points ahead of the Bruins in third, sitting two behind the second-place New York Islanders. The Bruins also learned defenseman Brandon Carlo is listed as week-to-week with an upper-body injury suffered on Thursday against the Penguins. 

Boston Bruins winger Brad Marchand (NHL Images)

Mathew Barzal scored the winner in a shootout as the Islanders nipped the Flyers 3-2. Anthony Beauvillier scored twice for the Isles but Claude Giroux countered with two to force extra time. The Islanders are tied with the Washington Capitals with 52 points but the latter holds first place in the East with a game in hand. Isles forward Ross Johnston left the game following a first-period fight with Flyers defenseman Samuel Morin and didn’t return.

The Buffalo Sabres picked up their second win in three games by edging the New York Rangers 3-2 in a shootout. Tage Thompson potted the winner for the Sabres. Artemi Panarin scored twice for the Rangers, who are tied with the Flyers with 39 points but the latter holds fifth place in the East Division with a game in hand.

The Tampa Bay Lightning picked up their 17th straight home victory over the Detroit Red Wings by edging the latter 2-1. Andrei Vasilevskiy made 25 saves while Ross Colton and Brayden Point tallied for the Lightning (54 points), who are tied with the Florida Panthers but hold first place in the Discover Central Division with a game in hand.

A hat trick by Alex Wennberg and a 44-save effort by Sergei Bobrovsky gave the Panthers a 5-2 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets. The struggling Jackets sit seventh in the Central with 36 points. Jackets forward Jack Roslovic was a healthy scratch in his contest with just two points in his last six outings.

A 41-save shutout by Juuse Saros carried the Nashville Predators to a 3-0 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks. Eeli Tolvanen’s 10th goal of the season was also the winning goal as the Predators (41 points) have won seven of their last eight contests, opening a two-point lead over the Blackhawks for fourth in the Central Division.

The Dallas Stars kept their playoff hopes alive with a 3-2 win over the Carolina Hurricanes. Tanner Kero broke a 2-2 tie while Jake Oettinger kicked out 41 shots for the Stars (36 points), who sit five points behind the fourth-place Predators in the Central Division. The Hurricanes (51 points) remain three points behind the Lightning and Florida Panthers in the Central.

Cale Makar’s goal within the final minute of regulation lifted the Colorado Avalanche over the St. Louis Blues 2-1. Nathan MacKinnon also scored for the Avs (54 points), who won their fourth straight and sit four points up on the Vegas Golden Knights in the Honda West Division. The Blues (38 points) remain one behind the fourth-place Arizona Coyotes.

Third-period goals by Kirill Kaprizov and Joel Eriksson Ek 55 seconds apart rallied the Minnesota Wild over the Vegas Golden Knights 2-1. With 48 points, the Wild are just two back of the second-place Golden Knights in the West Division.

A third-period goal by Dylan Gambrell gave the San Jose Sharks a 3-2 win over the Los Angeles Kings. Evander Kane and Kevin Labanc each had a goal and an assist as the surging Sharks moved into a tie with the Blues, though the latter holds fifth in the West Division on the basis of regulation plus overtime wins.

The Ottawa Senators got two goals from Evgenii Dadonov and 35 saves from Anton Forsberg to beat the Montreal Canadiens 6-3, snapping the latter’s three-game win streak. Artem Anisimov also collected three assists for the Senators while Josh Anderson tallied twice for the Canadiens, who remain in fourth place in the Scotia North Division with 41 points. Habs winger Tyler Toffoli also scored in his return to the lineup after missing three games with a lower-body injury. The Senators played without Colin White, who’s day-to-day with an upper-body injury.

THE PROVINCE: Seven more Vancouver Canucks players were added to the NHL COVID-19 protocol list on Saturday while two more coaches also tested positive. Travis Boyd, Thatcher Demko, Jayce Hawryluk, Bo Horvat, Tyler Myers and Brandon Sutter were the new additions to the list. Several of the cases affecting the club are the highly contagious Brazilian P.1 variant.

Hawryluk is a positive case, marking the second time in a year he’s tested positive for COVID-19. Research shows the P.1 variant is capable of reinfecting people who previously suffered from other strains of the coronavirus.

TSN: Pierre LeBrun reports the NHL is proceeding on the assumption the entire Canucks team will likely test positive. It’s built into the league’s planning going forward, similar to what happened at the start of the season with the Dallas Stars. This is a variant of the coronavirus the league hasn’t seen before.

The Canucks shutdown will last longer than anticipated. They will not be playing next week. The league has discussed future dates with the club but those won’t be announced for a while.

North Division games will likely be scheduled past May 11, using the week of May 10-14 as a buffer. The three US divisions could still start their playoffs on May 11. The league also remains confident it can complete the 56-game schedule.

SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reports there are discussions about holding the 2021 Stanley Cup playoffs in a bubble environment similar to last year, though it’s not something anyone wants at this point. Much will depend upon how things evolve between now and then.

Meanwhile, the NHL has issued a memo to its 31 teams reiterating the rules, regulations and best practices for mitigating the spread of COVID-19.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Previous outbreaks among several clubs have put a strain on the schedule, with most teams facing a grueling timetable over the next six weeks making up games postponed earlier in the season. That’s going to take a physical toll on the players over the next month.

The league wants to avoid moving the regular season and playoff schedules forward because they don’t want to push the postseason any deeper into the summer than it already is. They also don’t to risk the Stanley Cup Final being staged at the same time as the 2021 Tokyo Olympics, which are slated to begin on July 23.

Teams want to avoid a playoff bubble because it will adversely affect their already depleted revenue for this season. The players don’t want it because they’ll be separated for weeks from their families. Nevertheless, they could have little choice if the variants of the coronavirus lead to a significant increase in infections among the North American population.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 31, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 31, 2021

The Canadiens get a shutout win in their first game in 10 days, the injury bug bites the Panthers again, the Flyers put Shayne Gostisbehere on waivers, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price made 17 saves for his 49th career shutout to blank the Edmonton Oilers 4-0. Brendan Gallagher had a goal and an assist for the Canadiens in their first game since March 20. With 39 points, the Habs opened a four-point lead over the Calgary Flames for fourth place in the Scotia North Division with five games in hand. The Oilers (45 points) remain a point back of the second-place Winnipeg Jets.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A good start for a rested Canadiens squad in their first game in 10 days after COVID-19 protocols postponed four of their games. The Oilers were a tired bunch playing their third game in four nights.

New York Rangers winger Artemi Panarin (NHL Images).

Artemi Panarin had a goal and two assists as the New York Rangers tallied four unanswered third-period goals in a 5-2 win over the Washington Capitals. Igor Shesterkin kicked out 30 shots for the Rangers (36 points), who sit five points behind the fourth-place Boston Bruins in the MassMutual East Division. The first-place Capitals (50 points) remain two points up on the New York Islanders and Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Bruins, meanwhile, overcame a 4-2 deficit to defeat the New Jersey Devils 5-4 on shootout goals by Charlie Coyle and David Pastrnak. Devils goaltender Mackenzie Blackwood made 44 saves. Bruins winger Marchand returned after missing one game to COVID-19 protocols while defenseman Brandon Carlo played his first game since being sidelined by an upper-body injury on March 5. With 41 points, the Bruins sit three up on the fifth-place Philadelphia Flyers in the East Division.

An overtime goal by Eeli Tolvanen lifted the Nashville Predators over the Dallas Stars 3-2. Tolvanen and Calle Jarnkrok each had a goal and an assist while Juuse Saros made 33 saves as Nashville picked up their sixth straight victory. With 39 points, the Predators sit fourth in the Discover Central Division.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Predators’ playoff hopes were fading away two weeks ago and they seemed destined to become sellers before the April 12 trade deadline. Management might be rethinking its trade plans as they surge back into postseason contention.

A 31-save performance by Kevin Lankinen enabled the Chicago Blackhawks to hold off the Carolina Hurricanes 2-1. Alex DeBrincat tallied his 19th goal of the season for the Blackhawks, who are tied with the Predators but sit fifth in the Central because of two fewer regulation wins. The Hurricanes (49 points) are third in the division, one point back of the Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers.

The Panthers, meanwhile, got two goals from Carter Verhaeghe to down the Detroit Red Wings 4-1. Sergei Bobrovsky made 35 stops for the win. Florida winger Anthony Duclair left the game with an upper-body injury and is expected to be sidelined a week to 10 days. The Panthers are tied with the Lightning with 50 points but sit in second place in the division as the latter hold a game in hand.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Duclair joins Aleksander Barkov (lower-body), Patric Hornqvist (undisclosed) and Aaron Ekblad (fractured left leg) on the Panthers’ injury list. Eklad is done for at least the regular season following surgery on Monday.

Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Elvis Merzlikins made 37 stops in a 3-1 upset of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Nick Foligno had two assists for the Blue Jackets (36 points), who sit three points behind the Predators in the Central. The Lightning (50 points) have lost three straight.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: The Flyers raised eyebrows yesterday by placing Shayne Gostisbehere on waivers, generating speculation over the 27-year-old defenseman’s future with the club.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gostisbehere has struggled since Alain Vigneault became the Flyers head coach in 2019. His $4.5 million salary-cap hit makes it unlikely he’ll be claimed. The Flyers could put him on their taxi squad or demote him to their AHL affiliate if he clears waivers at noon ET today. There’s also talk he could be traded if he goes unclaimed.

THE PROVINCE: Vancouver Canucks forward Adam Gaudette tested positive for COVID-19 yesterday. He was participating in practice when informed of the test results and left the ice immediately. Tonight’s game between the Canucks and Flames will depend upon the results of contact tracing and additional testing of players and staff.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Gaudette was retested yesterday and will be tested again today.

SPORTSNET: Canucks forward Justin Bailey underwent season-ending shoulder surgery on Monday. He’s been sidelined since Feb. 11.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 13, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 13, 2021

Recaps of Friday’s action plus updates on Nikita Kucherov, Artemi Panarin, Henrik Lundqvist and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid became the first player to reach the 50-point plateau this season in a 6-2 victory over the Ottawa Senators. McDavid scored a goal and collected two assists while teammates Leon Draisaitl and Tyler Ennis each had a goal and an assist. With 36 points, the Oilers move four behind the first-place Toronto Maple Leafs in the Scotia North Division and two ahead of the Winnipeg Jets.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With 51 points in 29 games, McDavid is seven points ahead of Draisaitl as the league’s leading scorer. He remains on pace to reach 100 points in 56 games.

Minnesota Wild rookie Kirill Kaprizov (NHL Images).

Minnesota Wild rookie Kirill Kaprizov tallied his first career NHL hat trick in a 4-0 blanking of the Arizona Coyotes. Cam Talbot picked up the shutout with 25 saves while Mats Zuccarello collected three assists. Kaprizov leads the Wild and all NHL rookies with 10 goals and 23 points. 

An overtime goal by Reilly Smith lifted the Vegas Golden Knights over the St. Louis Blues 5-4. Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury returned to the lineup after being taken off the league’s COVID-19 protocol list for a false positive test. The Golden Knights (35 points) sit two points ahead of the Blues and Wild in first place in the Honda West Division.

The Colorado Avalanche got a goal and an assist from Mikko Rantanen in a 2-0 victory over the Los Angeles Kings. Philipp Grubauer made 18 saves for the shutout while Kings netminder Cal Petersen made 44 stops. With the win, the Avs (32 points) opened a four-point lead over the Kings for fourth place in the West Division, sitting one behind the Blues and Wild.

San Jose Sharks goalie Devan Dubnyk kicked out 34 shots to shut out the Anaheim Ducks 6-0. Kevin Lebanc had a goal and two assists while Tomas Hertl, Evander Kane and Timo Meier each had a goal and an assist.

HEADLINES

NEW YORK POST: Good news for the Rangers as Artemi Panarin is expected to return to the lineup for today’s matinee against the Boston Bruins. Panarin was absent for nine games as he dealt with an unsubstantiated accusation by a former KHL coach claiming he assaulted a young Latvian woman in 2011.

CBS SPORTS: Tampa Bay Lightning right winger Nikita Kucherov has begun skating and remains on track to rejoin the club in time for the playoffs. He will miss the entire regular season due to offseason hip surgery.

SPORTSNET: Washington Capitals general manager Brian MacLellan isn’t ruling out a possible return of Henrik Lundqvist later this season. The 39-year-old goaltender is recovering from heart surgery and recently posted a video of himself on the ice taking shots less than two months following the procedure.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: MacLellan acknowledged it’s “probably unlikely” but he seems to be leaving the door open if Lundqvist receives medical clearance to return to action.

The New York Islanders yesterday announced team captain Anders Lee is out indefinitely with a lower-body injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That could put the Isles into the market for a forward leading up to the trade deadline depending on the severity of Lee’s injury.

TSN: Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Jack Campbell remains day-to-day with a lower-body injury and will be reevaluated today.

Speaking of the Leafs, they traded defenseman Mikko Lehtonen to the Columbus Blue Jackets in exchange for goaltender Veini Vehvilainen.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lehtonen was considered the best defenseman in Europe when the Leafs signed him. Maybe the “Finnish Bobby Orr” will have better luck in Columbus than he did in Toronto.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 11, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 11, 2021

Recaps of Wednesday’s action, the NHL and ESPN officially announce their new seven-year partnership, plus the latest on Artemi Panarin, Alex Pietrangelo, Evander Kane and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Leon Draisaitl had a hat trick and collected two assists as the Edmonton Oilers thumped the Ottawa Senators 7-1. Connor McDavid had a goal and two assists and Tyson Barrie had three helpers as the Oilers went 6-0-0 over the Senators this season. Senators forwards Colin White and Ryan Dzingel both left the game with injuries.

Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl (NHL Images).

A two-goal performance by Joel Eriksson Ek enabled the Minnesota Wild to hold off the Vegas Golden Knights by a score of 4-3. Vegas rookie Dylan Coghlan tallied his first career NHL hat trick. The Golden Knights played without defenseman Alex Pietrangelo, who coach Pete DeBoer said is sidelined “for the foreseeable future” with an upper-body injury. Meanwhile, goaltender Robin Lehner (upper-body) has been loaned to the Golden Knights AHL affiliate for a conditioning stint as he moves closer to returning to the lineup.

Montreal Canadiens forwards Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Tyler Toffoli each had two points in a 5-1 drubbing of the Vancouver Canucks. Jeff Petry scored his 10th goal of the season to lead all NHL defensemen in goals. He’s also the Canadiens leading scorer with 24 points. Habs blueliner Ben Chiarot left the game after injuring his hand in a fight with Canucks forward J.T. Miller.

The Colorado Avalanche edged the Arizona Coyotes 2-1 on an overtime goal by captain Gabriel Landeskog. Coyotes goaltender Antti Raanta kicked out 44 shots in a losing cause. The Avalanche (30 points) sit in fourth place in the Honda West Division, two points up on the Los Angeles Kings.

Speaking of the Kings, goalie Troy Grosenick made 33 saves to win his first start in six years as he backstopped his club over the Anaheim Ducks 5-1.

HEADLINES

The NHL, ESPN and the Walt Disney Company officially announced their new seven-year media rights partnership beginning in 2021-22. The deal will be a combination of television and “cutting-edge streaming” that should “help Disney grow its audience, help the NHL grow the game and give fans more options.”

The remainder of the league’s media rights is still being negotiated. NBC, which carried the NHL’s broadcasting rights for the past decade, is among the bidders.

Among the highlights:

The Stanley Cup Final will be on ABC four of the seven years of this deal. ABC and ESPN will carry one conference final series and half of the first- and second-round games in the Stanley Cup playoffs each season, plus 25 regular-season games.

ESPN will also produce 75 national games each season and stream them on ESPN+ and Hulu. It will also stream more than 1,000 out-of-market games each regular season on ESPN+, replacing NHL TV.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sportsnet’s Chris Johnston reports the ESPN package is worth around $2.8 billion, paying out over $400 million per season to the NHL. That’s a considerable increase over the $200 million per season from the current deal with NBC, with more to come when the second broadcast/streaming deal is finalized.

SPORTSNET: NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said the salary cap will likely remain stagnant as part of the four-year extension of the collective bargaining agreement with the NHL Players Association. He indicated it will remain flat until the league recovers overpayments through the escrow that built up in the return-to-play last season and the lack of attendance this season due to COVID-19.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That means less money for the foreseeable future for restricted and unrestricted free agent players. The league approached the PA last fall about a short-term increase in escrow payments or deferred salary to address the potential overpayments. However, that was rejected by the players as they didn’t want to make changes to a CBA extension agreement made just several months earlier. The players were within their rights, of course, but this is going to make it increasingly difficult for free agents to land lucrative new contracts.

NEW YORK POST: Artemi Panarin returned to Rangers practice for the first time in over two weeks. He took time off to deal with unsubstantiated accusations from a former KHL coach claiming he assaulted a young Latvian woman in 2011. Panarin is listed as day-to-day and won’t be in the lineup for tonight’s game against the Boston Bruins.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Panarin could be back in action perhaps on Saturday or Monday against the Philadelphia Flyers.

THE SCORE: The San Jose Sharks denied a report claiming they could void Evander Kane’s contract as the winger navigates through bankruptcy proceedings. “The Sharks are 100 percent committed to honoring Evander Kane’s contract and have no intention of having it terminated,” said a team spokesperson.

Kane filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy in January, citing $26.8 million in debt and $10.2 million in assets. There is $29 million remaining on his contract with the Sharks. His creditors have requested to convert the bankruptcy to Chapter 11, which would make that remaining money available to them. A hearing to determine the designation is slated for later in March.

TSN: Nashville Predators defenseman Dante Fabbro received a two-game suspension for elbowing Carolina Hurricanes forward Brock McGinn on Tuesday.

SPORTSNET: Winnipeg Jets defenseman Nathan Beaulieu will be sidelined for weeks after blocking a shot with his right hand during a recent game against the Toronto Maple Leafs.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 25, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 25, 2021

Recaps of Wednesday’s games plus updates on Artemi Panarin, Tomas Hertl, Jason Zucker and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy turned in a 25-save shutout in a 3-0 blanking of the Carolina Hurricanes. Alex Killorn collected two assists and rookie Ross Colton tallied his first NHL goal as the Lightning (25 points) move to within one point of the first-place Florida Panthers in the Discover Central Division.

Speaking of the Panthers, they fell 3-0 to the Dallas Stars. Anton Khudobin kicked out 43 shots for the shutout and Joe Pavelski picked up two assists as the Stars snapped a six-game winless skid.

Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux (NHL Images)

Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux picked up three assists after coming off the COVID-19 protocol list as his club held off the New York Rangers 4-3. Rangers winger Chris Kreider tallied a hat trick and Mika Zibanejad has two assists.

William Nylander scored the tying and winning goals as the Toronto Maple Leafs edged the Calgary Flames 2-1 in overtime. Flame goalie David Rittich made 37 saves as he was denied his second straight shutout of the Leafs.

Minnesota Wild winger Zach Parise tallied his 800th career point and teammate Mats Zuccarello got his 400th in a 6-2 victory over the Colorado Avalanche. Nico Sturm also scored twice as the Wild (20 points) have won four straight games to sit one point behind the fourth-place Arizona Coyotes in the Honda West Division.

Speaking of the Coyotes, they overcame a 3-0 deficit to defeat the Anaheim Ducks for the second straight game. Phil Kessel had a goal and an assist for Arizona as they took the game on a shootout goal by Christian Dvorak. Coyotes backup Adin Hill made 14 saves in relief of Darcy Kuemper after the latter left the game with a lower-body injury.

The Los Angeles Kings picked up their sixth straight victory by hanging on for a 2-1 win over the St. Louis Blues. Cal Petersen turned aside 35 shots for the win on second-period goals by Alex Iafallo and Andreas Athanasiou.

HEADLINES

ESPN.COM: Emily Kaplan reports the Kontinental Hockey League said it had not been made aware of or received any complaint in relation to any incident involving Artemi Panarin back in December 2011.

Panarin’s former KHL coach Andrei Nazarov alleged the Rangers winger assaulted a young woman in a bar following a game in Riga, Latvia. The KHL said it would’ve investigated any such complaint as they take allegations of misconduct “incredibly seriously”.

To date, there’s been no corroborating evidence to support Nazarov’s allegation. No victim has come forward nor has there been any police record of the alleged incident. Kip Brennan and Jon Mirasty, two of Panarin’s former Vityaz teammates, both said they never knew or heard of the incident taking place.

Another former teammate, Mikhail Anisin, told Russian outlet Sport-Express the incident didn’t play out as Nazarov described, recalling Panarin “didn’t beat anyone, maybe pushed one girl a little bit, nothing more” in a karaoke bar. Anisin said police did come to the team hotel but left after determining the situation didn’t warrant charges. He also rejected the notion of the police being paid off as the players at the time didn’t have that type of money.

Panarin remains on a leave of absence from the Rangers as he deals with this situation. NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said the league is looking into the allegations. Kaplan said it would be uncharacteristic of the league to punish Panarin without corroborating evidence.

NEW YORK POST: Mollie Walker also cited Anisin’s comments. She also spoke with Maxim Sitnikov, who briefly played with Panarin during that season. Sitnikov also denied the alleged incident took place, praising the winger’s character and rejecting what he called “villains” saying “all sorts of nonsense.” Walker cited two more former Vityaz players who requested to remain anonymous agreeing with Brennan’s and Mirasty’s version of events.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The allegation against Panarin is quickly falling apart. Unless Nazarov can produce evidence to corroborate his story he should withdraw his comments and issue an apology to the Rangers’ star.

SPORTSNET: The NHL postponed Thursday’s game between the San Jose Sharks and Vegas Golden Knights after a Sharks player tested positive for COVID-19. Sharks center Tomas Hertl was placed on the league’s COVID-19 list yesterday. New York Rangers defenseman K’Andre Miller was also added to the list, which is now down to eight players, four of them members of the Flyers.

PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: Penguins winger Jason Zucker has returned to Pittsburgh for further evaluation for what appeared to be an injured knee or ankle suffered during their recent game against the Washington Capitals.

NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Bruins defenseman Jeremy Lauzon is sidelined at least a month with a fractured hand.

TSN: The Penguins yesterday claimed defenseman Mark Friedman off waivers from the Philadelphia Flyers.

CBC SPORTS: Vancouver Canucks forward Antoine Roussel was fined $5,000.00 by the NHL for roughing Edmonton Oilers winger Jesse Pulujarvi on Tuesday.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: The Carolina Hurricanes will soon be allowed to admit some fans to their games following North Carolina governor Roy Cooper’s announcement yesterday that indoor arenas can open to 15 percent capacity.

NHL.COM: Former NHL goaltender Gary Inness passed away on Feb. 23 from dementia at age 71. Inness played 162 NHL games with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Philadelphia Flyers and Washington Capitals from 1973-74 to 1980-81. He also coached the AHL’s Hershey Bears from 1981-82 to 1984-85. Following his hockey career, he became a teacher and guidance counselor at Barrie North Collegiate Institute until his retirement in 2010.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Inness’ family, friends and former teammates.