NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 31, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 31, 2022

Marc-Andre Fleury sets a league record, Artemi Panarin and Jesper Bratt maintain their hot starts to the season while Jack Eichel and Trevor Zegras are overtime heroes. Get the details in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Marc-Andre Fleury picked up his league-record 62nd shootout victory to backstop the Minnesota Wild (4-4-1) over the Chicago Blackhawks 4-3. Fleury made 23 saves in regulation and overtime, Matt Boldy scored twice in regulation while Kirill Kaprizov and Frederick Gaudreau tallied in the shootout. Alex Stalock made 32 saves for the Blackhawks (4-3-1).

Minnesota Wild goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Before the game, the Blackhawks announced that defenseman Seth Jones is expected to be sidelined for three-to-four weeks with an injured right thumb. It’s a big blow to their defense corps as Jones averaged a team-leading 25:14 of ice time per game.

The New Jersey Devils lifted their record to 6-3-0 with a 7-1 drubbing of the Columbus Blue Jackets, dropping the latter’s record to 3-7-0. Jesper Bratt extended his season-opening points streak to nine games with a goal and an assist while Nico Hischier and Jack Hughes also had two points each. Elvis Merzlikins made 46 saves for the Jackets.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jackets have a league-worst goals-against per game of 4.40 but their netminders aren’t getting much help from their defense. They’ve given up the eighth-most shots-against per game (34.5) thus far. They’re also not getting much goal support as their 2.60 goals-per-game sits 28th

New York Rangers winger Artemi Panarin had a goal and two assists while Mika Zibanejad’s third-period goal snapped a 2-2 tie to nip the Arizona Coyotes 3-2. It’s Panarin’s third multi-point game thus far, sitting one behind Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid. Coyotes rookie Dylan Guenther collected two assists while goalie Connor Ingram made 36 saves. The Rangers improve to 5-3-2 while the Coyotes fall to 2-5-1.

An overtime goal by Trevor Zegras lifted the Anaheim Ducks to a 4-3 upset of the Toronto Maple Leafs. It was Zegras’ second goal of the game while John Gibson kicked out 33 shots as the Ducks got their second win of the season (2-6-1). Leafs center Auston Matthews tallied his third goal of the season as his club’s record fell to 4-4-2.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Four of the Leafs losses this season have come against rebuilding teams (Ducks, Canadiens, Coyotes) or struggling ones (Sharks). They’re winless in their last four (0-2-2).

Vegas Golden Knights center Jack Eichel tallied in overtime to down the Winnipeg Jets 2-1. Mark Stone scored the tying goal for the Golden Knights (8-2-0) after Adam Lowry opened the scoring for the Jets as they drop to 5-3-1.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Jets got a point out of this thanks to a 46-save performance from Connor Hellebuyck.

IN OTHER NEWS…

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Derian Hatcher and Bob Gainey were formally inducted Sunday into the Dallas Stars Hall of Fame. Hatcher was the Stars captain for nine seasons, including their 1999 Stanley Cup championship. Gainey spent 12 seasons as the Stars coach and general manager, building their Stanley Cup roster by acquiring Ed Belfour, Joe Nieuwendyk, Brett Hull and Sergei Zubov.

TSN: Speaking of the Stars, forward Ty Dellandrea was fined $2,333.33 by the NHL department of player safety for interference on New York Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin on Saturday.

GOPHNX.COM: Craig Morgan reports sources said the Tempe City Council will likely refer the Arizona Coyotes’ proposed arena and entertainment district to a referendum, leaving the decision up to Tempe voters. The referendum would be held sometime in 2023.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 14, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – October 14, 2022

Game recaps, Blue Jackets winger Patrik Laine sidelined, the Flyers re-sign Travis Sanheim, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Sidney Crosby lead the Pittsburgh Penguins over the Arizona Coyotes 6-2. The Penguins captain had a goal and two assists while Kris Letang, Jake Guentzel, Bryan Rust, Danton Heinen and Jason Zucker each collected two points. Nick Ritchie scored both goals for the Coyotes, who also lost center Nick Schmaltz in the first period with an upper-body injury.

Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Crosby set the franchise record for most seasons by a Penguins player with 18, one more than Mario Lemieux. He also scored his club’s first goal of the season for the first time in his career.

The New York Rangers thumped the Minnesota Wild 7-3. Rangers winger Artemi Panarin scored a goal and chipped in three assists while teammate Chris Kreider tallied twice. Matt Boldy had two goals for the Wild.

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews snapped a 2-2 tie as his third-period goal gave his club a 3-2 win against the Washington Capitals. Leafs goaltender Ilya Samsonov stopped 24 shots to defeat his former club while teammate Morgan Rielly picked up two assists.

John Tortorella picked up his first win as head coach of the Philadelphia Flyers as they downed the New Jersey Devils 5-2. Travis Konecny and Morgan Frost each scored twice while Carter Hart made 35 saves for the win. Alexander Holtz and Damon Severson replied for the Devils.

The Dallas Stars gave Peter DeBoer his first victory as their head coach by dropping the Nashville Predators 4-1. Mason Marchment scored twice, Tyler Seguin collected three assists and rookie Wyatt Johnston netted his first career NHL goal. Ryan Johansen had the Predators’ only goal.

Jonathan Huberdeau and Nazem Kadri each collected an assist in their first game with the Calgary Flames in a 5-3 win over the Colorado Avalanche. MacKenzie Weegar picked up two assists in his first game in Calgary. Flames coach Darryl Sutter earned his 700th career NHL coaching victory. Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon had a goal and an assist.

Buffalo Sabres goaltender Craig Anderson kicked out 35 shots while Victor Olofsson scored two goals in a 4-1 home-opening win over the Ottawa Senators. Sabres rookie J.J. Peterka netted his first NHL goal. Brady Tkachuk tallied the Senators’ only goal.

Third-period goals by Patric Hornqvist and Matthew Tkachuk lifted the Florida Panthers past the New York Islanders 3-1, handing Paul Maurice his first win as their bench boss. Sergei Bobrovsky made 32 saves for the Panthers.

The Seattle Kraken got second-period goals from Brandon Tanev and Alex Wennberg in a 4-1 victory over the Los Angeles Kings. Martin Jones made 26 saves for the win. Alex Iafallo netted the Kings’ only goal.

A second-period goal by Vegas Golden Knights forward Paul Cotter stood as the game-winner to beat the Chicago Blackhawks 1-0. Logan Thompson stopped 27 shots for the shutout while Blackhawks netminder Alex Stalock made 36 saves.

HEADLINES

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Bad news for the Blue Jackets as winger Patrik Laine will be sidelined for three-to-four weeks with a sprained elbow. He suffered the injury during the club’s season-opening loss on Wednesday against the Carolina Hurricanes.

PHILLY HOCKEY NOW: The Philadelphia Flyers yesterday announced they’d reached an agreement with Travis Sanheim on an eight-year, $50 million contract. The 26-year-old defenseman will earn an average annual value of $6.25 million starting in 2023-24.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Sanheim is getting a significant raise over the $4.675 million AAV of his current contract. Cap Friendly indicates he’s also getting a full no-trade clause in the first four seasons followed by a 12-team no-trade clause for the final four seasons.

Sanheim has made steady improvement with the Flyers. He was their best defenseman and among the few bright spots for what was an otherwise miserable 2021-22 season for the club, netting 31 points and a team-leading plus-minus of plus-9 while logging nearly 23 minutes per game.

The Flyers will have over $23 million invested in Sanheim and fellow defensemen Ivan Provorov, Rasmus Ristolainen and Tony DeAngelo for next season. That’s not counting the $6.25 million of sidelined rearguard Ryan Ellis.

TSN: The Winnipeg Jets named Mark Scheifele, Josh Morrissey and Adam Lowry as their alternate captains for 2022-23.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Jets head coach Rick Bowness stripped Blake Wheeler of the captaincy last month and will leave that position vacant this season.

NHL.COM: The department of player safety fined Edmonton Oilers defenseman Darnell Nurse $5,000.00 for interference against Vancouver Canucks defenseman Kyle Burroughs on Wednesday.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: Canadiens defenseman Mike Matheson is expected to miss at least eight weeks with an abdominal sprain.

THE PROVINCE: Kevin Bieksa is going to officially retire from the NHL and will do so as a member of the Vancouver Canucks. He will sign a one-day contract next month and will be honored by the team in a pregame ceremony on Nov. 3.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bieksa’s last NHL game was in 2017-18 but he hadn’t officially hung up his skates until now. The retirement ceremony was two years in the making as COVID-19 affected NHL scheduling.

Bieksa spent 10 of his 13 seasons with the Canucks, playing a key role in the club’s march to the 2011 Stanley Cup Final. He had 278 points in 808 career NHL games and now works as an in-studio NHL analyst for Sportsnet.










NHL Rumor Mill – July 30, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – July 30, 2022

Check out the latest on Patrick Kane and Artemi Panarin plus a look at some potential Canadiens’ salary-cap casualties in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

NO TRADE DISCUSSIONS FOR PATRICK KANE

THE ATHLETIC’s Mark Lazerus took to Twitter citing a source saying the Chicago Blackhawks have had “NO discussions with any teams involving Patrick Kane.” He believes there are probably “plenty of teams” interested in the 33-year-old winger, “but nothing is happening”.

Chicago Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Blackhawks beat writer Jay Zawaski quickly swatted down a rumor floating around yesterday claiming they were engaged in trade talks with several teams and the Dallas Stars were among them. Earlier this month, speculation linked Kane to the Edmonton Oilers before that one died away.

Like Lazerus, I don’t doubt that there are contenders with an interest in Kane. He’s in the final year of his contract, the Blackhawks are rebuilding, and he might not be keen to be part of that process.

Kane’s contract, however, will be difficult to move. He’s carrying a $10.5 million cap hit plus a full no-movement clause.

In actual salary, Kane’s earning $6.9 million, of which the Blackhawks have already paid out $4 million as a signing bonus. Nevertheless, they’ll probably have to retain perhaps up to half of Kane’s cap hit to facilitate a trade. That’s why some observers expect he’ll be moved closer to next season’s trade deadline. His movement clause and the Blackhawks’ asking price will also limit the potential destinations.

COULD PANARIN WAIVE HIS NO-MOVEMENT CLAUSE?

THE ATHLETIC: In a recent mailbag segment, Arthur Staple was asked if New York Rangers general manager Chris Drury would trade Artemi Panarin if the winger agreed to waive his no-movement clause.

Staple believes Drury would be interested in moving Panarin under that scenario but doesn’t expect it will happen. He anticipates the winger’s hefty contract would make him difficult to move. “It would either be a swap of bad contracts or just a massive salary dump by the Rangers,” he writes.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: In June, Staple cited sources claiming Drury was unhappy over Panarin’s postseason performance. He speculated the winger could seek a trade if the rift persisted.

Then as now, there’s no indication that Panarin wants out or that Drury wants to move him. I’m not doubting the veracity of Staple’s sources. Perhaps there is tension between the two behind the scenes.

Nevertheless, Staple makes a good point about Panarin’s contract making him tough to move. I wouldn’t hold my breath anticipating a big trade involving him.

CANADIENS’ COST-CUTTING CANDIDATES

MONTREAL HOCKEY NOW: Marco D’Amico recently examined some potential cost-cutting candidates for the Canadiens. Despite shipping out Shea Weber’s contract and sending Jeff Petry to Pittsburgh for Mike Matheson, the Habs are still pressed against the $82.5 million cap for the coming season.

Christian Dvorak was D’Amico’s top candidate, citing the frequency in which the 26-year-old center has surfaced in trade speculation this summer. Joel Armia and Mike Hoffman are his other trade possibilities.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Canadiens GM Kent Hughes has had a busy summer making moves to free up salary-cap space. Dvorak could draw the most interest given his age and reasonable $4.45 million cap hit through 2023-24. If Hughes is going to move him, the coming season is his best opportunity. Dvorak’s eight-team no-trade list kicks in next summer.










NHL Rumor Mill – June 24, 2022

NHL Rumor Mill – June 24, 2022

Could the Rangers shop Artemi Panarin? What’s the latest on Filip Forsberg, Blake Wheeler and Pierre-Luc Dubois? Find out in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

RIFT DEVELOPING BETWEEN PANARIN AND RANGERS GM DRURY?

THE ATHLETIC: Arthur Staple raised some eyebrows in his roundup of offseason decisions facing the New York Rangers. What drew considerable attention was his report citing two league sources claiming general manager Chris Drury was “vocally unhappy” with Artemi Panarin’s performance in the 2022 playoffs.

New York Rangers left wing Artemi Panarin (NHL Images).

Panarin had 16 points in 20 playoff games but wasn’t as consistent as hoped for. Despite the 30-year-old winger’s hefty contract Staple speculated he could request a trade if there’s a rift developing with Drury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to see what the reaction will be to this report. Panarin and/or Drury could ignore the story or issue public denials. I’m curious as to what other Rangers and NHL insiders have to say about this story.

A number of NHL clubs would be interested in Panarin if he became available in the trade market. As Staple pointed out, his contract is near impossible to move. He’s signed through 2025-26 with an annual average value of over $11.6 million and a full no-movement clause.

It was Drury’s predecessor who signed Panarin. He doesn’t have to feel any loyalty toward players that were brought in before he took over as general manager.

Drury also clashed last fall with Vitali Kravtsov after the winger declined demotion to the minors. He spent this season in the KHL and become the subject of trade speculation. The two sides seemed to bury the hatchet when Kravtsov agreed to a one-year, $875K contract but that hasn’t kept him out of the rumor mill.

PREDATORS OFFER FORSBERG AN EIGHT-YEAR CONTRACT

NHL.COM: John Glennon reports Nashville Predators GM David Poile confirmed his club offered an eight-year contract to Filip Forsberg. The 27-year-old left winger is slated to become an unrestricted free agent on July 13.

Poile indicated Forsberg won’t be signing with the Predators for anything less than eight years. He said the two sides are speaking regularly to bridge the gap and he intends to keep working to get a deal done.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It seems like the dollars are the issue here. Forsberg will be seeking a substantial raise over the $6 million annual cap hit of his current contract after tallying a career-best 84 points in 69 games this season.

The most Forsberg will get on the open market is seven years. The Predators could be offering up a raise that’s less than market value in the hope that he’ll be tempted by the extra year of contract security if he signs with them before July 13.

LATEST ON WHEELER AND DUBOIS

WINNIPEG SUN/SPORTSNET: Scott Billeck and Ken Wiebe weighed in on recent reports indicating the Jets are gauging Blake Wheeler’s value in the trade market and Pierre-Luc Dubois’ intent to test the 2024 UFA market.

Both believe it will be difficult to move Wheeler’s contract, which carries an $8.25 million annual average value through 2023-24. Though his no-movement clause becomes a five-team trade list on July 1, the number of teams that can afford to take on the full remaining value of his contract could be less than his list of preferred trade destinations.

They believe the Jets will have to retain up to half of Wheeler’s cap hit to facilitate a deal. If they don’t want to do that, they’ll have to offer up significant sweeteners or take back a sizeable contract from one of Wheeler’s suitors.

Wiebe also suggested a three-team deal to spread the cap hit around. A contract buyout is another option though a rarely-used one by the Jets.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: I made the same suggestions a couple of days ago. There will be playoff contenders interested in Wheeler. I don’t see many of them taking on his full cap hit. I wouldn’t be surprised if the 35-year-old winger is back with the Jets next season.

Dubois’ revelation was more troubling for Billeck and Wiebe. He’s a restricted free agent this summer with arbitration rights. The Jets have two years to convince the 23-year-old center to remain in Winnipeg beyond 2024 and intend to work on doing so.

Billeck suggested dangling the captaincy if Wheeler is traded. He also speculated perhaps the Dubois camp is merely angling for a better deal in their current negotiations.

Wiebe speculated the Jets could trade Dubois before 2024. He also wondered if hiring Barry Trotz as head coach might change his mind. GM Kevin Cheveldayoff met with Trotz this weekend and is awaiting his decision.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Landing Trotz as their new head coach could go a long way toward providing some stability and improvement to the Jets roster going forward. As Billeck suggested, he could help to convince Dubois to stick around beyond 2024 if he enjoyed playing for the well-respected bench boss.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 22, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 22, 2022

The Panthers claim the top seed in the Eastern Conference, the Blues and Wild will meet in the first confirmed first-round series, Steven Stamkos, Matthew Tkachuk and Artemi Panarin reach scoring milestones, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: The Florida Panthers picked up their 12th straight win and clinched first place in the Eastern Conference by clipping the Detroit Red Wings 5-2. Panthers winger Jonathan Huberdeau collected two assists to tie Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid atop the league scoring race with 113 points. With 118 points, the Panthers sit two ahead of the Colorado Avalanche for first overall.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Panthers also tallied their 320th non-shootout goal to set a new record for the most goals in a season in the salary-cap era.

The first opening-round series of the 2022 Stanley Cup players is confirmed following the Minnesota Wild’s 6-3 victory over the Vancouver Canucks. Kevin Fiala scored twice and Kirill Kaprizov tallied his 44th goal of the season for Minnesota, who’ll meet the St. Louis Blues in the opening round. Both clubs are tied with 105 points but the Wild holds second place in the Central Division with a game in hand. Elias Pettersson scored two goals for the Canucks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With 87 points, Vancouver remains four points behind the Dallas Stars in the final Western Conference wild-card berth. The Canucks, Stars and Vegas Golden Knights (89 points) all have four games remaining, setting the stage for what should be an exciting finish as those three teams jockey for that final postseason berth.

Tampa Bay Lightning center Steven Stamkos (NHL Images).

Tampa Bay Lightning captain Steven Stamkos set the franchise points record during an 8-1 rout of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Stamkos had a goal and two assists to surpass Martin St. Louis as Tampa Bay’s all-time points leader with 956. Alex Killorn and Ross Colton scored twice for the Lightning, who hold third place in the Atlantic Division with 102 points. The Leafs sit six points ahead of the Bolts.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Both clubs playing with two key players missing from their respective lineups. Leafs superstar Auston Matthews missed his third straight game with an undisclosed minor injury while Lightning center Brayden Point is listed as day-to-day with a lower-body injury.

Calgary Flames winger Matthew Tkachuk set a personal single-season best with his 40th goal and 100th point as his club doubled up the Dallas Stars 4-2. The Flames have clinched the Pacific Division with 106 points while the Stars cling to the final Western wild-card spot with 91 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tkachuk and Johnny Gaudreau are the first Flames teammates to have 100 points in the same season since Al MacInnis and Theo Fleury in 1990-91.

New York Rangers winger Artemi Panarin collected four assists and Andrew Copp tallied a hat trick in a 6-3 victory against the New York Islanders. Panarin set a single-season Rangers record for most assists by a forward with 74 and sits third among their single-season scorers. The Blueshirts are tied with the Carolina Hurricanes with 108 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Islanders center Jean-Gabriel Pageau and associate coaches Lane Lambert and Jim Hiller missed this game as they were placed in COVID-19 protocol. Winger Anthony Beauvillier was also sidelined by an upper-body injury.

Third-period goals by Jaccob Slavin, Seth Jarvis and Jordan Staal lifted the Carolina Hurricanes over the Winnipeg Jets 4-2. With 108 points, the Hurricanes maintain their hold on first place in the Metropolitan Division with 44 regulation wins. Jets winger Kyle Connor scored his 44th goal of the season.

Jake Guentzel tallied a hat trick to reach his 40th goal of the season to match a career-high as the Pittsburgh Penguins blanked the Boston Bruins 4-0. Casey DeSmith kicked out 52 shots for the shutout. The Penguins opened a two-point lead over the Washington Capitals for third place in the Metropolitan Division with 99 points. The Bruins remain in fourth place in the Atlantic with 99 points.

The St. Louis Blues set a franchise-record 14-game points streak with a 3-1 win over the San Jose Sharks. Pavel Buchnevich had a goal and an assist while Robert Thomas netted his 20th goal of the season. Blues defenseman Torey Krug missed this game with an upper-body injury.

Los Angeles Kings center Phillip Danault extended his goal streak to five games to help his club drop the Chicago Blackhawks 4-1. Adrian Kempe collected two assists for the Kings (94 points), who opened a five-point lead over the Vegas Golden Knights for third place in the Pacific Division.

Buffalo Sabres rookie Owen Power scored his first NHL goal in a 5-2 win over the New Jersey Devils. Victor Olofsson collected three assists and Craig Anderson stopped 29 shots.

The Philadelphia Flyers snapped a six-game losing skid by downing the Montreal Canadiens 6-3. James van Riemsdyk scored twice for the Flyers. The Canadiens have lost seven straight.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 13, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 13, 2022

Recaps of Saturday’s action, Hurricanes close to re-signing Kotkaniemi, Avs re-sign Francouz, Landeskog and Chychrun injured, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Artemi Panarin had a goal and four assists to lead the New York Rangers to a 7-4 victory over the Dallas Stars. Dryden Hunt also collected three assists while Ryan Strome and K’Andre Miller each had two points for the Rangers (79 points), who moved ahead of the Pittsburgh Penguins into second place in the Metropolitan Division. John Klingberg, Esa Lindell and Roope Hintz each had two points for the Stars (67 points), who sit one point behind the Vegas Golden Knights for the final Western Conference wild-card berth.

New York Rangers left wing Artemi Panarin (NHL Images).

The Carolina Hurricanes took over first place in the overall standings by downing the Philadelphia Flyers 3-1, extending their home points streak to 13 games. Hurricanes goaltender Frederik Andersen made 28 saves while Jordan Martinook and Sebastian Aho scored unanswered goals in the third period. The Hurricanes and Colorado Avalanche each have 87 points but the Canes hold a game in hand.

Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid scored twice to lead his club over the Tampa Bay Lightning 4-1. Mikko Koskinen made 31 saves for the win, Tyson Barrie collected two assists in his return from injured reserve while Josh Archibald was activated off long-term injury reserve for the Oilers (68 points), who moved ahead of the Golden Knights into third place in the Pacific Division. The Lightning (80 points) have dropped three straight and hold a one-point lead over the Toronto Maple Leafs for second place in the Atlantic Division.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: McDavid regained first place in the scoring race with 83 points, one up on Florida Panthers winger Jonathan Huberdeau and two ahead of teammate Leon Draisaitl.

Calgary Flames goaltender Jacob Markstrom made 19 saves for his league-leading ninth shutout of the season in a 3-0 win over the Detroit Red Wings. Elias Lindholm reached the 30-goal plateau for the first time in his career and Matthew Tkachuk collected two assists. With 79 points, the Flames hold a seven-point lead over the Los Angeles Kings for first place in the Pacific Division.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Flames defenseman Oliver Kylington missed this game with a lower-body injury and is listed as day-to-day.

The Kings, meanwhile, were shut out by the San Jose Sharks 5-0. Adin Hill made 29 saves in his first start since Jan. 29 while teammate Timo Meier had a goal and two assists.

St. Louis Blues forward Robert Thomas scored twice and set up two others in a 7-4 victory over the Nashville Predators. The Blues blew a 3-0 lead but recovered on three unanswered third-period goals by Thomas, David Perron and Justin Faulk. Matt Duchene scored twice for the Predators, including his 30th goal of the season. The Blues hold a three-point lead over the Minnesota Wild for second place in the Central Division with 75 points. With 70 points, the Predators hold a two-point lead over the Golden Knights for the first wild-card spot in the Western Conference.

The Boston Bruins nipped the Arizona Coyotes 3-2 on a late goal by Charlie Coyle. Craig Smith scored twice and Jeremy Swayman made 27 saves as the Bruins (77 points) hold a three-point lead over the Washington Capitals for the first Eastern Conference wild-card spot.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Coyotes defenseman Jakob Chychrun left the game in the second period following a collision with a Bruins player. No update was provided but the club is hopeful he’ll be day-to-day. Chychrun has been a fixture in the trade rumor mill for the past couple of months. Coyotes forward Christian Fischer missed the game with an upper-body injury and is considered day-to-day.

Patrick Kane collected three assists while Jonathan Toews and Caleb Jones each scored twice as the Chicago Blackhawks defeated the Ottawa Senators 6-3. With 1,156 points, Kane moved in second place among the Blackhawks’ all-time scoring leaders. Blackhawks defenseman Connor Murphy was stretchered from the game after being hit into the boards in the first period. He wasn’t taken to hospital and remained at the arena under the team’s medical supervision. Murphy is traveling back to Chicago with his teammates.

Shootout goals by Tomas Tatar and Jesper Bratt gave the New Jersey Devils a 2-1 victory over the Anaheim Ducks. Devils goalie Nico Daws made 33 saves in regulation and overtime. The loss leaves the Ducks four points out of a wild-card spot in the Western Conference. Ducks defenseman Josh Manson returned from injured reserve but forward Sam Steel wound up on IR with a facial injury.

A shootout goal by Marcus Johansson lifted the Seattle Kraken over the Montreal Canadiens 4-3. The Canadiens rallied on third-period goals by Alexander Romanov and Nick Suzuki to force overtime and the shootout. Canadiens defenseman Joel Edmundson made his season debut after being sidelined last summer by a back injury while Kale Clague was placed on injured reserve with an upper-body injury.

HEADLINES

TSN: The Carolina Hurricanes are reportedly close to agreeing to an eight-year contract extension with center Jesperi Kotkaniemi. It’s believed to be worth between $4.25 million and $4.5 million annually. The Hurricanes successfully signed away Kotkaniemi last summer from the Montreal Canadiens with a one-year, $6.1 million offer sheet.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: TSN’s Chris Johnston reports the deal cannot be formally completed until after the March 21 trade deadline because it’s an eight-year extension. Kotkaniemi was never a $6 million player but that was the salary needed to sign him away from the Canadiens. It was widely assumed he’d accept a lesser annual cap-hit on a long-term deal after this season.

THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog will be sidelined indefinitely by a knee injury. The club hopes to have him back before the start of the playoffs in late April or early May. Defenseman Samuel Girard will miss approximately four weeks with a lower-body injury.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Landeskog and Girard earn a combined $12 million. If they’re placed on long-term injury reserve it would provide the Avalanche with much-needed salary-cap flexibility to add a player or two before the March 21 trade deadline.

COLORADO HOCKEY NOW: The Avalanche signed backup goaltender Pavel Francouz to a two-year, $4 million contract extension.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It remains to be seen if Darcy Kuemper will also get an extension. The Avs starter is slated to become an unrestricted free agent in July.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Blue Jackets captain Boone Jenner is listed as week-to-week with a lower-back injury.

PHILLY HOCKEY NOW: Flyers forward Scott Laughton is sidelined indefinitely after suffering a concussion during Thursday’s game against the Florida Panthers.

TSN: Minnesota Wild winger Marcus Foligno was fined $5,000.00 by the department of player safety for kneeing Blue Jackets winger Jakub Voracek on Friday.