NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 25, 2023
The Leafs rally to push the Lightning to the brink of elimination, the Golden Knights are in the driver’s seat in their series with the Jets and the Kraken and Devils tie their respective series at two games apiece. Details and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
NHL.COM: The Toronto Maple Leafs overcame a 4-1 deficit to defeat the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-4 in Game 4 of their best-of-seven first-round series. Auston Matthews scored twice to start the rally in the third period, Morgan Rielly tallied the tying goal and Alex Kerfoot scored the winning goal in overtime. Alex Killorn scored twice for the Lightning, who are now down 3-1 in the series and on the brink of elimination as the series returns to Toronto for Game 5 on Thursday.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Tampa Bay was in full control of this game entering the third period but seemed to run out of gas against the Leafs’ determined push. The Lightning lacks the depth that carried them to three straight Stanley Cup Finals and two championships and it showed in that period.
Toronto was in this position two years ago but fell in seven games to an underdog Montreal Canadiens team. This year, however, I think it’s going to be a different outcome. This is a deeper, more mature Leafs roster with the presence of a proven playoff performer like Ryan O’Reilly (seven points in four games) making a difference in key situations.
Vegas Golden Knights forward Brett Howden scored twice in a 4-2 victory over the Winnipeg Jets. Shea Theodore and Chandler Stephenson each collected two assists for the Golden Knights as they take a 3-1 series lead back to Vegas on Thursday. Blake Wheeler had a goal and an assist for the Jets, who also lost center Mark Scheifele with an injured hand in the first period. He’ll be re-evaluated on Tuesday.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The injury-depleted Jets are in a deep hole against a healthier, deeper Golden Knights roster. Winnipeg defenseman Josh Morrissey is done for the series with a lower-body injury while winger Nikolaj Ehlers remains sidelined by an upper-body injury. Scheifele’s injury could be the final nail in their playoff coffin.
An overtime goal by Jordan Eberle lifted the Seattle Kraken over the Colorado Avalanche 3-2 to tie their series at two games apiece. The Kraken took a 2-0 lead on goals by Will Borgen and Daniel Sprong but Mikko Rantanen scored twice for the Avalanche to tie the game. Seattle forward Jared McCann left the game in the first period after a late hit from Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar, who claimed he was unsure whether the puck was still in play when he hit McCann. This series resumed in Denver for Game 5 on Wednesday.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A weak attempt by Makar to explain away this uncharacteristic late hit on his part. The puck was going out of play when the incident occurred. The on-ice officials initially assessed a major penalty but changed it to a two-minute minor in yet another example of the plethora of puzzling calls in every series of this round.
The New Jersey Devils evened their series with the New York Rangers at two games apiece with a 3-1 win in Game 4. Jack Hughes, Jonas Siegenthaler and Ondrej Palat scored while Akira Schmid stopped 22 shots for the win. Vincent Trocheck replied for the Rangers. This series returns to New Jersey for Game 5 on Thursday.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Rangers seemed headed for a sweep after dominating New Jersey in the first two games. However, the Devils did a fine job shutting down the Blueshirts’ offense by limiting them to just two goals in the next two games. Schmid’s steady goaltending seems to be a calming influence on his teammates.
NHL.COM: The department of player safety fined Florida Panthers winger Matthew Tkachuk $5,000.00 for cross-checking Boston Bruins forward Garnet Hathaway during Game 4 of their first-round series on Sunday.
Speaking of the Bruins, captain Patrice Bergeron could make his series debut in Game 5 on Wednesday. He missed every game thus far with an upper-body injury. Center David Krejci could miss his third straight game with an upper-body injury.
THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Stars winger Joe Pavelski resumed skating with several teammates on Monday for the first time since suffering a concussion in Game 1 of their series against the Minnesota Wild. There remains no timetable for his return to action.
TWINCITIES.COM: The Wild, meanwhile, needs more production from scorers Kirill Kaprizov and Matt Boldy. Kaprizov has scored only once while Boldy is still seeking his first goal of this series.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Will it be Stuart Skinner or Jack Campbell in goal for the Oilers in Game 5 tonight against the Los Angeles Kings? Skinner got the start in every game of this series but Campbell took over after the first period in Game 4 with his club down 3-0 and backstopped them to a 5-4 series-tying overtime win.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I think Campbell earned the start based on his solid play in Game 4 but they’ll probably return with Skinner for Game 5.
NEW YORK POST: The Islanders must do a better job of capitalizing on their scoring chances against the Carolina Hurricanes, especially on rebounds. The Isles are down 3-1 in this series and could be eliminated by the Hurricanes tonight.
CALGARY SUN: The Flames signed forward Walker Duehr to a two-year contract extension worth $825K.
NHL.COM: Justin Braun announced his retirement after 13 NHL seasons. The 36-year-old defenseman had 34 goals and 199 points in 842 regular-season games between 2010-11 and 2022-23 with the San Jose Sharks, Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers. He also had three goals and 16 points in 119 playoff games and reached the 2016 Stanley Cup Final with the Sharks.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Best wishes to Braun in his future endeavors.