NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 4, 2017

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 4, 2017

The Montreal Canadiens celebrate their win over the Florida Panthers to clinch the Atlantic Division crown.

Game updates, stars of the week and the NHL opts not to participate in 2018 Olympics in your morning coffee headlines.   

NHL.COM: The Montreal Canadiens clinched their second Atlantic Division title in three years by downing the Florida Panthers 4-1. Artturi Lehkonen scored twice for the Habs and call-up goalie Charlie Lindgren made 31 saves. Panthers forward Jonathan Marchessault tallied his 30th goal of the season. The Habs played without defenseman Shea Weber, who will miss another game with a lower-body injury. 

The Toronto Maple Leafs moved backed into second place in the Atlantic Division with a 4-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres. Auston Matthews scored his 39th goal, breaking the record for American-born NHL rookies and setting a new points record (67) for Leafs freshmen. The Leafs (93 points) sit one ahead of the Ottawa Senators.

The Senators, meanwhile fell 5-4 in overtime to the Detroit Red Wings. However, they picked up a point to push the Boston Bruins (92 points) into the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. Senators captain Erik Karlsson return to action, but Cody Ceci, Marc Methot and Zack Smith could miss the remainder of the regular season with injuries

The NHL yesterday announced it will not participate in the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, citing an overwhelming reluctance on the part of the team owners to shutter the league for two weeks and the risk of injury to star players participating in the tournament. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Reaction to this announcement among NHL players and the punditry is largely negative. I’ll have my take on this subject later today in my Soapbox section. 

Chicago Blackhawks winger Artemi Panarin, Washington Capitals winger Marcus Johansson and Edmonton Oilers goaltender Cam Talbot are the NHL’s three stars for the week ending April 2, 2017.

ARIZONA SPORTS:  Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson will miss the remainder of the regular season on a leave of absence following the recent death of his mother. 

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Blue Jackets defenseman Zack Werenski (shoulder injury) is listed as day-to-day. 

STLTODAY.COM:  Blues center Jori Lehtera is ready to return to action after missing 12 games with a concussion. 

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: The Carolina Hurricanes have recalled winger Bryan Bickell from the Charlotte Checkers. Bickell was diagnosed last fall with multiple sclerosis.

NJ.COM: New Jersey Devils defenseman Dalton Prout received a two-game suspension for his hit on Philadelphia Flyers blueliner Radko Gudas.

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 3, 2017

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 3, 2017

San Jose Sharks center Joe Thornton limps off the ice after suffering a left-leg injury against the Vancouver Canucks.

Game recaps and injury updates in your NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COMTomas Hertl scored twice to give the San Jose Sharks a 3-1 win over the Vancouver Canucks. While the Sharks (95 points) moved within two points of the Edmonton Oilers for second in the Pacific Division, center Joe Thornton left the game with a left-leg injury. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That injury looked serious as Thornton couldn’t put any weight on his leg. If he’s out long term it could significantly hamper the Sharks’ hopes of returning to the Stanley Cup Final. 

Braden Holtby made 35 saves as the Washington Capitals took a 3-0 lead over the Columbus Blue Jackets and held on for a 3-2 win. The Capitals (112 points) now sit five up on the Pittsburgh Penguins for top spot in the Eastern Conference and move closer to winning their second straight Presidents’ Trophy for the best regular-season record.

Blue Jackets defenseman Zach Werenski was forced from the game with an upper-body injury after a hard hit from Capitals captain Alex Ovechin. No details yet as to the severity of his injury.

Matt Murray made 33 saves backstopping the Pittsburgh Penguins to a 3-2 win over the Carolina Hurricanes. With 106 points, the Penguins moved one point ahead of the Blue Jackets into second place in the Metropolitan Division.

David Perron had a goal and two assists in the St. Louis Blues’ 4-1 victory over the Nashville Predators. Despite the loss, the Preds still clinched a playoff berth in the Western Conference.

Mike Smith made 34 saves as the Arizona Coyotes defeated the Los Angeles Kings 2-1, officially eliminating the latter from playoff contention. 

SPECTOR’S NOTE: All eight Western Conference playoff spots have been filled. Three spots remain up for grabs in the Eastern Conference. 

The Anaheim Ducks moved into sole possession of first place in the Pacific Division by edging the Calgary Flames 4-3. Ducks center Ryan Kesler tallied three assists. 

Minnesota Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk set a franchise record with his 38th win of the season as his club downed the Colorado Avalanche 5-2. The win gives the Wild 100 points, seven points back of the Chicago Blackhawks for second place in the Central Division. They were playing without winger Jason Zucker, who missed his second straight game with a lower-body injury.

Ryan Spooner, Patrice Bergeron and Kevan Miller scored as the Boston Bruins edged the Blackhawks 3-2. The Bruins (92 points) moved ahead of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Ottawa Senators into second place in the Atlantic Division, though those clubs each hold two games in hand.

Adam Erne scored twice and Ondrej Palat collected three assists to lead the Tampa Bay Lightning to a 6-3 victory over the Dallas Stars. The win moves the Lightning (88 points) within three of the Senators for the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference. Should the Lightning make the playoffs, winger Ryan Callahan (hip injury) might be able to return later in the postseason. 

Anders Lee scored twice as the New York Islanders doubled up the Buffalo Sabres 4-2 to keep their playoff hopes alive. The Isles (86 points) are five behind the Senators and two behind the Lightning.

Mats Zuccarallo collected three assists as the New York Rangers edged the Philadelphia Flyers 4-3 to officially eliminate the latter from playoff contention. Flyers goalie Michal Neuvirth was released from hospital yesterday after spending the night there under observation and is resting comfortably at home. Neuvirth collapsed in Saturday’s game against the New Jersey Devils.

Speaking of the Devils, Dalton Prout will have a hearing today with the NHL’s department of player safety for interference on Flyers defenseman Radko Gudas.