NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 15, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 15, 2021

The Penguins down the Capitals, the Golden Knights edge the Avalanche, plus the latest injury and COVID protocol list updates in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Bryan Rust scored two goals and collected an assist as the Pittsburgh Penguins defeated the Washington Capitals 6-3. Jake Guentzel also had a three-point performance (one goal, two assists) while Sidney Crosby had a goal and an assist.

PIttsburgh Penguins winger Bryan Rust (NHL Images)

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Crosby also set a new milestone, surpassing Hall of Famer Al MacInnis for the most points (1,275) by a Nova Scotia-born NHL player.

Marc-Andre Fleury turned in a 30-save shutout as the Vegas Golden Knights blanked the Colorado Avalanche 1-0. Max Pacioretty tallied the game’s only goal. It was the Avalanche’s first game since their schedule was postponed on Feb. 4 for COVID-19 protocols.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fleury now has 473 career victories, sitting just 11 behind Ed Belfour for fourth on the all-time list. His 63 shutouts place him one back of Henrik Lundqvist for 16th all-time.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Lightning captain Steven Stamkos came off the NHL’s COVID protocol list yesterday after it was determined his first test was a false positive. He remains sidelined with a lower-body injury.

WGR 550: Buffalo Sabres coach Ralph Krueger and defenseman Rasmus Dahlin came off the protocol list yesterday. Krueger, who tested positive for COVID-19 earlier this month, joined the Sabres on the ice for a few minutes during yesterday’s practice. He isn’t sure if he’ll be behind the bench for their game today against the New York Islanders. The Sabres haven’t played since Jan. 31 due to COVID protocols.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: The Flyers still have seven players on the protocol list. Travis Sanheim came off the list yesterday but winger Travis Konecny was added to it. The Flyers’ next scheduled game is Thursday against the New York Rangers, after which they’re slated to fly to Lake Tahoe for an outdoor game against the Boston Bruins on Sunday.

TORONTO STAR: Joe Thornton returns to the Maple Leafs lineup tonight against the Ottawa Senators after missing 10 games with a rib injury.

WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Jets center Pierre-Luc Dubois (lower-body injury) will miss tonight’s game against the Edmonton Oilers.

STLTODAY.COM: Blues winger Jaden Schwartz is listed as day-to-day with a lower-body injury. He joins Vladimir Tarasenko (shoulder surgery), Tyler Bozak (upper body, likely concussion), Robert Thomas (broken hand) and Sammy Blais (undisclosed) on the sidelines.

THE MERCURY NEWS: San Jose Sharks defenseman Radim Simek (upper body) on injured reserve.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 14, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 14, 2021

Recaps from Saturday’s action, the Senators send Paquette and Galchenyuk to the Hurricanes for Dzingel, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Brady Tkachuk scored in the dying seconds of the third period to lift the Ottawa Senators over the Winnipeg Jets 2-1. Evgenii Dadonov scored the game-tying in the second period. Mark Scheifele tallied for the Jets. The Senators snapped a four-game losing skid.

Ottawa Senators winger Brady Tkachuk (NHL Images).

Earlier in the day, the Senators traded forwards Cedric Paquette and Alex Galchenyuk to the Carolina Hurricanes in exchange for winger Ryan Dzingel.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Paquette was the prize for the Hurricanes as they sought to add more grit and playoff experience to their forward lines. He’d won a Stanley Cup last season with the Tampa Bay Lightning before they shipped him to the Senators in an offseason cost-cutting move.

The Senators hope to boost their anemic scoring punch by reacquiring Dzingel, whose best seasons were in Ottawa before he was traded in 2019 to the Columbus Blue Jackets. He signed later that year with the Hurricanes but struggled to regain his scoring touch. The 28-year-old winger is in the final year of his contract so the Sens won’t be on the hook for long if he doesn’t pan out.

Galchenyuk is now on his sixth team since 2017-18. His production has steadily deteriorated and was a frequent healthy scratch with the Sens this season.

Speaking of the Hurricanes, they downed the Dallas Stars 4-3 on a shootout goal by Vincent Trocheck. The Stars have dropped their last five games.

The San Jose Sharks dropped their belated home opener 3-1 to the Vegas Golden Knights. Chandler Stephenson tallied a goal and collected an assist for the Golden Knights. The Sharks also lost defensemen Erik Karlsson (lower body) and Radim Simek (upper body) to injuries.

Third-period goals by Mathew Barzal and Jean-Gabriel Pageau carried the New York Islanders to a 4-2 win over the Boston Bruins, snapping the latter’s 10-game points streak. Pageau had two goals for the Isles, including a short-handed tally.

Tyler Johnson scored twice as the Tampa Bay Lightning netted four first-period goals on route to a 6-1 drubbing of the Florida Panthers. Andrei Vasilevskiy made 33 saves for the Lightning, who also announced Anthony Cirelli was listed as week-to-week with an upper-body injury suffered during Thursday’s game against the Panthers.

Montreal Canadiens winger Brendan Gallagher tallied the tie-breaker as his club edged the Toronto Maple Leafs 2-1 to end the latter’s four-game win streak. Habs goaltender Carey Price made 21 saves. Leafs center Auston Matthews picked up an assist to extend his points streak to 12 games.

The St. Louis Blues nipped the Arizona Coyotes 5-4 on an overtime goal by Mike Hoffman. The Coyotes played without forward Johan Larsson as he’s serving a two-game suspension for an illegal hit to the head of Blues forward Zach Sanford in their previous match.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was the sixth straight game between the two clubs due to schedule changes brought on by COVID-19. They’ve each won three games with the final contest in this unexpected best-of-seven slated for Monday.

Alex DeBrincat’s overtime goal gave the Chicago Blackhawks a 3-2 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Patrick Kane collected two assists including one on the game-winner. Patrik Laine and Cam Atkinson replied for the Jackets.

The Detroit Red Wings doubled up the Nashville Predators 4-2. Wings forward Luke Glendening had a goal and two assists. The Predators pulled goalie Pekka Rinne after he gave up three goals on 21 shots.

Third-period goals by Tyler Myers and Brandon Sutter gave the Vancouver Canucks a 3-1 victory over the Calgary Flames. The win ended a six-game losing skid by the Canucks. Jacob Markstrom made 43 saves for the Flames. Before the games, Canucks owner Francesco Aquilini tweeted his “full confidence” in general manager Jim Benning and head coach Travis Green. “Progression is not always a straight line,” tweeted Aquilini. “There is no easy fix, only patience, commitment and hard work.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: That will buy some time for Benning and Green but we’ll see if they still have Aquilini’s confidence by season’s end if the Canucks miss the playoffs.

IN OTHER NEWS…

THE DENVER POST: Nathan MacKinnon has fully recovered from his lower-body injury and will be ready to suit up when the Colorado Avalanche face the Vegas Golden Knights today. It’ll be the Avs’ first game since their schedule was postponed by COVID-19 nearly two weeks ago.

NEW YORK POST: Former Rangers defenseman Tony DeAngelo took responsibility for the mistakes in his on-ice play during an interview with Larry Brooks on Friday. He also claimed he’s been misportrayed in the media. “I’m not a racist, I’m not an extremist and I’m not an insurrectionist”, said DeAngelo.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: DeAngelo remains sidelined by the Rangers as they attempt to trade him to another NHL club.

TRIBLIVE.COM: The Pittsburgh Penguins have made requests to the governor and the state of Pennsylvania seeking permission to open their arena to spectators at 25 percent capacity.

TORONTO STAR: Long-time hockey writer Frank Orr passed away Saturday at age 84. Winner of numerous sportswriting honors, Orr was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 1989. He rose to fame during the 1960s and 1970s with his NHL coverage, particularly the Toronto Maple Leafs. He also mentored countless sportswriters, many of whom still cover the NHL today.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Orr’s family, friends and colleagues.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 8, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – February 8, 2021

Recaps of Sunday’s action plus the latest injury and COVID-19 updates and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Scott Laughton tallied his first career NHL hat trick while a returning Sean Couturier scored twice and added an assist as the Philadelphia Flyers beat the Washington Capitals 7-4. Joel Farabee collected three assists for the Flyers. Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin scored twice and set up two others while Tom Wilson had a four-point game.

Philadelphia Flyers forward Scott Laughton (NHL Images).

Before the game, Flyers defenseman Travis Sanheim entered the league’s COVID-19 protocol list, resulting in rapid testing of both clubs. Once those tests returned negative the game was allowed to proceed.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The NHL and NHLPA are reportedly looking into implementing more rapid testing league-wide in hope of flattening the rising COVID-19 curve among the teams. The Buffalo Sabres, Colorado Avalanche, Minnesota Wild and New Jersey Devils are currently sidelined because a number of their players are on the COVID protocol list.

A third-period goal by Chandler Stephenson lifted the Vegas Golden Knights to a 4-3 win over the Los Angeles Kings. Stephenson scored twice while teammate Zach Whitecloud tallied his first NHL regulation goal. Kings’ rookie Jaret Anderson-Dolan netted his first career NHL goal. The Kings played without forward Martin Frk as he was unavailable due to a lower-body injury.

Alex DeBrincat scored twice, including the winner in overtime, as the Chicago Blackhawks edged the Dallas Stars 2-1. Patrick Kane had two assists and Malcolm Subban kicked out 31 shots for the win.

The Detroit Red Wings upset the Florida Panthers 4-1, handing the latter their first regulation loss of the season. Wings forward Givani Smith had a Gordie Howe hat trick with a goal, an assist and a fight with Panthers defenseman Aaron Ekblad following Smith’s hit to the head of Panthers’ blueliner MacKenzie Weegar. No word if Smith will face supplemental discipline. Wings forward Anthony Mantha was a healthy scratch from this contest.

A controversial offside call in the second period overshadowed the Carolina Hurricanes 6-5 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Officials overruled an offside challenge by the Jackets on a goal by Hurricanes center Vincent Trocheck and assessed the Jackets a bench penalty. The officials subsequently decided the play was offside after all and waved off the final 45 seconds of the Hurricanes power-play but still allowed Trocheck’s goal to stand.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Usually outspoken Jackets coach John Tortorella declined to offer his opinion following the game. “You know what? I’m gonna let the league explain it,” said Tortorella. Jackets winger Patrick Laine, who scored twice in the game, didn’t shy away from expressing his view. “I think that’s the biggest joke I’ve ever seen,” said Laine.

HEADLINES

WGR 550: Buffalo Sabres forwards Dylan Cozens, Curtis Lazar and Casey Mittelstadt joined teammates Taylor Hall, Rasmus Ristolainen, Brandon Montour, Tobias Rieder and Jake McCabe on the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list.

STARTRIBUNE.COM: Minnesota Wild defenseman Brad Hunt joined teammates Nick Bjugstad, Nick Bonino, Ian Cole, Joel Eriksson Ek, Marcus Foligno, Marcus Johansson, Jared Spurgeon and Nico Sturm on the COVID protocol list.

TORONTO SUN: Maple Leafs winger Wayne Simmonds could be sidelined up to six weeks after getting hit in the hand with a shot during Saturday’s game against the Vancouver Canucks.

SPORTSNET: The Leafs signed forward Scott Sabourin to a one-year, two-way contract.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sabourin signing is a further indication Simmonds could miss significant time.

SPORTSNET: The Edmonton Oilers activated goaltender Mike Smith off long-term injury reserve.

TSN: San Jose Sharks defenseman Radim Simek was fined $5,000.00 for spearing Anaheim Ducks forward Adam Henrique during Saturday’s game between the two clubs.

FOX SPORTS MIDWEST: The St. Louis Blues activated defenseman Robert Bortuzzo off injured reserved, placed winger Robert Thomas (broken thumb) on IR and recalled winger Jacob de la Rose.

NHL.COM: Former NHL forward Ralph Backstrom died Sunday at age 83 following a lengthy illness. Backstrom won the Calder Memorial Trophy as rookie of the year in 1959 and won six Stanley Cups with the Montreal Canadiens. He tallied 278 goals and 639 points in 1, 032 NHL games with the Canadiens, Los Angeles Kings and Chicago Blackhawks, as well as 214 points in 234 games in the WHA.

Backstrom went on to coach the University of Denver, scouted for the St. Louis Blues and founded the Colorado Eagles, now the AHL farm club of the Colorado Avalanche.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Backstrom lived a full, productive life in hockey and the game is better for it. My condolences to his family, friends, teammates and associates.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 15, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 15, 2021

Recaps of Thursday’s action and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Connor McDavid had a hat trick and Leon Draisaitl had four assists to lead the Edmonton Oilers over the Vancouver Canucks 5-2. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins also scored twice for the Oilers and added an assist while Mikko Koskinen made 38 saves for the win. The Oilers peppered Canucks netminder Thatcher Demko with 46 shots.

Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: McDavid, Draisaitl and Nugent-Hopkins seemed determined to make amends for their unproductive efforts in the Oilers’ 5-3 loss to the Canucks the night before. They were the best players on the ice in this game.

Winnipeg Jets winger Patrik Laine scored twice, including the winner in overtime, as his club edged the Calgary Flames 4-3. Kyle Connor had a goal and two assists for the Jets. Johnny Gaudreau, Matthew Tkachuk and Elias Lindholm replied for the Flames.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Laine doesn’t appear to be troubled by the trade rumors dogging him since last fall. If this game is any indication, the 22-year-old sniper could have one of the best seasons of his career.

The New York Islanders spoiled the NHL debut of Alexis Lafreniere by blanking the New York Rangers 4-0. Anders Lee scored twice while Semyon Varlamov made 24 saves for the shutout. Rangers center Mika Zibanejad played over 19 minutes after recovering from COVID-19.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lafreniere, the first-overall pick in the 2020 NHL Draft, saw 15:21 of ice time with one shot on goal and a two-minute hooking penalty that led to Lee’s second goal. Overall, the Rangers played poorly in this contest as the Isles took an early 3-0 lead and never looked back.

Peter Laviolette picked up his first win as head coach of the Washington Capitals as his club hung on to defeat the Buffalo Sabres 6-4. T.J. Oshie had a three-point night (one goal, two assists), Alex Ovechkin collected two assists while Nicklas Backstrom and John Carlson each had a goal and an assist. Taylor Hall had a goal and an assist in his debut with the Sabres while teammate Eric Staal left the game in the third period after he was hit in the head by the Capitals’ Nic Dowd. Staal is listed as day-to-day.

Brad Marchand opened the scoring and ended it with a shootout goal as the Boston Bruins nipped the New Jersey Devils 3-2. Devils center Jack Hughes collected two assists while teammate Mackenzie Blackwood made 35 saves.

Filip Forsberg snapped a 1-1 tie in the third period as the Nashville Predators went on to beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-1. Juuse Saros kicked out 29 shots for the Predators.

Mark Stone scored a goal and set up another in his first game as Vegas Golden Knights captain, leading them to a 5-2 win over the Anaheim Ducks. Alex Pietrangelo had a team-leading 25:40 of ice time and collected an assist in his debut with the Golden Knights. Max Comtois scored twice for the Ducks.

A shootout goal by Logan Couture gave the San Jose Sharks a 4-3 win over the Arizona Coyotes. The Sharks had a 3-1 lead in the third but the Coyotes rallied to tie it on goals by Clayton Keller and Phil Kessel. Tomas Hertl scored twice for the Sharks and picked up an assist while teammate Evander Kane had a goal and two assists.

Kirill Kaprizov made an impressive NHL debut with two assists and a breakaway overtime goal to lift the Minnesota Wild to a 4-3 victory over the Los Angeles Kings. Jeff Carter and Anze Kopitar each had two points for the Kings.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kaprizov was the star of the game as he seemed to have little difficulty adjusting to the NHL pace. He’s among the top rookies for watch in this season’s race for the Calder Memorial Trophy.

The Carolina Hurricanes opened their season by shutting out the Detroit Red Wings 3-0. Nino Niederreiter, Ryan Dzingel and Andrei Svechnikov were the goal scorers while Petr Mrazek made 14 saves for the shutout.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hurricanes’ margin of victory would’ve been larger if not for a 40-save performance by Wings goalie Thomas Greiss, who got little help from his teammates in this contest.

IN OTHER NOTABLE NEWS…

NBC SPORTS CHICAGO: The Blackhawks placed Jonathan Toews (illness) and Kirby Dach (wrist surgery) on long-term injury reserve and placed defenseman Brent Seabrook (back) on injured reserve.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Toews going on LTIR indicates his mysterious illness will keep him out of the lineup much longer than anticipated.

STLTODAY.COM: Blues forward Sammy Blais received a two-way suspension for an illegal hit to the head of Colorado Avalanche defenseman Devon Toews on Wednesday. Toews left the game but returned and afterward said he suffered no lingering effects from the hit.

TSN: The Carolina Hurricanes placed goaltender Anton Forsberg on waivers yesterday just two days after claiming him from the Edmonton Oilers.

CBS SPORTS: The Sharks placed defenseman Radim Simek (undisclosed) on injured reserve.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 10, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 10, 2020

Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon injured against the Kings, the NHL limits locker-room access over coronavirus concerns, and more in today’s morning coffee headlines.

GAME RECAPS

NHL.COM: Nathan MacKinnon suffered a lower-body injury as his Colorado Avalanche dropped a 3-1 decision to the Los Angeles Kings, who extended their winning streak to six games. Avs coach Jared Bednar had no update on MacKinnon’s condition. Colorado (90 points) sit two points behind the St. Louis Blues for first place in the Western Conference.

Colorado Avalanche star Nathan MacKinnon was injured during a 3-1 loss to the LA Kings on Monday (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Avalanche has persevered despite their injury-depleted roster throughout this season. A potentially lengthy absence of their leading scorer, however, will be a serious test. 

Despite a 3-2 shootout loss to the Buffalo Sabres, the Washington Capitals regained sole possession of first place in the Metropolitan Division with 91 points. Sabres captain Jack Eichel netted his 36th of the season while teammate Dominik Kahun potted the winning. Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin tallied his 48th goal of the season, tying Boston’s David Pastrnak for first place among this season’s goal scorers. Washington has just four wins in their last 10 games.

The Florida Panthers upset the Blues 2-1. Mike Hoffman and Brett Connolly were the Panthers’ goal scorers while Chris Driedger made 26 saves for the win. The Panthers moved within a point of an Eastern Conference wild-card spot and the third-place Toronto Maple Leafs in the Atlantic Division with a 2-1 upset of the Blues.

Shea Theodore’s overtime goal lifted the Vegas Golden Knights to a 3-2 win over the Edmonton Oilers. With 86 points, the Golden Knights hold a three-point lead over the Oilers for first place in the Pacific Division. Oilers goalie Mikko Koskinen made 45 saves in a losing cause. Edmonton captain Connor McDavid missed the game due to an illness.

Nikolaj Ehlers scored and set up two others as the Winnipeg Jets picked up their third straight victory by doubling up the Arizona Coyotes 4-2. With 78 points, the Jets hold the first wild-card berth in the Western Conference. The Coyotes, meanwhile, sit three points out of a playoff spot in the West.

HEADLINES

The NHL is joining the NBA, Major League Baseball, and Major League Soccer by limiting access to locker rooms and clubhouses to players and essential personnel over concerns about the coronavirus. Media groups responded with a statement expressing their understanding of this situation, but hoping access won’t be unnecessarily limited in the short and long term.

NBC SPORTS: The San Jose Sharks released a statement in response to Santa Clara county banning all mass gatherings exceeding 1,000 people for the rest of the month over coronavirus concerns. The team will be reviewing each upcoming event scheduled at SAP Center and will provide updates in the coming days. The Sharks have three homes games scheduled for March 19, 21, and 29.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Those games could be postponed, though rescheduling them will be difficult with the Stanley Cup playoffs beginning on April 8. The Sharks could also end up playing those games in an empty arena.

NHL.COM: New York Rangers center Mika Zibanejad, Colorado Avalanche captain Gabriel Landeskog, and Edmonton Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl are the NHL’s three stars for the week ending March 8.

The department of player safety fined Blues winger Oskar Sundqvist $5,000.00 for roughing Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Adam Boqvist on Sunday.

CBS SPORTS: The Sharks officially announced the re-signing of defensesman Radim Simek to a four-year, $9-million contract extension.

Vegas Golden Knights winger Alex Tuch suffered a setback in his recovery from a lower-body injury and has returned to Las Vegas

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: With goaltender Petr Mrazek set to return to action, the Carolina Hurricanes sent Alex Nedeljkovic to the AHL’s Charlotte Checkers.

NBC SPORTS: Philadelphia Flyers winger Oskar Lindblom joined his teammates for their annual team photo yesterday. Lindblom has been sidelined since December as he undergoes treatment for Ewing’s sarcoma.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 3, 2020

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 3, 2020

Leon Draisaitl tallies four goals against the Predators, the three stars of the week, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Leon Draisaitl tallied four goals and Connor McDavid had four assists as the Edmonton Oilers thumped the Nashville Predators 8-3. The Oilers broke a 3-3 tie with five unanswered third-period goals. With 78 points, the Oilers moved within two points of the first-place Vegas Golden Knights in the Pacific Division. The Predators (72 points) cling to the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference. Draisaitl (107 points) holds a big lead in the NHL scoring race. He also moved into fourth place (43 goals) in the goal-scoring race.

Leon Draisaitl had a five-point game in the Edmonton Oilers’ 8-3 win over the Nashville Predators (Photo via NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Barring injury or a significant scoring drought, Draisaitl has the Art Ross Trophy locked up for this season. He’s also put himself into the running for the Richard Trophy as the league’s top goal scorer, and should be a serious contender for the Hart Trophy as MVP. 

The Colorado Avalanche (87 points) edged the Detroit Red Wings 2-1 to move within one point of the Western Conference-leading St. Louis Blues. Michael Hutchinson made 17 saves in his debut with the Avs. Colorado rookie defenseman Cale Makar missed the game with an upper-body injury and is listed as day-to-day. The Wings, meanwhile, played without winger Adam Erne, who could miss the remainder of the season with a broken hand.

Minnesota Wild winger Kevin Fiala, Nashville Predators defenseman Ryan Ellis, and Colorado Avalanche goaltender Pavel Francouz were the NHL’s three stars for the week ending March 1.

THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH: Blue Jackets winger Josh Anderson underwent shoulder surgery on Monday and will need four-to-six months to recover.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: There was considerable interest in Anderson leading up to last Monday’s NHL trade deadline, but uncertainty over the status of his injury likely scared off potential suitors. His status as a restricted free agent with arbitration rights who’s also a year away from unrestricted free agent status could make him a fixture in this summer’s rumor mill.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: The San Jose Sharks indicated defenseman Jacob Middleton is week-to-week with a lower-body injury. They’re also believed to have agreed to a four-year, $8-million contract extension with blueline Radim Simek, though this hasn’t been confirmed by general manager Doug Wilson.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Sidelined Pittsburgh Penguins defensemen Brian Dumoulin and John Marino are close to returning to the lineup. Both are game-day decision’s for tonight’s contest against the Ottawa Senators.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: And not a moment too soon for the struggling Penguins, who’ve dropped six straight games.

TORONTO SUN: Sidelined Maple Leafs blueliners Morgan Rielly and Cody Ceci have returned to practice and could rejoin the lineup sometime next week.

WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Jets defenseman Josh Morrissey is expected to return to action tonight against the Buffalo Sabres after being sidelined for four games with an upper-body injuy. Winger Patrik Laine (left foot injury) could also return tonight.

OTTAWA SUN: Senators goalie Marcus Hogberg is returning to Sweden for family reasons. The club hopes to provide a further update shortly.

SPORTSNET: The NHL has no plans to make any changes to its emergency backup goalie rule.