Game recaps plus the latest on Nathan MacKinnon, Cam Talbot, Devante Smith-Pelly and more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
Washington Capitals winger Devante Smith-Pelly was the target of racial taunts by several Chicago Blackhawks fans (Photo via NHL Images)
NHL.COM: The Chicago Blackhawks snapping an eight-game losing skid by crushing the Washington Capitals 7-1 was overshadowed by several Blackhawks fans racially taunting Capitals winger Devante Smith-Pelly while he was in the penalty box serving a five-minute fighting major. The four fans were identified and ejected from the game. The Blackhawks subsequently issued an apology to Smith-Pelly and the Capitals.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Capitals coach Barry Trotz summed it up perfectly following the game: “There is absolutely no place in the game of hockey, or our country, for racism. I think it’s disgusting,” Trotz told reporters. “There’s no place for it. Athletes in this country don’t deserve that. It just shows ignorance.”
Arizona Coyotes goaltender Antti Raanta made 40 saves to pick up his first shutout of the season in a 1-0 blanking of the Edmonton Oilers. Following the game, Oilers goalie Cam Talbot voiced his displeasure over the league’s goaltender interference rules after two calls went against his club. “There’s no consistency and I’m fucking sick of it,” said Talbot. “It’s fucking ridiculous. You can quote me, they can fine me, I don’t give a fuck anymore.”
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’ll be interesting to see what the NHL’s reaction will be toward Talbot, whose frustration is likely shared by many of his peers around the league.
The Vegas Golden Knights set another milestone with their 6-3 win over the floundering Montreal Canadiens, tying the record for most home wins (22) for a team in its inaugural season. Reilly Smith scored twice and Jonathan Marchessault collected three assists for the Golden Knights.
The Pittsburgh Penguins collected their 11th straight home victory by downing the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-3. Pittsburgh center Evgeni Malkin scored a goal and added two assists, becoming the fourth player in Penguins history to reach 900 career points.
Florida Panthers goaltender Roberto Luongo made a triumphant return to action on Saturday with a 30-save effort in a 6-3 victory over the Calgary Flames. It was Luongo’s first start since being sidelined by injury on Dec. 4. Mike Matheson had two goals and Aleksander Barkov collected three points.
Ottawa Senators center Derick Brassard scored a goal and set up two other as his club downed the New York Rangers 6-3. Rangers winger Michael Grabner had two goals, while teammate Pavel Buchnevich returned to action after missing seven games with a concussion.
Eddie Lack kicked out 48 shots backstopping the New Jersey Devils to their third straight win by edging the struggling Tampa Bay Lightning 4-3. The Bolts have dropped three of their last four games. Devils forward Miles Wood could face supplemental discipline for boarding Lightning forward Vladislav Namestnikov.
The Los Angeles Kings snapped a three-game losing skid by doubling up the Buffalo Sabres 4-2. Anze Kopitar led the way with two goals for the Kings, who picked up their first win in Buffalo in 15 years.
Detroit Red Wings goaltender Petr Mrazek made 31 saves to give his club a 3-1 win over the Nashville Predators.
Loui Eriksson scored twice to lead the Vancouver Canucks to a 6-1 upset of the Boston Bruins.
Nick Ritchie’s goal in the 11th round of the shootout gave the Anaheim Ducks a 3-2 victory over the Minnesota Wild.
The Columbus Blue Jackets activated defenseman Ryan Murray off injured reserve and sent him to their AHL affiliate for conditioning.
NBC SPORTS: Good news for the Colorado Avalanche, as leading scorer Nathan MacKinnon will return to action on Sunday against the Edmonton Oilers after missing eight games with an upper-body injury. Unfortunately, they’ll be playing without backup goaltender Jonathan Bernier, who suffered a head injury during the Avs 6-1 loss on Friday to Winnipeg.
TSN: Former NHL defenseman Greg Smyth recently passed away at age 51. He played in “228 career games over 10 NHL seasons with the Flyers, Quebec Nordiques, Calgary Flames, Florida Panthers, Toronto Maple Leafs and Chicago Blackhawks” from 1986-87 to 1996-97.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Smyth’s friends, family and former teammates.