Game recaps, Blue Jackets clinch final Eastern playoff spot, Leafs goaltending controversy, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: The Columbus Blue Jackets clinched the final Eastern Conference wild-card spot by edging the New York Rangers 3-2. Artemi Panarin scored the only goal in the shootout. The Jackets’ victory also officially eliminated the Montreal Canadiens from the playoff race.
Columbus Blue Jackets winger Artemi Panarin’s shootout goal clinched a playoff spot for his club in a 3-2 win over the New York Rangers (Photo via NHL Images).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I’ll have more on what the offseason might hold for the Canadiens later today in the Rumors section.
Speaking of the Rangers, the New York Post’s Larry Brooks reports former Tampa Bay Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman is amenable to the possibility of becoming the next president of the New York Rangers.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nothing’s set in stone here as the Rangers could consider other candidates, such as Columbus president John Davidson. Still, this report pokes a hole in the assumption that Yzerman is only interested in rejoining the Detroit Red Wings.
Patrick Kane scored two goals as the Chicago Blackhawks rolled to a 6-1 win over the Dallas Stars. While the Stars are heading to the postseason, the loss prevents them from clinching the first wild-card spot in the Western Conference.
Anaheim Ducks goaltender John Gibson kicked out 44 shots to backstop his club to a 5-2 victory over the Los Angeles Kings.
TSN: Toronto Maple Leafs starting goalie Frederik Andersen avoided an injury scare during practice yesterday when he was struck in the left arm by a shot that left him in some pain. After treatment, he returned and finished the practice without any lingering issues.
Meanwhile, the Leafs recalled Michael Hutchinson from their AHL affiliate. Backup Garret Sparks was placed on hiatus to work with the goalie coaches to address his recent struggles between the pipes.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: With concerns over Andersen’s heavy workload potentially affecting his performance as the playoffs approach, the Leafs are in a difficult situation with their backup goaltending. If Andersen’s struggles continue and neither Hutchinson or Sparks can effectively spell him off, they’ll face another early postseason exit.
SPORTSNET: Former Arizona Coyotes players Craig Cunningham is skating again thanks to a new prosthetic skating leg. Cunningham had part of his left leg amputated due to complications following cardiac surgery in 2016. He’s now employed as a scout by the Coyotes.
It was a night of NHL milestones for several players and one coach. Check out the details in today’s morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price tied Jacques Plante for most wins by a Habs goalie (314) with a 28-save effort in a 3-1 victory over the Los Angeles Kings. Teammate Brendan Gallagher scored his 30th of the season. Canadiens rookie Jesperi Kotkaniemi was a healthy scratch for the first time this season as coach Claude Julien felt the 18-year-old could use a bit of rest. With the win, the Canadiens (79 points) hold the second wild-card berth in the East.
Montreal Canadiens goaltender Carey Price tied Jacques Plante for most wins by a Habs goalie. (Photo via NHL Images)
Sidney Crosby scored his 30th goal of the season and added two assists to reach 1,200 career points to lead the Pittsburgh Penguins over the Florida Panthers 3-2. Jake Guentzel scored twice, including the winner in overtime. The Penguins also honored center Matt Cullen for playing in his 1,500th career NHL game. With 79 points, the Penguins hold the first wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.
Tampa Bay Lightning right winger Nikita Kucherov collected two assists to tie a franchise record of 108 points in a 5-2 victory over the Winnipeg Jets. Winnipeg goaltender Connor Hellebuyck was shaken up after taking a Kucherov shot off his mask in the second period but returned to finish the game.
New York Islanders head coach Barry Trotz picked up his 800th career victory as his club edged the Ottawa Senators 5-4. It was a costly win for the Isles as starting goaltender Robin Lehner left the game late in the third period following a collision with Senators winger Brady Tkachuk. Earlier in the day, the Islanders recalled forwards Joshua Ho-Sang and Michael Dal Colle on an emergency basis. The Isles (89 points) move into a tie for first place in the Metropolitan Division with the Washington Capitals,
SPECTOR’S NOTE: An update on Lehner’s status will likely be revealed today. It’s assumed he left the game for concussion protocol.
The Boston Bruins extended their points streak to 17 games with a 4-3 overtime victory over the Carolina Hurricanes, who were playing in Hartford Whalers jerseys. David Krejci scored the winning goal. Sebastian Aho tallied twice for the Hurricanes. Bruins winger Marcus Johansson left the game in the second period following a hard shoulder-to-shoulder hit by Hurricanes left winger Micheal Ferland. Johansson was taken to hospital but coach Bruce Cassidy said the news of his condition could be “encouraging“. The Bruins (89 points) opened a three-point lead over the Toronto Maple Leafs for second place in the Atlantic Division.
Ryan Johansen scored the only goal in a shootout as the Nashville Predators nipped the Minnesota Wild 5-4. Wild winger Kevin Fiala scored twice against his former team. With the win, the Predators (83 points) move one point ahead of the Jets for the top spot in the Central Division. The Wild (72 points) hold a two-point lead over the Colorado Avalanche for the final Western Conference wild-card spot.
Dallas Stars goalie Ben Bishop turned in a 28-save shutout performance and John Klingberg scored the only goal in a 1-0 victory over the New York Rangers. Dallas forward Alexander Radulov was a healthy scratch as punishment for being late for a morning team meeting. The Stars (73 points) hold a one-point lead over the Wild.
Nathan MacKinnon’s overtime goal gave the Colorado Avalanche a 4-3 victory over the Detroit Red Wings. MacKinnon had two points while linemate Mikko Rantanen had a three-point game. Red Wings defenseman Mike Green will be sidelined seven-to-ten days due to the recurrence of a liver virus.
Shootout goals by Cam Atkinson and Artemi Panarin gave the Columbus Blue Jackets a 2-1 win over the New Jersey Devils, snapping a three-game losing skid. Devils forward Jesper Bratt left the game in the second period with an undisclosed injury. The Jackets (77 points) remain two points out of a wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference.
The Anaheim Ducks defeated the Arizona Coyotes 3-1 to snap the latter’s six-game winning streak. The Coyotes (69 points) sit three points behind the Wild. Defenseman Jason Demers returned to the Coyotes lineup after being sidelined for four months.
VANCOUVER SUN: Canucks center Brandon Sutter will undergo season-ending sports-hernia surgery.
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: The Blackhawks recalled goaltender Collin Delia as veteran Cam Ward is out seven-to-ten days with a knee injury.
CALGARY SUN: Flames defenseman Michael Stone has been assigned to the club’s AHL affiliate in Stockton on a conditioning stint. Stone’s been sidelined since November 22 by a blood clot in his arm.
STLTODAY: Blues center Brayden Schenn will rejoin the lineup after being sidelined since Feb. 19 with an upper-body injury.
TORONTO SUN: The Maple Leafs re-signed backup goalie Garret Sparks to a one-year, $750K contract extension.
TSN: NHL general managers could recommend a rule change forcing players to skate directly to the bench if they lose their helmet during gameplay. The players could also be forced to wear their helmets during pre-game warmups. Those recommendations will require the endorsement of the NHL Players Association. Another proposed change could give a team with a power play the choice of which side of the offensive zone they’ll take the faceoff.
Latest on David Krejci, Jordan Eberle, Carl Hagelin and Garret Sparks in your NHL rumor mill.
BRUINS’ BID FOR TAVARES RATTLED KREJCI
NBC SPORTS BOSTON: Joe Haggerty reports Bruins center David Krejci didn’t enjoy the speculation last June linking his club to then-pending free agent center John Tavares, who signed with Toronto on July 1. Had the Bruins landed Tavares, Haggerty wondered if Krejci would’ve been dropped to the third line or if the faint trade rumors that dogged him last season would’ve grown louder.
The Boston Bruins’ attempt to sign John Tavares last summer was unnerving for David Krejci. (Photo via NHL Images)
Krejci has a full no-trade clause but that didn’t stop him from wondering about his place on the roster after not hearing anything from the Bruins’ front office. He said he’s moved past it and acknowledged it’s simply part of the business of hockey.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Krejci isn’t going anywhere this season but the trade rumors could spark up again if he has another injury-shortened 40-point campaign. He’s signed through 2020-21 but Cap Friendly indicates his no-movement clause will revert to a modified no-trade next July. If Krejci’s numbers fail to improve this season perhaps the Bruins look at shedding his $7.25-million annual cap hit.
EBERLE FACES UNCERTAIN FUTURE WITH ISLANDERS
NEWSDAY: Andrew Gross reports New York Islanders winger Jordan Eberle is looking forward to proving himself to his new club’s new management and coaching staff. He’s eligible for unrestricted free agent status next July and could be on the move later this season if the Isles wish to avoid losing him for nothing as they did with John Tavares. Eberle said there’s been no contract discussions thus far. However, his chemistry alongside center Mathew Barzal could increase his value to the Islanders.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hockey News’ Jared Clinton doesn’t rule out the possibility of Eberle getting a contract extension. That, however, will depend upon his performance this season and his asking price. General manager Lou Lamoriello is taking a wait-and-see approach to this season as he evaluates this roster. If Eberle remains on Barzal’s line and flirts with 60 points again the Isles could be keen to retain him. He’s earned $6 million annually on his current deal and could seek a raise to $7 million per season. That could prove to be too rich for Lamoriello.
UPDATES ON HAGELIN AND SPARKS
TRIBLIVE.COM: Jonathan Bombulie recently speculated over the future of Pittsburgh Penguins left wing Carl Hagelin, who’s eligible next July for unrestricted free agent status. Hagelin could be re-signed or perhaps moved by the trade deadline but Bombulie thinks he’ll likely depart next summer via free agency. “Unless trading Hagelin’s salary is the last hurdle standing between the Penguins and the addition of the perfect difference-making scorer on the wing, they’d be better off keeping him for one last season.”
TORONTO SUN: Lance Hornby reports goaltender Garret Sparks faces an uncertain future with the Maple Leafs. He’ll have to clear waivers if Curtis McElhinney remains their backup for the coming season. Hornby suggests the Leafs could trade Sparks rather than risk losing him for nothing to the waiver wire.
Montreal Canadiens center Alex Galchenyuk scores in overtime against the Detroit Red Wings.
Game recaps, injury news, signings & more in your NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.com: Mitch Marner collected three assists and Auston Matthews scored his ninth goal of the season as the Toronto Maple Leafs doubled up the Washington Capitals 4-2. Capitals defenseman Matt Niskanen left the game with a lower-body injury and will be reevaluated on Sunday. Earlier in the day, the Leafs’ organization indefinitely suspended minor-league goalie Garrett Sparks for posting offensive remarks on Facebook.
Alex Galchenyuk’s overtime goal gave the league-leading Montreal Canadiens a 2-1 victory over the Detroit Red Wings. Goaltender Carey Price made 32 saves for the Habs, pushing their record to 16-4-2. The Wings also lost Brendan Smith and Tyler Bertuzzi to injuries and will be evaluated today. Earlier in the day, the Canadiens reported Charles Hudon was sidelined indefinitely with a fractured sternum.
Sidney Crosby’s game-tying goal set the stage for Kris Letang’s shootout winner as the Pittsburgh Penguins edged the New Jersey Devils 4-3. Mike Cammalleri scored twice for the Devils.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Crosby now has a league-leading 15 goals, putting him on pace for 75. The Penguins captain probably won’t reach that total by season’s end, but he could reach 50 goals for only the second time in his career.
Jaromir Jagr netted his 752nd career NHL goal and Aleksander Barkov scored the winner in a shootout as the Florida Panthers nipped the Columbus Blue Jackets 2-1.
Jaden Schwartz scored twice and David Perron potted the winner in a shootout to give the St. Louis Blues a 4-3 win over the Minnesota Wild. Earlier in the day, the Wild revealed defenseman Christian Folin will miss 3-4 weeks with a sprained knee.
Jeff Carter’s overtime goal lifted the Los Angeles Kings to a 2-1 win over the Chicago Blackhawks, who were playing without captain Jonathan Toews for the second straight game. Fortunately, Toews’ upper-body injury isn’t concussion-related.
Ryan Getzlaf tallied a goal and an assists to power the Anaheim Ducks to a 3-2 victory over the San Jose Sharks.
Goals by Dion Phaneuf and Kyle Turris gave the Ottawa Senators a 2-1 win over the Carolina Hurricanes.
Jacob Markstrom made 32 saves backstopping the Vancouver Canucks to a 3-2 shootout victory over the Colorado Avalanche.
ARIZONA SPORTS: Defenseman Zbynek Michalek is trying to remain positive as his career is winding down in the minors. The Arizona Coyotes demoted Michael earlier this season to their AHL affiliate in Tucson. He’s in the final season of his two-year contract.
YAHOO SPORTS: Former NHL forward Brandon Prust has signed with Germany’s Nurnberg Ice Tigers.