The Capitals defeat the Devils, the league’s teams vote overwhelmingly to decentralize the draft, plus the latest on Brett Pesce and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
NHL.COM: Third-period goals by Dylan Strome, Connor McMichael and Alex Ovechkin rallied the Washington Capitals to a 6-4 win over the New Jersey Devils. The Capitals jumped to a 3-0 lead after the first period but the Devils regrouped in the second with four straight goals.
Washington Capitals forward Dylan Strome (NHL Images).
Strome scored two goals while Ovechkin, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Anthony Mantha each had two points for the 2-3-1 Capitals. New Jersey center Jack Hughes collected three assists while Tyler Toffoli tallied twice and collected a helper as the Devils slipped to 3-2-1.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hughes now leads all scorers with 13 assists and 17 points while Toffoli is among the top-10 goal scorers with six.
DAILY FACEOFF: The NHL’s 32 teams voted overwhelmingly to decentralize the league’s draft format. They prefer moving from the current format where the executives of all the teams gather in one central location to conduct their draft business to one where they remain in their home cities to perform those duties. The change could come as soon as the 2024 NHL Draft.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The new format will be similar to those employed by the NFL, NBA and MLB. There will still be a host city where the top prospects are chosen with a handful of executives there but we won’t see the arena-style format currently employed in previous drafts.
I understand the rationale behind the change. As the report noted, some general managers didn’t like the crowded draft floor under the current format where their plans could be overheard by their rivals. The cost of traveling to and from the host city has risen over the years plus the draft is scheduled within days of free agency.
My only concern is how long it’ll take the teams to make their selections as they’ll be doing it remotely. When that format was used during the two COVID drafts it took hours for the proceedings to be completed, especially the later rounds. That might not be a big deal for fans but it’s a drag for those of us who cover the NHL for a living. The league must ensure they keep the teams to a tight schedule rather than have this drag out.
CAROLINA HOCKEY NOW: The good news for the Hurricanes is sidelined winger Andrei Svechnikov’s season debut is “around the corner.” The bad news is defenseman Brett Pesce is sidelined for two to four weeks following surgery for a lower-body injury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s a significant loss for the Hurricanes blueline. Pesce usually skates on the second pairing with Brady Skjei. He’s slated to become an unrestricted free agent next July.
THE HOCKEY NEWS: Minnesota Wild captain Jared Spurgeon (upper body) has been placed on long-term injury reserve (LTIR). They also recalled forward Jujhar Khaira as forward Frederick Gaudreau will miss Thursday’s game against the Philadelphia Flyers with an upper-body injury.
PITTSBURGH POST-GAZETTE: The Penguins placed goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic on injured reserve with a lower-body injury. They also announced that defenseman John Ludvig suffered a concussion during Tuesday’s game against the Dallas Stars.
THE MERCURY NEWS: San Jose Sharks forward Alexander Barabanov is out indefinitely with an upper-body injury.
BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: The Bruins signed defenseman Jack Edward to a three-year entry-level contract and placed blueliner Ian Mitchell on waivers.
Recaps of Friday’s preseason action, injury updates on the Oilers’ Mattias Ekholm, the Wild’s Jared Spurgeon and the Jets’ Ville Heinola, the latest players on the waiver wire and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
PRESEASON GAMES RECAPS
NHL.COM: New Jersey Devils goaltender Akira Schmid made 30 saves to shut out the New York Islanders 3-0. Max Willman, Kevin Bahl and Simon Nemec were the goal scorers as the Devils went undefeated (7-0-0) in all their preseason games.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Islanders winger Kyle Palmieri made his preseason debut in this contest. He’d been sidelined by an undisclosed offseason injury.
The Pittsburgh Penguins got two goals by Drew O’Connor and two assists from team captain Sidney Crosby in a 7-4 victory over the Buffalo Sabres. Casey Mittelstadt had a goal and two assists and Devon Levi stopped 28 shots for the Sabres.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Crosby also got into a brief tussle with Sabres forward Peyton Krebs over the latter’s hit on Penguins defenseman Kris Letang, who was unhurt on the play.
Carolina Hurricanes forwards Martin Necas and Teuvo Teravainen each had a goal and an assist as their club beat the Nashville Predators 4-1. Kevin Lankinen made 30 saves for the Predators.
The Edmonton Oilers got a 35-save performance by Jack Campbell in a 3-1 victory over the Seattle Kraken. Evander Kane, Connor McDavid and Zach Hyman scored for the Oilers while Jared McCann replied for the Kraken.
Vancouver Canucks forward Phillip Di Giuseppe had a goal and an assist to lead his club over the Calgary Flames by a score of 3-1. Nazem Kadri replied for the Flames.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: A moment of silence was held before the game to honor the memory of Flames assistant general manager Chris Snow, who died on Sept. 30 from ALS at age 42.
HEADLINES AND OTHER NEWS
STARTRIBUNE.COM: Minnesota Wild captain Jared Spurgeon is sidelined week-to-week with an upper-body injury suffered during Thursday’s game against the Chicago Blackhawks.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wild are turning to veteran blueliner Alex Goligoski as Spurgeon’s replacement.
DAILY FACEOFF: Speaking of the Wild, they’re reportedly closing in on a contract extension for Ryan Hartman. The 29-year-old forward’s new deal is expected to be for three years with an average annual value of $4.1 million.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: That’s a nice raise in pay over the $1.7 million AAV that Hartman is earning on his current contract.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: With Mattias Ekholm questionable to be ready to play in the Oilers’ season opener, some observers are wondering about the seriousness of his lingering hip injury that sidelined him throughout training camp and preseason play.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Ekholm downplayed those concerns, saying he and the club are being extra cautious. Still, the worries are understandable given his value to the Oilers blueline since his acquisition from the Nashville Predators before last season’s trade deadline.
WINNIPEG SUN: Jets defenseman Ville Heinola suffered a fractured ankle in his club’s 3-0 loss to the Ottawa Senators on Thursday. He will be sidelined for between eight to 12 weeks.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Heinola had a terrific training camp and played well in preseason action until his injury. It’s a setback not just for his development as an NHL regular but also for the Jets defense corps.
DAILY FACEOFF: Anaheim Ducks forward Leo Carlsson was helped from the ice during practice on Friday as he was unable to put any weight on his right foot. The full extent of the injury has not been revealed. The 18-year-old center was the Ducks first-round pick (second overall) in this year’s draft and was expected to play for them this season.
NHL.COM: Toronto Maple Leafs defenseman John Klingberg is expected to be ready for the club’s season-opener next week after spending the past week sidelined with an upper-body injury.
TORONTO SUN: Speaking of the Leafs, goaltender Ilya Samsonov avoided serious injury in practice on Friday after taking a Calle Jarnkrok slap shot around his shoulder/collarbone area. He left practice but head coach Sheldon Keefe later said that Samsonov was fine.
DAILY FACEOFF: San Jose Sharks forward Oskar Lindblom, Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Caleb Jones and Philadelphia Flyers forward Wade Allison are among the notable names to hit the waiver wire on Friday.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Allison being placed on waivers caught Flyers followers by surprise. Despite his injury history, the 25-year-old winger could draw some interest from clubs seeking depth on their forward lines.
TSN: The Florida Panthers loaned goaltender Spencer Knight to their AHL affiliate in Charlotte. He’s entering the first season of a three-year contract with an AAV of $4.15 million.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Knight is trying to get his NHL career back on track after spending time last season in the NHL-NHLPA player assistance program seeking treatment for obsessive-compulsive disorder. Panthers coach Paul Maurice said sending Knight to the AHL was being done to give him more playing time in a starter’s role as they hope to build on his strong preseason play.
The Ducks finally sign Jamie Drysdale, the Kings extend coach Todd McLellan’s contract, recaps of Thursday’s preseason action, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines
THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: The Anaheim Ducks signed defenseman Jamie Drysdale to a three-year, $6.9 million contract. The average annual value is $2.3 million.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: As with Trevor Zegras, Ducks general manager Pat Verbeek gets Drysdale signed to a team-friendly bridge contract. The 21-year-old defenseman had little leverage coming off his entry-level contract. Should he and Zegras improve as projected, they’ll be well-situated to command much more lucrative terms on their next contracts.
DAILY FACEOFF: The Los Angeles Kings have extended the contract of head coach Todd McLellan to the end of the 2024-25 season. He’s entering his fifth season behind the Kings bench, guiding them to the playoffs in 2022 and 2023.
Los Angeles Kings head coach Todd McLellan (NHL Images).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Kings have made steady improvement under McLellan, finishing with 99 points in 2021-22 and 104 points in 2022-23. However, they’ve fallen in the first round of the playoffs in both seasons to the Edmonton Oilers. McLellan’s long-term future with the Kings will depend on their performance this season and next.
NHL.COM: Speaking of the Kings, forward Arthur Kaliyev has been suspended for two preseason games and two regular-season games by the NHL department of player safety for kneeing Anaheim Ducks forward Chase De Leo. The latter suffered a sprained MCL and will be sidelined for eight weeks.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The punishment hardly seems to fit the crime. I think any player who deliberately injures another should be suspended for as long as the player he injured is sidelined. However, there’s also that grey area of determining intent or whether it was accidental. Besides, such a harsh punishment for a superstar probably wouldn’t go over well with fans and pundits.
THE MERCURY NEWS: San Jose Sharks captain Logan Couture is considered a long shot to be in the lineup for the club’s season-opener next week. The 34-year-old center is considered week-to-week with a lower-body injury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sharks already faced a challenging season as management rebuilds, er, sorry, “retools” its roster. Losing Couture to injury to start this campaign was the last thing they needed.
LAS VEGAS SUN: Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Zach Whitecloud underwent surgery for an upper-body injury and is listed as week-to-week.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is a big blow to the Golden Knight’s blueline. It’s also the third straight season that Whitecloud has been sidelined by a significant injury. He was limited to 59 games in each of the last two seasons.
SPORTSNET: The city of Calgary unveiled a preliminary deal for a $1.2 billion event center and entertainment district near the city’s downtown. It includes an $800 million arena for the Flames. Construction will reportedly begin in 2024 and the arena is expected to be opened in 2026 or 2027.
The province of Alberta will contribute $330 million to the project while the city of Calgary will contribute $537 million. The Flames will pay $40 million upfront and $17 million per year over the course of a 35-year lease with payments rising one percent per year.
PRESEASON GAMES RECAP
NHL.COM: Ryan O’Reilly scored his first preseason goal with the Nashville Predators and collected three assists in a 5-1 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes. Juuse Saros made 40 saves for the Predators.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Speaking of the Predators, they will honor former general manager David Poile during a pregame ceremony on Nov. 22. Poile retired on July 1 after 40 seasons in the NHL including 25 seasons as the Predators GM.
The Toronto Maple Leafs defeated the Detroit Red Wings 4-3. William Nylander scored twice, including the winner in overtime. Auston Matthews and Mitch Marner each had two points for the Leafs. Shayne Gostisbehere collected two assists for the Wings.
Florida Panthers center Kevin Stenlund scored two goals in a 6-3 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning. Nikita Kucherov had a goal and an assist for the Lightning.
Philadelphia Flyers winger Travis Konecny had a goal and an assist as his club downed the New York Islanders 5-2. Semyon Varlamov made 26 saves for the Islanders.
The Washington Capitals doubled up the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-2. Riley Sutter netted a shorthanded goal and collected an assist for the Capitals. Spencer Martin stopped 35 shots in his first game for the Jackets since being claimed off waivers from the Vancouver Canucks earlier this week.
Boston Bruins center Matthew Poitras tallied the go-ahead goal in a 3-1 win over the New York Rangers. Bruins goalie Jeremy Swayman made 22 saves. Kaapo Kakko replied for the Rangers, who finished the preseason with a record of 1-5-0.
St. Louis Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington kicked out 24 shots to shut out the Dallas Stars 4-0. Robert Thomas tallied twice for the Blues. Jake Oettinger stopped 24 shots for the Stars.
The Ottawa Senators blanked the Winnipeg Jets 3-0 as Anton Forsberg turned in a 21-save shutout. Jakob Chychrun and Josh Bailey each had a goal and an assist for the Senators. Jets defenseman Ville Heinola left the game with a lower-body injury in the first period following a collision with Senators defenseman Erik Brannstrom.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Heinola suffered the injury to his left leg. “It’s not good,” said Jets coach Rick Bowness following the game. “It’s not a short-term injury.”
A shootout goal by Mats Zuccarello gave the Minnesota Wild a 3-2 win over the Chicago Blackhawks. A third-period goal by Pat Maroon tied the game for the Wild. Blackhawks rookie Connor Bedard was unable to get off a shot during the shootout as he was poke-checked by Wild goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, who made 27 saves for the win.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: It was a costly victory for the Wild as defenseman Jared Spurgeon left the game in the first period and didn’t return. He will be evaluated today.
An overtime goal by Adrian Kempe lifted the Los Angeles Kings over the San Jose Sharks by a score of 4-3. Pierre-Luc Dubois tallied his first preseason goal for the Kings while Mike Hoffman picked up his first preseason tally for the Sharks.
The Arizona Coyotes downed the Anaheim Ducks 4-2 on a two-goal performance by center Logan Cooley. Ducks goalie John Gibson allowed four goals on 17 shots before leaving the game with an apparent hand injury.
Four unanswered goals by the Vegas Golden Knights gave them a 4-3 victory over the Colorado Avalanche. Alex Pietrangelo had two assists and Logan Thompson kicked out 31 shots for the Golden Knights. Cale Makar and Jonathan Drouin each had two assists for the Avalanche.
IN OTHER NEWS…
THE SCORE: The NHL is reportedly considering hosting the 2024 Draft at The Sphere, a music and entertainment arena just off the Strip in Las Vegas. For the past 30 years, NHL drafts have been primarily held inside the host city’s arena.
THE PROVINCE: Stan Smyl is transitioning out of the Vancouver Canucks front office into a role as a team ambassador. Smyl has been with the Canucks since breaking in as a player 45 years ago, serving in various roles following his playing career. He’s been serving as their vice president since 2021.
NEW JERSEY HOCKEY NOW: A report indicated Devils chairman and governor David Blitzer is joining the NHL’s executive committee.
AZCENTRAL.COM: The Arizona Coyotes have found a new TV broadcaster, signing a multi-year deal with Scripps Sports to televise all locally broadcasted games. The announcement comes on the same day that the Coyotes and Bally Sports Arizona received approval to terminate their multi-year contract.
The Rangers advance to the Eastern Conference Finals, plus the latest on the Lightning, Oilers, Avalanche and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: The New York Rangers are heading to the Eastern Conference Finals after eliminating the Carolina Hurricanes with a 6-2 victory in Game 7 of their second-round series. Chris Kreider scored twice, Mika Zibanejad collected three assists and Igor Shesterkin made 37 saves for the Rangers.
New York Rangers goaltender Igor Shesterkin (NHL Images).
Vincent Trocheck and Max Domi replied for the Hurricanes, who lost goaltender Antti Raanta and winger Seth Jarvis to injuries. Raanta left the game in the second period with a lower-body injury after stretching out to make a save. Jarvis was sidelined with an upper-body injury in the first period by a hit from Rangers defenseman Jacob Trouba.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was a dominant performance by the Rangers, who took an early 2-0 lead and never looked back. They earned this thanks to outstanding goaltending from Shesterkin, solid special teams play, timely offense from their leading scorers and a playoff-leading 236 blocked shots.
The Hurricanes entered this series with starting goaltender Frederik Andersen sidelined since mid-April by a lower-body injury. However, his absence was just one of several reasons why they failed to defeat the Rangers. They couldn’t win on the road, their power-play sputtered and their leading scorers such as Sebastian Aho, Andrei Svechnikov and Teuvo Teravainen failed to deliver.
THE ATHLETIC’s Daniel Nugent-Bowman reports Leon Draisaitl and Darnell Nurse skated with their Edmonton Oilers teammates in practice on Monday. It was Draisaitl’s first practice since suffering an injury in Game 6 of the first round while Nurse had skipped most recent practices.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Draisaitl is believed to have a high-ankle sprain but you’d never know it by his performance. He set an NHL record in the second round by tallying the most assists (15) in a single playoff round.
EDMONTON JOURNAL: Speaking of the Oilers, an NHL insider said there was no truth to a report claiming the club had some “COVID-related travel issues” getting to Colorado on Sunday. The Oilers face the Avalanche in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals on Tuesday.
THE DENVER POST: On the eve of the Western Conference Finals, Avalanche general manager Joe Sakic is earning praise for sticking with center Nazem Kadri and head coach Jared Bednar. Kadri earned suspensions in recent postseasons while Bednar faced criticism for his inability to get his club beyond the second round.
NHL.COM: Brandon Hagel missed his third straight practice on Sunday. However, Tampa Bay Lightning coach Jon Cooper believes the forward will be ready for Game 1 against the Rangers on Wednesday.
THE ATHLETIC’s Michael Russo reports Minnesota Wild captain Jared Spurgeon had core muscle surgery and will be back at full strength in six weeks. Winger Mats Zuccarello is facing similar surgery plus he had a leg fracture that will heal with rest.
CALGARY SUN: Flames goaltender Jacob Markstrom denied his struggles against the Oilers in the second round were injury-related.
VANCOUVER HOCKEY NOW: The Vancouver Canucks have added Mike Komisarek and Mikael Samuelsson to their player development department. Meanwhile, Henrik and Daniel Sedin will be working daily with the Canucks’ young players in Vancouver and with their AHL affiliate in Abbotsford.
The opening night of the Stanley Cup playoffs saw the Leafs shut out the Lightning, the Kings upset the Oilers, the Blues blank the Wild & the Hurricanes tame the Bruins. Details and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Auston Matthew scored twice in a three-point performance and Jack Campbell made 24 saves as the Toronto Maple Leafs shut out the defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning 5-0 in Game 1 of their best-of-seven opening-round series. Mitch Marner scored to snap an 18-game playoff goal drought and collected two assists. Leafs forward Kyle Clifford was ejected from the game in the first period for boarding Lightning forward Ross Colton.
Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews (NHL Images).
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was total domination by the Leafs. They out-skated and outworked the Lightning, who were stymied on the power play and gave up too many odd-man rushes. This lopsided defeat could spark a better effort from the Lightning in Game 2, but the Leafs deserve full marks for their strong effort in this series-opening contest.
A turnover by Edmonton Oilers goaltender Mike Smith led to Phillip Danault’s game-winning goal as the Los Angeles Kings got a 4-3 upset win in Game 1 of their opening-round series. The Kings jumped to an early 2-0 lead but the Oilers bounced back on goals by Connor McDavid and Kailer Yamamoto. Kings netminder Jonathan Quick made 37 saves for the win while Trevor Moore had a goal and two assists. Kings forward Viktor Arvidsson (undisclosed) missed this game.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: I don’t know what Smith was thinking but attempting to pass the puck up the middle from behind his own net rather than chipping it up along the boards was a big mistake. Quick was outstanding for the Kings, showing the form that backstopped his club to two Stanley Cups.
St. Louis Blues winger David Perron tallied a hat trick while Ville Husso had a 37-save shutout to blank the Minnesota Wild 4-0 in the first game of their opening-round series. Perron finished with four points while Torey Krug collected three assists. It was reported the league will review a nasty downward cross-check by Wild captain Jared Spurgeon across the ankle of Blues winger Pavel Buchenich.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wild controlled the play for most of this game, out-shooting and out-chancing the Blues. Husso, however, proved up to the challenge in his first-ever NHL playoff game while his teammates capitalized on their chances, including two power-play goals.
Third-period goals by Teuvo Teravainen, Vincent Trocheck and Andrei Svechnikov carried the Carolina Hurricanes to a series-opening 5-1 victory in Game 1 against the Boston Bruins. Backup Antti Raanta kicked out 35 shots for the win.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Raanta was superb between the pipes as this game went along, shaking off what appeared to be a nervous start with several big saves as the Bruins pressed to open the scoring. The Hurricanes will need more of that from him as starter Frederik Andersen could remain sidelined for Game 2 with a sprained knee.
DAILY FACEOFF: The Philadelphia Flyers will be moving on from interim head coach Mike Yeo as they’ll search for a new bench boss. Yeo took over from Alain Vigneault when the latter was fired in December.
WINNIPEG SUN: The Jets are also searching for a new head coach, though interim Dave Lowry will have the opportunity to interview for the job. Lowry replaced Paul Maurice when the latter resigned in December. Associate coach Jamie Kompon and assistant coach Charlie Huddy face uncertain futures.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: No surprise the Flyers and Jets will be seeking new coaches given their disappointing performances this season.
VANCOUVER HOCKEY NOW: Bruce Boudreau is confident he’ll be returning next season as the Canucks’ head coach. The club missed the playoffs but made significant improvement after he took over behind the bench in December. Boudreau said he’s spoken with Canucks management and is hopeful a contract can be worked out.
TSN: Nashville Predators goaltender Juuse Saros (left leg injury) will miss the first two games of his club’s opening-round series with the Colorado Avalanche.
TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins winger Jason Zucker has been cleared to play in Game 1 of his club’s first-round series with the New York Rangers. Zucker was sidelined on April 26 with an undisclosed injury.
DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: Red Wings forward Lucas Raymond will no longer be participating in the upcoming World Championships for his native Sweden as originally planned. His father, Jean Raymond, and his agent, Peter Werner, explained the rigors of his first NHL season took more physical and mental energy than expected. “My advice to Lucas was to listen to his mind and body,” said Werner. “He needs this time to during the summer to recharge the batteries.”
Marc-Andre Fleury reaches 500 career wins, Australian hockey pioneer Nathan Walker reaches a milestone, the sale of the Penguins is approved, the Canucks name Jim Rutherford as team president, the latest on the Coyotes’ arena saga & much more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Marc-Andre Fleury became the third goaltender in NHL history to reach the 500-win plateau as the Chicago Blackhawks blanked the Montreal Canadiens 2-0. Fleury made 30 saves for the shutout to join Martin Brodeur and Patrick Roy in the 500-win club and sits 51 wins behind Roy for second place on the list. Jonathan Toews and Henrik Borgstrom scored for the Blackhawks. Dylan Strome was a healthy scratch for the Hawks.
Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury (NHL Images).
Nathan Walker tallied his first career NHL hat trick as the St. Louis Blues rolled to a 6-2 victory over the Detroit Red Wings. The first Australian player to reach the NHL, Walker was playing his first game of this season after being recalled by the Blues on Wednesday. Blues fourth-string goalie Charlie Lindgren made 29 saves for the win. Robby Fabbri scored both goals for the Wings.
Steven Stamkos had a goal and three assists to lead the Tampa Bay Lightning to a 5-3 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs. Ondrej Palat also scored twice for the Bolts who won their fifth straight game. Tampa Bay forward Anthony Cirelli missed the game with an undisclosed injury. Lightning coach Jon Cooper became the fastest bench boss to reach 400 career NHL wins, doing so in his 659th game. Ondrej Kase scored two goals for the Leafs.
The Minnesota Wild extended their win streak to eight games by dropping the San Jose Sharks 5-2. Jordan Greenway scored twice, Kirill Kaprizov and Kevin Fiala each had a goal and an assist and Cam Talbot kicked out 33 shots for the Wild, who sit atop the overall standings with 39 points. Minnesota captain Jared Spurgeon returned to action after missing eight games with a lower-body injury.
Sebastian Aho scored twice, including the winner in overtime, as the Carolina Hurricanes picked up a 2-1 win over the Calgary Flames. Noah Hanifin scored for the Flames, who’ve lost three straight. The Hurricanes are on a three-game win streak.
The Boston Bruins nipped the Edmonton Oilers 3-2 on a late third-period goal by Matt Grzelcyk. Linus Ullmark picked up the win with a 41-save effort. Leon Draisaitl potted both goals for the Oilers with Connor McDavid getting assists on both goals. Edmonton defenseman Cody Ceci returned to the lineup after being in isolation for the past nine days after testing positive for COVID-19.
Winnipeg Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck turned in a 25-save shutout in a 3-0 win over the Seattle Kraken. Kyle Connor scored twice for the Jets, who’ve won three of their last four contests.
Jonathan Quick made 27 stops for his 56th career shutout as the Los Angeles Kings beat the Dallas Stars 4-0. Kings forward Adrian Kempe netted his 11th goal of the season while Andreas Athanasiou scored in his first game after being in COVID protocol for the past six games.
A late goal by Eeli Tolvanen lifted the Nashville Predators over the New York Islanders 4-3. Predators forwards Ryan Johansen and Colton Sissons each had a goal and an assist. The Isles have lost 12 of their last 13 and still seek their first win in UBS Arena.
Anaheim Ducks goalie Josh Gibson made 33 saves to backstop his club over the Columbus Blue Jackets 2-1. Rickard Rakell tallied the winning goal in a shootout. The Ducks extended their points streak to six games.
TRIBLIVE.COM: The NHL board of governors yesterday voted to approve the sale of the Pittsburgh Penguins to Fenway Sports Group. The deal is said to be in the range of $900 million.
THE ATHLETIC: The board of governors also approved the Respect Hockey program introduced by league executive Kim Davis to ensure its commitment to inclusion, diversity, safety and respect for its players and employees. Sheldon Kennedy and his Respect Hockey group will also be part of the initiative.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This is the result of the Chicago Blackhawks sex scandal in which two players alleged they were sexually abused by a former video coach in 2010. One of them, Kyle Beach, came forward with his story following an independent investigation that reveals efforts by senior Blackhawks officials to cover up the allegations.
NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly also present the board of governors with a presentation on the ongoing effects of COVID-19 on the league. Daly didn’t rule out the possibility of enhanced protocols beyond what the league is doing now.
ARIZONA SPORTS: The Coyotes yesterday announced they have paid off their outstanding tax debt of $1.4 million to the Arizona Department of Revenue. This came after the City of Glendale threatened to lock the team out of Gila River Arena if the debt wasn’t paid by Dec. 20.
SPORTSNET: Craig Morgan of PHNX Sports reports the Coyotes still owe the arena operator over $2.7 million in unpaid rent and other expenses. The team will receive a timetable for future payments.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: This saga just keeps rolling on, raising concerns about the Coyotes ownership’s ability to meet its financial obligations. The club’s situation will reportedly be discussed during Day 2 of the NHL board of governors meeting on Friday.
THE PROVINCE: The Vancouver Canucks yesterday announced Jim Rutherford has been hired as their new president of hockey operations. He will also serve as interim general manager while a full-time replacement is ongoing.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Rutherford was general manager of the Carolina Hurricanes and Pittsburgh Penguins, guiding both clubs to Stanley Cup championships. He also developed a reputation as a wheeler-dealer, though those moves sometimes came at the expense of each club’s prospect depth. It’ll be interesting to see how well he works with whoever becomes the next general manager of the Canucks.
TVA SPORTS: The Montreal Canadiens could have a new general manager in place by early January.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The front-runners are believed to be Mathieu Darche and Daniel Briere. Darche is director of hockey operations for the Tampa Bay Lightning while Briere runs the day-to-day operations of the ECHL’s Maine Mariners.
WGR 550: Buffalo Sabres center Casey Mittelstadt (upper-body) has been placed on injured reserve as he sees a specialist regarding treatment for his injury.
TSN: The Toronto Maple Leafs traded forward Kurtis Gabriel to the Chicago Blackhawks for defenseman Chad Krys. Both are currently playing in the AHL.
The U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame formally welcomed its 2020 and 2021 inductees yesterday. Former NHL player Tony Granato was part of the class of 2020. Former NHL player and former Philadelphia Flyers executive Paul Holmgren, former NHL player and current broadcaster Peter McNab and long-time hockey writer Stan Fischler were members of the class of 2021.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Congratulations to everyone on their inductions.