NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – March 21, 2021
Recaps of Saturday’s action, the Avalanche acquire goalie Jonas Johansson from the Sabres, plus the latest on Connor McDavid, Sean Couturier and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Connor McDavid became the first player to reach 60 points this season as his Edmonton Oilers overcame a 2-0 deficit to double up the Winnipeg Jets 4-2. McDavid had a goal and an assist for the Oilers (42 points), moving them into a tie with the first-place Toronto Maple Leafs in the Scotia North Division. He’s also tied with Toronto’s Auston Matthews for the league lead in goals with 21.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: McDavid is making a convincing case for the Hart Memorial Trophy this season.
Jack Campbell returned to the Toronto Maple Leafs net and turned in a 30-save shutout to douse the Calgary Flames 2-0. Campbell had been sidelined three weeks with a lower-body injury. Jason Spezza and Zach Hyman scored for the Leafs, who end a three-game losing skid and remain atop the North Division with 42 points with two games in hand over the second-place Oilers. Leafs goalie Frederik Andersen was unavailable to back up Campbell because of a lower-body injury, forcing an emergency recall of Michael Hutchinson.
Andrei Vasilevskiy made 30 saves for his 11th straight victory as the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Chicago Blackhawks 4-1. Victor Hedman had three assists while Steven Stamkos tallied a goal and picked up an assist. The Lightning (46 points) have the league’s best record and sit atop the Discover Central Division. The Blackhawks (33 points) find themselves tied with the Columbus Blue Jackets for fourth.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: After exceeding expectations through the first two months the Blackhawks appear to be crashing back to earth. They’ve dropped four straight games and seven of nine contests in March.
Panthers’ goaltender Chris Driedger made 21 saves to shut out the Nashville Predators 2-0. Anthony Duclair had a goal and an assist for the Panthers (44 points), who sit two behind the first-place Lightning in the Central Division.
Sidney Crosby collected two assists and Bryan Rust tallied the game-winner as the Pittsburgh Penguins downed the New Jersey Devils 3-1. The Penguins played without Branden Tanev as he was a late scratch with an upper-body injury. With 39 points, the Penguins hold a three-point lead over the fourth-place Boston Bruins in the MassMutual East Division.
A 31-save shutout by Philipp Grubauer carried the Colorado Avalanche to a 6-0 blanking of the Minnesota Wild. Nathan MacKinnon collected three assists while Gabriel Landeskog had a goal and two helpers as the Avalanche (40 points) sit three points behind the first-place Vegas Golden Knights in the Honda West Division. Earlier in the day, the Avalanche acquired goaltender Jonas Johansson from the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for a sixth-round pick in the 2021 NHL Draft.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Avs also recalled Adam Werner from their AHL affiliate. The Athletic’s Peter Baugh doesn’t believe the Johansson acquisition resolved the Avalanche’s need for a reliable backup for Grubauer. “The moves feel like a stopgap, not a solution,” he said, pointing out neither Johansson nor Werner has a save percentage better than .900 or more than 15 games of NHL experience.
Mika Zibanejad tallied the game-winner as the New York Rangers upset the Washington Capitals 3-1. Zibanejad and Pavel Buchnevich each had a goal and an assist. Earlier in the day, the Rangers confirmed Kris Knoblauch will remain acting head coach for at least two more games as head coach David Quinn remains on the COVID-19 protocol list. They also announced defenseman Jack Johnson will be sidelined for the remainder of the season recovering from core-muscle surgery. Meanwhile, the Capitals (44 points) remain atop the Eastern Division.
A four-goal first period carried the New York Islanders over the Philadelphia Flyers 6-1. Casey Cizikas scored twice while defenseman Thomas Hickey picked up two assists in his first game with the Isles in nearly two years after his career was nearly derailed by injuries. Flyers center Sean Couturier was a late scratch with a lower-body injury. The Isles (44 points) have the same amount of points as Washington but sit second in the East as the Capitals hold a game in hand. The Flyers, meanwhile, remain in fifth place with 33 points.
Shootout goals by Patrik Laine and Oliver Bjorkstand gave the Columbus Blue Jackets a 3-2 victory over the Carolina Hurricanes. Seth Jones tied the game for the Jackets with 29 seconds left in regulation while Elvis Merzlikins kicked out 35 shots for the win. The Jackets are tied with the fourth-place Blackhawks in the Central while the Hurricanes (43 points) are two points back of the second-place Panthers.
The Dallas Stars shut out the Detroit Red Wings 3-0 on a 21-save effort by Anton Khudobin. Tanner Kero, Andrej Sekera and Ty Dellandrea were the goal scorers. With 27 points, the Stars move to within five points of the Blue Jackets and Blackhawks for fourth in the Central.
Tomas Tatar tallied the shootout winner as the Montreal Canadiens edged the Vancouver Canucks 5-4, snapping a nine-game losing skid for the Habs in extra time. Tatar also had a goal and an assist in regulation for Montreal. The Canadiens played without Tyler Toffoli, who’s day-to-day with a lower-body injury. The win gives the fourth-place Habs (37 points) a two-point lead over the Canucks in the North Division.
Ryan O’Reilly and David Perron each had a goal and three assists to give the St. Louis Blues a 5-2 decision over the San Jose Sharks. Jordan Kyrou scored twice and picked up an assist for the Blues (37 points), who are tied with the Wild in the West Division but remain in fourth place because the Wild have two games in hand. Earlier in the day, they announced forward Oskar Sundqvist is done for the season with a torn ACL in his left knee.
A hat trick by Derick Brassard carried the Arizona Coyotes over the Anaheim Ducks 5-1. Jakob Chychrun had a goal and an assist for the Coyotes.