NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 25, 2022

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 25, 2022

Lightning snap Panthers win streak, the Canadiens and their fans salute Guy Lafleur, Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin suffers an injury, Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf plays his final game, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Nikita Kucherov had a five-point performance while teammates Steven Stamkos and Victor Hedman each collected four points as the Tampa Bay Lightning doubled up the Florida Panthers 8-4, snapping the latter’s 13-game winning streak. Kucherov, Stamkos and Nicholas Paul each tallied two goals for the Lightning, who sit in third place in the Atlantic Division with 106 points. Sam Reinhart scored twice for the Panthers, who still maintain a four-point lead over the Colorado Avalanche for first place in the overall standings with 120 points.

Speaking of the Avalanche, they dropped their fourth straight game by falling 4-1 to the Winnipeg Jets. Connor Hellebuyck made 30 saves for his 200th career victory while Kyle Connor scored his 45th goal of the season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The absence of core players Gabriel Landeskog, Mikko Rantanen and Devon Toews to injury and illness has contributed to the Avs’ recent slide. The Avs could also be experiencing difficulty remaining motivated playing in meaningless games this late in the regular season.

The Montreal Montreal Canadiens honored the memory of their late star Guy Lafleur (NHL.com).

The Boston Bruins got two goals from Patrice Bergeron and Erik Haula to defeat the Montreal Canadiens 5-3. However, this match was overshadowed by an emotional pre-game ceremony honoring the life and legacy of Canadiens icon Guy Lafleur, who passed away on Friday at age 70. Montreal fans followed the video tribute with a 10-minute standing ovation and chants of “Guy! Guy! Guy!” The Bruins (103 points) hold a three-point lead over the Washington Capitals for the first Eastern Conference wild-card berth.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Lafleur meant so much to Montrealers, Quebecers and Canadiens fans around the world. The outpouring of emotion following his death is a testament to how his exciting style of play resonated with fans to this day. The province of Quebec announced it will stage a national funeral for Lafleur. His body will lie in state at the Bell Centre for two days before the funeral on May 3.

Meanwhile, the Capitals dropped a 4-3 decision to the Toronto Maple Leafs on a shootout goal by Alex Kerfoot. Leafs star Auston Matthews collected two assists but remains at 58 goals on the season. Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin left the game with an upper-body injury in the third period after crashing into the boards following a breakaway scoring attempt. The club had no immediate word on his condition. The Leafs are in second place in the Atlantic with 111 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Leafs captain John Tavares and defenseman Timothy Liljegren missed the game. Tavares was given the night off while Liljegren is dealing with a minor issue.

Anaheim Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf picked up an assist in his final NHL game but his club dropped a 6-3 decision to the St. Louis Blues. Ivan Barbashev had a goal and two assists while Vladimir Tarasenko, Jordan Kyrou and Justin Faulk each collected two points for the Blues, who sit in third place in the Central Division with 109 points. Blues center Tyler Bozak returned to action for the first time since being sidelined by a lower-body injury on March 13.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Getzlaf is hanging up his skates after 17 seasons with the Ducks. He’s their franchise leader in points, assists, playoff scoring and games played and has been their captain for the past 12 seasons. He also helped them win their first-ever Stanley Cup in 2007 and finishes with 1,019 points. Don’t be surprised if he ends up in a front-office job with the Ducks.

An overtime goal by Dmitry Kulikov lifted the Minnesota Wild over the Nashville Predators 5-4. Joel Erikson Ek scored twice and picked up an assist while Kirill Kaprizov and Kevin Fiala each had two points. The Wild are tied with the Blues but hold second place in the Central with a game in hand. Filip Forsberg and Mikael Granlund each had three points as the Predators hold the first wild-card berth in the Western Conference with 94 points.

The Vegas Golden Knights’ playoff hopes suffered a blow after blowing a 4-2 lead in the third period to fall 5-4 to the San Jose Sharks on a shootout goal by Thomas Bordeleau. Nick Bonino and Timo Meier scored in the final minutes of regulation to tie the game. The Golden Knights (90 points) gained a point to sit three back of the Dallas Stars for the final Western wild-card spot.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Both clubs each have three games remaining but the Golden Knights need the extra point a win would’ve given them to draw closer to the Stars. Vegas goaltender Robin Lehner dressed for the game amid reports he requires knee surgery but was the backup to Logan Thompson. William Carrier returned to the Golden Knights lineup for the first time since being sidelined by a lower-body injury on March 26.

The Carolina Hurricanes downed the New York Islanders 5-2. With 112 points, they’ve opened a four-point lead over the New York Rangers for first place in the Metropolitan Division. It was a costly victory, however, as goaltender Antti Raanta left the game with a lower-body injury in the second period.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hurricanes starter Frederik Andersen is also sidelined with a lower-body injury. They’re hoping to have him back in the lineup when the playoffs begin next week.

Philadelphia Flyers rookie Noah Cates scored twice and collected an assist while Martin Jones made 37 saves to upset the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-1. The loss leaves the Penguins (101 points) holding a one-point lead over the Capitals for third place in the Metro Division.

The Edmonton Oilers missed an opportunity to clinch second place in the Pacific Division by falling 5-2 to the Columbus Blue Jackets. Jakub Voracek and Oliver Bjorkstrand each had three-point performances for the Blue Jackets. Oilers captain Connor McDavid collected two assists and holds a three-point lead over the Panthers’ Jonathan Huberdeau for first place in the NHL scoring race with 118 points. The Oilers hold a two-point lead over the third-place Los Angeles Kings in the Pacific with 98 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Oilers defenseman Darnell Nurse missed this contest as he’s listed as day-to-day with a minor lower-body injury. Blue Jackets forward Yegor Chinakhov returned to action after being sidelined by an upper-body injury since April 2.

Detroit Red Wings goalie Alex Nedeljkovic had a 17-save shutout to blank the New Jersey Devils 3-0. Tyler Bertuzzi had a goal and an assist.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 14, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – December 14, 2021

COVID-19 outbreak forces postponement of three Flames games, the three stars of the week are revealed plus updates on Blake Wheeler, Aleksander Barkov and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

CALGARY SUN: Three Flames games (including last night’s scheduled match against the Chicago Blackhawks) were postponed after six players (Elias Lindholm, Andrew Mangiapane, Chris Tanev, Nikita Zadorov, Brad Richardson and Adam Ruzicka) and one member of the training staff tested positive for COVID-19. Flames general manager Brad Treliving said the players were doing well and asymptomatic but expressed concern for them and their families.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Flames are the third team since mid-November to have games postponed because of COVID-19, joining the Ottawa Senators and New York Islanders. Future outbreaks among other clubs resulting in postponements could adversely affect the schedule. That could jeopardize NHL participation in the 2022 Beijing Winter Olympics in February. The league has until Jan. 10 to opt out without suffering financial penalties.

SPORTSNET: Speaking of the Winter Olympics, several NHL stars have joined Vegas Golden Knights defenseman Alex Pietrangelo expressing concern over the possibility of spending a lengthy period quarantined in Beijing should they test positive for COVID-19 during the Olympics.

Toronto Maple Leafs captain John Tavares (NHL Images).

Toronto Maple Leafs captain and potential Team Canada candidate John Tavares said he felt more uneasy about potentially going to Beijing than he did several weeks or months ago. Teammate Auston Matthews, who is already selected for Team USA, shared those concerns. Meanwhile, Chicago Blackhawks goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury said it would be an honor to be selected for Canada’s squad but he’d like more clarity about the COVID protocols for the Winter Olympics.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Chinese law states those who test positive for COVID-19 must quarantine for three to five weeks. There’s no word yet as to whether that will also apply to Olympic athletes from other countries. Clarification is expected in the coming weeks and could be a determining factor for some NHL stars selected to participate in the Winter Games.

Meanwhile, COVID-19 continues to make its presence felt with some other NHL teams.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Carolina Hurricanes forwards Sebastian Aho and Seth Jarvis entered COVID protocol yesterday. Defensemen Brett Pesce and Tony DeAngelo are expected to rejoin the roster today after being sidelined since Nov. 28 by the coronavirus.

SPORTSNET: Christian Jaros joined New Jersey Devils teammates Nico Hischier and Ryan Graves in COVID protocol. Forward Yegor Sherangovich has not entered protocol but was withheld from practice yesterday for precautionary reasons.

THE DETROIT FREE PRESS: Tyler Bertuzzi is rejoining the Red Wings after emerging from a 10-day COVID quarantine. The only unvaccinated player in the league, Bertuzzi isn’t reconsidering his position, saying he now has “natural immunity” from the coronavirus.

The US Centers for Disease Control says unvaccinated people who previously had COVID-19 are 2.34 times more likely to get reinfected than vaccinated people who’ve had it. Food for thought.

Speaking of the Red Wings, they signed Robby Fabbri to a three-year, $12 million contract extension. The annual average value is $4 million. The 25-year-old forward was slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer.

NHL.COM: Vancouver Canucks goaltender Thatcher Demko, Carolina Hurricanes center Sebastian Aho and Colorado Avalanche defenseman Devon Toews are the NHL’s three stars for the week ending Dec. 12.

WINNIPEG SUN: Jets captain Blake Wheeler will be sidelined for weeks with an apparent right-leg injury.

THE ATHLETIC: Florida Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov has returned to injured reserve after missing the last two games with an upper-body injury. He returned to the lineup last Tuesday after missing eight games with a knee injury.

The Panthers also claimed goaltender Jonas Johansson off waivers from the Colorado Avalanche.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bringing in Johansson likely means promising Spencer Knight could be heading to the Panthers’ AHL affiliate in Charlotte. Sergei Bobrovsky’s solid performance has limited Knight to just nine starts this season. There’s no fear of losing him to another club because he’s exempt from waivers.

SPORTSNET: Edmonton Oilers winger Zach Hyman is listed as day-to-day but hasn’t been ruled out from tonight’s game against his former club, the Toronto Maple Leafs.

THE DALLAS MORNING NEWS: The Stars placed goaltender Anton Khudobin on waivers yesterday. If he clears it’s expected he’ll be sent to their AHL affiliate.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Khudobin struggled this season and was a healthy scratch in several recent games as the club stuck with the tandem of Braden Holtby and Jake Oettinger. Teams were reportedly interested in trading for him but wanted to see him play more games first. Sending him to the minors will allow him to get some games in while also clearing room for the Stars to recall another player if needed.

NHL.COM: The St. Louis Blues placed David Perron, Robert Thomas and Brayden Schenn on injured reserve, activated Tyler Bozak and Justin Faulk from COVID protocol, and recalled forward Alexei Toropchenko from their AHL affiliate in Springfield.

The Los Angeles Kings recently placed defenseman Alexander Edler (lower body) on injured reserve










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 28, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – August 28, 2021

Jack Eichel changes agents plus the latest on John Tavares, Claude Giroux, Bo Horvat and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

SPORTSNET: Still in a dispute with the Buffalo Sabres over treatment for his neck injury, center Jack Eichel has changed agents. He will now be represented by Pat Brisson of Creative Artists Agency, who also represents high-profile players such as Sidney Crosby and John Tavares.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Eichel’s former agents released a statement a month ago that was critical of the Sabres’ handling of their now-former client’s situation. With no end of the stalemate in sight, hiring Brisson has sparked speculation over its effect upon his trade status. I’ll have more in today’s Rumor Mill.

NHL.COM: Speaking of Tavares, the Toronto Maple Leafs captain said he’s “doing fantastic” in his recovery from a concussion and knee injury suffered during the playoffs. He’s expected to be ready for the start of training camp next month.

Toronto Maple Leafs captain John Tavares (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Good to hear that Tavares is healthy and gearing up for the start of the new season. He’ll be under considerable pressure this season to lead the Leafs to playoff success after the club’s stunning first-round collapse against the Montreal Canadiens three months ago.

THE SCORE: After signing Sean Couturier to a contract extension on Thursday, Philadelphia Flyers general manager Chuck Fletcher indicated contract talks with captain Claude Giroux will be held off until the end of 2021-22. Giroux, 33, is slated to become an unrestricted free agent next summer.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Fletcher also said both sides are comfortable with that decision. It will allow the Flyers to evaluate their captain’s performance and his future with the club. Giroux will use this season to prove his worth to the Flyers (or other clubs) in his contract year.

THE ATHLETIC: Vancouver Canucks captain Bo Horvat is determined to reach the playoffs this season. He believes they have the team to do it. “Enough is enough, we can talk all we want, at the end of the day we have to go out there and prove it on the ice,” he said.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Expectations were high for the Canucks entering last season after reaching the second round of the 2020 playoffs. A shortened season, an outbreak of COVID-19, the offseason departures Jacob Markstrom and Tyler Toffoli, and Elias Pettersson’s season-ending injury were critical factors that scuttled their 2021 postseason hopes.

General manager Jim Benning shook up the roster, bringing in Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Conor Garland, Jaroslav Halak and Jason Dickinson while shedding Nate Schmidt, Braden Holtby, Loui Eriksson and several others. Time will tell if those moves improve the Canucks, especially their porous blueline.

WINNIPEG FREE PRESS: Mike McIntyre believes some Jets fans are being overly critical of Josh Morrisey. While the 26-year-old defenseman was accused of slacking off last season after landing a big contract, he was in fact dealing with his father’s fight with brain cancer that eventually took his life on Aug. 8.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Morrissey didn’t use that as an excuse for his inconsistent play but McIntyre believes it’s a justifiable reason. “How could it NOT have impacted his on-ice performance?”, he asked his readers.

We fans and pundits are quick to criticize players when their performance is not up to their usual standard. Sometimes it’s justified, but more often than not there are genuine reasons behind the decline. Sometimes they’re dealing with a loved one’s life-threatening illness or death. Sometimes they’re trying to play through a serious injury.

Sure, a handful of them can find the physical and mental toughness to overcome those issues and continue playing at a high level of competition. Most, however, will struggle to cope. That doesn’t make them weak. It just makes them normal. We tend to forget that.

STARTRIBUNE.COM: The Minnesota Wild signed defenseman Jordie Benn to a one-year, $900K contract.

NEW YORK POST: The Rangers are reportedly close to signing defenseman Libor Hajek.

MONTREAL GAZETTE: The Canadiens signed center Ryan Poehling to a two-year contract. That leaves Jesperi Kotkaniemi as their only remaining restricted free agent.










Random Thoughts on the NHL – June 7, 2021

Random Thoughts on the NHL – June 7, 2021

The Ottawa Sun’s Don Brennan floated the theory that the reason Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon didn’t get enough votes for the Ted Lindsay Award was his peers are pissed at him because his salary is so low. MacKinnon has an annual average value of $6.3 million on his current contract, ranking 92nd among the highest-paid NHL players.

Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon (NHL Images).

A tiny flaw in that theory: they voted for MacKinnon as a finalist in 2018 and again in 2020.

As for his salary, he signed his current deal on July 8, 2016, following his entry-level contract. At the time, he was coming off a 21-goal, 52-point performance in 2015-16. Even by today’s standards, he got a healthy raise for a young player yet to reach his full potential.

Sure, folks were a little puzzled over why the NHLPA membership passed over MacKinnon for his good friend Sidney Crosby. No offense to the Pittsburgh Penguins captain but his fellow Cole Harbour, NS native had a better season. Whatever the reason, it had nothing to do with a contract MacKinnon signed nearly five years ago before he became a superstar.

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I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: The Toronto Maple Leafs wouldn’t be in the mess they’re in now if they hadn’t signed John Tavares in 2018.

That’s not a knock against Tavares. He didn’t hold a gun to the collective heads of Leafs president Brendan Shanahan and general manager Kyle Dubas. They reached out to him. They gave him the opportunity to play for his hometown team. They had no problem ponying up $11 million annually for seven years.

For the most part, Tavares has held up his end of the bargain, averaging a point per game over the last three seasons. The problem is they invested big money in a player they didn’t need.

When the Leafs signed Tavares, they were coming off a season that saw them finish fourth in the league in goals-per-game average (3.29). Meanwhile, their shots-against per game (33.9) was the fourth-highest.

Everyone knew the Leafs’ defensive game was their Achilles’ heel, and yet they went out and blew big bucks on a scoring forward.

The Tavares contract leaves the Leafs squeezed for cap space. It’s the reason why Dubas and Brandon Pridham, the Leafs’ trusty capologist, had to make cost-cutting moves to free up long-term cap space to re-sign Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and William Nylander. It’s why they settled for cheap veteran quick fixes last fall that didn’t pan out. And it’s why this team struggles to find the right chemistry to end its 17-year streak of postseason failure.

Trading Tavares is the easiest way to free up the dollars to resolve that issue but it’s not going to happen. His full no-movement clause puts an end to that notion. Even without it, his annual cap hit for the next four seasons is as good as a no-movement clause in this flat-cap environment.

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Everyone expects the Columbus Blue Jackets to trade Seth Jones after the 26-year-old defenseman stated his intent to test next year’s unrestricted free agent market. They cannot go through next season with his impending departure becoming an unnecessary distraction for his teammates.

Jones will draw plenty of interest in this summer’s trade market. He’s a big, minute-munching, all-around right-side blueliner. He had a down season in 2020-21 which affected his stats and analytic numbers, but there’s isn’t a general manager in the league who wouldn’t want him on their roster.

The Blue Jackets will probably try to get a significant return heavy on futures (draft picks, prospects) as they attempt to rebuild and change their culture. However, his contract status will affect his trade value. The Jackets could get a better deal if he agrees to a contract extension with the acquiring club.










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 3, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – June 3, 2021

The Avalanche take a 2-0 series lead over the Golden Knights, the Canadiens beat the Jets in their second-round series opener, the Sabres win the draft lottery, the Ted Lindsay Award finalists are announced, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.

NHL.COM: Mikko Rantanen’s overtime power-play goal lifted the Colorado Avalanche to a 3-2 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights and a 2-0 lead in their second-round series. Brandon Saad and Tyson Jost also scored for Colorado while Alec Martinez and Reilly Smith replied for Vegas. Avalanche netminder Philipp Grubauer made 39 saves. Marc-Andre Fleury returned to the Golden Knights’ net after being the backup in Game 1.

Colorado Avalanche winger Mikko Rantanen (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Vegas coach Peter DeBoer wasn’t happy with the officiating on the slashing call on Rielly Smith that led to Rantanen’s PP goal. “Just a soft call”, he said, going on to accuse the Avalanche players of embellishment throughout the game.

The Montreal Canadiens defeated the Winnipeg Jets 5-3 in Game 1 of their second-round series. Eric Staal had a goal and an assist while Carey Price made 27 saves for the win. Their victory, however, was overshadowed by a dangerous hit by Jets center Mark Scheifele on Habs center Jake Evans as the latter was scoring an empty net. Evans was stretchered from the ice while Scheifele received a major penalty for charging and a game misconduct.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This was out of character for Scheifele, who has no history of supplemental discipline. He let his emotions get away with him and could face a suspension. Evans, meanwhile, was evaluated by the Canadiens’ medical staff. John Shannon reported he was back at the team hotel following the game, where he was described as doing fine, alert but shaken.

It should be noted that Jets winger Nikolaj Ehlers protected the prone Evans during the ensuing scrum. He also called for additional medical attention for the fallen Hab. “In a situation like that, you don’t want anyone falling on top of him,” said Ehlers. “I was just trying to keep everyone away.”

Winnipeg center Paul Stastny missed this game with an undisclosed injury. Jets defenseman Dylan DeMelo left the game early in the first period with a lower-body injury.

The Buffalo Sabres won the No. 1 pick in the 2021 NHL Draft Lottery yesterday. The expansion Seattle Kraken won the second-overall pick while the Anaheim Ducks will select third.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Sabres could select University of Michigan defenseman Owen Power. He’s listed as this year’s top prospect by NHL Central Scouting.

Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews, and Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid are the finalists for the Ted Lindsay Award.

TORONTO STAR: Maple Leafs president Brendan Shanahan defended his team’s top-four players during the club’s end-of-season press conference. He did, however, acknowledge the club lacked a “killer instinct” that must be addressed.

SPORTSNET: Leafs captain John Tavares said he’s doing “really well” in his recovery from the traumatic head injury suffered during Game 1 against the Canadiens. Tavares missed the rest of the series with a concussion and a knee injury. He said he has no memory of the incident and doesn’t intend to watch the replay.

TSN: Leafs winger Mitch Marner denied a report that he refused to play a goal-line role on the club’s power play. “It’s a complete lie,” he said.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Don’t expect Marner, Tavares, Matthews or William Nylander to be traded this summer if Shanahan’s comments are anything to go by. However, that hasn’t stopped the speculation among the Toronto media. I’ll have more in today’s Rumor Mill.

THE NEWS & OBSERVER: Carolina Hurricanes center Vincent Trocheck’s status for Game 3 tonight against the Tampa Bay Lightning remains uncertain. He was still being evaluated yesterday following his ankle-to-ankle collision with teammate Warren Foegele in Game 2.

BOSTON HOCKEY NOW: Bruins winger Craig Smith could return to the lineup for Game 3 tonight against the New York Islanders. He missed Game 2 with a lower-body injury suffered during the previous game.

TRIBLIVE.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Ron Hextall said he’d be comfortable returning with the same group of players next season. He defended beleaguered starting goaltender Tristan Jarry, lauded the coaching staff and expects core players like Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, and Kris Letang to return next season.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Hextall and president of hockey ops Brian Burke intend to bring some size and toughness to the line next season. There will be some changes but those will likely involve their secondary players. They could also acquire an experienced backup as a mentor for Jarry.

NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Flyers center Kevin Hayes underwent successful sports hernia surgery last week. His expected recovery period is five weeks.

 










NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 27, 2021

NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – May 27, 2021

The Lightning and Islanders advance to the second round, the Wild force Game 7 with the Golden Knights, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines

NHL.COM: The Tampa Bay Lightning have advanced to the second round of the 2021 Stanley Cup playoffs with a 4-0 victory over the Florida Panthers, winning their best-of-seven series in six games. Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy made 29 saves for the shutout, team captain Steven Stamkos had a goal and an assist while Pat Maroon tallied what proved to be the game-winning goal. Lightning forward Barclay Goodrow returned to action after missing six games with an upper-body injury.

Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: This ends the most entertaining series of the opening round. The Panthers were a worthy opponent but were overwhelmed by the depth and experience of the defending Stanley Cup champions.

Three-point performances by Brock Nelson and Anthony Beauvillier carried the New York Islanders to a 5-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins to eliminate the latter in six games. Ilya Sorokin kicked out 34 shots for the Isles, who go on to face the Boston Bruins in the second round.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Islanders earned this victory with their hard work, smothering defense and timely scoring. Pittsburgh goalie Tristan Jarry’s shaky performance in this game and throughout that series raises questions about the depth in the Penguins crease. I’ll have more in today’s NHL Rumor Mill.

A 23-save shutout by Cam Talbot gave the Minnesota Wild a 3-0 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights in Game 6 of their first-round series. Ryan Hartman, Kevin Fiala and Nick Bjugstad scored in the third period to force a seventh and deciding game back in Las Vegas on Friday.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wild have seized the momentum from the Golden Knights by overcoming a 3-1 series deficit to force a winner-take-all Game 7.

TSN: Maple Leafs captain John Tavares joined his teammates at their practice facility yesterday to get “re-acclimated” with his teammates, said Leafs coach Sheldon Keefe. Tavares suffered a concussion and knee injury in Game 1 of their current series with the Montreal Canadiens. He’s expected to be sidelined for at least two weeks.

Leafs center Nick Foligno remains day-to-day with a lower-body injury and is questionable for Game 5 tonight. Canadiens forwards Artturi Lehkonen (upper-body) and Jake Evans (undisclosed) did not travel with their teammates to Toronto for Game 5.

THE DENVER POST: Colorado Avalanche defenseman Bo Byram has returned to the lineup after being sidelined by a concussion since March 25.

EDMONTON JOURNAL: Defenseman Ethan Bear and the Oilers spoke out yesterday after the 23-year-old was the target of racist attacks on social media following the club’s first-round elimination earlier this week.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bear was singled out after a Game 4 turnover resulted in a goal by the Winnipeg Jets. It’s one thing to criticize his play but attacking his Cree heritage was a despicable move by racist cowards.

NBC SPORTS BAY AREA: The San Jose Sharks have agreed not to sue Google or the City of San Jose after the franchise and the tech company reached a settlement over the latter’s plans to expand into downtown San Jose. The Sharks were concerned over the potential effect the expansion would have on parking at SAP Center.