NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – January 4, 2023
Hat-trick performances by the Sabres’ Tage Thompson and the Panthers’ Matthew Tkachuk while Auston Matthews sets a Leafs franchise record. Details and much more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.
NHL.COM: Buffalo Sabres center Tage Thompson tallied in overtime for his third hat trick of the season in a 5-4 win over the Washington Capitals. Thompson finished the night with four points while Alex Tuch had a goal and two assists for the Sabres, who improve to 19-15-2. Alex Ovechkin tallied twice for the 21-13-6 Capitals.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Thompson has 30 goals on the season and sits three back of Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid for the goal-scoring lead. The Sabres, meanwhile, have won seven of their last 10 games. With 40 points, they’re six back of the New York Islanders for the final wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference.
Before the game, the Sabres entered Capital One Center in Washington wearing t-shirts that read, “Love for 3” to honor Buffalo Bill safety Damar Hamlin, who remains hospitalized in critical condition after collapsing during Monday’s NFL game against the Bengals. Sabres general manager Kevyn Adams released a statement in support of Hamlin and the Bills’ organization.
Matthew Tkachuk tallied his first hat trick with the Florida Panthers as they downed the Arizona Coyotes 5-3. Eric Staal also scored twice for the Panthers (17-18-4) while Clayton Keller had two points for the 13-18-5 Coyotes, who’ve lost 10 straight road games.
Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews collected two points to become the fastest player in franchise history to reach 500 points (445 games) but his club fell 6-5 to the St. Louis Blues. Brayden Schenn tallied the winner in the shootout while Brandon Saad scored two goals for the Blues, who improved to 18-17-3. Michael Bunting scored twice and William Nylander had a three-point performance for the 23-8-7 Maple Leafs.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Speaking of Bunting, the Leafs have reportedly opened preliminary talks about a contract extension for the winger, who’s slated to become an unrestricted free agent in July.
The Tampa Bay Lightning picked up their fourth straight victory by defeating the Chicago Blackhawks 4-1. Former Blackhawk Brandon Hagel had a goal and an assist in the third period against his former club as the Lightning rose to 24-11-1 on the season. Seth Jones replied for the Blackhawks, who dropped to 8-25-4.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Blackhawks winger Patrick Kane left this game in the second period with a lower-body injury. An update on his condition is expected on Wednesday.
Three unanswered third-period goals by Artemi Panarin, K’Andre Miller and Filip Chytil gave the New York Rangers a 5-3 win over the Carolina Hurricanes, snapping the latter’s 11-game win streak. Paul Stastny collected two assists for Carolina (25-7-6) while the Rangers improved to 21-12-6. With 56 points, the Hurricanes remain six back of the league-leading Boston Bruins.
Los Angeles Kings goaltender Pheonix Copley stopped 28 shots to backstop his club over the Dallas Stars by a score of 3-2. Adrian Kempe snapped a 2-2 tie in the third period as the Kings (22-13-6) reach the 50-point plateau, sitting four points behind the Pacific Division-leading Vegas Golden Knights. Roope Hintz collected two assists for the 23-10-6 Stars as their four-game win streak came to an end. With 52 points, they’re two back of the Golden Knights for first overall in the Western Conference.
The Winnipeg Jets got a 33-save performance from Connor Hellebuyck in a 3-2 victory over the Calgary Flames. Sam Gagner tallied the tie-breaker in the third period as the Jets improved to 24-13-1 and sit three points behind the first-place Stars in the Central Division. The Flames’ record fell to 18-14-7 on the season.
Four straight second-period goals carried the Seattle Kraken over the Edmonton Oilers 5-2. Jaden Schwartz had a goal and two assists for the Kraken (20-12-4) as they sit in third place in the Pacific Division with 44 points, one up on the Flames and two ahead of the Oilers. Connor McDavid netted his league-leading 33rd goal of the season for the Oilers (20-17-2) as they dropped their fifth straight home game.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Leon Draisaitl returned to the Oilers lineup after being sidelined for two games with what was believed to be a core muscle strain.
A three-point night by Mathew Barzal carried the New York Islanders to a 6-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks. Jean-Gabriel Pageau scored twice for the Isles, who improved to 22-15-2 and hold the final wild-card berth in the Eastern Conference with 46 points. Bo Horvat scored twice for the Canucks as they dropped to 16-18-3.
Ottawa Senators goalie Anton Forsberg turned in a 22-save shutout to blank the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-0. Tim Stutzle and Claude Giroux each had two points for the Senators (18-17-3) while the Blue Jackets slide to 11-23-2 on the season.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Speaking of the Senators, a source told the Ottawa Sun that it could take until March to determine who the club’s new owner will be. Even then, the paperwork to complete the sale might not be done until June.
The Nashville Predators downed the Montreal Canadiens 6-3, handing the latter their fifth straight loss and leaving them with just one win in their last 10 games. Nino Niederreiter had three assists for the 16-14-6 Predators. Cole Caufield netted his 22nd goal of the season for the 15-20-3 Canadiens.
IN OTHER NEWS…
DETROIT HOCKEY NOW: The Red Wings placed winger Jakub Vrana on waivers yesterday. The move comes as the club attempts to create roster space for sidelined players such as Robby Fabbri, Tyler Bertuzzi and Filip Zadina slated to return soon to their lineup.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Vrana missed most of this season in the NHL/NHLPA player assistance program and is currently with the Wings’ AHL affiliate in Grand Rapids on a conditioning stint.
A rival club interested in bolstering their scoring could pluck Vrana off waivers today by the noon ET deadline. He’s under contract through next season but also carries a $5.25 million annual average value. Given the high number of teams that Cap Friendly indicates have less than that in cap space, it’ll be interesting to see if he gets plucked off the waiver wire later today.
The Red Wings are carrying three goaltenders. However, they decided against putting Alex Nedeljkovic or the well-traveled Magnus Hellberg on waivers for the purpose of sending one of them to the minors for the time being.
LAS VEGAS SUN’s Danny Webster took to Twitter yesterday to report the Golden Knights have taken center Jack Eichel off injured reserve.
PHILLY HOCKEY NOW: The Flyers activated promising winger Bobby Brink off injured reserve and have sent him to their AHL affiliate in Lehigh Valley.
PITTSBURGH HOCKEY NOW: The Penguins have recalled goalie Dustin Tokarski from the AHL affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton. They’ve also placed defenseman Kris Letang on their non-roster list as he’s joined his family in Montreal following the recent death of his father.