What Next For the San Jose Sharks?
The Jets clinch a playoff spot, T.J. Oshie get a hat trick the day after his father’s passing, Marc-Andre Fleury and Anze Kopitar reach milestones, the Blues salute David Backes and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: The Winnipeg Jets became the third team in the Scotia North Division to clinch a playoff spot by blanking the Calgary Flames 4-0. Connor Hellebuyck made 32 saves for the shutout, Blake Wheeler collected his 800th career point and Mark Scheifele got his 500th career point. The win moved the Jets into third place in the division with 59 points, two up on the Montreal Canadiens.
Speaking of the Canadiens, they failed to secure a playoff berth by falling 5-1 to the Ottawa Senators. Erik Brannstrom collected three assists and Shane Pinto tallied his first NHL goal as the Senators have won seven of their last nine games.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: With 57 points, Montreal still holds a 10-point lead over Calgary, though the latter has a game in hand. The Flames playoff hopes, however, are now hanging by a thread.
T.J. Oshie scored a hat trick the day following his father’s death as the Washington Capitals doubled up the New York Rangers 4-2. Oshie’s performance, however, was overshadowed by several brawls between the two clubs in the fallout over Capitals winger Tom Wilson receiving a fine for roughing Pavel Buchnevich and injury Artemi Panarin in the previous game between the two clubs. Wilson left the game in the first period with an upper-body injury while Buchnevich received a major penalty and game misconduct for cross-checking Capitals winger Anthony Mantha in the face.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Oshie and his family. His hat trick was a fitting honor to his father and a better story than that clown show of a game. With the win, the Capitals regained first place from the Pittsburgh Penguins in the MassMutual East Division with 73 points and hold a game in hand over the Penguins.
The Dallas Stars playoff hopes suffered another blow as they fell 6-2 to the Tampa Bay Lightning. Erik Cernak had a goal and two assists for the Lightning, putting them into a tie with the Florida Panthers in the Discover Central Division. Both clubs have 75 points but the Lightning holds second place with a game in hand. With 56 points, the Stars remain four back of the fourth-place Nashville Predators.
Meanwhile, the Predators dropped a 4-2 decision to the Columbus Blue Jackets. Oliver Bjorkstrand scored twice and collected an assist for the Jackets.
Marc-Andre Fleury picked up his 490th career victory as the Vegas Golden Knights nipped the Minnesota Wild 3-2 on an overtime goal by Alex Pietrangelo. Fleury moved into sole possession of third place on the all-time wins list. Kirill Kaprizov scored twice for the Wild. The Golden Knights (76 points) maintained a four-point lead over the Colorado Avalanche for first place in the Honda West Division.
As for the Avalanche, they blew a 2-0 lead to fall 3-2 to the San Jose Sharks. Tomas Hertl scored twice and Evander Kane collected three assists for the Sharks. With 72 points, the Avs are one point ahead of the third-place Wild.
The St. Louis Blues failed to clinch a playoff spot in the West Division following a 3-2 shootout loss to the Anaheim Ducks. Troy Terry tallied the winner in the shootout. During the game’s first timeout, the Blues honored Ducks winger David Backes with a video tribute commemorating his 10 seasons in St. Louis.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Backes, 37, is in the final season of his contract and is expected to retire.
Anze Kopitar collected his 1000th career NHL point to lead the Los Angeles Kings over the Arizona Coyotes 4-2. Sean Walker collected three points and Gabriel Vilardi tallied twice for the Kings to keep their slim playoff hopes alive. The Coyotes, meanwhile, have been eliminated from postseason contention.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kopitar’s been a model of consistency for the Kings throughout his 15 NHL seasons. He has 50 points on the season, marking the 14th time he’s reached that plateau.
TSN: Toronto Maple Leafs winger Nick Foligno is day-to-day with an upper-body injury and will miss tonight’s game against the Canadiens and likely Saturday’s contest as well.
CBS SPORTS: Boston Bruins center Charlie Coyle suffered an undisclosed injury during Tuesday’s game against the New Jersey Devils and should be considered day-to-day.
NBC SPORTS PHILADELPHIA: Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere received a two-game suspension for boarding Pittsburgh Penguins blueliner Mark Friedman.
MLIVE.COM: Detroit Red Wings forward Bobby Ryan is recovering from triceps surgery three weeks ago. An unrestricted free agent at season’s end, Ryan hopes to remain with the Wings. Meanwhile, teammate Tyler Bertuzzi underwent back surgery last Friday and is expected to be fully recovered in time for next season.
OTTAWA SUN: The Senators signed goaltender Anton Forsberg to a one-year, $900K contract.
CHICAGO SUN-TIMES: Blackhawks TV analyst Ed Olczyk will become the lead NHL game analyst for Turner Sports. He’ll join Kenny Albert as Turner’s top team on TNT when the network’s seven-year contract begins next season.
SPORTSNET: Elliotte Friedman reported if the Seattle Kraken select a player in this summer’s expansion draft who received a bonus on July 1, they will have to re-pay that player’s previous team. The Kraken must also draft at least $48.9 million under the salary cap.
FLYERS ALUMNI: tweeted the passing of former NHL player Jim Johnson at age 78. Johnson spent eight seasons in the NHL with the New York Rangers, Flyers and Los Angeles Kings from 1964-65 to 1971-72. An original member of the Flyers, he spent nearly five seasons with the club. In 302 NHL games, Johnson had 75 goals and 186 points.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: My condolences to Johnson’s family, friends and former teammates.
Connor McDavid moves closer to 100 points, the Hurricanes move closer to their first Presidents’ Trophy, Tom Wilson’s fine draws condemnation from the Rangers, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid collected two assists in a 4-1 victory over the Vancouver Canucks. McDavid has a league-leading 93 points on the season with five games remaining in the schedule. Leon Draisaitl scored twice for the Oilers, who sit in second place in the Scotia North Division with 66 points.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: McDavid’s chances of reaching 100 points in 56 games are improving. The Oilers play the Canucks three more times and the Montreal Canadiens twice. The Habs did a good job containing McDavid through their first five games, limiting the Oilers’ captain to just two assists in those contests. However, McDavid lit up the Canadiens for six points during their last two meetings.
The Carolina Hurricanes overcame a 2-0 deficit to down the Chicago Blackhawks 6-3. Andrei Svechnikov and Teuvo Teravainen each scored two goals for Carolina while Alex DeBrincat tallied twice for Chicago. Blackhawks center Kirby Dach missed the game due to scar tissue aggravation in his right wrist.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hurricanes (79 points) moved closer to winning their first Presidents’ Trophy, holding a four-point lead over the Florida Panthers with a game in hand for the top spot in the Discover Central and the overall standings.
Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby scored twice and collected an assist in a 7-3 drubbing of the Philadelphia Flyers. Jake Guentzel had a goal and two assists for the Penguins, who regained first place in the MassMutual East Division with 73 points.
The New Jersey Devils nipped the Boston Bruins 4-3 in overtime. Pavel Zacha scored twice, including the game-winner. With 69 points, Boston sits two behind the second-place Washington Capitals. Bruins defenseman Brandon Carlo returned to action after being sidelined a month with an oblique muscle injury.
A 45-save performance by minor-league call-up Michael Houser gave the Buffalo Sabres a 4-3 shootout win over the New York Islanders. Anders Bjork scored two goals and regulation and the winning goal in the shootout. Houser has two wins in as many games for the Sabres. The Islanders sit one point behind the Bruins.
The NHL department of player safety served Washington Capitals winger Tom Wilson the maximum $5,000.00 fine for roughing New York Rangers winger Pavel Buchnevich during Monday’s game.
NEW YORK POST: Wilson also slammed Rangers winger Artemi Panarin to the ice but received no supplemental discipline for that incident. Panarin suffered a lower-body injury and will miss the remaining three games of the Rangers’ season. Following the announcement of Wilson’s fine, the Rangers released a statement condemning the mild punishment. They considered it a dereliction of duty by NHL head of player safety, George Parros, declaring him unfit to continue in his current role.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Wilson’s slap on the wrist sparked outrage on social media and widespread condemnation among many NHL pundits. However, the Rangers’ public statement is a shot across the bow.
Team owner James Dolan is no fan of league commissioner Gary Bettman dating back to the latter’s smackdown of Dolan’s 2007 attempt to set up a Rangers website outside of the NHL.com realm. The league will likely fine the Rangers as Bettman won’t tolerate any public challenge to his authority. I doubt this leads to any major changes in the player safety department.
As for Wilson, he’s expected to be in the Capitals lineup tonight against the Rangers.
SPORTSNET: Milan Lucic has agreed to waive his no-movement clause to allow the Calgary Flames to leave him unprotected in this summer’s NHL expansion draft. The move allows the Flames the opportunity to protect a player like Mikael Backlund, Dillon Dube or Andrew Mangiapane.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: An unselfish act by Lucic to give Flames general manager Brad Treliving some flexibility in the expansion draft. However, it’s unlikely the Seattle Kraken will claim him. The 32-year-old winger’s best seasons are behind him plus he carries a $5.25 million cap hit for the next two seasons.
NBC SPORTS WASHINGTON: Capitals center Evgeny Kuznetsov was added to the NHL’s COVID-19 protocol list for the second time this season. Kuznetsov and teammate Ilya Samsonov didn’t dress for Monday’s game against the Rangers as a disciplinary measure for missing a team function. It’s uncertain if he tested positive or broke protocol.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: There’s speculation over Kuznetsov’s future in Washington. I’ll have more in today’s Rumor Mill.
THE ATHLETIC: San Jose Sharks winger Evander Kane has been sued for $15 million by a lender for punitive damages stemming from a $1.5 million loan. Kane is in the midst of a tangle Chapter 7 bankruptcy case.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: Kane’s financial issues haven’t affected his play on the ice. He’s the Sharks scoring leader with 22 goals and 45 points in 52 games.
OTTAWA SUN: Senators defensemen Thomas Chabot and Josh Brown are sidelined by injuries that will keep them out of the lineup for the club’s remaining four games of the season.
THE PROVINCE: The Vancouver Canucks are moving their AHL affiliate from Utica, NY to Abbotsford, BC, beginning in 2021-22.
The Oilers and Bruins clinch playoff berths, Connor McDavid gets closer to 100 points, the players of the week are announced, and more in today’s NHL morning coffee headlines.
NHL.COM: Connor McDavid scored twice and set up two others as the Edmonton Oilers (64 points) clinched a playoff spot in the Scotia Central Division by defeating the Vancouver Canucks 5-3. McDavid has 31 goals and a league-leading 91 points on the season. The Oilers are eight points behind the division-leading Toronto Maple Leafs. They’re the only two Canadian clubs to secure postseason berths thus far. Canucks forwards Brandon Sutter and Marc Michaelis missed the game with upper-body injuries.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: McDavid has six games remaining to reach 100 points for the season.
Montreal Canadiens rookie Cole Caufield tallied his second straight overtime goal in a 3-2 win over the Maple Leafs. Nick Suzuki and Jeff Petry each collected three assists as the Canadiens (57 points) moved into a tie with the third-place Winnipeg Jets. Leafs center Auston Matthews netted his league-leading 39th goal of the season while teammate Nick Foligno left the game in the second period with an upper-body injury.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Canadiens are getting closer to clinching a playoff spot. They’ve opened a 10-point lead over the fifth-place Calgary Flames.
The Jets, meanwhile, suffered their seventh straight defeat by dropping a 2-1 decision to the Ottawa Senators. Nikita Zaitsev tallied the game-winner for the Sens late in the third period. The Jets still hold third place with three more wins than the Canadiens. Ottawa defenseman Thomas Chabot left the game with an upper-body injury.
A 20-save shutout by Tukka Rask carried the Boston Bruins to a 3-0 shutout of the New Jersey Devils to clinch a playoff spot in the MassMutual East Division. Patrice Bergeron had a goal and an assist as the Bruins moved into third place with 68 points.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Bruins join the Washington Capitals, Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Islanders in clinching the four playoff berths in the East.
The Capitals (71 points) regained first place in the division by dropping the New York Rangers 6-3 to end the latter’s playoffs hopes. A nagging lower-body injury forced Washington captain Alex Ovechkin from the game within the first minute. The Capitals are tied with the Pittsburgh Penguins but hold a game in hand.
Capitals winger Tom Wilson could once again face supplemental discipline for punching Rangers winger Pavel Buchnevich in the back of the head while Buchnevich was face down on the ice. When Blueshirts winger Artemi Panarin jumped on Wilson’s back to restrain him, the Capitals forward pulled Panarin to the ice by the hair, punched him and slammed him to the ice again. Wilson received a double minor and 10-minute misconduct while Panarin suffered a lower-body injury that could sideline him from his club’s remaining three games.
Speaking of the Penguins, they were upset 7-2 by the Philadelphia Flyers. Claude Giroux, Jakub Voracek and Joel Farabee each collected three points for the Flyers. Pittsburgh center Evgeni Malkin collected an assist in his first game since suffering a lower-body injury on March 18. Earlier in the day, the Penguins announced defenseman Mike Matheson is week-to-week with a suspected facial injury.
The Buffalo Sabres upset the New York Islanders 4-2. Michael Houser made 34 saves for the win in his NHL debut while teammate Sam Reinhart scored two goals. Islanders goalie Semyon Varlamov’s shutout streak ended at 248 minutes as his club slipped to fourth place with 67 points.
A hat trick by Sebastian Aho carried the Carolina Hurricanes over the Chicago Blackhawks 5-2, eliminating the latter from playoff contention in the Discover Central Division. The Hurricanes extended their points streak to 11 games and sit atop the division with a league-leading 77 points.
SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Hurricanes have a good shot at winning the Presidents’ Trophy for the first time in franchise history.
Aleksander Barkov’s overtime goal gave the Florida Panthers a 5-4 victory over the Dallas Stars. The Stars overcame a 4-2 deficit to force the extra frame with Tyler Segun tallying the game-tying goal in his season debut following offseason hip surgery. The Panthers sit two points behind the Hurricanes with 75 points. The Stars playoff hopes took a hit as they sit four points behind the fourth-place Nashville Predators.
As for the Predators (60 points), Roman Josi’s overtime goal lifted them past the Columbus Blue Jackets 4-3. The Jackets forced the extra frame on a third-period hat trick by Emil Bernstrom.
Two goals within 26 seconds by Kirill Kaprizov and Jonas Brodin late in the third period powered the Minnesota Wild over the Vegas Golden Knights by a score of 6-5. Nick Bonino scored twice and set up another for the Wild (70 points), who remain two points behind the Avalanche in the Honda West Division.
An overtime goal by Andre Burakovsky gave the Colorado Avalanche a 3-2 win over the San Jose Sharks, eliminating the latter from playoff contention. Burakovsky, Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog and Mikko Rantanen each had two points while Evander Kane scored twice for the Sharks. The Avalanche (72 points) are two behind the Golden Knights. Avs goalie Devan Dubnyk missed the game after testing positive for COVID-19 and is expected to miss the next two weeks.
Third-period goals by Robert Bortuzzo and Ryan O’Reilly gave the St. Louis Blues a 3-1 victory over the Anaheim Ducks. St. Louis winger David Perron collected an assist for his 600th career point. The Blues (55 points) opened a five-point lead over the Arizona Coyotes for fourth place in the division.
The Coyotes’ playoff hopes grew dimmer as the Los Angeles Kings beat them 3-2. Kings captain Anze Kopitar had a goal and an assist to reach 999 career points. Teammate Jonathan Quick left the game after allowing two goals on 19 shots through two periods with an undisclosed injury.
Detroit Red Wings goaltender Thomas Greiss, Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid and New York Islanders goalie Semyon Varlamov are the NHL’s three stars for the week ending May 2.