NHL Morning Cup Of Joe
PREDATORS, WILD PULL AHEAD IN WESTERN CONFERENCE RACE
Both the Predators (32-21-11, 75 points) and Wild (29-25-10, 68 points) posted wins on Tuesday to move ahead in the Western Conference Wild Card race:
* Shea Weber (1-2—3) notched his fourth three-point performance of the season – while making his return from a three-game absence – to power the Predators to their fifth straight win and help the team extend its point streak to 10 contests (7-0-3), equaling a franchise record last achieved Nov. 27 – Dec. 17, 2010 (8-0-2). Elias notes that Weber became the fourth defenseman to collect four three-point games this season. The others: Ottawa’s Erik Karlsson (6), Arizona’s Oliver Ekman-Larsson (5) and Pittsburgh’s Kris Letang (4).
* Nino Niederreiter (2-1—3), Jason Pominville (1-2—3), Charlie Coyle (2-0—2) andZach Parise (0-2—2) all registered multiple points to lift the Wild over the Avalanche and into the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. Coyle, who reached the 20-goal milestone for the first time, provided the tiebreaking strike early in the third period after Minnesota surrendered a two-goal lead. The Wild improved to 3-0-1 against the Avalanche this season (COL: 1-3-0); the teams will close their head-to-head series onMarch 26 at Pepsi Center.
PLAYOFF CHASE TIGHTENS IN EASTERN CONFERENCE
Several clubs in the Eastern Conference also continued their march toward the playoffs on the strength of late goals:
* Jaromir Jagr scored his NHL-record 133rd career game-winning goal – at 3:31 of the third period – and Reilly Smith (2-0—2) added his third multi-goal performance of the season to help the Panthers pick up points for the sixth time in their past seven outings (4-1-2). Jagr (743-1,106—1,849) also moved within one point of tying Gordie Howe(801-1,049—1,850) for third place in NHL history. At 36-19-8 (80 points), the Panthers moved two points ahead of the idle Lightning (37-22-4, 78 points) atop the Atlantic Division.
* Thomas Hickey (1-1—2) notched the tiebreaking goal with 7:05 left in the third period to propel the Islanders to a 4-1-0 record in the opening five contests of their seven-game road trip. Hickey picked up his third career game-winning goal (244 GP) and first since Dec. 2, 2014 vs. OTT (1-1—2). At 34-20-7 (75 points), the Islanders moved within five points of the idle Rangers (37-20-6, 80 points) for second place in the Metropolitan Division; the teams will face off on Sunday at Madison Square Garden.
* Patrice Bergeron potted the tiebreaking goal with 3:24 remaining in regulation to lift the Bruins to their third victory in their last four games and a 9-5-0 record dating to Feb. 4. Bergeron collected his 24th goal of the season (62 GP) to surpass his total of 23 from 2014-15 (81 GP). At 35-23-6 (76 points), the Bruins leapfrogged the idle Red Wings (32-20-11, 75 points) for third place in the Atlantic Division.
* The Hurricanes scored three unanswered goals – including the tiebreaker by Joakim Nordstrom with 1:29 left on the clock – to halt a three-game skid (0-3-0). Nordstrom has 9-12—21 in 54 outings this season, compared to 1-5—6 in his first 54 career appearances. At 29-26-10 (68 points), the Hurricanes climbed within four points of the Penguins (32-22-8, 72 points) – who lost in regulation – for the final playoff spot in the conference.
MILESTONES & BENCHMARKS
* Avalanche forward Jarome Iginla scored his 608th career goal to tie Dino Ciccarellifor 17th place in NHL history. Iginla also played in his 1,457th career game to tie Glen Wesley for 21st place all-time.
* Hurricanes forward Derek Ryan scored while making his NHL debut at age 29. Avalanche defenseman Chris Bigras (21 GP) and Flames defenseman Jakub Nakladal (10 GP) also recorded their first career goals.
* Bruins forward Noel Acciari, who signed with the team as an undrafted free agent, made his NHL debut.
* Barry Trotz (WSH) earned his 648th career win to tie Ron Wilson for ninth place in NHL history among head coaches.
Blues forward Vladimir Tarasenko reached the 30-goal milestone for the second straight season (also 2014-15: 37). His 30 goals rank sixth in the NHL . . . Capitals forward Evgeny Kuznetsov reached the 20-goal milestone for the first time. He ranks fifth in the NHL with 20-45—65 overall . . . Devils forward Adam Henrique reached the 20-goal milestone for the second time (also 2013-14: 25) . . . Senators captain Erik Karlsson collected his League-leading 57th assist of the season, two shy of his career high established in 2011-12 . . . Senators forward Jean-Gabriel Pageau (3-5—8) and Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien (1-5—6) both extended their point streaks to six games . . . Panthers forward Jussi Jokinen (0-6—6) and Islanders forward Casey Cizikas (2-3—5) both extended their point streaks to five games . . . The Predators signed forward Miikka Salomaki to a two-year contract extension . . . ICYMI: The Department of Player Safety suspended Bruins forward Zac Rinaldo for five games for an illegal check to the head of Lightning forward Cedric Paquette . . . Ducks captainRyan Getzlaf, Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin and Predators forward Filip Forsbergwere named the NHL’s “Three Stars” for the month of February.
SNEAK PEEK AT WEDNESDAY’S ACTION
All Times Eastern
Toronto @ Washington, 7:00 p.m., SN, CSN-DC
Chicago @ Detroit, 8:00 p.m., NBCSN, SN1, TVAS
Montreal @ Anaheim, 10:00 p.m., SNE, RDS, FS-W