NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – April 2, 2024

The Penguins’ Sidney Crosby ties a scoring record with Wayne Gretzky, Auston Matthews sets the Leafs single-season goal record, the Red Wings and Islanders remain in the Eastern Conference wildcard chase, and more in today’s NHL Morning Coffee Headlines.


NHL.COM: Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby scored two goals and collected an assist to tie Wayne Gretzky with 19 seasons averaging a point-per-game in a 5-2 win over the New York Rangers. Bryan Rust also tallied twice for the 33-30-11 Penguins (77 points) as they move to within five points of the final Eastern Conference wildcard berth. The Rangers (50-21-4) remain in first place in the overall standings with 104 points.

Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby (NHL Images).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: A point-per-game in 19 straight seasons is a phenomenal achievement for the 36-year-old Crosby. He has 82 points this season in 74 games. Crosby also needs just three assists to reach the 1,000-assist milestone. He’s 13 goals from the 600 career goal milestone and 16 points from the 1,600-point plateau. Penguins goaltender Tristan Jarry and defenseman John Ludvig were late scratches from this game due to illness.

Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews broke his franchise single-season goals record with his 61st and 62nd goals as his club downed the Florida Panthers 6-4. Matthews also collected an assist to finish with three points for the Leafs (43-22-9), who won their third straight game and sit third in the Atlantic Division with 95 points. Vladimir Tarasenko had a goal and two assists and Sam Reinhart tallied his 52nd goal for the 47-23-5 Panthers, who sit seventh in the overall standings with 99 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: With eight games remaining in the Leafs schedule, Matthews has a chance to become the first player to score 70 goals in a season since Teemu Selanne and Alex Mogilny in 1992-93. He holds a 10-goal lead over Reinhart and the Edmonton Oilers’ Zach Hyman in the race for the Maurice Richard Trophy. Meanwhile, Panthers winger Carter Verhaeghe left this game early in the third period with an undisclosed injury. Panthers coach Paul Maurice considers him day-to-day.

The Detroit Red Wings remain in the Eastern wildcard race with a 4-2 victory over the Tampa Bay Lightning. David Perron snapped a 2-2 tie, Lucas Raymond netted his 25th goal of the season and Alex Lyon stopped 34 shots for the 37-30-8 Red Wings, who sit behind the Washington Capitals with 82 points. Lightning winger Nikita Kucherov collected an assist to tie Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon for the points lead with 127. The Bolts (41-26-7) hold the first Eastern wildcard with 89 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wings and Capitals have the same points total but the latter holds that wildcard with two games in hand.

An overtime goal by Brock Nelson lifted the New York Islanders over the Philadelphia Flyers 4-3. Semyon Varlamov stopped 30 shots for the 32-27-15 Islanders as they sit three points behind the Red Wings and Capitals. Morgan Frost scored in the final 10 seconds to force overtime for the Flyers (36-29-11), who picked up a point to regain third place in the Metropolitan Division with 83 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Nelson and teammate Bo Horvat each scored their 30th goal of the season in this game. Meanwhile, Flyers goalie Ivan Fedotov made his NHL debut (stopping 19 of 21 shots) as he replaced Samuel Ersson, who gave up two goals on six shots. Flyers defenseman Jamie Drysdale returned to action after missing 16 games with an upper-body injury. However, team captain Sean Couturier left the game with an apparent upper-body injury.

The Colorado Avalanche failed to gain ground in the overall standings as they fell 4-1 to the Columbus Blue Jackets. Alexander Nylander tallied twice and Kirill Marchenkov picked up his 20th goal of the season for the 25-38-12 Blue Jackets. Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon was held scoreless as his club sits sixth overall with 100 points (47-22-6).

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Blue Jackets goaltender Elvis Merzlikins missed this game with a lower-body injury. He’s listed as day-to-day.

Cole Perfetti scored twice and collected an assist as the Winnipeg Jets nipped the Los Angeles Kings 4-3 to snap their six-game losing skid. Kyle Connor collected three assists for the Jets, who improved to 45-24-6 to sit third in the Central Division with 96 points. Viktor Arvidsson, Kevin Fiala and Anze Kopitar replied for the Kings (38-25-11) as they hold the final Western Conference wild-card berth with 87 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Jets forward Tyler Toffoli missed this game due to illness. Kings center Phillip Danault did not dress due to an upper-body injury.

St. Louis Blues winger Brandon Saad scored in overtime to give his club a 3-2 win over the Edmonton Oilers. Brayden Schenn tallied twice for the Blues, who improved to 40-31-4 and sit three points behind the Kings for that final Western wildcard. Mattias Ekholm had a goal and an assist for the 45-23-5 Oilers as they sit second in the Pacific Division with 95 points.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Oilers captain Connor McDavid collected an assist for his 126th point of the season, sitting one behind Kucherov and MacKinnon in the race for the Art Ross Trophy. He’s also just three assists away from reaching the 100-point mark in a single season. The last player to do that was Wayne Gretzky with 122 in 1990-91.

The Seattle Kraken doubled up the San Jose Sharks 4-2. Shane Wright scored what proved to be the winning goal in his first game since being called up from the minors while Oliver Bjorkstrand netted his 20th of the season for the 31-30-13 Kraken. Fabian Zetterlund tallied his 21st of the season for the 17-49-8 Sharks.


NHL.COM: Edmonton Oilers captain Connor McDavid, Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Logan Thompson and New York Rangers winger Alexis Lafreniere were the league’s three stars for the week ending March 31.

STARTRIBUNE.COM: Minnesota Wild forward Ryan Hartman received a three-game suspension from the NHL department of player safety for unsportsmanlike conduct. He hurled his stick toward the on-ice officials following the Wild’s 2-1 loss to the Golden Knights on Saturday.