Despite being idle, last night’s scoreboard delivered good news in three key instances to the Florida Panthers.
The Cats maintained their three-point cushion in the Atlantic Division thanks to a 3-2 win by the Colorado Avalanche over the visiting Tampa Bay Lightning. The two Florida teams have both played 47 games now and the Panthers lead the Bolts 69 points to 66.
In other good news, the Toronto Maple Leafs dropped a 5-2 decision to the Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome. The Buds still hold three games in hand on the Cats, but the best they can do if they win all of them is forge a tie at 69 points.
The Charlotte Checkers will kick off a six-game homestand tonight with a game against the Bridgeport Islanders. The two teams will go out at again tomorrow night. Expect Spencer Knight to get a start this weekend.
I’ll start with the ladies at the 2022 Olympics in Beijing. The quarterfinals are underway as I type and the United States has already advanced with a solid 4-1 victory over Czechia, who finished second in Group B. Hillary Knight, Lee Stecklein, Savannah Harmon and Kendall Coyne-Schofield were the Yank goal-scorers.
Canada and Sweden is up next while the other two quarterfinal matches will take place tomorrow.
In men’s action, the four teams in Group B have completed play with Russia posting a 2-0 win over Denmark and Czechia edging Switzerland 2-1 in a shootout.
Pavel Karnaukhov and Kirill Semyonov scored the goals and Ivan Fedotov stopped all 16 shots for Russia.
Former NHLer David Krejci potted the game-winning goal in the shootout for the Czechs. Jin Smejkal scored for Czechs and Gaetan Hass replied for the Danes in regulation time.
In Group C, Sweden posted a 4-1 win over Slovakia. Former Panthers forward Lucas Wallmark scored again and Joakim Nordstrom, Carl Klingberg and Max Friberg also added goals. Juraj Slafkovsky ended Magnus Hellberg’s shutout bid with a 1:42 left in the game.
Finland and Latvia are just about to get underway.