NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – Monday, April 8, 2013.

Recaps of Sunday’s games featuring non-Canadian NHL teams, the latest on Patrice Bergeron, Milan Hejduk, and Mattias Ohlund, and more.

CHICAGO TRIBUNE: The Chicago Blackhawks clinched a playoff berth with a 5-3 win over the Nashville Predators.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Several reports claimed the Blackhawks were the first team to clinch a playoff berth, though the NHL.com standings also lists the Pittsburgh Penguins as having clinched as well.

Alexander Ovechkin celebrates one of his 2 goals against the Lightning.

Alexander Ovechkin celebrates one of his 2 goals against the Lightning.

WASHINGTON POST: Alexander Ovechkin scored twice to lead the Washington Capitals to a 4-2 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning. Ovechkin now moves into a tie for the goal-scoring lead with Tampa Bay’s Steven Stamkos.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: He’s ba-a-ack! Ovechkin’s been on a tear dating back to his three-goal, 4-point performance against New Jersey on February 23.  In the 23 games since then, he’s been held scoreless only six times. Thanks in part to Ovechkin’s performance, the Capitals have surged ahead of Winnipeg to take the lead in the Southeast Division, winning 8 of their last ten games along the way.

LOS ANGELES TIMES: Corey Perry scored the game-tying goal and the shootout winner to lift the Anaheim Ducks to a 4-3 victory over the Los Angeles Kings.

STLTODAY.COM: Brian Elliott made 28 saves as the St. Louis Blues blanked the Detroit Red Wings 1-0 to vault over the Wings into seventh overall in the Western Conference.

STARTRIBUNE.COM: Jason Pominville collected his first points with the Minnesota Wild (1G, 1A) to help his new club snap a three-game winless streak with a 3-0 blanking of the Columbus Blue Jackets.

DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Jamie Benn tallied the sole goal in a shootout as the Dallas Stars kept their playoff hopes alive with a 5-4 win over the San Jose Sharks, snapping the Sharks seven-game winning streak.

BUFFALO NEWS: Despite being outplayed by the New Jersey Devils, the Buffalo Sabres kept their playoff chances alive with a 3-2 shootout win. It was the Devils seventh straight defeat, marking the first time since the 1985-86 season they dropped that many consecutive games.

CSNNE.COM: The Boston Bruins must adjust without center Patrice Bergeron, who remains sidelined indefinitely with a “moderate” concussion.

DENVER POST: Milan Hejduk remains sidelined indefinitely with a shoulder injury. This could be his final NHL season, so there’s not much time left for him to play in front of Colorado Avalanche fans.

TAMPA BAY TIMES: Damian Cristodero reports Lightning defenseman Mattias Ohlund knows his playing career is over because of knee injuries, but the question is how to do it. Ohlund has three years and $6.75 million remaining on his contract.  “It was unclear how the Lightning would be affected financially by retirement because Ohlund’s seven-year contract might be subject to a cap benefit recapture formula.”

SPECTOR’S NOTE: CapGeek.com has an explanation of how the cap benefit recapture formula works, along with a cap calculator for Ohlund. However, I wonder if this would apply for a player forced into retirement by injury, especially if they don’t fall under the “over-35″ rule. That, to me, doesn’t constitute cap circumvention, and I don’t believe a team should be punished because of a career-ending injury. Hopefully, there will be clarification on this in the near future.

CBC.CA: NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman remains hopeful of keeping the Coyotes in Phoenix (Glendale), but the possibility remains in doubt. Bettman claimed the league hasn’t begun looking at relocation of the franchise.

NEW YORK POST: The NHL will not be opening next season with games in Europe. The league hopes to hold talks with the NHLPA in the near future “regarding a comprehensive international program”.

THE GLOBE AND MAIL: The LA Kings and Anaheim Ducks hope to stage an NHL Winter Classic in the near future.

POSTSTAR.COM: Adirondack Phantoms forward Eric Wellwood, who played four games with the Philadelphia Flyers this season, was sliced by a skate blade on his lower left leg during a game yesterday against Bridgeport. He was immediately taken to hospital for vascular and tendon surgery.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Another incident which could lead to an increase in the use of Kevlar hockey socks.Hopefully, Wellwood will make a full recovery and continue his playing career next season.