NHL Morning Coffee Headlines – Sunday, March 17, 2013.

Recaps of Saturday’s night’s games featuring American NHL teams.

CHICAGO TRIBUNE/DALLAS MORNING NEWS: Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane had three-point nights, and Marian Hossa scored twice, as the Chicago Blackhawks crushed the Dallas Stars 8-1, handing the Stars their worst loss since they moved to Dallas back in the mid-1990s.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Stars are only three points out of a playoff spot, but they’ve now lost four straight. If they don’t turn things around soon, roster changes will be coming by the April 3 trade deadline.

PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW/NEW YORK DAILY NEWS: Tyler Kennedy had a goal and an assist and Marc-Andre Fleury made 23 saves as the Pittsburgh Penguins blanked the NY Rangers 3-0.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The loss knocked the NY Rangers to tenth overall in the Eastern Conference, one point behind the NY Islanders. No one, not even die-hard Isles fans, foresaw this when the season began.

Chris Stewart celebrates his OT goal as the Blues edge the Ducks 2-1.

Chris Stewart celebrates his OT goal as the Blues edge the Ducks 2-1.

STLTODAY.COM/ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER: Chris Stewart scored in overtime to lift the St. Louis Blues to a 2-1 win over the Anaheim Ducks.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Blues entered this month with their playoff hopes in trouble, but over the past two weeks they’ve significantly improved, winning three in a row and six of their last ten.

BOSTON GLOBE/WASHINGTON POST: Nathan Horton and Milan Lucic had three-point performances as the Boston Bruins dominated the Washington Capitals 4-1 in a fight-filled contest.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: It’s not that the Capitals lost, but how they lost. The Bruins intimidated the Capitals and ran roughshod over them. It’s now mid-March, the end of the season is about six weeks away, and I’ve seen no real sign of improvement from the Capitals, who remain mired near the bottom of the Eastern Conference. I no longer expect they’ll rally into playoff contention.

LOS ANGELES TIMES/SAN JOSE MERCURY NEWS: Kyle Clifford scored twice and Jonathan Bernier made 20 saves as the Los Angeles Kings downed the San Jose Sharks 5-2.

STARTRIBUNE.COM/DENVER POST: Four first-period goals lifted the Minnesota Wild to a 6-4 win over the Colorado Avalanche, sweeping their home-and-home series.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The Wild are tied with the Vancouver Canucks for first in the Northwest Division, but while the Canucks have won only three of their last ten games, the Wild have won seven of theirs, and appear poised to solidify their hold on first in the division.

COLUMBUS DISPATCH/ARIZONA REPUBLIC: Sergei Bobrovsky made 39 saves as the Columbus Blue Jackets nipped the Phoenix Coyotes 1-0 in a shootout.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: Bobrovsky’s been red-hot of late, backstopping the Blue Jackets to a ten-game point streak (6-0-4), and within two points of a playoff berth. 

TAMPA TRIBUNE/RALEIGH NEWS & OBSERVER: Tyler Johnson had a goal and an assist as the Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Carolina Hurricanes 4-1. The Hurricanes recently claimed center Adam Hall off waivers from the Lightning.

NEWSDAY/MIAMI HERALD:  The NY Islanders blew a 3-0 lead but a goal by Casey Cizikas in the third period gave them a 4-3 victory over the Florida Panthers.

SPECTOR’S NOTE: The win vaulted the Islanders into ninth overall in the East, one point ahead of the NY Rangers, and only two points out of a playoff berth.