The Carolina Hurricanes have kicked Ron Francis upstairs and made him the President of Hockey Operations, while relieving him of his duties as the General Manager of the hockey club.
Francis had been the GM over the last four seasons and the Hurricanes have not made the post-season during that stretch. They do have lots of young talent and are poised to make the playoffs soon but they still do not have a number one goalie and that has been their downfall.
It was thought that Scott Darling would be able to handle the job but he has not been the goalie everyone thought he could be when he shone last season in Chicago, albeit, as the backup.
New owner Tom Dundon will conduct the search for the new GM and it appears he is going to be a hands-on owner. It should be interesting to see how this turns out.
In other news, David Backes was suspended three games for a high and late hit on the Red Wings Frans Nielsen Tuesday. Backes will be eligible to return on March 13 while Nielsen is day-to-day with an upper body injury.
CALGARY 5 BUFFALO 1
David Rittich was almost perfect in net as he allowed a goal by Casey Nelson with only 18 seconds left in the game to break up his shutout bid. Rittich stopped 25 shots for his seventh win of the year. Rittich is coming off a pair of losses in which he gave up 11 goals on 59 shots so this effort has to be encouraging as the Flames are on the cusp of the playoffs.
Sam Bennett and Mark Jankowski opened the scoring in the first and they assisted on the other ones goal to give each a two-point night.
Giordano and Monahan scored 61 seconds apart in the second and that chased Chad Johnson from the crease after he gave up four goals on 22 shots. Robin Lehner came in and gave up only Hamilton’s 15th of the season while making 18 saves.
Johnny Gaudreau and T.J. Brodie each had a pair of assists in the win. It was Gaudreau’s 300th game in his NHL career.
Matthew Tkachuk had six shots on goal for Calgary to lead both sides while Curtis Lazar was the only Flame not to have a shot on goal.
PITTSBURGH 5 PHILADELPHIA 2
Conor Sheary scored twice as the Penguins upended the Flyers 5-2 in the battle of Pennsylvania.
It was also a big night for defenseman Jamie Oleksiak who had a goal and an assist with six penalty minutes and a plus-three rating.
Tristan Jarry was strong in the Penguins net as he stopped 26-of-28 shots for his third straight win as well as his 13th of the season. Jarry has started the last three games after Casey DeSmith gave up three goals on five shots March 1 and has not been seen in the crease since.
Evgeni Malkin also had a goal and a helper for the Penguins and he has 38 goals and 84 points, trailing Nikita Kucherov by only two points in the race for the Art Ross Trophy.
Phil Kessel potted his 28th goal of the season and it was a power play effort. Sidney Crosby had three assists to give him 51 this season and he moved into 11th place in scoring with 73 points. The third assist gave him 1,100 points in the NHL.
Jakub Voracek and Travis Konecny with his 18th replied for the Flyers.
Petr Mrazek gave up four goals on 27 shots to take the loss for Philadelphia. He is 0-3-1 in the month of March for the Flyers, giving up 18 goals on only 123 shots. The Flyers need a lot better goalkeeping than that.
Wayne Simmonds was a minus-four on the night while Valtteri Filppula was minus-three.
Justin Schultz, Sheary and Crosby were all plus-three in addition to Oleksiak.
Bryan Rust left the game in the first period and did not return after he absorbed a hit by blueliner Robert Hagg. Consider him day-to-day for now.
ARIZONA 2 VANCOUVER 1
Derek Stepan’s goal with 58 seconds left in the third was the winner as the Arizona Coyotes continued their hot play of late and defeated Vancouver 2-1.
Clayton Keller opened the scoring with his 18th of the season as Stepan drew an assist and then the rookie set up Stepan for the game winner to give him 48 points this season.
Brandon Perlini assisted on both goals for Arizona as the line combined for six points.
Darcy Kuemper faced only 17 shots in the cage for his first win as a member of the Coyotes. It was his 11th win of the season with the first 10 coming as a Los Angeles King.
The recently acquired Jussi Jokinen scored the lone goal for Vancouver. It was his second of the season (he has played for four teams this season Edmonton, Los Angeles, Columbus and now Vancouver). Brendan Leipsic and Sam Gagner had the assists.
Jacob Markstrom was sharp in goal for Vancouver, turning aside 31 shots on 33 attempts but it was not enough to put the Canucks over the top.
The win gives Arizona 53 points as they finally have climbed out of the basement in the NHL standings. They are tied for 30th with Buffalo but the Sabres have played one more game at 67.
Troy Stecher and Luke Schenn each had six hits.