NHL Recap April 8, 2024 – MATTHEWS, MAPLE LEAFS PREVENT PENGUINS FROM CLIMBING INTO WILD CARD SPOT

After five straight days of Wild Card 2 having a different owner, the Detroit Red Wings managed to stand pat overnight thanks to a 1-1—2 effort by Toronto’s Auston Matthews that included his 65th goal of the season (tied with Alex Ovechkin for the most goals in a single season by an active player). Penguins captain Sidney Crosby collected his 998th career assist on a third-period tying goal to help his club salvage a point and extend its point streak to nine games (6-0-3).

  • Matthews’ 36th home goal of the season helped the Maple Leafs forward extend a goal streak to five games for the 10th time in his career and join Ovechkin (14x) and Steven Stamkos (12x) as the third active player with a double-digit count. Already with the most home goals in a single season in franchise history, he became the fourth player in the past 30 years with at least 36 home goals in a campaign (also Stamkos: 36 in 2011-12; Mario Lemieux: 44 in 1995-96; & Brett Hull: 37 in 1993-94).
  • Ilya Samsonov (50-16-12 in 80 GP) earned his fifth straight victory and required the second-fewest games by a goaltender to collect 50 career wins with the franchise, behind Jack Campbell (75 GP). He also became the first Toronto netminder since Frederik Andersen (3x in 2018-19; longest: 6 GP) with multiple five-game runs in a single season (also 6 GP from Feb. 7-24).
  • The Penguins pushed their point streak to nine games to match the idle Red Wings (Wild Card 2) at 84 points. Pittsburgh will watch Tuesday as the other six teams in the Eastern Conference playoff race hit the ice, including a pivotal showdown between the Capitals and Red Wings on ESPN (7 p.m. ET).
  • A Canucks comeback win against the Golden Knights featured noteworthy performances from their top scorers as J.T. Miller recorded his first 100-point season and Brock Boeser notched his first 40-goal campaign.
  • Auston Matthews continued his quest to the 70-goal milestone by scoring his 65th of 2023-24, tying Alex Ovechkin for the most in a season among active players.
  • The Predators and Kings can clinch playoff spots, while the Rangers, Stars and Bruins can secure division titles.

10 DAYS TO DETERMINE…

A snapshot of what will be determined over the 74 remaining games and final 10 days of the regular season:

  • Five playoff spots (three in the West, two in the East)
  • All eight First Round matchups
  • The Presidents’ Trophy winner
  • The No. 1 seed in both conferences
  • The No. 1 seed in all four divisions
  • Home ice in the First Round for five clubs
  • An Art Ross Trophy winner in a race that features a trio of 130-point scorers
  • A Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy winner with a 65-goal scorer as the frontrunner

MILLER, BOESER AND HUGHES HELP CANUCKS WITHSTAND BACK-AND-FORTH AFFAIR
The trio of J.T. Miller (0-3—3), Brock Boeser (1-1—2) and Quinn Hughes (1-1—2) contributed in critical moments offensively for the Canucks (48-22-8, 104 points), who erased 2-0 and 3-2 deficits to edge the Golden Knights (42-27-8, 92 points) and prevent the club from moving past the idle Kings (41-25-11, 93 points) for third in the Pacific Division.

  • Miller, who reached the 100-point mark for the first time in his career, joined Auston Matthews (65-37—102) as the second U.S.-born player with 100 points in 2023-24 – the third consecutive season in which multiple U.S.-born players hit triple digits. The most in a single season is four (1992-93).
  • The Canucks forward became the sixth player in the past 40 years, and second this season, to record his first 100-point campaign at age 31 or older. He joined Artemi Panarin (2023-24), Erik Karlsson (2022-23), Steven Stamkos (2021-22), Martin St. Louis (2006-07) and Daniel Alfredsson (2005-06).
  • Boeser became the 10th different player in Canucks history to score 40 goals in a season and the first since Daniel Sedin and Ryan Kesler achieved the feat in 2010-11 (both w/ 41). Boeser also became the second U.S.-born player to reach the mark in 2023-24 after Matthews (65).
  • Hughes’ 71st helper of 2023-24 helped initiate the Canucks comeback and lifted the 24-year-old among several all-time single-season assists lists. He tied Henrik Sedin (71 in 2006-07) for the third-highest total in a single campaign in Canucks history and established the fourth highest in a season by a U.S.-born defenseman in NHL history, behind Brian Leetch (80 in 1991-92 & 72 in 1990-91) and Phil Housley (79 in 1992-93).

NOT ONE PATH: MARCO ROSSI

Marco Rossi is the most-recent player to be featured in the Not One Path series, where we highlight unconventional routes to the NHL – for Rossi, that meant driving between countries to play hockey. Rossi and the Wild will face the Avalanche tonight on ESPN (9:30 p.m. ET).

    EASTERN CONFERENCE PLAYOFF RACE HEADLINES 13-GAME TUESDAY

    A handful of clubs involved in the Eastern Conference playoff race are in action, including a national telecast on ESPN between the Red Wings (38-31-8, 84 points) and Capitals (36-30-11, 83 points) at Little Caesars Arena. Washington trails Detroit by one point for the second Wild Card spot and the NY Islanders (35-27-15, 85 points) by two points for third in the Metropolitan Division.

    • Veterans Alex Ovechkin and Patrick Kane both enter the contest one goal shy of a milestone: Ovechkin just one shy of setting an NHL record with an 18th career 30-goal season and Kane one back of matching Mike Modano (16) for the most 20-goal seasons by a U.S.-born player in NHL history.
    • The Islanders host the Rangers (53-21-4, 110 points) for the first of two remaining regular-season meetings between the rivals, who could meet in the First Round and have their first playoff meeting in 30 years. Noah Dobson (10-58—68 in 77 GP) has shone offensively for the Islanders this season and enters the contest two points shy of becoming the third defenseman in franchise history with 70 in a single season (Denis Potvin, 7x; most: 101 in 1978-79; & Jean Potvin: 72 in 1975-76).
    • The Flyers (36-31-11, 83 points), taking to the road in Montreal, are in the mix for both third place in the Metropolitan Division and a Wild Card position. Owen Tippett (28-23—51 in 74 GP) is in the midst of a career season and sits two goals shy of joining Travis Konecny (31 in 72 GP) as the second 30-goal scorer for Philadelphia in 2023-24 – a feat the franchise has seen once in the past 12 seasons (Claude Giroux: 34 & Sean Couturier: 31 in 2017-18).

    KINGS, PREDATORS CAN CLINCH PLAYOFF SPOTS; CLUBS CAN SECURE DIVISION TITLES

    While the Kings (41-25-11, 93 points) and Predators (45-29-4, 94 points) can lock up the sixth and seventh playoff spots in the Western Conference, a trio of teams can secure division titles when the Rangers (53-21-4, 110 points), Bruins (46-17-15, 107 points) and Stars (49-20-9, 107 points) take to the ice.

    • The Kings need to win in any fashion during the latest edition of the “Freeway Face-Off” to return to the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the 33rd time in franchise history and third consecutive season.
    • The Predators can clinch a postseason berth with at least one point Tuesday as Roman Josi leads his club against the Jets in a crucial Central Division clash. Winnipeg (47-24-6, 100 points) owns a six-point cushion on Nashville for third in their division, with Nashville needing a regulation win to keep its hopes alive for moving up higher than a Wild Card spot.
    • The Rangers (53-21-4, 110 points) would establish a franchise record for wins in a season if they defeat the Islanders. A Rangers victory and a Hurricanes regulation loss would give New York its first division title since 2014-15 – the campaign before its 2023-24 leading scorer, Artemi Panarin, made his League debut.
    • Two of the League’s top four teams will go head-to-head when the Hurricanes (4th; 49-22-7, 105 points) visit the Bruins (3rd). Carolina is on the verge of becoming the only team with an active streak of three consecutive 50-win campaigns, while Boston will clinch the Atlantic Division title if they defeat the Hurricanes in any fashion AND both of the following occur: (1) the Maple Leafs lose to the Devils in any fashion; (2) the Panthers lose to the Senators in regulation.
    • The Stars (49-20-9, 107 points) will have a shot at recording the franchise’s fifth 50-win season and first since 2015-16 (50) when they host the Sabres. The 2015-16 campaign was also the last time Dallas was the top seed in the Central Division – an achievement it can repeat tonight with a victory of any kind alongside regulation losses by both Colorado and Winnipeg. Overall, the franchise has claimed its division 10 times.

    Kucherov, Crosby and Panarin Named NHL ‘Three Stars’ of the Week

    Tampa Bay Lightning right wing Nikita Kucherov, Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby and New York Rangers left wing Artemi Panarin have been named the NHL’s “Three Stars” for the week ending April 7.

    FIRST STAR – NIKITA KUCHEROV, RW, TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING

    Kucherov posted a League-best nine assists and 10 points in four games (1-9—10) to propel the Lightning (43‑27-7, 93 points) to a pair of wins as they clinched their seventh consecutive playoff berth. He opened the week with one helper in a 4-2 loss to the Detroit Red Wings April 1. Kucherov then registered three straight three-point performances, the third time he has accomplished the feat in his career (also April 23-26, 2022: 4-8—12 in 3 GP and Feb. 10-14, 2019: 4-7—11 in 3 GP). He collected three assists in a 4-1 victory against the Toronto Maple Leafs April 3 to surpass his franchise record for points in one season, established in 2018-19 en route to capturing the Art Ross Trophy (41-87—128 in 82 GP). Kucherov added 1-2—3 in a 7-4 triumph over the Montreal Canadiens April 4 to become the first Tampa Bay player to compile 90 assists in one season – and the second player on any team to reach the milestone in 2023-24, following Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid (31-99—130 in 74 GP), after no one had done so since 2006-07. Kucherov capped the week with three more helpers, his 10th three-assist and 22nd three-point game of the campaign, in a 5-4 defeat versus the Pittsburgh Penguins April 6. The 30-year-old Kucherov, who has points in six straight outings dating to March 27 (2-11—13), leads the NHL with 43-93—136 through 76 total appearances this season – three points ahead of second-place Nathan MacKinnon (48-85—133 in 78 GP w/ COL). Kucherov also ranks among the top 2023-24 performers in power-play assists (1st; 38), power-play points (1st; 51), assists (2nd; 93), shots on goal (t‑6th; 296), goals (t-7th; 43) and power-play goals (t-13th; 13).

    SECOND STAR – SIDNEY CROSBY, C, PITTSBURGH PENGUINS

    Crosby placed second in the NHL with five goals in four contests (5-1—6) as the Penguins (36‑30‑11, 83 points) completed a perfect week to extend their point streak to eight games dating to March 26 (6-0-2) and move within one point of the final Wild Card position in the Eastern Conference. Crosby recorded 2-1—3 in a 5-2 win against the New York Rangers April 1 to clinch his 19th career point-per-game season, a total achieved by only one other player in League history: Wayne Gretzky (also 19x). He followed that with two third-period goals as Pittsburgh rallied from a 3-1 deficit for a 6-3 victory over the New Jersey Devils April 2. Crosby, who was held off the scoresheet in a 4-1 triumph versus the Washington Capitals April 4, then scored in a 5-4 win against the Tampa Bay Lightning April 6 to become the seventh different player in NHL history to reach the 40-goal milestone at age 36 or older. The two-time Hart Memorial Trophy winner leads the Penguins in goals (40; 14 more than any other player), assists (45; three more than any other player) and points (85; 23 more than any other player) through 77 total contests this season as the team looks to become the first in League history overcome a nine-point deficit in its final 11 games to reach the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

    THIRD STAR – ARTEMI PANARIN, LW, NEW YORK RANGERS

    Panarin ranked second in the NHL with 2-6—8 across four games to guide the League-leading Rangers (53-21-4, 110 points) to a 3-1-0 week as they matched a franchise record for wins in one season (also 2014-15: 53-22-7). He notched one assist in a 5-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins April 1, followed by 1-1—2 (including a helper on the tiebreaking goal by Chris Kreider with 4:57 remaining in regulation) in a 4-3 triumph over the New Jersey Devils April 3. Panarin added an assist (on another third-period, tiebreaking goal by Kreider) in a 4-3 victory against the Detroit Red Wings April 5 before closing the week with 1-3—4 as New York rallied for a 5-2 win versus the Montreal Canadiens April 7. The 32-year-old Panarin sits fourth in the NHL with 46-69—115 through 78 total contests this season, second in franchise history behind only Jaromir Jagr’s 2005-06 campaign (54-69—123 in 82 GP). Panarin also places among the top 10 in the League for power-play assists (4th; 32), power-play points (4th; 42), assists (5th; 69), goals (6th; 46) and shots on goal (9th; 285) in 2023-24.

    RED WINGS LOAN VILLE HUSSO TO GRAND RAPIDS FOR CONDITIONING

    The Detroit Red Wings have loaned goaltender Ville Husso to the American Hockey League’s Grand Rapids Griffins for conditioning.

    Husso, 29, has made 19 appearances with the Red Wings during the 2023-24 season, posting a 9-5-2 record with a 3.55 goals-against average and an 0.892 save percentage. The 6-foot-3, 205-pound goaltender also stopped all 25 shots he faced with the Griffins on Jan. 26 against the Belleville Senators during a previous conditioning stint.

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