NHL Recap April 9, 2024 – OVECHKIN MAKES NHL HISTORY, CAPITALS MOVE INTO WILD CARD SPOT

Alex Ovechkin made NHL history as he scored his 30th goal of the season, which stood as the game winner, to propel his club into a Wild Card position for the first time since April 3. The Capitals (37-30-11, 85 points) bumped their opponent Tuesday, the Detroit Red Wings (38-32-8, 84 points), out of a playoff spot with a 2-1 victory.

  • Ovechkin recorded his 18th career 30-goal season and surpassed Mike Gartner (17) for the most in NHL history. Entering the 2024 NHL All-Star break, the Capitals captain had nine goals through 44 games and was on pace for 16 in 2023-24 – since then, he has operated at a 0.68 goal-per-game pace and notched 21 tallies in 31 games.
  • The Capitals have four games remaining, including a regular-season finale against the Flyers (36-32-11, 83 points) – also knee-deep in the fight for a postseason spot. Meanwhile, Detroit will play Pittsburgh (36-30-12, 84 points) on Thursday with both clubs sitting one point out of a playoff position.
  • The Islanders (36-27-15, 87 points) are among the five teams in the race for a playoff spot in the East and also picked up a victory Tuesday. New York, which occupies third place in the Metropolitan Division, have won five straight games for the second time this season – both have come since Patrick Roy became head coach on Jan. 21 (also 6 GP from Feb. 26 – March 10).

RED WINGS RECALL ZACH ASTON-REESE FROM GRAND RAPIDS UNDER EMERGENCY CONDITIONS

The Detroit Red Wings have recalled center Zach Aston-Reese from the American Hockey League’s Grand Rapids Griffins under emergency conditions. Aston-Reese, 29, made his Red Wings debut on Dec. 11 against the Dallas Stars, recording two hits in 6:21 time on ice. The 6-foot-1, 205-pound forward has also tallied 29 points (14-15-29), a plus-four rating and 51 penalty minutes in 59 games with the Griffins during the 2023-24 season. Aston-Reese spent the entire 2022-23 campaign with the Toronto Maple Leafs, collecting 14 points (10-4-14) and 25 penalty minutes in 77 regular-season games.

STARS SHINE, LEAD PLAYOFF CLUBS INTO WIN COLUMN
Auston Matthews, Nathan MacKinnon, Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos all posted standout performances to help their playoff-bound clubs improve their point totals as they await confirmation of First Round opponents. All eight opening-round matchups for the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs, set to begin on April 20, are still to be determined.

  • Matthews (1-1—2) extended his point streak to 12 games (11-11—22 in 12 GP) and scored for the sixth straight contest. His 66th goal of the season surpassed Alex Ovechkin (65 in 2007-08) for the highest single-season total among active skaters. The Maple Leafs (46-23-9, 101 points) have four games remaining as Matthews aims to become the NHL’s first 70-goal scorer in more than 30 years.
  • MacKinnon (3-1—4) reached and eclipsed the 50-goal mark for the first time in his career thanks to his third hat trick of the season and helped the Avalanche (49-24-6, 104 points) maintain a two-point gap on the Jets (48-24-6, 102 points) for second place in the Central Division after Winnipeg skated to an overtime win Tuesday. MacKinnon boosted his season totals to 51-86—137 and moved within two points of Kucherov in the Art Ross scoring race.
  • Kucherov (0-3—3) factored on three of five Lightning goals to register his 11th three-assist game of the season, 23rd three-point outing of the year and boost his Art Ross Trophy-leading totals to 43-96—139 (77 GP). The 2018-19 Art Ross Trophy winner, who moved within four assists of 100 in 2023-24, tied Peter Stastny (46-93—139 in 1981-82) for the second-most points in a single campaign by a player born outside of North America. The only skater with more is Jaromir Jagr (62-87—149 in 1995-96).
  • Stamkos (3-1—4) extended his goal streak to six games, a stretch that includes three straight multi-goal performances, en route to his 13th career hat trick. The Lightning captain, who netted the second of three hat tricks Tuesday (also 20-year-old Juraj Slafkovsky), boosted the NHL’s total to 111 in 2023-24 – the ninth most in a single season in League history and most since 1992-93 (112).

PREDATORS RALLY TO COLLECT ONE POINT AND CLINCH PLAYOFF BERTH
The Predators (45-29-5, 95 points) collected a pivotal point during a 13-game Tuesday to secure the sixth playoff position in the Western Conference. The idle Golden Knights (42-27-8, 92 points), who currently occupy the second Wild Card spot, own a five-point cushion on the Blues (41-32-5, 87 points) and remain one point behind the Kings (41-26-11, 93 points) – who failed to clinch a postseason berth following a regulation loss to the Ducks.

  • Roman Josi (0-2—2) factored on both of Nashville’s third-period goals to help his team rally to salvage a point and clinch their 16th playoff berth in the past 20 seasons. Josi is set to make his 10th postseason appearance – the most in Predators history – and also holds the franchise record for most playoff games (85 GP). His 31 postseason assists are tied with Ryan Johansen and former Windsor Spitfire, Ryan Ellis for the most in franchise history.

SVECHNIKOV “MICHIGAN”, OETTINGER STREAK HELP CLUBS COLLECT 50TH WINS

Andrei Svechnikov (1-1—2) scored his third career lacrosse-style goal for Carolina (50-22-7, 107 points) and Jake Oettinger (19 saves) captured his eighth straight victory with Dallas (50-20-9, 109 points) as the pair of clubs each captured their 50th wins of the season. Both the Stars and Hurricanes gained ground on the Rangers (53-22-4, 110 points) in the Presidents’ Trophy race, who fell in regulation to the Islanders.

  • Carolina became just the fifth team in NHL history to record three or more consecutive 50-win seasons, joining the Canadiens (4 from 1975-76 to 1978-79), Bruins (4 from 1970-71 to 1973-74), Red Wings (4 from 2005-06 to 2008-09) and Flyers (3 from 1973-74 to 1975-76). All four of those teams won at least one Stanley Cup during their streak.
  • Oettinger, who backstopped the Stars to their fifth 50-win season in franchise history and first since 2015-16 (50), became the fourth goaltender in 2023-24 to win at least eight consecutive games (also Stuart Skinner: 12 GP, Thatcher Demko: 9 GP & Joey Daccord: 8 GP). In fact, his eight straight victories mark the second-longest stretch in franchise history trailing just Don Beaupre (11 GP in 1985-86).

PACIFIC DIVISION RACE TAKES CENTER STAGE ON THREE-GAME SLATE
The Canucks (48-22-8, 104 points), Oilers (47-24-5, 99 points) and Golden Knights (42-27-8, 92 points) occupy three of the top four spots in the Pacific Division and will each take to the ice Wednesday, including a head-to-head matchup between Edmonton and Vegas on TNT, MAX, TVA Sports and various Sportsnet channels. Vegas can move into third place with a win against Edmonton, a team it could potentially face in the First Round.

  • The Oilers trail the Canucks by five points for top spot in the Pacific Division, but hold two games in hand (VAN: 78 GP; EDM: 76 GP), and will clash for a critical meeting on April 13 at Rogers Place (10 p.m. ET on CBC, SN, CITY, TVAS2). Edmonton plays Arizona (Friday) before welcoming Vancouver, which will face the same opponent before heading to the road Saturday (Wednesday vs. ARI).

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