NHL Recap February 9 2020
COLORADO CONTINUES TO ROLL AHEAD OF STADIUM SERIES SHOWDOWN
Nathan MacKinnon (1-0—1), Gabriel Landeskog (1-0—1) and Cale Makar (0-1—1) helped the Avalanche (32-16-6, 70 points) outlast the Wild in a five-goal second period and move within three points of the idle Blues (32-15-9, 73 points) for first in the Western Conference.
Colorado captured its seventh win in eight contests and fourth consecutive victory on the road to improve to 18-9-2 as the visitors this season – besting its 2018-19 mark (17-16-8). The Avalanche, who trail only the Capitals (20-6-1) in road wins this season, aim to secure 20-plus such victories in a single season for the first time since 2015-16 (22-19-0).
Makar (12-30—42) extended his point streak to four games dating to Feb. 4 (1-4—5) and retook the rookie scoring lead from Canucks defenseman Quinn Hughes (8-33—41). The former became the second rookie defenseman in franchise history to collect 30-plus assists in a single season, joining Bruce Bell (31 in 1984-85 w/ QUE).
The Avalanche host the Senators on Feb. 11 and the Capitals on Feb. 13 before facing the Kings outdoors in the 2020 Navy Federal Credit Union NHL Stadium Series at the U.S. Air Force Academy’s Falcon Stadium in Colorado Springs, Colo.
CONNOR COLLECTS ANOTHER THREE POINTS AS JETS RALLY PAST BLACKHAWKS
After Blackhawks rookie Dominik Kubalik opened the scoring 15 seconds into the contest and helped Chicago build an early lead, Jets forward Kyle Connor (2-1—3) factored on three of five straight Winnipeg goals to propel his club to their fourth win in five contests (4-0-1) and second straight to begin a six-game homestand.
The Jets (29-23-5, 63 points) registered their fourth multi-goal comeback win of the season and opened up a five-point cushion on the Wild (26-23-6, 58 points) – who also suffered a loss Sunday – and Blackhawks (25-22-8, 58 points) in the Western Conference Wild Card race.
Connor, with his team-leading 27th and 28th goals of the season, collected his second performance of three-plus points in as many days after matching a career high with 1-3—4 against the Senators Saturday. He joined Mark Scheifele (Dec. 13-14, 2018) and Blake Wheeler (March 3-4, 2017) as just the third player in Jets team history to accomplish the feat in consecutive days.
Sunday also marked the second time in as many days the Jets scored five goals. It marked the 10th time in Jets/Thrashers history in which the team has tallied five-plus goals in consecutive days and just the second since the team relocated to Winnipeg (also April 2-3, 2018).
Meanwhile, Kubalik, a seventh-round pick (191st overall) in the 2013 NHL Draft, leads all rookies with 22 goals in 2019-20 and became the NHL’s ninth rookie in the last 30 years to score in the opening 15 seconds of a regular-season game.
SHESTERKIN JOINS RARE COMPANY WITH ANOTHER 40-SAVE VICTORY
Twenty-four-year old Igor Shesterkin recorded his second 40-save victory of the season and 18-year-old Kaapo Kakko scored the game-winning goal to lead the Rangers (27-23-4, 58 points) to their fourth win in six contests.
Shesterkin (42 saves), who improved to 5-1-0 through six career games, duplicated a previous performance Sunday after first posting 46 saves in a victory over the Devils on Jan. 9. He joined rare company in the process.
Kakko found the score sheet for the second time in as many games and netted his second game-winning goal of the season (also Nov. 12 vs. PIT). He became the second 18-year-old player in Rangers history to score two game-winning goals in a single season, joining Manny Malhotra (Nov. 10, 1998 and Feb. 26, 1999).
DUCKS HOLD OFF SABRES, WRAP UP ROAD TRIP WITH WIN
Captain Ryan Getzlaf scored one of Anaheim’s three first-period goals and Ryan Miller made 31 saves against his former team as the Ducks wrapped up their five-game road trip with a 3-0-2 record.
The Ducks, who recorded at least one point in each game of a road trip of five-plus contests for the third time in franchise history, joined the Capitals (4-0-1 from Oct. 20-29, 2019) and Hurricanes (4-0-1 from Dec. 10-19, 2019) as the third team to accomplish the feat in 2019-20.
Meanwhile, Sabres defenseman Rasmus Dahlin (1-0—1) found the score sheet for the fifth time in seven contests as Buffalo’s rally fell one goal short. After collecting 20 power-play points in his rookie season, the 19-year-old joined Phil Housley (34 in 1982-83, 31 in 1983-84) as just the second teenage defenseman^ to collect at least 15 power-play points in each of his first two career seasons (since it officially began being tracked in 1933-34).
^ age based on date of game
RED WINGS CAPTURE FIFTH STRAIGHT VICTORY OVER LEAGUE-LEADING BRUINS
Andreas Athanasiou (2-0—2) scored for the first time since Nov. 16, 2019 to break a third-period tie and lift the Red Wings to their second regulation win over the Bruins in 2019-20 (also Nov. 8, 2019: 4-2 W). With victories in each of its last five games against their Original Six rival, Detroit joined Colorado (Oct. 10, 2019 and Dec. 7, 2019) as the second team to secure two regulation wins over Boston in 2019-20.
PREVIEW OF TODAY’S ACTION – LIGHTNING, BLUE JACKETS MEET FOR THE FIRST TIME SINCE 2019 POSTSEASON
The League’s two hottest teams are set to square off at Nationwide Arena when the Blue Jackets (30-17-9, 69 points) host the Lightning (35-15-5, 75 points). Monday’s contest marks the first meeting between the clubs since Columbus completed an unthinkable First Round sweep of the 2018-19 Presidents’ Trophy winners.
The Blue Jackets, the last team to clinch a spot in the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs, trailed 3-0 in the first period of Game 1 before becoming the first team in NHL history to sweep a best-of-seven series in the opening round against the team with the best regular-season record.
Tampa Bay (14-2-1, 29 points) and Columbus (12-3-1, 25 points) sit first and second in wins among all teams, since the turn of the calendar, respectively, thanks in part to their goaltenders.
Andrei Vasilevskiy boasts an 18-game point streak dating to Dec. 17, 2019 (16-0-2) – including wins in each of his last five contests. He is just one of two active netminders to collect at least one point in as many contests (also Tuukka Rask: 19 GP in 2017-18 w/ BOS).
Elvis Merzlikins saw his eight-game win streak come to an end Saturday after he posted five shutouts over that span. Only nine different rookie goaltenders in NHL history recorded a win in more than eight consecutive appearances within a regular season.
OVECHKIN RESUMES CHASE FOR GOAL NO. 700
Despite being held without a goal for just the second time since passing Teemu Selanne (684) for 11th place on the League’s all-time goals list on Jan. 13, Alex Ovechkin’s pursuit of becoming the eighth member of the 700-goal club continues against the Islanders.
At age 34, Ovechkin looks to achieve a rare feat not only from an NHL perspective, but also across the professional sports landscape. Among major career scoring milestone lists with fewer than 10 names for NBA players (30,000 points), MLB hitters (600 home runs) and NFL quarterbacks (400 passing touchdowns), only two players reached the benchmark before age 35: LeBron James and Kobe Bryant.
Merzlikins, Connor and Vasilevskiy Named NHL ‘Three Stars’ of the Week
Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Elvis Merzlikins, Winnipeg Jets left wing Kyle Connor and Tampa Bay Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy have been named the NHL’s “Three Stars” for the week ending Feb. 9.
FIRST STAR – ELVIS MERZLIKINS, G, COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS
Merzlikins went 173:39 before allowing a goal last week, posting a 2-1-0 record, 0.67 goals-against average, .971 save percentage and two shutouts as the Blue Jackets improved to 30-17-9 overall (69 points), third in the Metropolitan Division. Merzlikins began the week by stopping all 32 shots in a 1-0 overtime victory over the Florida Panthers on Feb. 4. Three nights later, he stopped all 16 shots in a 2-0 triumph over the Detroit Red Wings, extending his win streak to eight games (the longest ever by a Columbus rookie) with his League-leading fifth shutout – all in a span of eight games. He closed the week with a 20-save effort Feb. 8 in a 2-1 loss to the Colorado Avalanche, stopping each of the first 17 shots he faced. Merzlikins, 25, a native of Riga, Latvia, has a 12-7-4 record through 25 games in his first NHL season (2.19 GAA, .930 SV%, 5 SO). Only three different Blue Jackets goaltenders have recorded more than five shutouts in a single season, with Steve Mason (10 in 2008-09) the only to do so as a rookie.
SECOND STAR – KYLE CONNOR, LW, WINNIPEG JETS
Connor led the League in points with eight (3-5—8) as the Jets (29-23-5, 63 points) gained seven of a possible eight points to move from three points outside the playoff picture into the first Wild Card spot in the Western Conference. Connor was held off the score sheet in a 2-1 overtime loss to the Nashville Predators on Feb. 4 and recorded one assist in a 4-2 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Feb. 6. Over a weekend back-to-back set Feb. 8-9, Connor recorded 1-3—4 in a 5-2 win over the Ottawa Senators followed by two goals and one assist in a 5-2 victory over the Chicago Blackhawks. In doing so, Connor became the seventh different player in franchise history to record at least three points on consecutive days (and third to do so since the club moved to Winnipeg). Connor, 23, a native of Shelby Township, Mich., is in his fourth NHL season and sits 13th in League scoring with 59 points (28-31—59 in 57 GP). He needs two goals to become the third player in Jets/Thrashers history with at least three consecutive 30-goal seasons.
THIRD STAR – ANDREI VASILEVSKIY, G, TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING
Vasilevskiy went 3-0-0 with a 1.67 goals-against average and .936 save percentage to guide the Lightning to a perfect week and an overall record of 35-15-5 (75 points), second in the Atlantic Division and third in the entire NHL. Vasilevskiy led Tampa Bay to 4-2 wins against the Vegas Golden Knights (Feb. 4; 27 saves) and Pittsburgh Penguins (Feb. 6; 29 saves) before closing the week with 17 saves in a 3-1 triumph over the New York Islanders on Feb. 8. All three victories came at AMALIE Arena as Vasilevskiy pushed his home winning streak to eight games, matching the franchise record for the third time in as many seasons. Vasilevskiy, 25, a native of Tyumen, Russia, owns an overall record of 29-9-3 in 41 games this season (2.48 GAA, .918 SV%, 2 SO) as he aims to become the second Lightning goaltender to record three consecutive 30-win seasons. His active 18-game point streak (16-0-2 dating to Dec. 17) is one of 16 in NHL history of at least that length – and the second-longest by any active goaltender.