NHL Review April 1, 2021

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NHL Review April 1, 2021

MAPLE LEAFS STRENGHTEN GRIP ON FIRST PLACE IN SCOTIA NORTH

Jack Campbell made 26 saves to improve to 7-0-0 through his first seven appearances this season as the Toronto Maple Leafs (23-10-3, 49 points) defeated the Jets (22-13-2, 46 points) to strengthen their grip on first place in the Scotia North Division.

Toronto’s trio of Mitch Marner (0-2—2), Auston Matthews (1-1—2) and Zach Hyman (1-1—2) each collected multi-point games. Marner, who has at least one point in each game against the Jets this season (3-5—8 in 5 GP), registered his 13th multi-point game of 2020-21. Only three players have recorded more: Connor McDavid (20), Patrick Kane (14) and Leon Draisaitl (14).

ON THE SCORESHEET

  • Auston Matthews opened the scoring for the Maple Leafs at 4:40 of the first period and later recorded the primary assist on Zach Hyman’s first period goal. Tonight’s game is Matthews’ 12th multi-point game of the season. He has goals (3) in three consecutive games and points (3-3-6) in four consecutive games. Matthews leads the NHL in goals (24) and is tied for the NHL lead in times scoring the first goal of the game (6). He has seven points (4-3-7) in five games against Winnipeg this season.
  • Zach Hyman registered the primary assist on Matthews’ first period goal and later scored the second Toronto goal of the night at 10:47 of the first period. Tonight’s game is Hyman’s fifth multi-point game of the season. He has assists (2) and points (1-2-3) in two consecutive games. He has recorded 14 (9-5-14) of his 24 points on the road this season. He has 12 points (7-5-12) in 14 games during the month of March.
  • Alex Kerfoot scored the third Maple Leafs goal of the game while shorthanded at 16:40 of the second period. The goal is Kerfoot’s first career shorthanded goal. He has a goal and two assists in five games against the Jets this season. The Maple Leafs are 10-3-1 when Kerfoot records a point this season.
  • Mitch Marner had the secondary assist on Matthews’ first period goal before adding the secondary assist on Hyman’s first period goal. Tonight’s game is Marner’s seventh multi-assist and 13th multi-point game of the season. He has assists (5) and points (1-5-6) in four consecutive games. In five games against Winnipeg this season, Marner has recorded eight points (3-5-8). He has 20 points (4-16-20) in in 16 games played on the road this season.
  • Ilya Mikheyev registered the primary assist on Kerfoot’s second period goal. Mikheyev has a goal and an assist over his last four games played. He has recorded six (3-3-6) of his 11 points during the month of March. The shorthanded assist is his second career shorthanded point.
  • Morgan Rielly had the secondary assist on Kerfoot’s second period goal. Rielly has a pair of assists over his last three games played. He ranks seventh among NHL defencemen in assists (23). He has recorded four assists in five games against the Jets this season. In 14 games during the month of March, Rielly has recorded 10 points (1-9-10).
  • Jack Campbell stopped 26 of the 27 shots he faced to earn his seventh win of the season.

AVALANCHE GIVE FANS A SHOW EARLY, TAKE DIVISION LEAD…

The Avalanche welcomed fans to Ball Arena for the first time this season and wasted no time giving them something to cheer about as Joonas Donskoi scored the first of three first-period goals 4:04 into a wild opening frame that saw the teams combine for seven goals – including six in a span of 3:27. With the victory, the Avalanche (23-8-4, 50 points) leapfrogged the Golden Knights (24-9-1, 49 points) – who fell to the Kings on Wednesday – for first place in the Honda West Division.

Donskoi netted his three goals in the first 7:31 of the opening frame, marking the fastest hat trick from the start of a game in Avalanche/Nordiques history. He eclipsed the previous mark held by Alain Cote (15:46 on April 1, 1982 w/ QUE).

From Donskoi’s opening goal to the completion of his first-period hat trick, the Avalanche scored five goals in a span of 3:27 – the second-fastest five goals in franchise history behind Quebec’s five in a span of 2:42 on Feb. 22, 1981. It also stands as the 11th fastest five goals by one team in NHL history.

In total, the Avalanche treated their fans to nine goals – tied with the Rangers (9 on March 17 vs. PHI) for the highest single-game total by a team this season. It marked the third time Colorado has scored eight or more times in a game this season – the Rangers (twice) and Oilers (once) are the only other teams with eight or more goals in a game in 2020-21

Philipp Grubauer made 28 saves to improve to 12-2-1 in March (1.56 GAA, .933 SV%, 3 SO) and tie the NHL mark for most wins by a goaltender in a calendar month.

SABRES SNAP 18-GAME WINLESS STREAK AS MONTOUR MAKES HISTORY

After the Sabres gave up a 3-0 lead in the third period on Monday against the Flyers to see their winless streak push to 18 games (0-15-3), they entered the third period against Philadelphia on Wednesday with another three-goal lead – but this time built on it with a pair of shorthanded goals from defenseman Brandon Montour (2-0—2) to earn the victory.

Montour’s two shorthanded goals came just 37 seconds apart in the final frame – including the first one that was scored into an empty net. It marked the fastest two shorthanded goals by a defenseman in NHL history and the 12th fastest by any player in the regular season. The previous fastest two shorthanded tallies by a defenseman was a mark also held by a Buffalo blueliner: Alexei Zhitnik (6:13 on March 19, 1998).

KINGS, SHARKS END RIVALS STREAKS IN HONDA WEST

Los Angeles snapped Vegas’ six-game home winning streak and San Jose earned its second consecutive win over Minnesota to end the Wild’s point streak at four contests. With the victories, the Kings (14-14-6, 34 points) and Sharks (15-16-4, 34 points) moved within four points of the Blues (16-13-6, 38 points) for fourth place in the Honda West Division.

TOP FOUR TEAMS IN MASSMUTUAL EAST DIVISION IN ACTION TONIGHT

The top four teams in the MassMutual East Division will be front and center as part of Thursday’s nine-game slate when the top-seeded Capitals (23-8-4, 50 points) face the second-seeded Islanders (22-10-4, 48 points) at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, while the Penguins (23-11-2, 48 points) and Bruins (18-9-5, 41 points), who rank third and fourth in the division, respectively, meet at TD Garden in Boston.

The Capitals own a 3-0-0 record in head-to-head games with the Islanders this season, claiming each victory in regulation while outscoring them by a 12-6 margin. It has been 10 years since Washington has won four or more games over the NY Islanders in one season (4-0-0 in 2010-11).

Alex Ovechkin has scored 40 goals in 59 career regular-season games against the Islanders (1-1—2 in 1 GP in 2020-21) – more than any active NHL player has tallied against New York. The Islanders are one of five franchises that Ovechkin has scored 40+ career goals against.

Boston welcomes Pittsburgh to TD Garden where they have won 10 consecutive regular-season home games against the Penguins dating back to Dec. 16, 2015 – their longest active home winning streak against one opponent. The Penguins enter the showdown on a four-game winning streak overall and own a 3-1-0 mark in their last four contests on the road.

STREAKING PREDATORS LOOK TO EXTEND CURRENT RUNS

The Predators (19-17-1, 39 points) have climbed to fourth in the Discover Central Division on the back of a six-game winning streak dating to March 21 – they ranked sixth in the Division and four points out of fourth at the start of the current run. Nashville has strung together a win streak of seven or more games three times in franchise history: 2017-18 (10-0-0), 2005-06 (8-0-0) and 2009-10 (7-0-0).

Leading the way offensively for the Predators on the winning streak has been rookie Eeli Tolvanen, who has a six-game point streak that coincides with the current run (3-6—9 in 6 GP). With another point tonight, Tolvanen would be the first rookie to put together a seven-game point streak since Vancouver’s Elias Pettersson in 2018-19 (7 GP).

Avalanche’s MacKinnon Fined for Unsportsmanlike Conduct

Colorado Avalanche forward Nathan MacKinnon has been fined $5,000, the maximum allowable under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, for unsportsmanlike conduct against Arizona Coyotes forward Conor Garland during NHL Game No. 209 in Colorado on Wednesday, March 31,2021. The incident occurred at 14:41 of the third period. MacKinnon was assessed a 10-minute misconduct. The money goes to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.

Hurricanes’ Alex Nedeljkovic, Frontline Healthcare Hero Deepika Malhotra Named NHL ‘Rookies of the Month’ for March

Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Alex Nedeljkovic and UNC REX Healthcare senior registered respiratory therapist Deepika Malhotra have been named the NHL’s “Rookies of the Month” for March.

Throughout the 2020-21 season the NHL is celebrating the remarkable efforts of the off-ice stars who make it possible for us to play our games amid a pandemic by honoring frontline healthcare heroes from the regions represented by the League’s weekly and monthly “Stars.”

Malhotra, who has more than 17 years of experience as a respiratory therapist, joined UNC REX Healthcare in Raleigh, N.C., in September 2019 – just months before the start of the pandemic. She is involved in every step of a patient’s journey in fighting COVID-19, which attacks the lungs and respiratory system.

Malhotra is an expert in helping coronavirus patients breathe, adjusting oxygen and providing treatments to ease discomfort. She also is involved in caring for patients who cannot sustain normal respiratory function and require mechanical ventilation.

Although there are many uncertainties regarding COVID-19, Malhotra and other respiratory therapists continue to step up, set aside fears and care for patients despite the high-risk nature of their job. “It’s a super rewarding career,” she says. “When you can’t breathe, nothing else matters. And whenever you can’t breathe, a respiratory therapist will be at your bedside!”

Nedeljkovic went 6-1-1 with a 1.85 goals-against average, .934 save percentage and one shutout in eight March games to edge Dallas Stars left wing Jason Robertson (5-11—16 in 17 GP), Nashville Predators right wing Eeli Tolvanen (6-8—14 in 16 GP), Minnesota Wild left wing Kirill Kaprizov (6-5—11 in 16 GP) and New York Islanders goaltender Ilya Sorokin (6-1-0, 2.28 GAA, .910 SV%) for “Rookie of the Month” honors.

Among all goaltenders (rookie or veteran) with at least five March appearances, Nedeljkovic ranked fourth in goals-against average (1.85) and fifth in save percentage (.934). He yielded two or fewer goals in six of his eight starts, highlighted by his second career shutout March 22 – in his native Ohio against the Columbus Blue Jackets (19 SV).

Nedeljkovic – who was selected in the second round (37th overall) of the 2014 NHL Draft – has compiled an 8-3-2 record in 13 total contests this season (2.05 GAA, .927 SV%, 2 SO). The 25-year-old Parma, Ohio, native leads rookies and ranks among the top 10 netminders (rookie or veteran) in both goals-against average (6th; 2.05) and save percentage (7th; .927).

NHL Announces ‘Stars,’ Frontline Healthcare Heroes for March

Florida Panthers center Aleksander Barkov and registered nurse Crystal Wimmer (Discover NHL Central Division), Colorado Avalanche goaltender Philipp Grubauer and registered nurse Gina Minert (Honda NHL West Division), Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby and registered respiratory therapist Darby Scarantine (MassMutual NHL East Division), and Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid and healthcare aide Fathima Aranha (Scotia NHL North Division) have been named the NHL’s “Stars of the Month” for March.

Throughout the 2020-21 season the NHL is celebrating the remarkable efforts of the off-ice stars who make it possible for us to play our games amid a pandemic by honoring frontline healthcare heroes from the regions represented by the League’s weekly and monthly “Stars.”

More on each frontline healthcare hero and NHL player can be found below:

DISCOVER NHL CENTRAL DIVISION – CRYSTAL WIMMER AND ALEKSANDER BARKOV

Wimmer works as a nurse on the COVID-19 unit at Broward Health Medical Center in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. She stepped into a leadership role on the unit at the start of the pandemic and continues to be a key player in sharing information and holding the team accountable. Going above and beyond, Wimmer has precepted about 25 percent of the new nurses on the unit and has become a clinical resource for the nursing team. “I always knew I wanted to do something that would help others,” she says. “Growing up, there were several times I spent in the hospital dealing with my own health issues and having a good, caring nurse truly made all the difference and really helped me get through difficult times in my life.”

Barkov ranked third in the NHL (minimum: 5 GP) with 1.45 points per game, compiling 5‑11—16 in 11 contests to spark the Panthers (23-9-4, 50 points) to a 10-5-1 March and a tie – in terms of points – for first place in the overall League standings. He collected points in all but two of his 11 outings, highlighted by a trio of three-point performances: March 4 at NSH (0-3—3), March 13 vs. CHI (2-1—3) and March 15 vs. CHI (1-2—3). Barkov also scored a pair of game-winning goals: March 15 vs. CHI and March 20 vs. NSH. The 25-year-old Tampere, Finland, native and 2018-19 Lady Byng Memorial Trophy winner has appeared in 31 total games this season, placing 13th in the NHL with 13-24—37.

HONDA NHL WEST DIVISION – GINA MINERT AND PHILIPP GRUBAUER

Minert, a nurse, serves as the director of the mom/baby unit at Denver’s Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children (RMHC), where she has worked for more than 21 years. Known around the hospital for her incredible acts of kindness and commitment to staff, patients and the community, Minert has created gift baskets for nurses and purchased toys for children who have tested positive for COVID-19. She also has been instrumental in leading RMHC’s vaccination clinic during the pandemic, even traveling to someone’s home when they couldn’t get to the hospital for their needed dose. In addition to her regular duties, Minert has filled in as the hospital’s incident commander over the past year to help coordinate RMHC’s response to coronavirus.

Grubauer became the fifth goaltender in NHL history to earn 12 wins in a calendar month, compiling a 12-2-1 record, 1.56 goals-against average, .933 save percentage and three shutouts in 15 appearances to guide the Avalanche (23-8-4, 50 points) to a League-best 27 March points (12-2-3) and the top of the Honda NHL West Division standings. He allowed two or fewer goals in 11 of his 15 outings, highlighted by a League-leading three shutouts: March 3 at SJS (26 SV), March 12 vs. LAK (18 SV) and March 20 vs. MIN (31 SV). The 29-year-old Rosenheim, Germany, native has played in 30 total games this season, ranking among the top five netminders in wins (1st; 22), shutouts (1st; 5), goals-against average (3rd; 1.78) and save percentage (5th; .928).

MASSMUTUAL NHL EAST DIVISION – DARBY SCARANTINE AND SIDNEY CROSBY

Scarantine, who has more than 20 years of experience, serves as a respiratory therapist (RRT) at UPMC Mercy in Pittsburgh. COVID-19, a respiratory disease, has placed a higher burden on RRTs like Scarantine – but he and others have stepped up to the challenge. “If a patient wanted to talk for 20 minutes, I still would do it,” he says. “It doesn’t matter. I’m exposing myself more, but the patient ultimately needs me.” In addition to caring for patients with breathing problems, Scarantine – who was promoted to a supervisor position in early 2020 – has taken on another important role in the management of PPE for hospital personnel. That has included helping more than 500 physicians, nurses and staff get the correct fit for their N95 respirators.

Crosby registered 7-14—21 in 15 contests to lift the Penguins (23-11-2, 48 points) to a 12-3-1 month and into third place in the MassMutual NHL East Division. He found the scoresheet in 12 of his 15 March appearances, highlighted by seven multi-point performances. That included a pair of three-point outings: March 15 vs. BOS (1-2—3, including GWG) and March 25 vs. BUF (0-3—3). The latter featured his 1,300th career point, making Crosby the eighth-fastest player in NHL history to reach the milestone (1,017 GP). The 33-year-old Cole Harbour, N.S., native – who ranked 42nd in League scoring through February (7-11—18 in 20 GP) – currently places 11th in the NHL with 14-25—39 through 35 total games this season.

SCOTIA NHL NORTH DIVISION – FATHIMA ARANHA AND CONNOR McDAVID

Aranha, who has been a healthcare aide (HCA) since 2014, works in the emergency department at the University of Alberta Hospital and Stollery Children’s Hospital in Edmonton. Her role, which typically includes assisting nurses with feeding, turning and bathing patients, has evolved during the pandemic. Because visitors have been limited over the past year, HCAs such as Aranha have been called upon to sit with patients to provide comfort and support. They also have taken on the job of stocking PPE, including N95 masks, gloves, isolation signs and face shields. In addition, Aranha and other HCAs have stepped up to provide more assistance to triage nurses and patients in the waiting room, helping to expedite those in need of care.

McDavid placed fourth in the NHL with 7-16—23 in 14 appearances to power the Oilers (22-14-1, 45 points) to an 8-5-1 March. All of his points came during an 11-game streak from March 6-29, his second double-digit run of the campaign (also Jan. 20 – Feb. 8: 6-16—22 in 10 GP). McDavid, who factored on 23 of Edmonton’s 43 total goals during the month (53.5%), also scored a trio of game-winning goals: March 6 vs. CGY, March 17 at CGY and March 18 vs. WPG. The 24-year-old Richmond Hill, Ont., native and two-time Art Ross Trophy winner leads the League with 21-42—63 in 37 total contests this season, nine more points than the next-closest player (teammate Leon Draisaitl: 19-35—54 in 37 GP).

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