NHL Review April 22, 2021
GOLDEN KNIGHTS WIN AND CLINCH SPOT IN THE 2021 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFFS
On the night Jonathan Marchessault (2-2—4) matched a career high with four points, Mark Stone extended his point streak to six games and Max Pacioretty collected his 600th career point, the Golden Knights (33-11-2, 68 points) defeated the Sharks 5-2 and are headed to the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the fourth time in as many NHL seasons.
The Golden Knights became the fourth franchise in NHL history to make the playoffs in each of its first four seasons, following the Oilers (13; 1980–1992), Rangers (9; 1927–1935) and Blues (6; 1968–1973). Each club did so under different rules and circumstances, with only Vegas and Edmonton achieving the feat after the 1967-68 expansion season.
Vegas will enter the playoffs with a designated captain for the first time, with Stone donning the “C” after collecting 13-16—29 through 27 postseason games with the club. Stone ranks among the top 10 in the NHL for playoff points since 2019 when he joined the Golden Knights.
Marc-Andre Fleury can pass Tony Esposito and become the first goaltender in NHL history – and 21st player at any position – to skate in 15 consecutive postseasons. Only four goaltenders in League history have made 15 playoff appearances at any point in their careers.
BLACKHAWKS ERASE THREE-GOAL, THIRD-PERIOD DEFICIT TO BEAT PREDATORS
Brandon Hagel (1-2—3) factored on three goals and scored the overtime winner as the Blackhawks erased a three-goal deficit in the final 10 minutes of regulation to win for just the second time in franchise history (also Feb. 1, 1987 vs. EDM). Chicago (22-20-5, 49 points) earned a crucial victory against Nashville (25-21-2, 52 points) and moved within three points of them for fourth place in the Discover Central Division.
Chicago, which scored three goals in a span of 2:51 in the final frame, erased a deficit of three or more goals in the third period to win for the ninth time in franchise history and first since Nov. 19, 2016 (at VAN). Four other teams have also accomplished the feat in 2020-21: Florida (March 11), Philadelphia (March 29), Ottawa (Feb. 15) and Arizona (Feb. 24).
Hagel joined Brent Seabrook (2 in 2005-06) as just the second rookie in franchise history to score multiple overtime goals and sits two shy of the most by any rookie in NHL history.
WILD AND CANADIENS KEEP PACE IN HONDA WEST AND SCOTIA NORTH
The Wild (29-13-3, 61 points) and Canadiens (20-15-9, 49 points) boosted their playoff hopes after they each earned wins on Wednesday.
After trailing 1-0 in the first period, the Wild scored four straight goals – including one from rookie Kirill Kaprizov – to record their third win streak of five or more games this season (5 GP from March 8-16 and 6 GP Feb. 18-27). They have had only three wins streaks of at least that length in two other campaigns: 2014-15 (3x) and 2011-12 (3x)
Kaprizov leads all rookies in goals and points and scored his 19th goal of the season to eclipse Marian Gaborik (18 in 2000-01) for the most by a rookie in franchise history.
Josh Anderson scored two of his team’s four goals, including his fifth game winner of the season, as the Montreal Canadiens split their two-game set against the Oilers. Only five players have scored more game-winning goals than Anderson in their first campaign with the franchise: Vincent Damphousse (8 in 1992-93), Yanic Perreault (7 in 2001-02), Kirk Muller (7 in 1991-92), Erik Cole (6 in 2011-12) and Mats Naslund (6 in 1982-83).
PREVIEW OF TODAY’S ACTION
Alex Ovechkin and Anthony Mantha look to continue their goal-scoring ways when the Capitals (29-13-4, 62 points) battle the Islanders (29-13-4, 62 points) at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. Washington holds first place in the MassMutual East Division due to regulation wins (WSH: 24, NYI: 21).
Ovechkin (730), who sits one goal shy of tying Marcel Dionne (731) for fifth place on the NHL’s all-time list, has made a habit of scoring monumental tallies against the Islanders as of late. On March 16, he passed Phil Esposito for sixth place; he passed Mario Lemieux for 10th place and tied Steve Yzerman for ninth on Jan. 18, 2020.
Mantha, who’s in the midst of a career-long five-game goal streak, enters tonight’s contest with goals in each of his first four games with Washington since being acquired by the team at the NHL’s Trade Deadline on April 12 (4-1—5 in 4 GP). Should he find the back of the net against the Islanders, Mantha can become the seventh player in NHL history to score in each of his first five games with a franchise.
MacKINNON, AVALANCHE RETURN TO ACTION
Nathan MacKinnon takes an 11-game point streak (7-11—18) into tonight’s contest as the Avalanche (30-9-4, 64 points) return to action against the Blues (19-18-6, 44 points). Fifth-place St. Louis sits one point back of idle Arizona (20-22-5, 45 points) for the final playoff spot in the Honda West Division.
MacKinnon, who owns the NHL’s longest active point streak, has had three point streaks of 12-plus games in his regular-season career (14 GP in 2017-18, 13 GP in 2019-20 & 13 GP in 2013-14). Only two players in Avalanche/Nordiques franchise history have registered four such runs of at least 12 contests: Peter Stastny (8x) and Joe Sakic (5x).
CROSBY EYES 13TH CAREER 20-GOAL SEASON
Sidney Crosby has notched 4-9—13 since April 1, including 1-1—2 and the game-winning goal in Pittsburgh’s wild win over New Jersey on Tuesday. The Penguins captain has earned a team-leading 52 points in 2020-21 (18-34—52 in 45 GP) and sits two goals shy of becoming the first player in franchise history to record 13 seasons of 20-plus goals. He currently sits tied with Mario Lemieux and Evgeni Malkin with 12 such campaigns.