NHL Review April 26, 2021
HEDMAN LIFTS LIGHTNING TO VICTORY WITH QUICK OT WINNER
The Lightning (32-14-2, 66 points) tied the game twice in regulation before setting the stage for Victor Hedman (1-1—2) 10 seconds into three-on-three. Hedman’s seventh career overtime goal, and second this season, fell one second shy of the fastest by any player in Lightning history to start an overtime period (Mikael Andersson: 0:09 on Jan. 16, 1994 at WIN). Additionally, only one defenseman in NHL history scored a faster goal to start an extra frame.
ZIBANEJAD HELPS RANGERS GAIN GROUND ON FOURTH-PLACE BRUINS
Mika Zibanejad scored a hat trick and Adam Fox collected three assists as the Rangers (25-18-6, 56 points) moved within four points of the Bruins (27-14-6, 60 points), who lost in regulation to the Penguins on Sunday, for fourth place in the MassMutual East Division.
Zibanejad, whose 17 goals since March 1 trail only Mikko Rantanen (18) for the most among all players over that span, netted his NHL-leading third hat trick of the season and his sixth as a member of the Rangers.
Fox collected his 39th, 40th and 41st assists of the season (5-41—46 in 48 GP), the most among all defensemen. He required the sixth-fewest games (tied) by a Rangers blueliner to reach the 40-assist mark in a single season and fewest since Brian Leetch in 2000-01 (45 GP).
PENGUINS OVERTAKE FIRST PLACE IN MASSMUTUAL EAST
Jake Guentzel scored the only goal of the contest and Tristan Jarry turned aside all 30 shots he faced as the Penguins (32-14-3, 67 points) leapfrogged the idle Capitals (31-13-4, 66 points) into first place in the MassMutual East Division.
On March 1, Pittsburgh (11-8-1, 23 points) found itself in fifth place, two points behind Philadelphia (11-4-3, 25 points) for fourth and five points behind first-place Washington (12-5-4, 28 points). The Penguins’ rise in the standings has been the result of a 21-6-2 record since then, with their 21 victories trailing only the NHL-leading Golden Knights (22) for the most among all teams over that span.
The Penguins – who improved to 8-0-2 in their last 10 games at PPG Paints Arena – also became the fourth team to record a home point streak of at least 10 contests this season, joining the Islanders (14 GP from Jan. 18 – March 11), Avalanche (13 GP from March 10 – April 12) and Wild (11 GP from Jan. 31 – March 25). Colorado’s stretch is still active.
CLUBS LOOK TO INCH CLOSER TO PLAYOFF BERTHS
With less than 10 scheduled games remaining in their respective campaigns, the Discover Central Division-leading Hurricanes (31-10-6, 68 points) and second-place Panthers (31-13-5, 67 points) will continue their push to the playoffs when they face off against the Stars (20-15-12, 52 points) and Predators (26-21-2, 54 points).
OILERS, JETS SET TO CLASH AS SECOND PLACE IN SCOTIA NORTH INTENSIFIES
Connor McDavid (25-52—77) and the third-place Oilers (27-16-2, 56 points) head to Winnipeg to take on Mark Scheifele (18-36—54) and the second-place Jets (27-17-3, 57 points) as the two clubs continue their pursuit of home-ice advantage in the First Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The Oilers captain, who has at least held a share of the NHL lead in points for 96 of 105 days (91.4%) this season, sits 13 points ahead of the next closest skater – teammate Leon Draisaitl (22-42—64). McDavid can become just the second player in League history to win the Art Ross Trophy at least three times before turning 25 (2016-17 and 2017-18). The other: Wayne Gretzky (5x; last: 1984-85).
Scheifele (198-300—498 in 566 GP) has averaged a point per game since April 1 (3-7—10 in 10 GP) and now sits two points shy of becoming the fourth player to collect 500 career points with the Jets/Thrashers. Among players to debut with the franchise, only one reached the milestone prior to their 600th game: Ilya Kovalchuk (500 GP).
WHILE CANADIENS AND FLAMES CONTINUE BATTLE FOR FOURTH
The fourth-place Montreal Canadiens (20-17-9, 49 points) and fifth-place Flames (21-23-3, 45 points) are set to continue their battle for the fourth seed in the Scotia North Division. Montreal sits four points ahead, but Calgary has narrowed the gap with consecutive regulation wins through the first two contests of a three-game set.
The Flames, 6-2-0 against the Canadiens in 2020-21, are set to close out their season series with Montreal and can collect at least seven wins versus one opponent in a single season for the fourth time in franchise history (8 vs. SJS in 1992-93, 7 vs. LAK in 1985-86 & 7 vs. VAN in 1984-85).
CHYCHRUN LOOKS TO LEAD COYOTES WITH LATE-SEASON SURGE
Jakob Chychrun (14-19—33) and the Coyotes (21-22-5, 47 points) find themselves in a battle for the fourth and final playoff spot in the Honda West Division. Fifth-place St. Louis (20-19-6, 46 points), which has 11 scheduled games remaining and is also in action on Monday, trails Arizona by only one point with three contests in hand.
Chychrun, in the midst of a career season in goals and points, leads all defensemen with 14 tallies in 2020-21. The 16th overall pick in the 2016 NHL Draft can become just the third blueliner in Coyotes/Jets history to conclude the season as the NHL’s goal leader among defensemen, joining Oliver Ekman-Larsson (23 in 2014-15) and Phil Housley (23 in 1991-92).
MacKINNON WITHIN REACH OF MATCHING LONGEST POINT STREAK OF HIS CAREER
Nathan MacKinnon and the NHL’s longest active point streak (8-16—24 in 13 GP dating to March 27) are set to take to the ice when the Avalanche (31-10-4, 66 points) battle the Blues. The Colorado forward can match the longest point streak of his career (14 GP in 2017-18) and the longest by any player this season (Dougie Hamilton: 14 GP w/ CAR).
MacKinnon can become just the third player to post multiple point streaks of at least 14 contests with the Avalanche/Nordiques franchise. Peter Stastny (5x; last: 16 GP in 1987-88) and Michel Goulet (2x; last: 14 GP in 1985-86) are the only ones to do so.
In fact, only four active players have accomplished the feat multiple times: Chicago’s Patrick Kane (4x), Anaheim’s Ryan Getzlaf (2x) as well as Pittsburgh’s Sidney Crosby (2x) and Evgeni Malkin (2x).
Sharks’ Patrick Marleau, Frontline Healthcare Hero Jane Vergara Named NHL ‘First Stars’ of the Week
San Jose Sharks center Patrick Marleau and clinical nurse educator generalist Jane Vergara have been named the NHL’s “First Stars” for the week ending April 25.
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.”
Vergara, a clinical nurse educator generalist at a local San Jose hospital, hires and teaches clinical staff and contracted nurses to ensure they are well-informed and confident in providing exceptional patient care. She has taken charge of various types of teaching throughout the hospital, helping grow the Clinical Education, Practice and Informatics Department over the past five years.
Vergara has not been slowed down during the pandemic, instead rising to every occasion as her hospital has adapted to new equipment. She always maintains a positive, enthusiastic and humorous energy that she incorporates into her training, helping staff members stay engaged and excited about their work.
Rounding out the “Three Stars” of the week are Minnesota Wild goaltender Cam Talbot and Florida Panthers left wing Jonathan Huberdeau. More on each NHL player’s performance can be found below:
FIRST STAR – PATRICK MARLEAU, C, SAN JOSE SHARKS
Marleau celebrated a pair of historic achievements, overtaking Gordie Howe for the most regular-season games played in NHL history and later becoming the fourth player in League history to appear in 900 consecutive regular-season contests. The 41-year-old Aneroid, Sask., native dethroned Mr. Hockey – who had held the distinction as the NHL’s all-time games played leader since Nov. 26, 1961 – when he stepped onto the ice for his 1,768th career contest April 19, a 3-2 shootout loss to the Vegas Golden Knights. “The emotional roller coaster, it was definitely a long ride,” Marleau said after breaking Howe’s record. “I’m very grateful and blessed that I was able to do this with all the support I’ve had over my career. It’s something I’ll never forget.” (Click here for more details from Marleau’s record-setting achievement). The No. 2 overall selection from the 1997 NHL Draft then reached another milestone in a 5-2 loss to the Golden Knights April 21, when he joined Doug Jarvis, Keith Yandle and Garry Unger as the fourth player in League history to skate in 900 straight games. Marleau, who has registered 4-5—9 thus far during his 23rd NHL season (47 GP), ranks 23rd in League history in career goals (566) and 50th in career points (1,197).
SECOND STAR – CAM TALBOT, G, MINNESOTA WILD
Talbot went 3-0-0 with a 1.67 goals-against average and .953 save percentage to help the Wild (31-13-3, 65 points) extend their winning streak to seven games dating to April 14 and clinch their eighth playoff berth in the past nine seasons. He earned a pair of victories against the Arizona Coyotes, making 22 stops in a 5-2 triumph April 19 and 39 saves in a 4-1 win April 21. Talbot capped the week with 40 stops, his 12th career 40-save performance and second of the campaign (also March 18 at COL: 50 SV), in a 4-2 victory over the Los Angeles Kings April 23. The 33-year-old Caledonia, Ont., native has compiled a 17-6-3 record, 2.33 goals-against average, .926 save percentage and two shutouts in 27 total appearances this season, his first with Minnesota.
THIRD STAR – JONATHAN HUBERDEAU, LW, FLORIDA PANTHERS
Huberdeau led the NHL with 1-6—7 in four outings to power the Panthers (31-13-5, 67 points) to a 3-1-0 week. He collected four points over a pair of wins against the Columbus Blue Jackets, notching one assist in a 4-2 victory April 19 and 1-2—3 in a 5-1 triumph April 20. Huberdeau added three more points while splitting two games versus the Carolina Hurricanes, picking up one helper in a 4-2 loss April 22 and two assists in a 4-3 overtime win April 24. The 27-year-old Saint-Jerome, Que., native tops Florida and ranks 14th in the NHL with 16-36—52 through 49 total games this season.