NHL Review February 15, 2021
FLEURY BACKSTOPS GOLDEN KNIGHTS TO 10TH WIN OF 2020-21
Max Pacioretty scored his team-leading seventh goal of the season and Marc-Andre Fleury (30 saves) earned his 63rd career regular-season shutout as the Golden Knights (10-2-1, 21 points) beat Colorado 1-0 and won the first of four consecutive games against the Avalanche ahead of the NHL Outdoors at Lake Tahoe on Feb. 20 (3 p.m. ET on NBC, SN, TVAS).
The Golden Knights required their fewest games to record 10 wins (13 GP), eclipsing the previous mark set during the team’s inaugural season in 2017-18 (16 GP).
Vegas improved to 8-1-1 at T-Mobile Arena in 2020-21. Since 2017-18, the Golden Knights’ 83 home wins trail only the Lightning (89) for the most over that span. Additionally, their 22 team shutouts over that span only trail the Predators (25).
Fleury, who has allowed more than two goals just once through his eight appearances, improved to 7-1-0 this season (1.38 GAA, .944 and 2 SO) and sits tied for the lowest goals-against average in 2020-21 (min. 5 GP).
McDAVID EYES 500TH POINT IN SHOWDOWN WITH JETS
Connor McDavid (171-326—497) and the Oilers return to the ice against the Jets after a three-day break. With already four games of three-plus points this season, the League’s leading scorer in 2020-21 (9-19—28) sits three shy of 500 in his career.
McDavid (367 GP) has recorded a League-best 58 games with three or more points since entering the League in 2015-16 – 12 more than the next closest player (Patrick Kane: 46) – and can require the fewest contests by an active player to reach 500 career points. Only two reached the milestone prior to their 400th game: Sidney Crosby (369 GP) and Alex Ovechkin (373 GP).
STREAKING PLAYERS, TEAMS LOOK TO CONTINUE STRINGS OF SUCCESS
A collection of players and teams will put their respective streaks on the line when the puck drops on Monday’s action:
Toronto’s Auston Matthews, with points in each of his last 12 appearances dating to Jan. 16, owns an official point streak of nine games entering Monday and can join Edmonton’s Connor McDavid (10 GP) and Leon Draisaitl (10 GP) as the NHL’s third player to post a double-digit point streak in 2020-21. The longest point streak in 2019-20 was 17 games (Jack Eichel from Nov. 16 – Dec. 17, 2019).
Islanders forward Mathew Barzal (6-8—14) leads New York with 14 points this season and will put his career-best eight-game point streak on the line when his club travels to Buffalo. Should he find the score sheet again Monday, he would join Josh Bailey (11 GP and 9 GP in 2017-18) and John Tavares (9 GP in 2017-18) as the third different Islanders player in the last five years to record a point streak of nine-plus games.
Mark Scheifele (6-12—18 in 14 GP) looks to extend his six-game point streak when the Jets battle the Oilers. Scheifele can become just the second different Jets player to notch his first 20 points of a season in 15 or fewer games. Blake Wheeler is the only player to do so since the club relocated to Winnipeg (14 GP in 2017-18 & 15 GP in 2018-19).
Blue Jackets defenseman Seth Jones has collected at least one point in each of his last six games dating to Feb. 2 (1-6—7) – tied for the most among all NHL defensemen over that span. Jones can match the longest point streak by a blueliner in franchise history Monday, joining Zach Werenski (7 GP in 2019-20), Bryan Berard (7 GP in 2005-06) and Jaroslav Spacek (7 GP in 2002-03).
The Lightning, with six goals in two of their last three games, are set to complete their three-game series with the Panthers. With another two points at AMALIE Arena Monday, Tampa Bay can establish the longest season-opening home win streak in franchise history.
The Blues travel to Gila River Arena in Arizona having earned wins in each of their last five road games, outscoring opponents 23-11 over that span. The 2020-21 campaign is the third straight season in which St. Louis has posted a road win streak of five-plus games (also 5 GP in 2019-20 & 8 GP in 2018-19).
PENGUINS JOIN RARE COMPANY WITH ANOTHER COMEBACK WIN
After the Capitals took a 1-0 first-period lead, Bryan Rust (2-1—3) factored on three of Pittsburgh’s six goals to help the Penguins (7-5-1, 15 points) overcome a deficit to win for the seventh time in 2020-21. Pittsburgh earned its third consecutive victory against Washington this season, with each contest featuring at least seven combined goals.
The Penguins became just the fourth team in NHL history to overcome a deficit in each of their first seven or more wins of a season.
Blue Jackets’ Cam Atkinson, Frontline Healthcare Hero Dr. Laurie Hommema Named NHL ‘First Stars’ of the Week
Columbus Blue Jackets right wing Cam Atkinson and OhioHealth Dr. Laurie Hommema have been named the NHL’s “First Stars” for the week ending Feb. 14.
Dr. Hommema, OhioHealth’s medical director of provider and associate well-being, and her husband, Kevin, developed an idea to clean and reuse N95 masks during the pandemic. Coronavirus resulted in a shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE), leaving many frontline healthcare workers without crucial safety equipment. The ability to decontaminate and recycle millions of masks each day is helping thousands of these heroes remain safe. Dr. Hommema also is responsible for ensuring the well-being of doctors and nurses within the OhioHealth system by monitoring shift length, personal time off and quality of time away from work, all in an effort to support resilience and combat compassion fatigue.
Rounding out the “Three Stars” of the week are Vegas Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury and Pittsburgh Penguins right wing Bryan Rust.
FIRST STAR – CAM ATKINSON, RW, COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS
Atkinson led the NHL with 3-4—7, including a pair of shorthanded goals, in three games to power the Blue Jackets (7-5-4, 18 points) to a 2-0-1 week. He scored a shorthanded, penalty-shot goal in a 3-2 win over the Carolina Hurricanes Feb. 8. Atkinson then registered his fourth career four-point performance, posting 1-3—4 (including his franchise-record 15th career shorthanded goal) in a 6-5 victory against the Chicago Blackhawks Feb. 11. He finished the week with 1-1—2 in a 3-2 overtime loss to the Blackhawks Feb. 13. The 31-year-old Riverside, Conn., native has collected 5-7—12 in 16 contests this season, highlighted by a League-best three shorthanded goals. Atkinson’s 15 career shorthanded goals are the fourth-most in the NHL since his debut in 2011-12, behind only Brad Marchand (23), Michael Grabner (16) and Andrew Cogliano (16).
SECOND STAR – MARC-ANDRE FLEURY, G, VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS
Fleury stopped 100 of the 106 shots he faced, compiling a 3-1-0 record, 1.51 goals-against average, .943 save percentage and one shutout to help the Golden Knights (10-2-1, 21 points) maintain first place in the Honda NHL West Division. He split a pair of decisions against the Anaheim Ducks, making 19 stops in a 5-4 victory Feb. 9 and 27 saves in a 1-0 loss Feb. 11. Fleury then turned aside 24 shots in a 3-1 triumph over the San Jose Sharks Feb. 13. He capped the week with his 63rd career shutout, one behind Henrik Lundqvist for 16th place in NHL history, in a 1-0 win against the Colorado Avalanche Feb. 14 (30 SV). The 36-year-old Sorel, Que., native owns a 7-1-0 record, 1.38 goals-against average, .944 save percentage and two shutouts through eight appearances this season.
THIRD STAR – BRYAN RUST, RW, PITTSBURGH PENGUINS
Rust collected 3-2—5 in two outings to lift the Penguins (7-5-1, 15 points) to a pair of wins. He notched 1-1—2, including an assist on the tying goal with 18 seconds remaining in regulation, in a 4-3 shootout victory against the New York Islanders Feb. 11. Rust then posted 2‑1—3, his 13th career three-point effort, in a 6-3 triumph over the Washington Capitals Feb. 14. The 28-year-old Pontiac, Mich., native – who registered career highs in goals (27), assists (29) and points (56) in 2019-20 (55 GP) – tops Pittsburgh with 5-8—13 in 13 games this season.