NHL Review – January 14, 2021
LIGHTNING STRIKE EARLY AFTER BANNER REVEAL, EXTEND STREAK
After unveiling their 2020 Stanley Cup banner at AMALIE Arena, Tampa Bay scored five consecutive goals – including three in the first period – to defeat Chicago and improve to 7-0-0 in seven season-opening contests dating to 2014-15.
* The Lightning’s seven straight victories in season openers is the longest active such run in the NHL. There have been only eight other instances in League history in which a team recorded wins in seven-plus season-opening games, detailed in the PDF attached here.
* The Lightning have owned a regular-season points percentage of .500 or higher for 264 consecutive games dating to Feb. 7, 2017 when they blanked the Kings to improve to 24-24-6 (54 points) through 54 contests during that campaign. That’s the longest active such run in the NHL – the lengthiest in League history is 505 games, achieved by Montreal from Dec. 30, 1967 to entering play Oct. 12, 1974.
FARABEE, LINDBLOM HELP FLYERS EXTEND WIN STREAK IN SEASON OPENERS
Joel Farabee (1-3—4) recorded a career-high four points and Oskar Lindblom was credited with his first goal since Nov. 30, 2019 as the Flyers opened their campaign with a win and took the first of eight ‘Battle of Pennsylvania’ installments slated for 2020-21.
* Farabee became the second player in franchise history with four points in a season-opening game as Philadelphia improved to 5-0-1 in its last six season-opening games including five straight victories, the second-longest such active win streak in the NHL behind Tampa Bay.
* Lindblom, who made his return to the Flyers lineup during the 2020 postseason (2 GP), skated in his first regular-season game since Dec. 7, 2019, which was just days before he was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma. Lindblom recently announced that he is now free of the rare form of bone cancer.
* Nolan Patrick, who skated his first game since April 2, 2019, also had a noteworthy return to the Philadelphia lineup with a goal in the final seconds of the first period. Patrick, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2017 NHL Draft, missed the entire 2019-20 season due to injury.
SCOTIA NORTH DIVISION OPENS WITH PAIR OF THRILLING GAMES
The NHL’s first-ever All-Canadian division made its debut Wednesday with the Maple Leafs and Canucks each earning thrilling wins over domestic rivals:
* William Nylander (2-1—3) accounted for one of his team’s three tying goals as Toronto rallied from deficits of 3-1 and 4-3 to force overtime, where Morgan Rielly scored to give the Maple Leafs a victory over the Canadiens in their first of 10 matchups slated for the 2020-21 regular season.
* Wednesday marked the first time in franchise history that Toronto overcame a multi-goal deficit to win a season-opening game.
* The number of regular-season games between the Maple Leafs and Canadiens (748) will reach 757 in 2020-21 to surpass the Bruins-Canadiens (750) for the most in League history.
* Brock Boeser (2-0—2), Bo Horvat (1-1—2), Quinn Hughes (0-2—2) and Tanner Pearson (0-2—2) each had two points and Nils Hoglander tallied in his NHL debut as Vancouver accounted for three of the game’s five third-period goals to open its season with a win over Edmonton.
* Hoglander (20 years, 24 days) became the fifth-youngest Canucks player to score a goal in his NHL debut, behind only Rick Lanz (19 years, 24 days), Dan Woodley (19 years, 283 days), Elias Pettersson (19 years, 325 days) and Bryan McSheffrey (20 years, 16 days).
* Braden Holtby made 28 saves to pick up the victory in his first game with the Canucks. Holtby has started in nine consecutive season-opening games contested by his teams (2012-13 – 2019-20 w/ WSH; 2020-21 w/ VAN).
BLUES SNAP AVALANCHE’S WIN STREAK IN SEASON-OPENING GAMES
Oskar Sundqvist scored two goals and birthday boy Kyle Clifford tallied in his team debut as the Blues bested the Avalanche in the first of eight games between last season’s top two teams in the Western Conference slated for 2020-21. St. Louis, which snapped Colorado’s win streak in season openers at four games, occupied first place in the Western Conference standings for 122 of 161 days during the 2019-20 regular season (69.6%), while the Avalanche did so for 33 (20.5%).
TODAY’S ACTION – NO. 1 PICK LAFRENIERE SET TO MAKE NHL DEBUT
Rangers forward Alexis Lafreniere, who was selected with the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NHL Draft, is set to make his highly-anticipated League debut as this season’s first ‘Battle of New York’ installment takes place at Madison Square Garden.
* It’s been more than four years since a No. 1 pick has scored a goal in his NHL debut – the last instance was on Oct. 12, 2016 when Maple Leafs forward Auston Matthews burst onto the scene with his historic 4-0—4 outing at Canadian Tire Centre against the Senators. Eleven of the 55 skaters selected No. 1 overall in the NHL Draft have scored in their League debut (20.0%).
* The fastest goal by a No. 1 pick from the start of his NHL debut was scored by Mario Lemieux on Bruins goaltender Pete Peeters at 2:59 of the first period. The second-fastest was scored by Matthews on Ottawa’s Craig Anderson at 8:21.
* Lafreniere (19 years, 95 days) can become the youngest player in Rangers history to score a goal in his NHL debut. The current mark of 19 years, 164 days was set by Lias Andersson just under three years ago on March 26, 2018.
OVECHKIN ENTERS 16TH SEASON THREE GOALS SHY OF PASSING GARTNER
Another former No. 1 pick Alex Ovechkin (706-572—1,278 in 1,152 GP), who sits three regular-season goals from passing longtime Capitals forward Mike Gartner for sole possession of seventh place on the League’s all-time list, enters his 16th season as the Capitals clash with the new-look Sabres at KeyBank Center.
* Ovechkin has 11 career goals in season-opening games (11-7—18 in 15 GP), tops among active NHL players and three back of the highest such total in League history (Dino Ciccarelli: 14 in 16 GP; Michel Goulet: 14 in 13 GP).
* Ovechkin scored one of his 27 career regular-season hat tricks in a season-opening game, on Oct. 5, 2017 when he had three third-period goals in a span of 6:33 at Ottawa. His only other three-point performance in a season opener was a 2-1—3 outing on Oct. 1, 2009 at Boston; Zdeno Chara skated across from Ovechkin that night and now is set to make his Capitals debut Thursday – more than 14 and a half years since his last NHL game a uniform not featuring the spoked-B.
* Ovechkin, who in 2019-20 leapfrogged five Hall of Famers en route to reaching the illustrious 700-goal milestone, enters the campaign within striking distance of surpassing several more notable names on numerous all-time NHL lists, detailed on page four of the attachment here.
* The Sabres brought back their fan-favorite, royal blue jersey for the 2020-21 season and will look different in more ways than one due to the addition of notable offseason acquisitions Taylor Hall and Eric Staal. Hall, who won the Hart Memorial Trophy in 2017-18 (w/ NJD), is set to become the second winner of the award to play for Buffalo – he will join franchise icon Dominik Hasek, who won the award in a Sabres uniform in both 1996-97 & 1997-98.
* Forwards Dylan Cozens and Jack Quinn, first-round selections by the Sabres in 2019 and 2020, respectively, can make their NHL debuts after skating with Canada in its silver-medal entry at the 2021 World Junior Championship.