NHL, Sports News

NHL REVIEW MARCH 18 2018 – LIGHTNING CLINCH

NHL REVIEW MARCH 18 2018 – LIGHTNING CLINCH PLAYOFF SPOT

SUNDAY’S RESULTS
Home Team in Caps
COLORADO 5, Detroit 1
VEGAS 4, Calgary 0
TAMPA BAY 3, Edmonton 1
Carolina 4, NY ISLANDERS 3
PHILADELPHIA 6, Washington 3
St. Louis 5, CHICAGO 4 (OT)
WINNIPEG 4, Dallas 2
ANAHEIM 4, New Jersey 2

KUCHEROV HELPS LIGHTNING CLINCH FIRST PLAYOFF SPOT IN EAST

Nikita Kucherov scored twice to extend his lead in the Art Ross Trophy race and help the Lightning (49-19-4, 102 points) become the first Eastern Conference team to clinch a berth in the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

The Lightning, who improved to 10-2-1 in their last 13 games, will make their fourth postseason appearance in the past five years and 10th in franchise history. Tampa Bay’s last playoff berth was in 2016 when they reached the Eastern Conference Final, falling in Game 7 to the eventual Stanley Cup-champion Penguins.

Tampa Bay held first place in the NHL for more than 90% of the season before being surpassed by Nashville on March 13. The Lightning now sit two points back of the Predators in the race for the Presidents’ Trophy as they aim to become just the second team in the past 81 years to finish with the League’s best record after missing the playoffs the previous season (NYR in 1993-94).

Kucherov boosted his League-leading point total to 36-57—93 to open a four-point lead in the scoring race. Only one Lightning player has ever won the Art Ross Trophy: Martin St. Louis in 2004 (38-56—94) and 2013 (17-43—60).

LAINE PULLS EVEN WITH OVI IN BATTLE FOR “ROCKET” RICHARD TROPHY

Winnipeg’s Patrik Laine scored his 42nd and 43rd tallies of the season to move into a share of the League lead in goals and help the Jets (43-19-10, 96 points) equal their franchise record for wins in a season. The club also recorded 43 wins as the Thrashers in 2006-07 and as the Jets in 2014-15. Winnipeg ranks second in the Central Division.

Laine, who will celebrate his 20th birthday on April 19, extended his franchise-record point streak to 15 games (18-8—26) – the longest by a teenager in NHL history. He has 12 goals in March (9 GP), two shy of the club record for any calendar month (with six games remaining).

Laine is tied with Washington’s Alex Ovechkin for the most goals in the League in 2017-18 and can become the first teenager in NHL history to conclude a season leading the League outright in goals. Overall, seven players have at least 38 goals in 2017-18.

The last time at least seven players were within five goals of the League lead during the final three weeks of the season was 2003-04, when Rick Nash, Jarome Iginla and Ilya Kovalchuk eventually finished with 41 goals apiece.

BLUES RALLY PAST BLACKHAWKS TO KEEP PLAYOFF HOPES ALIVE

Alex Pietrangelo (1-3—4) tied the game with 1:22 remaining in regulation and Patrik Berglund scored in overtime to power the Blues (39-28-5, 83 points) to a 4-1-0 record in their last five games. St. Louis moved within one point of Los Angeles (39-27-6, 84 points) for the final Wild Card spot in the Western Conference standings.

Pietrangelo recorded at least three points for the second straight game (2-1—3 on March 17 vs. NYR) and became the second defenseman in franchise history to do so, joining Rob Ramage (1987-88).

Meanwhile, Vince Dunn (1-3—4) became the fourth rookie defenseman in franchise history to record four points in a game and first since Rik Wilson on Jan. 16, 1982 (0-4—4 vs. CHI).

Pietrangelo and Dunn became the first defensemen in franchise history to record at least four points apiece in a game. In fact, they were just the eighth pair in NHL history to do so and first since Kings defensemen Paul Coffey (0-5—5) and Rob Blake (2-2—4) on Jan. 26, 1993 vs. SJS.

NHL THREE STARS OF THE WEEK ENDING MARCH 18

St. Louis Blues defenseman Alex Pietrangelo, Colorado Avalanche center Nathan MacKinnon and Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Curtis McElhinney have been named the NHL’s “Three Stars” for the week ending March 18.

FIRST STAR – ALEX PIETRANGELO, D, ST. LOUIS BLUES

Pietrangelo led the NHL with 3-6—9 in four games to power the Blues (39-28-5, 83 points) to a 3-1-0 week and within one point of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference. He collected two assists in a 4-2 victory over the Anaheim Ducks March 12 before being held off the scoresheet in a 4-1 loss to the Colorado Avalanche March 15. Pietrangelo bounced back with 2-1—3, his fifth career three-point performance, in a 4-3 overtime win against the New York Rangers March 17. He then set a career high with 1‑3—4, highlighted by the tying goal with 1:22 remaining in regulation and an assist on the overtime winner, in a 5-4 triumph versus the Chicago Blackhawks March 18. In doing so, Pietrangelo became the second defenseman in Blues history to record consecutive three-point games (also Rob Ramage: Dec. 26-27, 1987). The 28-year-old King City, Ont., native shares first place among NHL blueliners with 15 goals and ranks 10th among League defensemen with 50 points in 68 outings this season (15-35—50).

SECOND STAR – NATHAN MacKINNON, C, COLORADO AVALANCHE

MacKinnon paced the NHL with six goals and ranked second with eight points (6‑2—8) in four games as the Avalanche (39-25-8, 86 points) went 3-1-0 to climb into the first Wild Card spot in the Western Conference. He scored one goal in a 5-1 victory against the Minnesota Wild March 13. MacKinnon then registered 2-1—3, including his League-leading 11th game-winning goal of the season (tied with Calgary’s Sean Monahan), in a 4-1 triumph over the St. Louis Blues March 15. He added one goal in a 4-2 loss to the Nashville Predators March 16 before capping the week with 2-1—3, his League-best 13th three-point effort of the campaign, in a 5-1 victory against the Detroit Red Wings March 18. The 22-year-old Halifax, N.S., native paces the NHL with 1.39 points per game and ranks third overall with 38-51—89 in 64 contests this season, highlighted by 13-11—24 during an active 12-game point streak.

THIRD STAR – CURTIS McELHINNEY, G, TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS

McElhinney went 3-0-0 with a 1.57 goals-against average, .955 save percentage and one shutout as the Maple Leafs (43-22-7, 93 points) posted a perfect week to move within two wins of matching the single-season franchise record (reached in 1998-99, 1999-00 and 2003-04). He made 13 saves in relief and added two shootout stops in a 6‑5 victory over the Dallas Stars March 14. McElhinney then turned aside 38 shots in a 5-2 win against the Buffalo Sabres March 15. He closed the week with 33 saves for his eighth career shutout in a 4-0 triumph over the Montreal Canadiens March 17. The 34-year-old London, Ont., native owns a 10-4-1 record with a 2.09 goals-against average, .935 save percentage and three shutouts in 16 appearances this season.

NHL Schedule Monday Mar 19 2018

Matchup

Time

 Columbus@ Boston

7:00 PM ET

 Nashville@ Buffalo

7:00 PM ET

 Florida@ Montréal

7:30 PM ET

 Los Angeles@ Minnesota

8:00 PM ET

 Calgary@ Arizona

10:00 PM ET