NHL Review March 8 2020
21-YEAR-OLD GEEKIE, 38-YEAR-OLD WILLIAMS PUSH HURRICANES PAST PENGUINS
Twenty-one-year-old Morgan Geekie (2-1—3) collected three points in his NHL debut and 38-year-old Justin Williams (2-0—2) also scored twice to propel the Hurricanes (37-25-5, 79 points) past the Penguins (39-23-6, 84 points) at PPG Paints Arena.
Geekie, a third-round pick (67th overall) by Carolina in the 2017 NHL Draft, was recalled by the Hurricanes Saturday after scoring 22 goals with the AHL’s Charlotte Checkers in 2019-20 (22-20—42 in 55 GP). While he became the NHL’s second player in as many seasons to score at least twice in his NHL debut, Geekie joined Brad Defauw (2-0—2 on March 10, 2003) as just the second player to accomplish the feat with the Hurricanes/Whalers franchise.
Williams (38 years, 156 days) has found the back of the net in the past four games dating to Feb. 29 and joined Ron Francis (4 GP in 2001-02) and current head coach Rod Brind’Amour (4 GP in 2008-09) as the only 38-year-olds in Hurricanes/Whalers history to score in four straight games. In fact, only two such players in NHL history extended their run beyond four contests: Brett Hull (7 GP in 2003-04 w/ DET) and Johnny Bucyk (6 GP in 1974-75 w/ BOS).
Carolina, set to play Pittsburgh three more times this month (March 14 vs. PIT, March 24 at PIT and March 28 vs. PIT), moved within five points of the latter for third in the Metropolitan Division standings.
PIETRANGELO, BLUES BLANK BLACKHAWKS . . .
Alex Pietrangelo scored the insurance marker and Jake Allen turned aside all 29 shots he faced as the Blues (41-18-10, 92 points) maintained their position atop the Western Conference and swept their season series with the Blackhawks (CHI: 0-4-0).
St. Louis has held the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference dating to Dec. 14, 2019 and 122 total days this season – nearly 100 more than the next closest club (EDM: 20). Conversely in the Eastern Conference, Boston – the current leaders – and Washington have sat atop their 16-team grouping for 43 and 90 days, respectively.
Pietrangelo boosted his season totals to 14-36—50 and joined Jeff Brown and Al MacInnis as the third Blues defenseman to register four seasons with 50-plus points. Additionally, the Blues captain, who followed Washington’s John Carlson as the second blueliner to score 10 road goals this season, became the fifth different St. Louis defenseman to accomplish the feat in a single campaign.
. . . WHILE AVALANCHE KEEP PACE IN THE WEST
Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog each collected 1-2—3 as the Avalanche (41-19-10, 90 points) joined the Blues (41-18-10, 92 points) as the second Western Conference team to reach the 90-point mark. Colorado (68 GP) accomplished the feat prior to its 70th game of a season for the fourth time in franchise history (also 63 GP in 2000-01, 65 GP in 1996-97 and 66 GP in 2013-14).
MacKinnon posted his seventh outing with three-plus points in 2019-20 and boosted his season totals to 35-58—93 in 68 contests. The 24-year-old is on pace to become one of seven players to collect 100 points this season. Only three campaigns in the last 25 years have featured as many 100-point players: 1995-96 (12), 2005-06 (7) and 2006-07 (7).
Colorado earned its 10th road win in 11 contests to improve to an NHL-best 24-10-2 as visitors this season – one victory more than the next closest team (WSH: 23-10-2). The club matched the second-highest single-season total in Avalanche/Nordiques history (also 24 in 2000-01 and 1992-93) and sits two shy of the franchise record (26-11-4 in 2013-14).
PACIORETTY CONTINUES CAREER PACE, GUIDES GOLDEN KNIGHTS TO VICTORY
Max Pacioretty (1-0—1) found the score sheet for the eighth time in 10 contests and was one of five different goal scorers as the Golden Knights (38-24-8, 84 points) captured their 10th win in 12 games. Vegas collected two crucial points ahead of its Pacific Division showdown with Edmonton (37-24-8, 82 points) and Connor McDavid tonight.
Pacioretty (32-34—66 in 70 GP) leads the Golden Knights in goals and points this season and sits one point shy of matching his single-season career high set in 2014-15 (37-30—67 in 80 GP w/ MTL) and matched in 2016-17 (35-32—67 in 81 GP w/ MTL). In fact, the 31-year-old’s 32 goals are already the second-highest single-season total by a Golden Knights player – behind only William Karlsson (43 in 2017-18).
The second-year Golden Knights forward can become the third different skater to conclude the season leading Vegas in points. Only four franchises in the NHL’s expansion era (since 1967-68) have featured a different player conclude a campaign as the team’s points leader in each of its first four or more seasons: San Jose Sharks (7 from 1991-92 to 1997-98), Minnesota North Stars (6 from 1967-68 to 1972-73), Minnesota Wild (5 from 2000-01 to 2005-06) and the Pittsburgh Penguins (5 from 1967-68 to 1971-72).
WILD CARD HOPEFULS COLLECT TWO CRUCIAL POINTS
The Wild (35-27-7, 77 points) and Blue Jackets (33-22-15, 81 points) each picked up crucial wins as they continue to pursue a berth in the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs:
In a back-and-forth affair that featured four game-tying goals, Kevin Fiala (2-0—2) scored with 59 seconds remaining in overtime to help the Wild move into the Western Conference’s first Wild Card spot. Fiala, who leads Minnesota in scoring this season (23-31—54 in 64 GP) has tallied 14-12—26 since Feb. 1 and trails only New York’s Mika Zibanejad (20-10—30) in goals over that span.
The Blue Jackets withstood the Canucks to win its League-leading 20th one-goal game of the season and moved into the first Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference. The 2019-20 campaign marks the sixth in franchise history that the Blue Jackets have collected 20 or more one-goal wins – highlighted by 24 such victories in 2005-06.
PREVIEW OF TODAY’S ACTION – FIRST IN PACIFIC ON THE LINE WHEN OILERS, GOLDEN KNIGHTS SQUARE OFF
Connor McDavid (33-63—96) and the Oilers (37-24-8, 82 points) welcome Max Pacioretty (32-34—66) and the Golden Knights (38-24-8, 84 points) to Rogers Place Monday with first place in the Pacific Division on the line.
The Oilers captain, already with a League-leading five performances of four-plus points (tied w/ Leon Draisaitl), sits within striking distance of his fourth consecutive 100-point campaign after establishing a single-season career high in 2018-19 (41-75—116 in 78 GP). Draisaitl and McDavid can become the eighth set of teammates in NHL history to be the first two players to reach the 100-point mark in a campaign and first since Mario Lemieux, Jaromir Jagr and Ron Francis (tied) in 1995-96 with the Penguins.
McDavid, 23, can also become the third player in NHL history to record at least four consecutive 100-point seasons before age 24 – Wayne Gretzky and Lemieux are the only players to do so, each with five in a row (age as of final day of regular season).
Zibanejad, Landeskog and Draisaitl Named NHL ‘Three Stars’ of the Week
New York Rangers center Mika Zibanejad, Colorado Avalanche left wing Gabriel Landeskog and Edmonton Oilers center Leon Draisaitl have been named the NHL’s “Three Stars” for the week ending March 8.
FIRST STAR – MIKA ZIBANEJAD, C, NEW YORK RANGERS
Zibanejad topped the NHL with seven goals in three games to help the Rangers (36-28-4, 76 points) move within three points of the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference. He potted New York’s lone goal in a 3-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues March 3. Zibanejad then scored five times, including the overtime winner, in a 6-5 victory against the Washington Capitals March 5. He became the third player in Rangers history to record a five-goal game, joining Don Murdoch (Oct. 12, 1976 at MNS) and Mark Pavelich (Feb. 23, 1983 vs. HFD). Zibanejad also became the second player in League history to register a five-goal performance that included an overtime winner. The other: Detroit’s Sergei Fedorov (Dec. 26, 1996 vs. WSH). Zibanejad added one more goal in a 6-4 loss to the New Jersey Devils March 7. The 26-year-old Huddinge, Sweden, native ranks fifth in the NHL with a career-high 39 goals in 55 games this season (39-33—72). That includes a League-best 21 goals in his past 20 outings dating to Jan. 31 (21-12—33).
SECOND STAR – GABRIEL LANDESKOG, LW, COLORADO AVALANCHE
Landeskog led the NHL with 3-6—9 in four contests to power the Avalanche (41-19-8, 90 points) to a 2-1-1 week and within two points of first place in the Central Division. The Colorado captain collected the primary assist on Logan O’Connor’s decisive goal in a 2-1 victory over the Detroit Red Wings March 2. Landeskog then posted multiple points in each of his next three games, registering 1-2—3 in a 4-3 overtime loss to the Anaheim Ducks March 4, 1-1—2 in a 6-3 loss against the Vancouver Canucks March 6 and 1-2—3 in a 4-3 triumph over San Jose Sharks March 8. The 27-year-old Stockholm, Sweden, native ranks fourth on the Avalanche with 21-21—42 in 52 appearances this season, including 5-8—13 during an eight-game point streak dating to Feb. 22.
THIRD STAR – LEON DRAISAITL, C, EDMONTON OILERS
Draisaitl placed second in the NHL with 4-4—8 in four outings as the Oilers (37-24-8, 82 points) went 3-1-0 to move within two points of first place in the Pacific Division. Draisaitl posted 4-1—5, his first career four-goal game and second career five-point performance (also Nov. 14, 2019 vs. COL: 0-5—5), in an 8-3 win over the Nashville Predators March 2. He added one assist in a 2-1 overtime victory against the Dallas Stars March 3 and two helpers in a 4-3 loss to the Chicago Blackhawks March 5 before being held off the scoresheet in a 4-1 triumph over the Columbus Blue Jackets March 7. The 24-year-old Cologne, Germany, native tops the NHL with a career-high 67 assists and 110 points through 69 games this season (43-67—110).
Blues’ Sundqvist Fined for Roughing
St. Louis Blues forward Oskar Sundqvist has been fined $5,000, the maximum allowable under the Collective Bargaining Agreement, for roughing Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Adam Boqvist during NHL Game No. 1061 in Chicago on Sunday, March 8, 2020. The incident occurred at 14:54 of the second period. Sundqvist was assessed a minor penalty for elbowing as well as a minor penalty for roughing. The money goes to the Players’ Emergency Assistance Fund.