The Buzzer: Presidents’ Trophy race down to Avs, Golden Knights (Wednesday in NHL)

3 Stars for the NHL on Wednesday

1. J.T. Compher, Colorado Avalanche

For the first time in his NHL career, J.T. Compher generated a hat trick.

By scoring three goals, Compher extended a modest streak: it’s his fourth consecutive season with 10+ goals. It’s not particularly resounding being that Compher, 26, has never reached 20 goals. (His career-high is 16 from 2018-19. To be fair, he’s regularly a 30+ point player, which is solid since he’s never played more than 69 games in any season.)

You have to think that the Avalanche would be absolutely delighted if Compher gained some confidence from this hat trick.

Coming into Wednesday’s NHL action, Compher averaged less than a shot on goal per game (44 SOG in 46 GP before this one). Maybe it’s fitting, then, that Compher collected his hat trick on his first three SOG of the night?

Either way, a very nice accomplishment. Compher was part of a big blowout that leaves the Avs in “control of their destiny” in their race with the Golden Knights for the Presidents’ Trophy (and also the West Division title).

Both the Avs and Golden Knights crushed their competition on Wednesday, leaving the situation pretty simple to determine which team will finish the regular season atop the NHL. If the Avalanche beat the Kings on Thursday, they’ll finish first. If the Avs lose to the Kings, then the Golden Knights win the Presidents’ Trophy instead.

2. Ville Husso, St. Louis Blues

All three West Division games included a shutout. While the Blues authored the least important of the night’s three shutouts, Ville Husso’s was the most impressive goose egg of the three. (Truly, we’re splitting hairs between the two other light-work Wednesday shutouts in the NHL.)

Husso grabbed his first shutout of the season by stopping all 31 Wild shots.

Now, the Blues don’t want to depend upon Husso during the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs. That said, if something happens with Jordan Binnington, it’s promising that Husso can gain some confidence. (Shutouts and renewed confidence: themes for Wednesday in the NHL?)

Before this shutout, Husso’s save percentage was a troubling .886. At least Husso’s arguably still learning the ropes at this level, as this was just his 17th career NHL game.

Ultimately, whoever wins the Presidents’ Trophy will face the Blues, while the West Division second seed takes on the Wild. Have the Blues heated up enough to seem like a comparable threat? Might depend upon who you ask.

(David Perron deserves a mention, as well, with a goal and two assists.)

3. Marc-Andre Fleury, Vegas Golden Knights; Philipp Grubauer, Colorado Avalanche

OK, we’d be pushing the limits here if we tried to distinguish between nearly identical shutouts. Grubauer only needed to make 18 saves for his shutout, while Marc-Andre Fleury needed one more (19).

Granted, from a historical perspective, Marc-Andre Fleury’s shutout was more significant.

MAF now has 67 shutouts for his career. That breaks a tie with Patrick Roy, and now ties Roy Worters for 14th all-time. (Don’t feel too bad if you hadn’t heard of Worters, despite him being in the Hockey Hall of Fame. He passed away at age 57 back in 1957.)

Apparently Fleury will grab hardware for 2020-21, however the Vezina voting works out.

Highlight of the night for Wednesday in the NHL

Again, Husso enjoyed quite the night. Watch highlights of the Blues’ win vs. the Wild.

Celebrating Patrick Marleau‘s career

Very cool gesture that Gordie Howe’s family requested that Patrick Marleau was presented with that stick:

Wednesday’s NHL scores

Oilers 4, Canadiens 3 (OT)
Senators 4, Maple Leafs 3 (OT)
Golden Knights 6, Sharks 0
Blues 4, Wild 0
Avalanche 6, Kings 0

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.