NHL Rink Wrap: Yandle sets ironman record; Flyers’ streak also a record

Top players from Tuesday in the NHL

Joe Pavelski, Stars

Look, we get it. Alex Ovechkin is the reigning champion of “How is he (36) years old?” comments. But Joe Pavelski should inspire similar fountain of youth suspicions related to what he’s accomplishing at age 37.

Frankly, he already wowed me again and again last season. Pavelski even earned my vote for the 2021 Selke Trophy.

Yet … Pavelski’s even more important to the Stars as they grasp desperately at a playoff spot this year? With two goals and two assists, Pavelski boosted his 2021-22 season total to 48(!) points in just 40 games. That’s three points shy of last season’s 51 points (in 56 games), and to reiterate, Pavelski was tremendous last season. He’s found incredible chemistry with much younger forwards Roope Hintz (1G, 1A on Tuesday) and Jason Robertson (1A) the past two seasons.

Taking a look at Pavelski’s career xGAR chart from Evolving Hockey, at least two things are clear: we haven’t truly appreciated Pavelski as much as we should have over the years, and also: he might be aging Benjamin Button/Brad Marchandstyle.

Simple version: Pavelski rocks. (via Evolving Hockey)

NHL highlights from Tuesday

Sebastian Aho made the difference in OT for the Hurricanes over the Golden Knights:

Keith Yandle being honored for playing 965 consecutive games, setting a new NHL ironman record for games played in a row.

It must have felt a little extra special for Tyler Ennis to collect a hat trick against his former team, the Sabres.

To avoid being too dirty, I’ll let you guess the theme of these next three Tuesday NHL highlights. Winner gets … a sense of satisfaction (oh no, that almost sounds dirty too).

First, Brian Boyle:

Next, Bryan Rust to Sidney Crosby from a contest that extended the Penguins’ winning streak to six games:

Finally, Adam Gaudette:

Tuesday NHL Takeaways

Canucks reportedly set to hire Patrik Allvin as new GM

The Canucks haven’t confirmed this news yet, but all indications are they’ve found their new general manager. Multiple reporters back up word that the Canucks plucked Patrik Allvin from the Penguins organization to become their 12th GM in franchise history.

If all of that becomes official, it makes for a truly transformative week for the Canucks. Expect more on Allvin and the Canucks in its own post.

But to review just the past couple days …

On Monday, the Canucks announced the addition of Emilie Castonguay as their first woman assistant GM in franchise history, and just the second in NHL history. Castonguay also continues a small trend of former player agents taking on prominent NHL front office roles.

Flyers set franchise record with 13-game losing streak; Yandle sets new NHL record ‘ironman’ streak at 965 games

Speaking of continuing stories, how about a mix of the bad and the very good?

  • The good is that Keith Yandle broke his brief tie with Doug Jarvis to become the NHL’s all-time ironman record holder. Yandle received 965 consecutive games played on Monday, breaking a tie for that NHL record. Do note that Phil Kessel isn’t far behind Yandle at 941 games in a row, so there could be twists and turns to this story. (Side note: if Keith Yandle is “Iron Man,” does this make Phil Kessel “War Machine?”)
Birmingham Comic Con Day 2
Not pictured: Yandle on the left and Kessel on the right. As far as we know *spooky music plays* (Photo by Ollie Millington/Getty Images)
  • Now, firmly from the not fun file: the Flyers lost their 13th game in a row by falling 4-3 to the Islanders. That 13th consecutive loss sets a new Flyers franchise record for their longest-ever losing streak. The fumbling Flyers already became the first team in more than a decade to post two 10+ game losing streaks in the same season. (And they did it basically just halfway through the season! And they’re not even the worst team in the NHL amid all this. What’s happening?)

There’s a tragicomic layer to this Mike Yeo quote:

*Cough* Kinda get the feeling the Flyers might be making some uncomfortable (but maybe necessary) changes of their own soon, eh?

Penguins remain red-hot

Even during what’s now a six-game winning streak, it hasn’t always been pretty for the Penguins. Falling behind more than once to the cratering Coyotes? Kinda ugly.

But it’s a long season, and strong teams need to show that they can shake off setbacks, and sometimes simply win ugly. Whatever way you slice it, the Penguins are just flat-out winning lately.

Could there have been some sort of fortune swap after the Oilers (then 16-5-0) beat the Penguins (then 10-8-5) on Dec. 1? From then on, the Oilers have been crumbling, while the Penguins powered through with a 17-2-0 record.

That leaves the Penguins at 27-10-5 which … well, gives them a chance at a round of home-ice advantage in the Metro. The top of the East is for real, folks. The Penguins might be, too.

Wednesday’s big story

A rising superpower (Avalanche) vs. a fading power hoping to hang on (Bruins)

Here’s the thing about the East’s playoff teams, and really a good chunk of the near-sure things in both conferences: they’re all somewhere between very good and extremely good.

If everything came together for the Bruins, and they made a big run, would it be that surprising? They still have some of the high-end talent that’s made them a contender for years, and there’s plenty of time for Tuukka Rask to shake the rust off.

Still, it’s fair to say that the Bruins aren’t the same powerhouse they once were. It’s also reasonable to wonder how often any recent Bruins team looked as foreboding as the Avalanche when they’re clicking on all (heck, just some) cylinders.

Theoretically, if the Bruins (somewhat surprisingly) took on the Avalanche (not surprisingly) in the 2022 Stanley Cup Final, the story would probably be about Boston trying to slow down Colorado. Is that possible? Or would the B’s just embrace the situation and hope they can hang?

Fun hypothetical questions, and maybe we gather some data for early hypotheses with this one.

NHL scores from Tuesday

Hurricanes 4, Golden Knights 3 (OT)
Stars 5, Devils 1
Senators 5, Sabres 0
Penguins 6, Coyotes 3
Islanders 4, Flyers 3
Panthers 5, Jets 3
Oilers 3, Canucks 2
Predators 4, Kraken 2

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.

NHL Rink Wrap: Flyers, Yandle tie very different record streaks; Kreider first to 30

Top players from Monday in the NHL

Matthew Tkachuk, Flames

With the Flames teetering a bit lately (4-6-0 in their last 10, even after this win), it was hard to see this 7-1 shellacking of St. Louis coming.

Then again, maybe Matthew Tkachuk takes it to a higher level against the team his dad starred for? Whatever the explanation might be, Tkachuk was transcendent in this one, collecting five assists.

Thanks to those five assists, Tkachuk now sits comfortably above a point-per-game this season (42 points in 37 games). He’s already scored more goals this season (18) than he did in 2020-21 (16), and Tkachuk finished with 43 points in 56 games last year.

There’s a very real chance that Matthew Tkachuk might set a new career-high, though it’s not a guarantee, being that he generated 77 points in 2018-19. (His second-highest total is 61, while he finished 49 points or below in three other campaigns. Or four, if you include this one.)

About the only bit of bad news for the Flames is that Tkachuk and Johnny Gaudreau (48 points in 37 games) are tearing it up during contract years.

Robin Lehner, Golden Knights

Here’s something that snuck up on me a bit: Robin Lehner’s really just having a so-so season so far. With their good-enough record and other stats you’d expect, it might slip under the radar that Lehner might grade out close to “meh.”

After posting a .913 save percentage while Marc-Andre Fleury won the Vezina last season, Lehner came into the NHL action on Monday with .903 save percentage, barely ahead of backup Laurent Brossoit (.900).

By pitching a 34-save shutout, Lehner is now at a .907 save percentage with a 17-11-1 record. Hmm.

While this Hockey Viz chart likely predates Lehner shutting out the Capitals, it highlights that he’s allowed more goals than expected so far this season:

NHL Rink Wrap: Flyers, Yandle tie very different streaks; Kreider first to 30 goals Lehner shutout
via Hockey Viz

Lehner’s larger body of work (.917 career save percentage) inspires confidence that he’ll figure it out.

Or … maybe this Golden Knights team plus Jack Eichel would be able to take care of business even if Lehner struggles? Either way, the Golden Knights definitely leaned on Lehner to shut out the Capitals (Vegas only managed a single goal).

NHL highlights from Monday

While Chris Kreider reached the 30-goal mark, Adam Fox made the ultimate difference for a Rangers shutout win:

Connor Dewar really put some scotch on the puck for his first NHL goal:

A fantastic bit of deception by Troy Terry for his 23rd goal of the season, which also stands as his sixth GWG.

Monday NHL Takeaways

Canucks hire first woman assistant GM in franchise history, second in NHL in Émilie Castonguay

With racist incidents being disturbingly abundant in hockey lately, the sport’s culture still clearly has a long, long way to go before hockey can feel truly inclusive. Some promising hirings don’t erase that feeling.

That said, kudos to the Vancouver Canucks for opening some doors lately — even if it’s a bit embarrassing that those doors were shut for so long.

On Monday, the Canucks announced the addition of Émilie Castonguay as their first woman assistant GM in franchise history, and just the second in NHL history. Castonguay also continues a small trend of former player agents taking on prominent NHL front office roles.

If you want a tearjerker of a moment, consider this story Castonguay shared:

Last week, the Canucks received rave reviews for adding Rachel Doerie to their staff.

The Athletic’s Thomas Drance also noted that “there are additional women in consideration for front office jobs.”

Again, the NHL specifically and sport in general must improve to truly live up to the “hockey is for everyone” mantra. These are steps in the right direction, rather than dramatic leaps. Yet the Canucks made some heartening decisions, and maybe even admitted that they need a breath of fresh air after years of being run solely by some of the fabled “200 Hockey Men.”

Flyers tie franchise record with 12-game losing streak; Yandle ties Jarvis for NHL record ‘ironman’ streak

If you were hoping that a Flyer/the Flyers tied a streak during the NHL games on Monday, you might have wished you were more specific.

  • On the bright side, Keith Yandle played in his 964th consecutive game, tying Doug Jarvis for the NHL’s all-time record for an “ironman” streak. NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Jordan Hall notes that Yandle last missed a game in March 2009, when his defense partner Cam York was eight years old. (Makes an old man noise in protest of this factoid.)

“I remember Ray Whitney said to me when I was young, as long as there’s an NHL symbol on your jersey, that means you’re having a good day,” Yandle said on Sunday, via NHL.com. “So I haven’t taken that for granted, that we play in the best league in the world with the best guys. It’s truly a blessing to put on an NHL uniform every day.”

  • On the deeply grim side, the Flyers saw their losing streak swell to 12 losses in a row, tying a dubious franchise record. The Flyers scored just under two goals per game (23) while allowing 46 during that 12-game losing streak.
  • It won’t be a long turnaround to see if those two records get broken. Keith Yandle can stand alone with the NHL “ironman” streak record at 965 if he plays against the Islanders on Tuesday, while the Flyers aim to avoid breaking that tie for the franchise record with a 13th loss in a row. The Islanders are already responsible for two of the Flyers’ 12 losses during this streak.

Chris Kreider beats Ovechkin, rest of the NHL to 30 goals this season

This isn’t just the first time Rangers winger Chris Kreider reached 30 goals during his NHL career. Kreider’s also the first player in the NHL to reach 30 goals during the 2021-22 season.

Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals couldn’t score a goal against the Golden Knights on Monday, so Ovechkin sits in second place at 29 goals, one behind Kreider’s NHL-leading 30. Leon Draisaitl sits at 28 after helping the Oilers end their losing streak, while Auston Matthews ranks fourth with 25 goals.

As of this writing, 14 players have reached the 20+ goal mark so far this season.

Kreider turned 30 on April 30, so he’s in rare company among players who didn’t score 30+ goals until they turned 30 or older. Though rare, it’s pretty good company to keep, including a slight surprise in Claude Giroux:

Tuesday’s big story (beyond Yandle and Flyers streaks)

Golden Knights – Hurricanes in a battle of teams with big ambitions

While the Golden Knights hold a reasonably firm grip on the Pacific Division’s top spot, you could argue that they haven’t been as impressive as they likely hoped coming into the season. With a .619 points percentage, the Golden Knights lag a bit behind the cream of the Central Division crop. (To say nothing of the beasts of the East.)

On the other hand, the Hurricanes have been even better than most expected. Instead of causing slippage, changes in net and replacing Dougie Hamilton (essentially) with Tony DeAngelo and Ethan Bear has been a smash success. Most nights, Carolina looks like the relentless force Vegas pictured itself to be.

The Hurricanes also will be the more rested of the two teams on Tuesday, as the Golden Knights scrapped their way to that shutout over the Capitals on Monday. Will the Golden Knights churn out a tough win under difficult circumstances, or will the Hurricanes flex their muscles?

NHL scores from Monday

Ducks 5, Bruins 3
Rangers 3, Kings 2 (SO)
Stars 3, Flyers 1
Golden Knights 1, Capitals 0
Wild 8, Canadiens 2
Avalanche 2, Blackhawks 0
Flames 7, Blues 1

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.

NHL Rink Wrap: Chris Kreider hat trick; Draisaitl helps Oilers end streak

Top players from Saturday in the NHL

Chris Kreider, Rangers

Following the NHL action on Saturday, Chris Kreider has played 42 games this season for the Rangers. He’s already set a new career-high with 29 goals.

In the case of the Rangers’ win over the Coyotes, Kreider generated a hat trick and added an assist (not unlike Sidney Crosby on Friday). That four-point output put Kreider at exactly a point-per-game (42 in 42) this season.

Kreider’s already extended his 20+ goal streak to four consecutive seasons, a level he’s reached in seven of his past eight campaigns.

Ultimately, Igor Shesterkin ranks as the most important part of the Rangers performing better than expected. Enjoying career years from Kreider and Ryan Strome helps, too, alongside usual suspects such as Artemi Panarin and Adam Fox.

Jacob Trouba wasn’t far behind Kreider, scoring two goals and one assist.

(If you’re wondering where Leon Draisaitl is, considering him 1B to Kreider’s 1A. Scroll for more.)

NHL highlights from Saturday

Watch Kreider collect that hat trick, the fifth of his career, and third since Feb. 24, 2021.

Lately, the Avalanche have been winning, but winning somewhat ugly. Maybe that’s a good thing, being that the playoffs often seem all about eschewing style points? Gabriel Landeskog notched the OTGWG:

Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom also found the net for an overtime goal:

Watch the highlights of the Sabres extending the Flyers’ losing streak to 11 games to watch Peyton Krebs score his first two NHL goals:

Absolutely beautiful game-winner from Leon Draisaitl:

Saturday NHL Takeaways

Oilers end losing streak; Koskinen, Draisaitl make difference vs. Flames

Heading into a huge game for the Oilers on Saturday, people around the NHL were laying the blame on plenty of different members of the organization.

Listen to certain pundits, and you’d feel like the mistakes start and stop with Mikko Koskinen. No doubt, Koskinen’s struggled, but blaming him for the edginess growing in Edmonton makes little sense. Either way, on Saturday, Koskinen mostly came up huge to help end the Oilers’ losing streak at seven games.

Koskinen allowed three goals, but made 44 saves.

If you want to go “old school,” you could also blame the team’s best players.

Of course, beating up on Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl for Edmonton’s larger problems is pretty absurd, but the two have been cold during the latter part of this cold streak. During Saturday’s game, McDavid and Draisaitl broke their own slumps, along with the Oilers ending their losing streak.

[The same old questions plague the Oilers]

McDavid made plenty of plays, collecting two assists. Draisaitl was especially impressive, though, capping a four-point night (2G, 2A) with an empty-netter.

Draisaitl’s game-winning goal is a reminder that wins often come from a mixture of hard work and good luck. Draisaitl’s great move made the goal happen. Yet officials also missed that Flames defenseman Oliver Kylington was taken out of the play in what should have been an interference penalty.

That went uncalled, and the Oilers get to breathe a sigh of relief.

They also have at least one tweak to think of. After scoring two power-play goals, should the Oilers turn to Evan Bouchard more often? The young defenseman got that chance due to a Tyson Barrie injury, but perhaps he deserves more reps.

By no means are the Oilers out of the woods, but they desperately needed to end this losing streak. For all we know, the Oilers saved someone’s job by beating the Flames. (At least for now?)

Flyers lose to Sabres, see streak grow to 11 games

The Flyers are already the first team in more than a decade to suffer two 10-game losing streaks during the same season. (And they’re only halfway through their season, yikes.)

Now the Flyers are just one defeat short of tying their franchise record for a losing streak (12 games) after the Sabres pushed Philly’s skid to 11 games on Saturday.

[What went wrong for the Flyers this season?]

“We got outworked from the first shift of the game,” Rasmus Ristolainen said, via the Associated Press. “When you have a lot of losses coming in a row, I think it should hurt more every time. And when you get outworked like this, it obviously hurts even more.”

That’s already disturbing stuff. It gets a little worse when you add context. Philly’s last two losses come against the lowly Sabres and Blue Jackets. Before that, the Flyers dropped two losses to an Islanders team enduring a disappointing season of their own.

Sunday’s big story

Jets need to win games like Sunday’s vs. the Penguins

How strong are the Winnipeg Jets’ chances at making the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs? Truly, it depends where you look.

The Penguins are enjoying another strong season, with especially impressive play lately (four-game winning streak, 8-2-0 in their last 10). Combine the Penguins’ play and their place outside of the Jets’ division and conference, and it wouldn’t be the end of the world if Winnipeg lost.

But if you really want to be a playoff team — particularly if you don’t just want to be playoff fodder — then you have to win games like these every now and then.

NHL scores from Saturday

Sabres 6, Flyers 3
Bruins 3, Jets 2
Devils 7, Hurricanes 4
Rangers 7, Coyotes 3
Capitals 3, Senators 2 (OT)
Avalanche 3, Canadiens 2 (OT)
Maple Leafs 3, Islanders 1
Predators 4, Red Wings 1
Wild 4, Blackhawks 3 (OT)
Oilers 5, Flames 3
Lightning 7, Sharks 1

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.

NHL Rink Wrap: Crosby hat trick; Hurricanes school Rangers

Top players from Friday in the NHL

Sidney Crosby, Penguins

Most engaged hockey fans realize that, while Sidney Crosby isn’t at the very top of Hart Trophy conversations* as much these days, he’s still an elite player. The deeper you dig into his game, the clearer it is that Crosby has evolved into an all-around dynamo.

Nonetheless, Crosby isn’t necessarily scoring as explosively as he once did — at least not that often. During the NHL action on Friday, Sidney Crosby reminded us that he can still light up the occasional scoreboard.

Crosby swipes NHL player of the night for Thursday with a hat trick plus an assist.

This marks the 15th hat trick of Sidney Crosby’s career. Of those hat tricks, 12 happened during regular season games, and three in the playoffs. (One of those three happened to be a Crosby – Alex Ovechkin hat trick duel. Can we order another of those, please? Is there an app for that?)

With that hat trick + assist, Crosby improved to 31 points (10G, 21A) in 28 games this season.

* – That doesn’t mean Crosby is totally absent from Hart Trophy conversations, mind you.

NHL highlights from Friday

Hey, speaking of that Sidney Crosby hat trick:

Two fights for the price of one (click). Now that’s value.

When you’re listing the most underrated players in the NHL, don’t forget Stars center Roope Hintz. He won’t slip under the radar forever if he keeps scoring OT game-winners, though:

Read more about the Hurricanes beating the Rangers below, or use this goal as a testament to what happened:

Not just a great goal by Dylan Larkin, but also one that can help you delude yourself into thinking your hockey video game successes count as “realistic.”

Friday NHL Takeaways

Hall of Famer Clark Gillies dies at age 67

Sad news on Friday: Hockey Hall of Famer Clark Gillies died at age 67. Best known for his time with the Islanders (four Stanley Cup wins, 12 seasons), Gillies also played two seasons for the Sabres. Read more about Clark Gillies here.

AHL suspends Hrabik 30 games for racist gesture toward Imama

The AHL suspended San Jose Barracuda forward Krystof Hrabik 30 games for making a racist gesture toward Boko Imama of the Tucson Roadrunners.

Disgustingly, this is the second time Boko Imama has been the target of a racist gesture during AHL play in the last three years. In Jan. 2020, the AHL suspended Brandon Manning five games for directing a racial slur at Imama, who was then playing for the Ontario Reign. When the two players met in a game weeks later, the two fought.

Later on Friday, Imama expressed his frustration with the racism he’s faced during his hockey career.

Hurricanes teach the Rangers a bit of a lesson?

When discussing Rangers – Hurricanes as the big NHL story for Friday, the question was: can the Rangers prove that they belong with a team like the Canes?

One loss or win wouldn’t definitively answer that question. But after a dominant Hurricanes win, it feels more reasonable to pose the question. Simply put, New York might not be “there” yet. That’s not necessarily something to be ashamed of, though, because it simply wouldn’t be that outrageous if the Hurricanes ended up raising the Stanley Cup this season.

Don’t think there was a bit of a feeling of “learning a lesson?” Mika Zibanejad used that verbiage after a decisive defeat.

(Stats tell the story, too, including the Hurricanes generating a 23-9 advantage in even-strength high-danger chances against the Rangers.)

Your mileage will probably vary on one of the subplots of the Hurricanes beating the Rangers. Tony DeAngelo performed well against his former team, matching Sebastian Aho by scoring a goal and two assists.

It seems silly to slam the Rangers for parting ways with DeAngelo, but it’s also silly to deny that he’s had a strong season with Carolina.

Ducks end losing streak by beating Lightning

Amid a four-game losing streak and 2-7-1 stretch, the Ducks’ playoff hopes were waddling in the wrong direction. Beating (and hanging with) the repeat Stanley Cup champion Lightning might just be the tonic to improve the Ducks’ confidence.

While the high-danger chances weren’t always there at even-strength early on, the Ducks brought a lot of effort to the table vs. the Lightning. In the first period, the Ducks generated 18 shots vs. seven for the Lightning as Anaheim went up 2-0.

By the early point of the third, it was 4-0 Ducks. That said, the Lightning started to really cook on offense, but John Gibson looked a lot like the John Gibson many of us missed during two relative down years. Gibson came into the NHL action on Friday with a .918 save percentage that might be even better than it looks. He was dynamite in limiting the damage of the Bolts’ late surges.

With the Ducks ending their skid, the Lightning’s winning streak ended at four games, as did a 10-game point streak.

Saturday’s big story

Flames get a chance to spoil things even more for the Oilers

Over and over again, the addled Oilers keep getting asked, “is this rock bottom?” If squandering a lead against the befuddled Senators wasn’t enough, then you have the Oilers playing well yet getting thumped 6-0 to the Panthers.

And yet …

If you really want to rub salt in the Oilers’ wounds, wouldn’t you do it by sprinkling in the agony of a brutal loss to the Flames?

Sure, it would ruin my joke about Owen Tippett scoring the last goal of the Dave Tippett era in Edmonton, but losing to your local rival can often be the final straw. With the Flames enduring struggles of their own (3-6-1 in their last 10 games), they have even more incentive to beat the Oilers.

Could also be quite the way for Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl to shake off very unusual scoring slumps.

NHL scores from Friday

Hurricanes 6, Rangers 3
Penguins 5, Blue Jackets 2
Stars 5, Red Wings 4 (OT)
Islanders 4, Coyotes 0
Wild 5, Blackhawks 1
Panthers 2, Canucks 1 (SO)
Ducks 5, Lightning 1
Blues 5, Kraken 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.

NHL Rink Wrap: Big (but clean?) Tom Wilson hit; Oilers streak continues

Top players from Thursday in the NHL

Jason Robertson and Tyler Seguin, Stars

Overall, it’s not ideal that the Stars narrowly beat the Sabres, and needed four power-play goals to do it. But there’s something to be said for exerting your will to win a game, and that can be seen most immediately in 47 shots on goal for the Stars.

Robertson and Seguin collected 5 SOG apiece on their way to two-goal, one-assist performances. If this is one of John Klingberg‘s last games with the Stars, at least he factored into the win, generating three assists.

Even with this three-goal outburst, Seguin’s season totals are disappointing. He’s just shy of a point every other game with 18 in 36 contests. If nothing else, Seguin may be heating up, as he’s stacked up two straight multi-point games (3G, 2A).

Darcy Kuemper, Avalanche

The Avs topped the Kings 4-1 to spoil Quinton Byfield‘s season debut. The biggest roadblock in LA’s way was Kuemper, who stopped 40 of 41 shots faced in the win. It was a good rebound for the Colorado netminder after leaving Monday’s game following a collision with Jordan Greenway.

Sergei Bobrovsky, Panthers

No doubt, plenty will be made about the Oilers seeing their losing streak reach seven games. It’s also their seventh loss in eight home games.

But the story could’ve been very different if Sergei Bobrovsky wasn’t on fire. Instead, “Bob” stopped all 40 shots on goal to make life more miserable for the Oilers.

More on that in the NHL Takeaways section of the Thursday Rink Wrap …

NHL highlights from Thursday

Nice tribute from the Flyers for Jakub Voracek:

Likewise, a nice video for Matt Murray for the Penguins, who call him an “all-time great human.”

Scroll for more on the nastiness of Capitals – Bruins, including another big Tom Wilson hit. Beyond the nastiness, the teams also displayed great skill, including a nice goal by Evgeny Kuznetsov, and a late game-winner by Charlie McAvoy:

Watching the Sabres can’t be easy these days, except when Rasmus Dahlin does something remarkable.

Kudos to Stars sophomore Jason Robertson for scoring a baseball-themed goal during Rangers night.

Few modern NHL players are as strong on the backhand as Sidney Crosby, something he put on display on Thursday:

Shea Theodore netted the overtime winner for the Golden Knights and did it after some offensive zone domination:

Thursday NHL Takeaways

Hot start isn’t enough for Oilers, who see losing streak hit seven games

If you go by the first period alone, the Oilers deserved better against a formidable Florida Panthers team.

During that opening frame, the Oilers were humming, hammering 17 shots on goal (compared to seven for the Panthers). That volume generally continued, but Sergei Bobrovsky kept coming up big.

The air really went out of the Oilers’ sails on Aleksander Barkov‘s second goal of the night, a shorthanded tally.

From there, a reasonably close game devolved into a 6-0 stomping. The last player to score a Florida Panthers goal against David Tippett and the Oilers? Cruelly, it was Owen Tippett. (No relation.)

With that, the Oilers saw their losing streak grow to an unnerving seven games. It’s foolish to panic over cold streaks, but what if those cold streaks put the same old problems on display?

Tom Wilson delivers another big hit, but Bruins take issue with a different Capitals hit

Tom Wilson is no stranger to getting booed by opposing fans. That certainly happened on Thursday, as Bruins fans showered him with profane chants after a hard hit on Anton Blidh.

Blidh left that rough Bruins – Capitals game with an injury. Yet, while some took issue with the latest Tom Wilson hit, plenty of others called it clean. You be the judge:

Instead, the bigger issue was a Garnet Hathaway check that injured Brad Marchand. Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy believed it was “cheap.” Again, judge for yourself:

Despite those controversial hits (and some painful injury losses), the Bruins gutted out a 4-3 win over the Capitals. While the Bruins haven’t really improved their playoff seeding, they’ve still been hot lately, winning eight of their last 10 games.

Flyers ‘accomplish’ rare feat of two 10-game losing streaks already this season

So far, the Flyers have played 40 games in this lost season. Somehow, the Flyers already suffered two different 10-game losing streaks. The AP’s Dan Gelston notes that the 2010-11 Colorado Avalanche are the last NHL team to suffer two losing streaks of at least 10 games in a single season.

(Considering those 10-game losing streaks, you’d almost expect the Flyers to sport an even uglier record than 13-19-8. Not that it’s much solace.)

In case you’re wondering, the Flyers’ franchise record for longest losing streak is 12 games.

Hey, at least the Flyers still have their first-round pick, though. (Not their second-rounder, however. They gave that up to trade away Shayne Gostisbehere.)

At this point, the Flyers are aiming to avoid making more dismal history, while fans may be focusing on the 2022 NHL Trade Deadline and the 2022 NHL Draft. You have to wonder if Flyers management will be around to make calls in free agency and the draft after this wasted (and wastefully expensive) season.

Friday’s big story

Rangers – Hurricanes in a clash of contenders; Metro Division title implications?

Heading into the NHL action on Friday, the Rangers boast the most standings points (56 points in 40 games played) while the Hurricanes could easily close that gap (54 points, but with four games in hand [36 GP]).

In the most direct terms, the Rangers and Hurricanes get to influence the battle for the Metropolitan Division title.

But this could be an especially nice opportunity for the Rangers to make a statement. Despite being fairly close in the standings, the Hurricanes carry a bit more longer-term credibility than the Rangers. You can delve deeper into fancy stats, or merely note that the Hurricanes loom large with an impressive +45 goal differential, more than double the also-good Rangers’ differential (+20).

Beating the Hurricanes in Carolina wouldn’t dissolve all doubt about the Rangers. It would rank as one of their better wins, though. (Of course, that’s easier said than done.)

NHL scores from Thursday

Bruins 4, Capitals 3
Stars 5, Sabres 4
Blue Jackets 2, Flyers 1
Penguins 6, Senators 4
Predators 5, Jets 2
Panthers 6, Oilers 0
Avalanche 4, Kings 1
Golden Knights 4, Canadiens 3 (OT)
Kraken 3, Sharks 2

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.

NHL Rink Wrap: Flames get best of Bennett, Panthers

Top players from Tuesday in the NHL

Johnny Gaudreau, Flames

The good news is that Johnny Gaudreau is the version of Gaudreau fans love seeing. He ranks among the NHL’s most electric playmakers, and that was on display in the Flames’ win against Sam Bennett and the Panthers.

Gaudreau collected an impressive four assists, pushing him to 43 points (15G, 28A) in 35 games this season. He’s dangerously close to topping last season, when he generated 49 points in 56 games. There was also a bit of a lull — by his standards — the previous season, as he was limited to 58 points in 70 games in 2019-20.

So far, Gaudreau’s comfortably on pace to average a point-per-game (and change). The last time he did that was 2018-19, when he finished just shy of 100 points with 99. In doing so, he may have set expectations too high.

But, this year, he’s living up to expectations. Which does bring us to the one bit of less-good news: Gaudreau still needs a new contract, and every big game provides another bullet point for a hefty raise.

NHL highlights from Tuesday

Phew, a close call for Semyon Varlamov, and the sort of break you don’t get when you’re on a nine-game losing streak like the Flyers.

A strange goal. Being that Mark Jankowski scored it, you may even be tempted to call it janky.

Tom Wilson has scored in three straight games for the Capitals, and this one was an overtime game-winner:

Congrats to Jets rookie Cole Perfetti for scoring his first NHL goal, likely one of many to come. Especially if he develops anywhere as well in real life as he does in Franchise Mode.

Tuesday NHL Takeaways

Watch the Bruins retire Willie O’Ree’s number 22

In a wonderful ceremony, the Bruins retired number 22 in honor of Willie O’Ree becoming the first Black NHL player on Jan. 18, 1958. You can read more about that here, but check out the ceremony inn the video below.

NHL, NHLPA announce that asymptomatic players will not be tested for COVID

Yes, this development carries a weary air of inevitability. For better or worse, it’s the direction many in the world — especially the sports world — are heading. But time will tell if the NHL and NHLPA relaxing COVID testing standards following the 2022 NHL All-Star break (asymptomatic players won’t be tested) ends up being a wise idea.

Although, with the way players fight off injuries, and teams refuse to provide much details on injuries, maybe we’ll be in the dark if tweaked NHL COVID policies end up ill-advised? (Like, say, if family members get ill?)

Anyway, read up on the details here.

Other NHL news: Canadiens name new GM, “Last Men In” revealed for All-Star Game

Two other bits of NHL news from Tuesday worth noting:

Things are getting “award press conference” bad for the Oilers

Yeesh, this exchange between Leon Draisaitl and Jim Matheson is profoundly uncomfortable. And thus entertaining.

Flopping Flyers see losing streak grow to nine games

Not that long ago, there were rumblings that the Flyers didn’t want to trade the likes of Claude Giroux because they still had playoff dreams (faint or not). Well, you might need a microscope to view how small the Flyers’ playoff chances are after seeing their losing streak grow to nine games after falling to the Islanders.

If the Flyers aren’t trading off pieces now, one half-wonders if Chuck Fletcher is just too preoccupied with worrying about his own job security.

Before the Flyers lost yet again on Monday, PHT’s Adam Gretz broke down how things have gone wrong for Philly.

Flames get the latest laugh, even if Sam Bennett scored a goal

Remember when the Flames traded Sam Bennett to the Panthers? Honestly, things were a lot grimmer for both the Flames and Bennett when that trade went down.

While Bennett exploded out the gate with Florida, Calgary suffered for the rest of last season. Although they’ve stumbled lately, it’s clear that Darryl Sutter is getting more out of the Flames in 2021-22. It almost makes you wonder if Bennett may have thrived in that scenario.

But Bennett’s thriving with the Cats. He came into the NHL action on Monday with a very MLB pitcher stat line (15G-8A for 23 points), and scored his 16th against the Flames in Calgary. That would end up being the Panthers’ lone goal against the Flames, as Calgary got the best of Bennett on this occasion.

Wednesday’s big story

Rangers vs. Maple Leafs: two premium NHL franchises who are currently riding high

Whenever outlets release NHL franchise value estimates, the New York Rangers and Toronto Maple Leafs tend to dominate the top ranks. Yet, when you look up at the standings, you rarely see both teams dominating at once. (Sadly for Rangers and Maple Leafs fans, it might be slightly more common to see both teams struggling.)

Yet, during the 2021-22 NHL season, both the Rangers and Maple Leafs can daydream about special things. Sure, some of those dreams might be less realistic than others, but then again, look at how many surprises happen in hockey postseasons.

Heading into the NHL action on Wednesday, the Rangers are 25-10-4, while the Maple Leafs sport a 24-9-3 record.

As you likely know, both the Rangers (Artemi Panarin) and Maple Leafs (Auston Matthews) boast big-money superstars. There’s a better than 50-50 chance you could see some amazing feats. But these are also teams who have been stingy so far this season. Ranking second, the Rangers have only allowed 2.44 goals per game, while the Maple Leafs entered Monday fourth in the NHL at a 2.56 goals allowed average.

Ideally, fans get to see where the Rangers and Maple Leafs might be a touch underrated without that sneaky-stingy play killing all the fun of watching stars trade goals.

NHL scores from Tuesday

Hurricanes 7, Bruins 1
Sabres 3, Senators 1
Capitals 4, Jets 3 (OT)
Islanders 4, Flyers 3 (SO)
Canucks 3, Predators 1
Canadiens 5, Stars 3
Flames 5, Panthers 1
Lightning Kings

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.

NHL Rink Wrap: Five goals for Meier, Kraken no longer mired in losing streak

Top players from Monday in the NHL

Timo Meier and some other Sharks

This edition of the Monday NHL Rink Wrap presents a challenge. After all, you can’t really avoid marinating in a record-breaking night for Timo Meier and the San Jose Sharks. Yet, with there already being a post on those five (5) goals for Timo Meier, and eight games total on the Monday NHL schedule, it makes sense to spread the wealth, too.

But, goodness, what a night by Timo Meier. Previously, multiple Sharks held the team record with four goals in a single game. Remarkably, Meier collected all five of those goals in the first two periods, including a hat trick in the opening frame. They won’t get the headlines, but Erik Karlsson (three assists, reached 500 helpers for his career) and Tomas Hertl (four assists) weren’t far behind him.

And the Sharks can thank James Reimer (39 out of 41 saves) for not needing all five of those Meier goals. Overall, the Sharks reached six goals on just 17 shots on goal, with Meier firing six of those SOG.

Brayden Schenn/Ivan Barbashev, Blues

Speaking of not far behind Timo Meier, top Blues scorers from Monday were almost as worthy of NHL player of the night. In the case of Brayden Schenn and Ivan Barbashev, the two Blues forwards scored four points (2G, 2A) apiece. Ryan O’Reilly generated three points (1G, 2A) of his own.

With Schenn and especially ROR, great results aren’t that surprising. But Barbashev’s been quite the revelation so far this season. (Congrats if you took a chance on him in your fantasy league, by the way.)

After that four-point outburst, Barbashev’s at 34 points (15G, 19A) in 38 games. He’s already easily eclipsed his previous career-highs of 26 points, set in 2018-19 and 2019-20.

Hot take: even if Barbashev is boosted by his linemates, the Blues have to be ecstatic that he only carries a $2.25M AAV through next season.

NHL highlights from Monday

Footage and analysis of that Timo Meier five-goal game from NBC Sports Bay Area:

Next time your friend complains that you’re spamming wraparound goals in “NHL ’94,”* send them this Jake Guentzel goal. (Then run away/hang up before they can say “Yeah, but it barely ever happens.”)

How long can you really go without a great Marc-Andre Fleury save? Can’t be more than a month (of active play), right?

Ryan Donato, the person who scored the first Seattle Kraken goal, helped the team end a nine-game losing streak with this shootout tally:

* – Please just allow me to imagine a world where people still play “NHL ’94” against each other, ideally on a saggy couch. OK?

Thursday NHL Takeaways

Watch the Blues retire Chris Pronger’s number 44

As memorable as Chris Pronger’s other stops ended up being, St. Louis is where he accomplished the extremely rare feat of winning a Hart Trophy as a defenseman.

(Side note: it’s a crime Pronger, and while I mention it, Jarome Iginla, never ended up with a Conn Smythe. Then again, Pronger was a bit of a puck bandit himself.)

Kraken end huge losing streak, Flyers’ skid extends to eight

Heading into the 2021-22 NHL season, both the Flyers and Kraken boasted somewhat reasonable playoff hopes. (The Flyers, in particular, are spending with such expectations.)

Welp.

Each team is fairly deep into the point where fans are conflicted. Losing stinks, and watching a losing team is no fun. But every loss could help the Kraken and Flyers inch closer to the sort of draft lottery odds that might bring better hope in the future.

Even so, there’s a cutoff point where you just want a little relief. The Kraken received that on Monday, ending their losing streak at nine games; with that, the Flyers now lead the NHL with a league-worst eight-game losing streak.

In case you’re wondering, the Flyers haven’t won a single game since the calendar reached 2022. Maybe fittingly, the Flyers won their last game on Dec. 29 … by beating the Kraken in overtime.

(Things aren’t a whole lot better for the Canadiens, either, as they dropped their sixth straight loss. And that loss came against the crummy Coyotes.)

Maybe a 3-0 lead isn’t safe against the Penguins

Entering the first intermission, the Golden Knights seemed like they might make a bit of a statement with a 3-0 lead against the Penguins. Apparently that statement was “maybe a 3-0 lead isn’t so safe against the Penguins?”

It’s gotta sting a little bit extra that Jason Zucker (two goals) factored into the Penguins’ comeback against the Golden Knights. After all, Zucker grew up in Las Vegas, and there were early expansion rumors about the Golden Knights trying to bring in the local product.

As cool as that story would have been, things seemed to work out for both Zucker and the Vegas Golden Knights. It just so happens that they worked out better for Zucker and the Penguins during the NHL action on Monday.

Friday’s big story

Bruins retire Willie O’Ree’s number 22

When Willie O’Ree was inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2019, many of us reacted with some variation of “What took so long?” To some extent, the Bruins retiring Willie O’Ree’s number 22 on Tuesday captures a touch of that feeling, as well.

That said, this is a very good thing, so better late than never.

Also better late than never: check out this great “Hockey Culture” video series. A year ago, Willie O’Ree discussed the importance of MLK Jr. Day in the NHL.

NHL scores from Monday

Red Wings 3, Sabres 2 (OT)
Avalanche 4, Wild 3 (SO)
Coyotes 5, Canadiens 2
Sharks 6, Kings 2
Kraken 3, Blackhawks 2 (SO)
Islanders 4, Flyers 1
Blues 5, Predators 3
Penguins 5, Golden Knights 3

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.

NHL Rink Wrap: Fleury records 70th shutout; Ovechkin scores No. 755

Top players in the NHL on Saturday

Marc-Andre Fleury, Blackhawks

Fleury won his fourth straight start as the Blackhawks topped the Ducks 3-0. He stopped all 37 shots Anaheim fired his way for his third shutout of the season and 70th of his career. He’s now one behind Lorne Chabot and Harry Lumley for ninth all-time in NHL history.

Philip Danault, Kings

Both of Danault’s goals helped LA take two-goal leads over the Kraken during their 3-1 victory. His first came early in the second period for a 2-0 Kings lead. His second, an empty netter, put the game out of reach to lead LA to its fourth straight win and sixth win in seven games. The Kraken, meanwhile, have dropped 12 of their last 13.

Highlights from around the NHL on Saturday

Taylor with an extra effort to help the Boston Bruins beat the Nashville Predators in overtime. Also another big game on Saturday for Brad Marchand.

It was NASCAR day during Carolina’s 4-1 win over the Canucks. To celebrate, Seth Jarvis and Steven Lorentz had a race around the rink as the team participating in their post-victory Storm Surge.

Auston Matthews became the third player in NHL history to have a streak of 10 straight road games with a goal. He joins Pavel Bure (11, 1993-94) and Steve Yzerman (11, 1988-89).

The Penguins beat the Sharks 2-1 in overtime after Sidney Crosby waited and waited and waited before setting up Jake Guentzel‘s winner.

Alex Ovechkin‘s empty-net goal was his 25th of the season, putting him one behind league leader Leon Draisaitl. It was also the 755th of his career. He’s now 11 goals behind Jaromir Jagr for third place on the NHL’s all-time list.

In his second AHL game since the 2004-05 season, Eric Staal netted the overtime winner during the Iowa Wild’s 3-2 win over the Chicago Wolves. He also had a goal and an assist during Friday night’s victory.

Three takeaways from the NHL on Saturday

T.J. Oshie can not catch a break this season

The Capitals were 2-0 winners against the Islanders thanks to goals from Tom Wilson and Alex Ovechkin and a shutout in goal from Vitek Vanecek. That is the good news. The bad news is veteran forward T.J. Oshie exited the game with an upper-body injury and did not return. He has been limited to just 18 games so far this season and every time he returns to the lineup seems to have something else go wrong. He has missed time this season due to COVID protocols, the flu, and various injuries.

The Panthers are a wagon

After dropping four straight heading into the NHL’s early Christmas break last month, the Panthers have eight wins in their last nine games and, like Cobra Kai, are showing no mercy on their opponents.

During these eight victories, the Panthers have scored nine goals twice and netted at least five on seven occasions. In their last nine games they are outscoring opponents 54-24. How wild is this offensive outburst? Consider that in 30 games this season the Islanders have scored a total of 67 times.

Florida leads the NHL in points percentage (.750), goals (158), home wins (21-3-0), and are tied for first in wins (26), points (57), regulation/overtime wins (25).

Sunday’s big story

There is only one game on the NHL schedule for Sunday (with Jets vs. Oilers postponed) and it will feature Bruce Boudreau leading the Canucks against his former team in Washington. The Canucks are desperately trying to stay in the Western Conference playoff race and are currently in the middle of a brutally tough road trip that has taken them against some of the league’s best teams. They have already lost games to Tampa Bay, Florida, and Carolina (by a combined margin of 13-5) and still have games against the Capitals and Predators remaining on the trip. After a 7-0-0 start with Boudreau, the Canucks are now 1-3-1 in their past five games.

Saturday’s NHL Scores

Hurricanes 4, Canucks 1
Bruins 4, Predators 3 (OT)
Capitals 2, Islanders 0
Panthers 9, Blue Jackets 2
Red Wings 4, Sabres 0
Rangers 3, Flyers 2
Lightning 3, Stars 1
Maple Leafs 6, Blues 5
Blackhawks 3, Ducks 0
Kings 3, Kraken 1
Senators 6, Oilers 4
Avalanche 5, Coyotes 0
Penguins 2, Sharks 1 (OT)

NHL Rink Wrap: Big upsets; Pastrnak hat trick boosts Rask’s return

Top player from Thursday in the NHL

David Pastrnak, Bruins

While Tuukka Rask’s return to action was the biggest Bruins story for Thursday, David Pastrnak laid claim to player of the night on Thursday.

According to Hockey Reference, Pastrnak came into Thursday with 12 hat tricks in the NHL. He generated 10 of them during regular season games, and two in postseason play.

That’s … pretty darn impressive for a forward who’s still just 25 years old. So, with this hat trick, Pastrnak has 11 in regular season play, which is already moving him up the all-time Bruins ranks.

In general, Pastrnak’s been heating up lately. While he went pointless in the Bruins’ previous game, Pastrnak generated four goals and an assist in two contests on Jan. 8 and 10th. This also inches Pastrnak closer to a point-per-game this season (16G, 30P in 34 GP).

NHL highlights from Thursday

Check out footage of that David Pastrnak hat trick:

Very, very slick goal by Canucks forward Tyler Motte:

The Kings ran away with their game against the Penguins, rapidly changing a 2-2 tie to a 6-2 win. That surge included goals just 12 seconds apart:

A controversial goal from Blackhawks – Canadiens. Is it gauche to ask if Montreal’s better off losing anyway, though? (Oof, although that first-rounder could end up benefiting the Coyotes instead, depending upon trade conditions. So, uh, oof again.)

Great saves from Elvis Merzlikins on his way to a shutout, and upset, of the Hurricanes:

Thursday NHL Takeaways

Rosters shared: U.S. Olympic men’s ice hockey team, 2022 NHL All-Star Game

Did someone decide that Thursday was the day for hockey teams to share rosters? Did this come out of a focus group? Anyway …

  • USA Hockey unveiled its roster for the 2022 U.S. Olympic men’s ice hockey team. You’ll notice some deep cuts from NHL rosters past, including David Warsofsky and Nick Shore. The most interesting names are high-end prospects, though. Matty Beniers, the second pick of the 2022 NHL Draft, ranked among the most noteworthy names for Team USA.
  • Later on, each divisional roster was revealed for the 2022 NHL All-Star Game. There’s a twist, though. Fans can vote the “Last Men in” — one per division — to complete the rosters. Click here for more.

Stunning upsets during some NHL games on Thursday

If you’re like me, you glance at the standings, then peek at a schedule, only to notice that quite a few games feel like “filler.” Couldn’t the lowly team just forfeit or something? Save the bruises? (Blocked shots still hurt, even when you’re tanking.)

Well, (Chris Berman voice) that’s why they play the game.

Sure, in some Thursday games, the higher-ranked NHL team won. But there were some eyebrow-raisers.

  • The Blue Jackets didn’t just beat the Hurricanes; they creamed them 6-0.
  • Instead of ending a losing streak, the Flames fell to the Senators. Calgary’s now lost four in a row.
  • On Tuesday, the Predators outlasted the Avalanche to push their winning streak to five games. In their next game, the Predators lost to the … Sabres?

Hockey’s a strange sport sometimes.

NHL goalie notes: Impressive shutouts, Rask is back

Well, hey, look who’s back.

Philadelphia Flyers v Boston Bruins
(Photo by Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)
  • Again, that Pastrnak hat trick helped Rask win in his return to action for the Bruins. Rask did his part, too, making 25 out of 27 saves. From a performance standpoint, other goalies upstaged him a touch.
  • Elvis Merzlikins made that dazzling save in the highlights section. He also didn’t allow a goal, pitching a 31-save shutout.
  • Connor Hellebuyck continues to be, well, Connor Hellebuyck. He generated a 33-save shutout as Winnipeg handled Detroit.
  • Closing out the night, Igor Shesterkin pitched a 36-save shutout. Tough to deny claims that Shesterkin’s already among the cream of the crop.

Friday’s big story

Can the Ducks start to get on track, on the road, against the Wild?

No, it’s not yet time to totally panic about the Anaheim Ducks. That said, they’ve been wavering lately, going 2-4-2 in their last eight games.

If you look at the Ducks’ record, you’ll see brilliance at home (12-6-4) but middle-of-the-road work away (7-7-3). Starting with a tough road test against the Wild on Friday, the Ducks seven of their next nine games away from home.

With many of the Pacific Division races tightening up, better road work may make a difference for the Ducks. (Like, maybe they can grab a round of home-ice advantage, even?)

NHL scores from Thursday

Bruins 3, Flyers 2
Lightning 4, Canucks 2
Blue Jackets 6, Hurricanes 0
Jets 3, Red Wings 0
Islanders 3, Devils 2
Blues 2, Kraken 1
Sabres 4, Predators 1
Blackhawks 3, Canadiens 2 (OT)
Senators 4, Flames 1
Kings 6, Penguins 2
Rangers 3, Sharks 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.

NHL Rink Wrap: Kodak Black sure was at Panthers game; Makar does it again

Top player from Tuesday in the NHL

Nikita Kucherov, Lightning

Rust? Nikita Kucherov laughs at talk of rust.

On Jan. 6, Kucherov shrugged off being out since Oct. 16, generating two pretty assists. Kucherov topped that on Tuesday, earning NHL player of the night with a hat trick.

Looking at his career, it’s somewhat surprising that this marks merely the fourth hat trick by Kucherov. He last generated one against the Bruins in 2017. That leaves Kucherov with five points in three games back from injury, and nine points in six games this season.

Now, to be fair, Kucherov did acknowledge some rust (despite the hat trick). Or at least he’s polite enough to pretend.

(On-ice) highlights from NHL games on Tuesday

Not surprisingly, there were a lot of Cale Makar/sexy jokes around the NHL on Tuesday.

During that same Avalanche – Predators game, Matt Duchene scored a nice OT game-winner. The Predators are truly hot, as they beat the also-hot Avs to extend their winning streak to five games. Impressive.

Watch Nikita Kucherov collect that hat trick:

Read more about a successful Evgeni Malkin return in the takeaways, but here’s his first of two goals from that season debut:

Tuesday NHL takeaways (mostly not about Kodak Black and the Panthers)

NHL news: Bruins sign Rask, Evander Kane pursuit heats up

Let’s catch up on a few bits of NHL news from Tuesday:

Kodak Black sure did attend a Florida Panthers game

OK, we’re not going to post the notorious Twitter video of Kodak Black um, doing something at a Florida Panthers game. It’s here if you’re not worried about something possibly NSFW.

Did Kodak Black really do that at a Panthers game, or did it just look like that? Intrepid reporters such as George Richards of Florida Hockey Now attempted to unravel that mystery.

Whatever actually happened, what Kodak Black may or may not have done at a Panthers game was the talk of the (Twitter) town. The Miami Herald’s David Wilson captured the highs and lows of this very unusual, um, celebrity encounter:

The Panthers made a point to show Kodak Black on the big screen several times during the first few periods and the NHL even tweeted about his presence at the arena.

They did not show him again.

Oh yeah, and the very, very good Panthers beat improving Canucks 5-2. Let’s be honest, though; even Roberto Luongo wasn’t tweeting about that.

Here’s a more wholesome image of Kodak Black at the Panthers game, via Getty Images:

Kodak Black Panthers game
(Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)

Very successful Penguins return for Malkin

Remember that bit about Nikita Kucherov laughing off rust? Evgeni Malkin reacted in a similar way.

Early in the second period, Malkin scored what would end up being the game-winner on the power play. Overall, Malkin celebrated his return to the Penguins’ lineup with two goals and an assist.

As much as there’s a feeling of “What if?” when it comes to Malkin injuries (and to an extent, the Penguins’ core) …

… The larger message might be to soak this in. He remains a special player.

Wednesday’s big story

Will Oilers, someone else sign Evander Kane?

Unless the NHL reacts in an especially noteworthy way to Kodak Black enjoying the Panthers game, the story to watch on Wednesday is whether the Oilers (or some other NHL team) signs Evander Kane.

As scheduled, the three Wednesday NHL games don’t seem especially competitive. Granted, the Canadiens would love to spoil things (even slightly) for the Bruins, but the most interesting stuff seems like it may happen off the ice.

At least on paper. Sometimes the most exciting games are the ones that carry low expectations.

NHL scores from Tuesday

Lightning 6, Sabres 1
Panthers 5, Canucks 2
Blackhawks 4, Blue Jackets 2
Predators 5, Avalanche 4 (OT)
Maple Leafs 4, Golden Knights 3 (SO)
Penguins 4, Ducks 1
Sharks 3, Red Wings 2 (OT)

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.