The Buzzer: Marleau ties Howe for NHL games played record; Sabres eliminated on Saturday

3 Stars for Saturday in the NHL

1. Pavel Buchnevich/Artemi Panarin, New York Rangers

Pavel Buchnevich showed flashes of brilliance so far in his NHL career, but Saturday shines a light on just how hot he’s been this season.

With a hat trick, Buchnevich now has 19 goals and 40 points in just 43 games played this season. He’s on pace to blow his previous career-highs of goals (21) and points (46) out of the water, despite this season being shortened.

He’d likely gain more attention if it weren’t for Artemi Panarin being in supernova mode, and arguably making a stronger claim to be the top star for Saturday in the NHL. “The Bread Man” collected four points on a goal and three assists. He’s on both a three-game point streak (4G, 4A) and a two game multi-point streak (3G, 4A).

Considering how explosive the Rangers have been lately — with Panarin back and leading the way, but also Buchnevich, Mika Zibanejad (three assists), and sometimes others also chipping in — you can bet that other teams are relieved that New York is probably just a bit too far outside of the window to nab a playoff spot. At least, it certainly seems that way … but do you really want to tell Panarin he cannot do something?

2. John Carlson, Washington Capitals

Here’s something that might sneak up on you; after Saturday, John Carlson leads NHL defensemen with 42 points.

Now, don’t beat yourself up about it. Carlson generated an impressive four assists on Saturday to leap over the likes of Victor Hedman (41) and Adam Fox (40) for the points lead among NHL defensemen. Carlson’s now rattled off seven points (all assists) during a three-game point streak.

Taking as step back, it’s truly impressive what Carlson’s accomplished lately. Since 2017-18, Carlson has produced 255 points, far and away the most of any blueliner. Brent Burns ranks a distant second with 221, while Victor Hedman (213) and Roman Josi (202) round out the short list of four defensemen with 200+ points during that span.

Carlson wasn’t the only Capitals player lightning it up. Alex Ovechkin scored two goals and an assist. At 730 career regular-season goals after Saturday, Ovechkin is only a single tally behind Marcel Dionne (731) for fifth in NHL history. Could Ovechkin even catch Brett Hull (741) for fourth all-time this season?

3. Malcolm Subban/Vinnie Hinostroza, Chicago Blackhawks

After you run through the easier choices for three stars for Saturday in the NHL, there are quite a few shutouts and three-point games. Let’s cheat and smoosh a shutout and a three-point game together, then, eh?

The Red Wings went on the power play six times, and fired 29 shots on goal, but Malcolm Subban stopped all of them. While Detroit is in a clear rebuild, they’ve been a bit peskier lately, so credit Subban for keeping them from playing the spoiler.

Following some decent stretches with the Coyotes, Vinnie Hinostroza didn’t really ever get the ball moving with the Panthers. The 27-year-old failed to score a point in nine games played. Returning to the Blackhawks franchise that drafted him in the sixth round (169th overall in 2012) seemingly gave Hinostroza a jolt. He generated three assists on Saturday, giving him five points in six games since the Blackhawks nabbed him around the 2021 NHL Trade Deadline.

Honorable mentions for Saturday in the NHL

  • Again, Subban wasn’t the only goalie to generate a shutout. In fact, you could roll with a different smooshing of a three-point game and a shutout. Drake Batherson scored two goals and one assist, while Matt Murray generated a 23-save shutout. (Maybe Carey Price was rusty in his return, as he gave up three goals on just 14 SOG.)
  • Mike Smith probably gave Subban the biggest fight from a goalie perspective, collecting 26 saves in his shutout.

Highlights of the night for Saturday in the NHL

Watch Pavel Buchnevich collect that hat trick vs. the Devils:

Here are highlights from the Penguins beating the Sabres, which officially eliminated Buffalo from the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Stats of the Night: Marleau ties Howe for most games in NHL history; Sabres eliminated

Want something else to chew on regarding Patrick Marleau tying Gordie Howe for most games played in NHL history with 1,767? This stat is … just a lot.

The Wild honored Patrick Marleau tying Gordie Howe for the NHL record with 1,767 games played, as you can see in the video above this post’s headline.

Sportsnet Stats threw out an interesting fact related to the Sabres’ 10-season playoff drought.

Back in January, Netflix reached 200+ million subscribers. Perhaps the Sabres need to make some (cough) Blockbuster trades to work their way out of this?

Saturday’s NHL scores

Rangers 6, Devils 3
Capitals 6, Flyers 3
Penguins 3, Sabres 2
Senators 4, Canadiens 0
Coyotes 3, Blues 2
Hurricanes 3, Predators 1
Panthers 5, Lightning 3
Blackhawks 4, Red Wings 0
Oilers 3, Jets 0
Stars 5, Blue Jackets 1
Wild 5, 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.

Mantha shines in debut, Ovechkin scores as Caps rout Flyers

WASHINGTON — Anthony Mantha had a two points in his Washington debut, Alex Ovechkin scored the 728th goal of his NHL career and the Capitals beat the Philadelphia Flyers 6-1 Tuesday night for their third consecutive victory.

The East Division-leading Capitals went 3 for 3 on the power play as part of another offensive outburst. They routed the banged-up Boston Bruins 8-1 Sunday night on the eve of the trade deadline.

They gave up skilled young forward Jakub Vrana, a first-round pick and a second-rounder to get Mantha from Detroit in the hopes of better positioning themselves for another deep playoff run. So far, so good: Mantha picked up an assist on Tom Wilson’s goal in the first period, then showed off his shot in the second for his 12th of the season.

Ovechkin scored his team-leading 22nd in the third, beating Brian Elliott from his trademark spot inside the faceoff circle on the power play. The Capitals’ captain is now three back of Marcel Dionne for fifth on the career goals list.

Washington’s longest- and shortest-tenured players weren’t the only ones to get in on the goal-scoring fun against Philadelphia, which sold at the deadline and looked like a team ready for the offseason. Conor Sheary, Wilson, Nicklas Backstrom and Carl Hagelin scored the other goals.

Sheary added two assists for a three-point game. Ilya Samsonov made 29 saves for his 10th victory of the season.

Sean Couturier scored Philadelphia’s only goal, Elliott allowed six goals on 32 shots and the Flyers lost for the sixth time in eight games.

GOALIE ROTATION

Samsonov started for Washington after rookie goalie Vitek Vanecek won the previous two games. The Capitals didn’t add a veteran between the pipes at the deadline and know Henrik Lundqvist won’t be coming back, so the net belongs to Samsonov and Vanecek for the rest of the season.

“We found out that the two goaltenders that we have are pretty good and we have a lot of confidence in them,” coach Peter Laviolette said. “Trough the way the year has evolved and the way the goaltenders have played, we feel like these guys are ready for the job.”

But Laviolette is in zero rush to name a No. 1 goalie.

“I think it would be a mistake to tab one guy and run him 13 games out of the last 15 or 16 that we have and say ‘This is our guy,’” he said. “Just keep these guys doing what they’re doing, having them compete each day to be the great goalie … that they have been for us. I think that that’s important.”

NO RAFFL

The Flyers traded pending free agent forward Michael Raffl to the Capitals for a fifth-round pick Monday, but he didn’t make his Capitals debut against his former team because of an injury the team thinks is minor.

“He’s dealing with something,” Laviolette said. “We don’t feel like it’s anything that’s going to be way long term, but we need to get him here — he’s not here yet — and just do an evaluation and do what’s best for him getting ready for the playoffs.”

LAUGHTON STAYS

While Philadelphia traded Raffl and sent defenseman Erik Gustafsson to Montreal, forward Scott Laughton stuck around and signed a $15 million, five-year extension. General manager Chuck Fletcher received many calls from contending colleagues about Laughton, who wanted to stay and got the long-term contract he wanted.

“It was pretty important for me to have that security,” Laughton said. “I really believe in this franchise and the people around it, so I want to be a part of something here where we can do something special, and having that term is part of that.”