Turns out that registering the NHL’s first eight-point game in 23 years doesn’t just get you league-wide acclaim — it also nets you some accolades.
Accolades are exactly what Edmonton’s Sam Gagner received on Monday as he was named the NHL’s first star of the week. The 22-year-old forward set am Oilers franchise record by recording a point on 11 straight goals, finishing with an eye-popping 12 points in wins over the Avalanche, Blackhawks and Red Wings — all told, Edmonton is now 4-0-1 in its last five games while Gagner has vaulted into fifth in team scoring.
Second star of the week went to New Jersey’s Ilya Kovalchuk. The Russian captain led the Devils to four straight post-All-Star break wins: He scored a power-play goal against the Rangers, then recorded three straight three-point performances, finishing with 3G-7A-10PTS for the week.
Kovalchuk also beefed up his reputation by fighting — and dropping — Philadelphia Flyers forward Brayden Schenn:
Third star of the week went to Toronto goalie James Reimer. While he only started two games last week, Optimus Reim made ’em count, stopping all 74 shots he faced in posting consecutive shutouts against the Penguins (1-0) and Senators (5-0). The clean sheet against Ottawa in the Battle of Ontario was especially impressive as Reimer made 49 saves to move Toronto within one point of the Sens for 7th place in the Eastern Conference.
It’s said that variety is the spice of life, yet it seems to be the spite of the Minnesota Wild.
As head coach Mike Yeo said, this struggling team appears to find a new way to lose virtually every night. That couldn’t have happened once again on Saturday, when they fell 4-1 to the St. Louis Blues, could it?
If you ask Jarret Stoll, the latest problem was the penalty kill.
Jarret Stoll: "our penalty kill let us down tonight." #mnwild
Honestly, Stoll may have been too specific, likely trying to throw his own unit under the bus. Instead, it might be more accurate to say that Minnesota’s special teams let them down.
Indeed, the Wild struggled to limit the Blues’ power play, which went an unsettling 3-for-6. That said, Minnesota had a chance to trade blows with St. Louis. Instead, the Wild managed one power-play goal on seven opportunities.
The silver lining is that the Wild believe that they showed more fight than this fragile bunch had been generating before.
Pominville: "It's been a while since we showed that much fight. As long as we keep fighting…we'll find our way out of this."
Worry (if you’re pulling for the Stars) or gloat (if you’re a Blackhawks fan) all you want, but the bottom line is that the Central Division’s No.1 spot is clearly in Chicago’s control after Saturday night.
The Blackhawks earned a decisive 5-1 win against the Dallas Stars, giving them a five-point standings lead over Dallas for the Central Division lead.
You may feel like that’s more of the same, but consider this: things would look a lot closer if Dallas won or gained points, as they hold three games in hand on the ‘Hawks.
At least one Blackhawks player admits this game means a little more than your average W.
Niklas Hjalmarsson: "Yeah, that was a big win for us. Corey was unbelievable, as usual." #Blackhawks
Looking at the standings, beating the Buffalo Sabres was pretty important for the Boston Bruins. The Atlantic Division’s run for spots appears particularly congested out East.
Of all the Bruins to get a chance to win it all, the team might have wanted Brad Marchand to have that opportunity. He’s on pace to destroy his previous career-highs for scoring, and Marchand’s been particularly hot lately.
Either way, Marchand came up big indeed, scoring the rare overtime game-winner on a penalty shot. Check out the drama below:
That can be a big extra point and ROW (regulation/overtime win) when the regular season is finished.
Note: Many believe that Marchand should not have received a penalty shot on the play.
Crosby kills the Cats: Penguins end Panthers’ winning streak
The resurgence of Crosby and Letang already played a big role in the Penguins going from disjointed and frustrating to sneaky and scary, so it shouldn’t be that surprising to see them play so well. Doing so in such brisk order is a little bewildering, however.