It took a bit of luck but, for the second straight year, Vancouver will enter the playoffs as the NHL’s top seed.
The Canucks beat Edmonton 3-0 on Saturday to capture the 2012 Presidents’ Trophy — though they did get some help along the way. A series of fortunate results (St. Louis’ 4-1 loss to Phoenix on Friday night, the Rangers’ 4-1 home defeat to Washington on Saturday) gave Vancouver control of its own fate heading into the Oilers game.
And to their credit, the Canucks took full advantage.
Henrik Sedin scored what would prove to be the game-winner midway through the second, his 14th goal of the year, before Samuel Pahlsson and David Booth added insurance markers in the third. Roberto Luongo stopped all 17 shots he faced for his fifth shutout of the year — his highest shutout total since 2008-09 — and barely broke a sweat in a game Vancouver dominated. The Canucks out-shot the Oilers by 25 on the night, including a 12-shot dispartiy (17 to five) in the opening frame.
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Some notes about the Presidents’ Trophy win:
— Vancouver becomes the first team to win back-to-back Presidents’ Trophies since Dallas did it in 1997-98 and 1998-99. (Note: Detroit won in 2003-04 and 2005-06, missing the year between due of the lockout.)
— Since the NHL began handing out the Presidents’ Trophy in 1985-86, only seven teams have gone on to win the Stanley Cup: Edmonton (1986-87), Calgary (1988-89), New York Rangers (1993-94), Dallas (1998-99), Colorado (2000-01), Detroit (2001-02) and Detroit again (2007-08).
— Last year, the Canucks became the first team to win the Presidents’ Trophy and lose in the Stanley Cup finals since the 1995 Red Wings.
Born in Scottsdale, AZ., Auston Matthews has taken the NHL by storm in his rookie season as an elite talent headlining an impressive freshman class.
Taken first overall last June, Matthews made history with four goals in his debut, surely a dizzying experience for Maple Leafs fans accustomed to heartbreak and frustration. And he really hasn’t slowed down since.
On Sunday against the Carolina Hurricanes — and on Hockey Day in America — the 19-year-old Matthews once again put on a show, scoring his 28th goal of the season. That gave Toronto a two-goal lead.
As he’s often done in his brief time in the NHL, this goal was of the spectacular variety, as he broke in off the left wing and, as he was getting hauled down to the ice, slid the puck five-hole on Cam Ward.
Related: Auston Matthews is having a rookie season for the ages
For about a month now, Evander Kane has enjoyed a particularly productive stretch for the Buffalo Sabres.
Kane scored with 5.6 seconds remaining in the first period of Sunday’s game versus the Chicago Blackhawks, converting on a nifty pass from Jack Eichel and going top shelf on Scott Darling.
He now has goals in three straight games, and 15 points in 14 games as the Sabres have fought their way back into the playoff race in the Eastern Conference.
Of course, this latest run comes just before the trade deadline, and Kane’s name has consistently been in speculation about a possible move — in addition to off-ice issues. While GM Tim Murray has said earlier this month that he’s not actively shopping Kane, he also didn’t absolutely rule out trading the 25-year-old left winger, now into his second season in Buffalo.
(Murray: “Is there a crazy deal that somebody could throw at me that would force me to do it? I guess there is.”)
Most impressive about Kane’s numbers — remember he missed time earlier this season with a rib injury and then had a slow start, which drew the ire of the coach — is that he’s done the vast majority of his scoring, 20 of 21 goals, at five-on-five.
The Boston Bruins are back from their bye week, looking to continue a three-game winning streak since Bruce Cassidy took over as head coach from Claude Julien.
The Bruins can extend their streak Sunday, when they visit the San Jose Sharks (8:30 p.m. ET). You can check out the game on NBCSN or online with NBC Sports’ Live Extra.
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Here are some links to check out for tonight’s game:
The NHL’s bye week experiment is still a work in progress
Pre-game reading: Are the Bruins and Avalanche on verge of trade?
Sharks have reason to wait on Thornton, Marleau extensions
Jacob Trouba could be getting a call from the NHL Department of Player Safety for a hit to the head of Ottawa Senators forward Mark Stone.
The incident occurred during the third period of Sunday’s game, as Stone was passing the puck after he entered the zone. Trouba stepped up and delivered a high hit, resulting in only a minor penalty for an illegal check to the head.
Stone, who dealt with a concussion that was reported in September, remained down on the ice before eventually going to the dressing room.
As you can see from the video, Senators coach Guy Boucher was furious officials on the ice decided this was only worth a minor for Trouba.