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‘He’s an amazing kid’ — Ehlers buries the Canucks with two great goals

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With all the attention Patrik Laine gets in Winnipeg, it can be easy to overlook another budding star on the Jets.

But it wasn’t easy to overlook Nikolaj Ehlers last night in Vancouver. Though Laine did score his 19th of the season, it was Ehlers who tallied the winner early in the third period, making a great defensive play to intercept a Henrik Sedin pass, then racing down the ice to beat Ryan Miller with a perfect shot.

Later in the third, the 20-year-old winger added an insurance marker, leading the Jets to an eventual 4-1 win over the Canucks.

Ehlers now has nine goals and 20 assists in 36 games. For comparison’s sake, his 29 points are one more than Jamie Benn, Ryan Kesler, Brad Marchand, and Ryan Getzlaf each have.

“You know what? On chance generation, Nicky’s probably led our hockey team,” said Jets coach Paul Maurice. “He’s just been in alone so many times and he hasn’t got any breaks around the net. He’s still generated points. He just hasn’t put the puck past the ‘tender.”

“He’s an amazing kid,” Laine said of his Danish linemate, the ninth overall pick in the 2014 draft. “I haven’t seen a guy who can skate like that. He has really good hands, and like everybody saw, he can also score.”

Ehlers really showed off those good hands on his second goal. The Jets were on the power play, and they worked it down low. He took a pass to the left of Miller, darted out front and roofed it for a 3-1 lead.

“I tried to put it backdoor to Patrik first, but he didn’t want to score,” Ehlers deadpanned to reporters. “So I knew that the D was going to cheat a little bit…and just did it myself.”

With the win, the Jets entered their Christmas break with a 16-17-3 record. Though they struggled for much of November and December, they’ve managed to win three of their last four, putting them within a point of the final wild-card spot in the West.

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Ducks take control of second in Pacific after edging Oilers

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Connor McDavid was fantastic on Wednesday, but the Anaheim Ducks overcame his strong showing for a significant win in the Pacific.

McDavid scored a goal and two assists, yet Ryan Getzlaf was right there with him with three assists, helping the Ducks win 4-3.

With that, Anaheim is clearly ahead of Edmonton for second in the Pacific. The Ducks would hold home-ice over the Oilers if the playoffs began today, and better yet for them, a division title isn’t out of the question:

1. Sharks – 91 points in 73 games played
2. Ducks – 89 points in 73 GP
3. Oilers – 87 points in 73 GP
4. Flames – 86 points in 73 GP

As you can see, the Oilers aren’t exactly far ahead of the Flames for third, either.

Going forward, the Oilers have an interesting schedule: a mix of games against cellar dwellers (two apiece against the Canucks and Avalanche) plus two games apiece versus the Kings and Sharks.

The Ducks’ schedule includes two matches against the Flames, one against the Kings and one more match at Edmonton on April 1.

Long story short, the jockeying for position is far from over, but this was a pretty significant win for the Ducks.

Video: Connor McDavid shows off speed and skill (again)

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Connor McDavid‘s 26th goal of 2016-17 was a lot like many others: an impressive display of skill and speed. He didn’t blaze past the Anaheim Ducks like has against opponents on other occasions, but his rare wheels still came in handy.

Maybe more than sheer speed, this tally is a reminder that McDavid could do impressive things while losing little or no momentum. It’s one thing to have straight-line speed, but he has the hands and hockey IQ to take advantage of his swift skating.

McDavid already has two points in this one, pushing him to 84 points. He also extended his point streak to five games (three goals, six assists if he stays at one of each on Wednesday).

Islanders grab precious points by beating Rangers

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The goal posts might move from time to time – now they’re chasing the Boston Bruins more than the Toronto Maple Leafs – but the bottom line is that the New York Islanders need to get it done to make the playoffs.

They still have some climbing to do, but Wednesday represented a step in the right direction with a tough 3-2 win against the New York Rangers.

The Rangers built 1-0 and 2-1 leads in the second period as John Tavares struggled with a “hat trick” of penalties, but Tavares & Co. wouldn’t give up. They managed two power-play goals in the third (one by Nikolay Kulemin, the winner by Andrew Ladd) to turn things around for a significant win.

Anders Lee was also a big part of the win, grabbing a goal and an assist. The biggest difference-maker may very well have been Thomas Greiss, who stopped 34 of 36 shots (including all 11 in the third) as the Rangers created a lot of offense.

The Islanders now have 80 standings points, placing them two behind the Bruins for the East’s final wild card spot.

The Rangers’ hold over the first wild card seems quite secure, but they do have to worry ever so slightly about their play at home. With this defeat, they’ve now lost seven straight (0-5-2) at Madison Square Garden.

Video: Rick Nash scores 20th goal in sprawling style

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Rick Nash has his critics stemming from his playoff struggles in the past, but for those who support him, moments like these are satisfying.

Why? Because you’d be absurd to discredit how hard he tries when Nash scores goals like he did for the New York Rangers against the New York Islanders on Wednesday.

Nash went all-out for his 20th goal of the season, sprawling after scoring against Thomas Greiss. It’s quite a sight, and Getty Images really was on top of that one.

via Getty Images

The Rangers may need more from him tonight, however, as the Islanders just went up 3-2. Watch the remainder of the contest on NBCSN.