Maybe Matt Puempel really will flourish now that he’s with the New York Rangers after struggling to accomplish much of anything with the Ottawa Senators.
He indicated as much upon his departure from Ottawa, and Thursday served as his creative peak; the 23-year-old generated his first hat trick as the Rangers beat the Arizona Coyotes 6-3.
Remarkably, all three of Puempel’s goals came on the power play. Here’s video of the trio:
In 13 games with the Senators this season, he couldn’t generated a point. Last night represented his 12th game with the Rangers, where things are going much better, especially lately. He has four goals and one assist in his last four games despite limited ice time.
(Speaking of that, 4:05 of his 12:20 in ice time came on the man advantage. Perhaps Alain Vigneault sees Puempel as a Sam Gagner-type specialist?)
It’s still unclear if Puempel will be able to make good on his potential as the 24th pick of the 2011 NHL Draft, but the Rangers look pretty bright for giving him a chance.
Patrick Kane’s 700th point makes difference for Blackhawks vs. Predators
In case you’re wondering, Kane hit 700 points in the 696th regular season game of his outstanding NHL career. He also has 121 points in 123 career postseason games. Number 88 now has 37 points in 38 games this season.
New Year’s Eve showdown set: Blue Jackets win 14th in a row, Wild get 12th
If you love sports, how could you root against this scenario?
It was slowly dawning on many in the hockey world that, with wins in their respective Thursday games, the Minnesota Wild could very well host the Columbus Blue Jackets in a game between teams on ridiculous winning streaks. Hockey fans will indeed enjoy that rare treat on New Year’s Eve.
The Blue Jackets draw the loudest headlines, and that seems fair since they’ve won more games (now 14 in a row) and they’ve often blown out their opponents to an almost shocking degree.
The Winnipeg Jets avoided getting blown out tonight, but with two different three-goal leads, Columbus clearly had the edge in an eventual 5-3 win.
With that, the Blue Jackets have won every game in December; their winning streak began on Nov. 29. You could say that Columbus is putting up some real eye-popping numbers.
Wild fans have been grumbling “What about us?” for a while, although they’re no longer under the radar by any stretch. They won their 12th game in a row by edging the New York Islanders in a pretty (cough) wild 6-4 win.
You usually need some bounces and plot twists to go your way to win 10+ wins; in today’s case, the Wild won in part thanks to scoring three goals in 80 seconds.
You don’t often see two teams this hot face off like this, and things fall into place nicely being that it’s happening on the weekend.
If you love the sport (or really even merely occasionally enjoy a little hockey, honestly), you’d be wise to work that game into your schedule on that holiday night. It could be a memorable evening, as two astounding, unexpected streaks will be on the line.
Matthews scored the opening goal and assisted on another Kadri overtime game-winner as the Maple Leafs edged the Tampa Bay Lightning 3-2 in OT.
With that, the Maple Leafs won all four games of their just-concluded road trip. In doing so, they took a point from a Bolts squad that needs to make the most of their home dates.
Matthews’ goal was one of those displays that prompts people to wonder how, in the world, he’s only a rookie:
William Nylander factored into Kadri’s overtime-winner, too, continuing the theme of young and almost-as-young players coming through:
The Leafs edged the Lightning in shots on goal by a margin of 35-27, so it’s not like this was a matter of timely scoring alone.
This is a real confidence-boosting run for the Leafs with a challenging start to 2017 looming. They face the hype and distractions of the 2017 Centennial Classic as a “home game” and then follow that with four of five on the road.
That isn’t easy, but Toronto has immediate evidence that they can keep rolling even with a tough stretch of scheduling breaks. That’s the sort of confidence that can make you, well, dangerous.
Working out the Kinkaid: Devils steal one from Capitals via shootout
Just about every number indicated that the Washington Capitals should have beaten the New Jersey Devils in a walk.
The Capitals dominated the shots on goal by a margin of 44-27. New Jersey had lost its last seven games against Washington. The Caps are in the thick of the Metropolitan Division race while the Devils are closer to being a cellar dweller.
All logic would point to Washington winning, but instead, Kinkaid played one of his best games in the NHL and the Devils won 2-1 via a shootout on Thursday.
The Devils were 1-8-1 in their last 10 games coming into Thursday and only had four wins since Nov. 15, so this win must bring some serious relief (even if they probably got a little lucky).
Washington, meanwhile, must be feeling a little frustrated. It seemed like the Capitals were regaining their dominant form with a six-game winning streak from Dec. 5-16, but they’ve now lost four of their last five games (1-2-2).
The two teams meet again in New Jersey on New Year’s Eve, so we’ll see how their efforts compare in these two games.