Patrik Laine is the NHL’s first star of the week.
In four games, the Winnipeg rookie scored five goals to help the Jets to a 3-0-1 record and propel them back into the playoff race.
Laine also had three assists. With eight points total, he beat out Toronto’s Nazem Kadri and Edmonton’s Connor McDavid, the second and third stars of the week, respectively.
From the NHL:
[Laine] recorded his third career hat trick, including the winning goal, in a 5-2 triumph over the Dallas Stars Feb. 14. In doing so, Laine became the first player in NHL history to register three hat tricks before his 19th birthday as well as the first rookie to collect three hat tricks in one season since 1992-93. He scored again in a 4-3 overtime loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins Feb. 16. Laine then finished the week with consecutive multi-point efforts, notching 1-1—2 in a 3-1 victory over the Montreal Canadiens Feb. 18 and two assists in a 3-2 win against the Ottawa Senators Feb. 19. The 18-year-old Tampere, Finland, native paces rookies with 52 points in 54 games this season and also shares third place in the entire NHL – as well as the rookie lead – with 28 goals.
The Jets are now only one point back of Calgary for the second wild-card spot in the West; however, the Flames do hold three games in hand.
The Ottawa Senators have called up some reinforcements from the AHL.
Forwards Casey Bailey and Max McCormick are on their way to the big club, in the wake of Sunday’s 3-2 loss to the Jets that saw Mike Hoffman, Mark Stone and Tommy Wingels all leave with injuries.
The Sens also went into yesterday’s game without winger Bobby Ryan, who’s out indefinitely with a hand injury.
No word yet on the status of Hoffman, Stone, or Wingels, but head coach Guy Boucher wasn’t all that optimistic yesterday.
“It doesn’t look good,” Boucher told reporters. “We have to wait until tomorrow to be clear and precise but right now we could be losing quite a few guys.”
The Sens kick off a four-game road trip tomorrow in New Jersey. They currently sit second in the Atlantic Division, but not that far ahead of Boston, Toronto, and Florida.
Related: Jacob Trouba will have a hearing for head shot on Mark Stone
If the Toronto Maple Leafs make the playoffs, special teams will be one of the big reasons why.
Three quarters of the way through the season, the Leafs boast the NHL’s top power play, and their ninth-ranked penalty killing isn’t too bad either.
When the PP and PK are combined, Toronto has the best special teams in the league, followed closely by the Bruins, Blues, and Capitals.
Here’s how all 30 teams rank (best and worst PP and PK in bold):
As you can see, the bottom of the list is full of teams who will miss the playoffs. The Stars’ penalty killing has been particularly dreadful. In fact, Dallas is on pace to have the worst PK of the salary-cap era.
The red-hot Florida Panthers can move back into a playoff spot with a win tonight in St. Louis.
Beat the Blues and they’ll also go a perfect five-for-five on a very tough road trip.
The Panthers, after completing the California sweep Saturday in Los Angeles, fell out of a playoff spot Sunday when the Maple Leafs and Bruins won.
The standings show it’s going to be fascinating stretch drive in the Atlantic Division. At most, four Atlantic teams are going to make the playoffs. That means one of Montreal, Ottawa, Boston, Toronto, or Florida will miss.
“We just want to keep ‘er going right now,” said goalie Roberto Luongo, per the Miami Herald. “We have a lot of work to do. … We know we’re in a battle right now and every game is going to be key, going to feel like a do-or-die game for our club. But it should be a fun couple of months here; we should enjoy the ride and take it one game at a time.”
On their trip, the Panthers have been led in scoring by Aleksander Barkov, Jonathan Huberdeau, and Vincent Trocheck, each with six points. Barkov has four goals, including the game-winner against the Kings.
Related: “It looks like a disaster” for the Ottawa Senators
The Pittsburgh Penguins — in the wake of Olli Maatta’s surgery — have recalled a pair of defensemen, Cameron Gaunce and Steve Oleksy, from AHL Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.
The fact two d-men were recalled also calls into question the status of Justin Schultz.
Schultz was forced to leave last night’s victory over Winnipeg after turning his back on Jets defenseman Dustin Byfuglien, who proceeded to drive Schultz into the glass from behind.
The way Schultz’s head hit the glass, there’s reason to wonder if he suffered a concussion on the play. The 26-year-old is enjoying a fine season with the Pens, with nine goals and 30 assists in 56 games.
The Pens are in Columbus to take on the Blue Jackets tonight.