1. Nikita Kucherov, Tampa Bay Lightning
I mean, what is there to say about Kucherov that hasn’t already been said?
Kucherov was in fine form again on Monday, scoring twice and adding three assists in a five-point effort that left him one-point shy of 100 on the season. He’s played 60 games now.
The point totals are insane. He seems to be a lock for the Art Ross, and likely the Hart, too. The only real question is what that final total will be in 22 games’ time? With assists like these…
2. Alex DeBrincat, Chicago Blackhawks
DeBrincat match Kucherov’s five-point total with a hat trick and two assists in a wild 8-7 win for the Blackhawks against the Ottawa Senators.
In just his second year in the NHL, DeBrincat has 32 goals and 60 points in 60 games this season, surpassing his 28-goal, 52-point totals from his rookie season a year ago.
He has six goals and 12 points in his past six games now.
The Blackhawks are now just one point back of a playoff spot.
3. Joe Thornton, San Jose Sharks
Semyon Varlamov had a shutout, but 39-year-old Thornton grabbed his first hat trick since 2010 so he gets here by default.
It was Oct. 27, 2010, against the New Jersey Devils, precisely, when Thornton last bludged the twine three times. There was no beard then, no gray hairs either. Just Jumbo Joe, only eight years younger.
Thornton turned back the clock in Monday’s 6-5 overtime loss to the Bruins. It won’t be as sweet, especially after how the Sharks ended up losing, but it was impressive nonetheless.
Highlights of the night
Hands of Kucherov:
Flames 5, Coyotes 2
Lightning 5, Blue Jackets 1
Blackhawks 8, Senators 7
Avalanche 3, Golden Knights 0
Bruins 6, Sharks 5 (OT)
Capitals 3, Kings 2
Add the Boston Bruins and San Jose Sharks to Stanley Cup Final matchups that would be epic.
This game was great and ridiculous in so many ways.
The Bruins led 4-2 at one point, trailed 5-4 in the third after going over 20 minutes without a shot on goal, tied the game on a goal that shouldn’t have counted and then won 6-5 in overtime to rub it all in the faces of the San Jose Sharks on NBCSN on Monday.
Pete DeBoer coached his 800th game on Monday and it appeared he was headed for a nice win to cap it off. But he quickly turned incensed with 1:49 left in the third period when the Bruins tied the game 5-5.
The goal was a clear high stick from Chris Wagner but the referees chose not to review the play, effectively sending the game to overtime.
The goal flustered the Sharks.
In overtime, Evander Kane was heading for a clear cut breakaway when the net behind Tuukka Rask was found to be off its moorings. The play was halted, further frustrating San Jose (even though replays show it was Kane who dislodged it earlier in his shift).
And then Charlie McAvoy drove home the final dagger with 1:01 left on the OT clock.
The ending was so crazy that we haven’t even gotten to Joe Thornton and his hat trick.
Yes, one of the NHL’s elder statesmen potted his first treble since Oct. 27, 2010, when his beard was merely stubble and all one color.
Unlikely? Yes. Impossible? Nope. Even at 39, Thornton continues to be a special player.
The Bruins rolled in SAP Center in San Jose riding a five-game winning streak and a 10-game point streak and looked like they were heading, easily at first, to a season-long sixth straight win.
They led 3-0 in the first period (and it could have been four if not for this save by Marc-Edouard Vlasic — which may have not actually been a save at all) before Thornton clawed one back with three seconds remaining in the frame.
Jumbo Joe’s first sparked the Sharks out of the intermission and Joe Pavelski reduced the deficit to one with his 32nd on the power play. The Bruins answered four minutes later through Jake DeBrusk. With a 4-2 lead, the Bruins’ sticks fell silent.
For the next 20-plus minutes, it was San Jose who dictated the play and all of the shots.
By the time the Bruins had their first shot on goal in the third period, the game was tied. A few moments later, Thornton tallied his hat trick and the Sharks led 5-4.
The Sharks dropped just their second game in their past nine, but the loss keeps them one point back of the Calgary Flames for the top spot in the Pacific Division.
The Bruins, meanwhile, tighten their grip on second place in the Atlantic Divison. They now lead the Toronto Maple Leafs by three points, although Toronto has two games in hand.
Fifteen total goals.
Four goalies used.
Twenty-three skaters with at least a point.
No, this wasn’t the aftermath of a seven-game series in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Instead, it was a Monday night sizzler between the Chicago Blackhawks and visiting Ottawa Senators — a wild and wacky affair that, when the dust settled, saw the Blackhawks emerge with an 8-7 victory.
The game had five goals combined within the first 7:55 of the opening period. By the time the 17:46 mark came, there were nine goals scored, and there was 12 lamps lighted just after the halfway point of the game.
Here’s a quick summary:
- OTT – Ryan – 2:06
- OTT – Balcers – 2:40
- CHI – DeBrincat – 3:54
- CHI – DeBrincat – 5:07
- OTT – White – 7:55
- CHI – Kane – 12:36
- CHI – Strome – 13:22
- CHI – Saad – 14:53
- OTT – Stone – 17:46
- OTT – White – 1:32
- CHI – DeBrincat – 8:19
- CHI – Forsling – 10:31
- CHI – Toews – 3:51
- OTT – Chabot – 9:01
- OTT – Chabot – 14:43
And here’s the full breakdown from the NHL game sheet.
Chicago shot at a 19 percent success rate, edging out Ottawa’s 18.4 shooting percentage in the game.
The puck dropped in the game at 7:38 CT and the final horn didn’t sound until 10:11.
The difference between a goal and a save can come down to mere millimeters sometimes.
This one, however, came down to a razor’s edge.
The Boston Bruins came within less than of scoring a goal in the first period of their game against the San Jose Sharks on NBCSN on Monday when Charlie McAvoy‘s point shot flirted with the edge of the goal line at the 7:32 mark.
The puck appeared to teeter on the goal line before Marc-Edouard Vlasic swatted out of the net. You be the judge on the above video evidence. It’s so incredibly close.
To the referee’s credit, he immediately waved no goal, a testament to his hawkish eyesight. He was right. Video review determined that the puck, somehow, did not cross the line.
The game continued until the 10:13 mark before the play was reviewed.
The call didn’t seem to faze the Bruins, who scored three straight and led 3-1 after the first period.