1. Brad Marchand – Bad news for those who believed Marchand should have been suspended for jumping Lars Eller during Washington’s 7-0 trouncing of Boston: Marchand didn’t just play on Thursday. Instead, he was dominant.
Marchand assisted on all four of the Bruins’ goals in a 4-0 win against the Buffalo Sabres, with three of his four helpers being of the primary nature. The pesky winger also registered a +3 rating.
Maybe Marchand was feeling a little deferential on Thursday, as he piled up all of those assists yet didn’t fire a single shot on goal.
The Bruins’ other strong candidate for three star treatment was Jaroslav Halak, who stopped all 32 shots for his first shutout (and win) with Boston.
2. Kris Letang – From Patrick Kane to Artemi Panarin to Mathew Barzal, plenty of star players opened their 2018-19 seasons with overtime game-winning goals. Letang probably enjoyed the most impressive night of anyone in that group, as he finished with two goals and one assist, with that OTGWG included in the mix.
Letang had a busy night with the Penguins, delivering two hits, blocking two shots, and logging almost eight minutes of time on the power play alone.
It’s tantalizing to imagine what Letang might be able to accomplish if he’s anywhere near full health in 2018-19. This is a player with four 50+ point and five 10+ goal seasons to his name, even as injuries have often hounded his career. A three-point evening certainly propels him to a strong start.
3. Connor Hellebuyck – Maybe last season’s breakthrough was the tip of the iceberg, not a fluke?
While Hellebuyck didn’t nab a shutout like other three star candidates did (Halak and Ben Bishop), the Jets goalie stopped 41 shots, and only allowed Vince Dunn‘s goal when the game was essentially decided.
At the other end of the ice, embattled Blues starter Jake Allen received a “Bronx cheer” from St. Louis fans when he finally made a save after some serious struggles, and it couldn’t have helped matters to see Hellebuyck playing so well in opposition.
The new-look Blues seem like the sort of team that could really push the Jets, at least when the goaltending is comparable. Hellebuyck made sure that it would, instead, be quite lopsided.
Highlights of the Night
Alex Radulov‘s celebration was almost as entertaining as his goal. Almost.
Maxime Lajoie made his mom cry tears of joy as he scored in his NHL debut:
Plenty of hockey fans love when the Capitals and Penguins trade goal after goal, and chance after chance. If you want that to continue, maybe hide this from anyone who works for the Caps:
It might not be such a bad thing for Alex Ovechkin, though, as he keeps climbing the all-time goal ranks.
Bruins 4, Sabres 0
Penguins 7, Capitals 6 (OT)
Islanders 2, Hurricanes 1 (OT)
Predators 3, Rangers 2
Blue Jackets 3, Red Wings 2 (OT)
Blackhawks 4, Senators 3 (OT)
Jets 5, Blues 1
Stars 3, Coyotes 0
Avalanche 4, Wild 1
Flyers 5, Golden Knights 2