1. Jonathan Drouin / Phillip Danault
These two Montreal Canadiens forwards were Thursday’s two four-point producers. Drouin scored two goals and two assists, while Danault generated a goal and three helpers.
If you had to pick one for the top spot, it would probably be Drouin, as it really stands out how emphatic and confident he was. The once-maligned forward fired a whopping nine shot on goal, helping Montreal overwhelm Winnipeg.
(The Jets were not happy.)
There were a ton of very strong three-point performances on Thursday, but for the next two spots, goalies win out.
Yes, the Ducks are terrible right now. On many nights, Anaheim’s been out-shot, even when the Ducks have fallen behind by quite a bit early on. Teams likely eased off the gas a bit, and the Ducks still didn’t put much pressure on opponents.
Thursday was a little different.
Nilsson needed to make 45 saves in this one, including a 1-0 first period where the Ducks generated a 17-8 SOG advantage. That’s quite the shutout, even against a team that’s basically in crisis mode.
Hey, when you beat Andrei Vasilevskiy in a goalie duel, you’re doing something right.
OK, Vasilevskiy had this save and made 38 overall, but Binnington generated a 32-save shutout. The Blues needed every one of those in a 1-0 OT win, and Binnington delivered.
It’s also something of a “week-time” achievement award. Binnington’s been a huge part of the Blues’ bold surge back into the West postseason picture, and this win really highlighted that. Binnington’s only allowed four goals during a four-game winning streak, and his save percentage is now at .931 over 12 games.
Feel free to make other arguments in the comments, as Thursday was just brimming with great performances.
One not-so-great performance, though:
Boudreau’s had it
Things are tense, and Bruce Boudreau has already been trying to squeeze every point out of a so-so roster. With that in mind, it’s not surprising that he’s losing his cool, but he really let players like Mikael Granlund have it after Minnesota fell 4-1 to the also-struggling Edmonton Oilers.
” … There’s some players there that are just a shell of the players I’ve known for the last two-and-a-half years,” Boudreau said during a grim presser.
Did Boudreau also make a sly “Seinfeld” reference?
If things really get bad, maybe Boudreau quits one day, then tries to walk into the locker room as if nothing happened?
Highlights of the Night
Anton Khudobin gave Vasilevskiy serious competition for save of the night.
Connor Hellebuyck made a beautiful stop, too. He was a Winnipeg Jet who showed up.
Mathew Barzal with a beauty.
With so many games on Thursday, there were some injuries and other developments that might become clearer on Friday or the weekend.
But we already know of some scary moments. Evgeny Kuznetsov seems to have avoided injury after a highly questionable Ian Cole hit, but Cole was punched many, many times for doing so, thanks to Tom Wilson. The Ducks also must cross their fingers after John Gibson was accidentally walloped by a teammate.
Finally, there’s this scare for Oilers defenseman Kris Russell.
- Patrick Kane became the sixth player in the NHL this season to generate a point streak of at last 13 games. He’s also had at least one assist in 12 straight, two away from tying Stan Mikita for the Blackhawks record.
Speaking of records, the Blackhawks are suddenly looking more viable thanks to a six-game winning streak. The standings don’t look that promising yet, but Chicago’s chances have at least risen above laughable all of a sudden.
Considering how dire things looked at times this season, being two points back of the second wild-card team (St. Louis) is impressive. The caveats are crucial and obvious: there are teams ahead, and most have games in hand advantages. But ask those Blues and they’ll tell you that things can turn around quickly, at least considering how lousy the West bubble teams have often been.
- Elias Pettersson ranks among 11 players who’ve managed 25 goals or more through 44 games before turning 21. That’s a very specific stat, but he joined a list that includes Wayne Gretzky, Alex Ovechkin, Mike Bossy, Eric Lindros … and his buddy Brock Boeser.
- Brent Burns joins a list of seven defensemen who’ve generated at least 50 assists in just 55 games.
- Carey Price is on a seven-game winning streak with a .955 save percentage during that span.
CAR 6 – BUF 5 (OT)
FLA 3 – PIT 2 (OT)
NYI 2 – NJD 1 (SO)
LAK 3 – PHI 2 (SO)
WSH 4 – COL 3 (OT)
MTL 5 – WPG 2
OTT 4 – ANA 0
VGK 4 – DET 3
STL 1 – TBL 0 (OT)
NSH 3 – DAL 2 (OT)
EDM 4 – MIN 1
CHI 4 – VAN 3 (OT)
SJS 5 – CGY 2
CBJ 4 – ARI 2