1. Patrik Laine, Winnipeg Jets
Consider a handful of Jets as the true recipients of this first star.
To begin, Laine generated a hat trick on Saturday. This marks the eighth hat trick of Laine’s young career, although it’s remarkably his first since Nov. 24, 2018. Laine improved to 51 points (in 54 games) this season, already exceeding last season’s 50. As promising as it is to see Laine become more of a playmaker, it also must be thrilling to see him fill the net like he did against Ottawa:
Other Jets give Laine plenty of competition for the first star of that win, and of Saturday in general. Kyle Connor actually scored more points with four, collecting one goal and three assists. Neal Pionk authored a three-point game of his own (1G, 2A). Laine nabbed a hat trick, including the game-winner, giving him a slight edge.
(Interestingly, Laine scored all three goals on the power play.)
2. Sean Couturier, Philadelphia Flyers
Couturier comes out on top in another situation where multiple teammates present an argument. Couturier generated one more goal (2G, 1) than Claude Giroux (1G, 2A) as both managed three-point outputs.
And, really, Couturier deserves all the plaudits one can provide as a perennial Selke candidate. Beyond the three points, Couturier enjoyed a +2 rating, fired five SOG, and went 14-4 on faceoffs. Even casual hockey fans should know Couturier is a star by now.
Coutrier and the Flyers blew the game open during this stretch, pushing Alex Ovechkin‘s pursuit of 700 to Monday.
3. Dillon Dube, Calgary Flames
It was tough to leave Mackenzie Blackwood (37-save shutout) and Jake Gardiner (three assists in Carolina’s comeback) out of the three stars.
Dube factored heavily in Calgary’s win and Vancouver’s fourth loss in a row on Saturday, however. Dube scored the game-winning goal and two assists, not needing an empty-netter to pump up his totals.
If Dube can put together NHL-quality work down the stretch, it would be huge for Calgary. He’s been a productive AHL scorer (at least a point-per-game in 2018-19 and 2019-20). There would be serious value in Dube merely becoming a useful supporting cast member for the depth-challenged Flames.
McDavid gets an injury scare
The Oilers are no strangers to crossing their fingers about Connor McDavid‘s knees. McDavid suffered a scare on Saturday, but the early word is optimistic. Dave Tippett told reporters that McDavid only suffered a bruised knee, and that it’s nothing serious.
Still, it’s a situation to watch, what with McDavid getting the knee iced during the game and also afterward.
The Blues announced that Chris Pronger’s number 44 will be retired. It’s remarkable to ponder just how much Pronger accomplished with the Blues — including winning a Hart Trophy — and yet just as many people remember him most for impressive playoff runs with the Ducks, Oilers, and Flyers.
(On that note: I still believe Pronger should own at least one Conn Smythe Trophy.)
Saturday’s other best highlight
Honestly, this warrants a mention for Ilya Kovalchuk‘s celebration alone. It’s as if Kovalchuk is a totally new person (or his old self?) with the Montreal Canadiens.
- Kovalchuk moved into third place in NHL history with his 17th overtime goal (Sportsnet Stats).
- Blackwood became the second Devil to generate shutouts in consecutive appearances. Good luck catching Martin Brodeur, though, being that he’s done so on eight different occasions. (NHL PR)
- Nikita Kucherov ranks as the fifth player during the last 30 years to generate at least five different point streaks of 10+ games during the span of three seasons. Wayne Gretzky managed six from 1989-90 through 1991-92. (NHL PR)
- Tanner Pearson continues to quietly produce for the Canucks. He’s tied for the second-highest total of points on the team since Nov. 12 with 34. (Sportsnet Stats)
- Giroux generated his 800th regular-season point on Saturday. That places him fourth in Flyers history, and only 83 behind Bill Barber for second. Bobby Clarke will be tough to catch at 1,210, though. (NHL PR)
WPG 5 – OTT 2
BOS 4 – ARI 2
MTL 2 – TOR 1 (OT)
TBL 3 – NYI 1
PIT 3 – FLA 2
NJD 3 – LAK 0
PHI 7 – WSH 2
COL 2 – CBJ 1
EDM 3 – NSH 2
DAL 3 – STL 2 (OT)
CGY 6 – VAN 2
CAR 6 – VGK 5 (SO)
James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.