1. Mitch Marner
People, especially Maple Leafs fans, will hammer Toronto for only beating the Senators by one goal after losing to them on Friday. There can definitely be some cherry-picking involved with that, as Matt Murray made 37 saves in narrow defeat.
Either way, the Maple Leafs absolutely needed Marner and the top line, and they delivered. All three members of that top line scored their first goals of the season. Marner made a great play to set up Joe Thornton‘s first tally. Marner found the net for Toronto’s second goal, and nabbed the primary assist on Auston Matthews‘ power-play game-winner.
Again, people aren’t going to give Marner and other highly-paid Maple Leafs a lot of leeway. But Saturday reminded many in the NHL why the Maple Leafs spend so much on Marner, Matthews, and others.
Toronto’s leaning on those big guns, too. Marner logged an impressive 23:46 TOI, which remarkably ranks as his lowest total of this young season.
2. Carey Price
Price’s shutout bid got spoiled by a late Slater Koekkoek goal. Even so, he played an integral role in the Canadiens beating the Oilers handily by a score of 5-1. It could have easily been a back-and-forth affair, instead.
Hey, if OEL’s sticking around in a Coyotes uniform, he might as well make the most of it.
The Coyotes avenged their shootout loss to the Sharks with an early Saturday win. Oliver Ekman-Larsson collected three assists, all primary, in this win. Last season, OEL played poorly defensively, and wasn’t as productive as usual offensively, either. Maybe he can rebound, whether that opens a window to stay with the Coyotes, or helps him get out the door?
Top NHL highlights from Saturday
That wasn’t the only NHL game that fell apart late for a California team. The Ducks nursed a 1-0 lead against the Golden Knights, but William Karlsson managed to send it to OT. From there, Mark Stone sent a beautiful pass to Max Pacioretty to win it for Vegas off of the overtime-opening faceoff:
Tim Stützle scored his first NHL goal with style, and great hand-eye coordination:
The NHL announced the following COVID-related absences for Saturday. (Teams without absences are not listed.)
Anaheim – Ben Hutton
Carolina – Jordan Staal
Columbus – Mikko Koivu
Dallas – will be released prior to its first game
Detroit – Christian Djoos
Minnesota – Alex Stalock
Nashville – Mikael Granlund
New Jersey – Eric Comrie
Philadelphia – Shayne Gostisbehere
Pittsburgh – Kasperi Kapanen
Tampa Bay – Curtis McElhinney
Winnipeg – Anton Forsberg; Tucker Poolman
NHL scores from Saturday
Devils 2, Bruins 1 (OT)
Coyotes 5, Sharks 3
Rangers 5, Islanders 0
Red Wings 4, Hurricanes 2
Maple Leafs 3, Senators 2
Canadiens 5, Oilers 1
Predators 5, Blue Jackets 2
Wild 4, Kings 3 (OT)
Flames 3, Canucks 0
Golden Knights 2, Ducks 1 (OT)