The Buzzer: Very different first goals for Rangers’ Lafrenière, Capitals’ Chara

The Buzzer: Very different first goals for Rangers' Lafreniere, Capitals' Chara
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Three Stars

1. Petr Mrazek

Maybe score one for rest over rust. Despite the Hurricanes missing more than a week because of COVID complications, Mrazek was sharp on Thursday. Doing so is that much more impressive considering that the Hurricanes had to face the defending champion Lightning.

Sometimes Mrazek can just survive and the Hurricanes will win. In this case, there wasn’t any margin for error. In pitching a 32-save shutout, Mrazek won a 1-0 overtime goalie duel with Andrei Vasilevskiy. (Martin Necas ended up being the only player to score during that game.)

2. Miro Heiskanen

Comment Tron 1.0: “The Stars gave the Red Wings a beating that was about as ugly a their new jerseys.”

– or –

Alternate Comment Tron 2.0: “The only thing sweeter than those Stars’ jerseys was the way they beat up on the poor Red Wings.”

Choose wisely. Your preference will hinge on your tastes, maybe how much Monster Energy Drink/general X-treme marketing you’ve been exposed to, and possibly your rooting interests in this game. (Check this out for the pass or fail on those sweaters.)

Anyway, Heiskanen enjoyed quite the offensive outburst, collecting three assists in this win. He remains a workhorse for the Stars, logging just under 24 minutes on the night. If you prefer, you might choose Denis Gurianov as the top Stars choice for the top stars (gets winded). Gurianov scored a goal and two assists to reach three points in this one, too.

Either way, the Dallas Stars took care of business, and remain the lone NHL team without a loss of any kind this season.

3. Brock Boeser

Speaking of dominant games that can provide different choices for top stars, the Canucks supplied robust options in once again beating the Senators.

Let’s go with Boeser. The winger scored two goals and one assist on Thursday, with his helper ending up being of the primary variety. With a goal and an assist, Elias Pettersson got another needed confidence-booster.

Rather than Pettersson, Braden Holtby probably ranks as the 1B to Boeser’s 1A, though. Holtby made 36 out of 37 saves as the Senators at least put up an effort in another deflating defeat.


NWHL games postponed after Riveters withdraw

The Metropolitan Riveters withdrew from competition after members of the team tested positive for COVID-19. Out of “an abundance of caution,” Thursday’s NWHL games were postponed. As of this moment, the NWHL schedule is expected to resume on Saturday.

CURRENT NWHL SCHEDULE FOR SATURDAY

Saturday’s NWHL schedule begins with the Connecticut Whale vs. the Toronto Six (12 p.m. ET), followed by the Minnesota Whitecaps against the Buffalo Beauts (3 p.m. ET). All games can be streamed on the league’s Twitch channel.

NWHL STANDINGS
1. Whitecaps – 6 points (3-0-0; +3 goal differential)
2. Six– 5 points (2-1-1; even goal differential)
3. Whale – 4 points (2-1-0; +3 goal differential)
4. Pride – 2 point (1-3-0; -2 goal differential)
5. Beauts – 1 point (0-2-1; -6 goal differential)

Riveters – 4 points (2-1-0; +3 goal differential) (withdrawn)

The single-elimination Isobel Cup Semifinals will be shown live on Thursday, Feb. 4 at 5:30 p.m. ET and 8:30 p.m. ET. The winners of the semifinals will advance to the Isobel Cup Final on Friday, Feb. 5 at 7 p.m. ET. In addition to coverage on NBCSN, live coverage will stream exclusively on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app.


Highlights from Thursday night in the NHL

Very different firsts for Chara, Lafrenière

On one end of the spectrum, Alexis Lafrenière scored the very first goal of what’s expected to be a promising NHL career. Lafrenière collected his first goal in memorable fashion, too, finishing off an overtime chance for a thriller:

Meanwhile, 43-year-old Zdeno Chara scored his first goal … with the Capitals. Honestly, the best part was how excited Chara’s Capitals teammates were for him. Guess they like that “The Big Z” is in DC?

Goal of the night

Goodness, Blue Jackets forward Alexandre Texier has … moxy.

Lowlight of Thursday night in the NHL

It’s been great to see Kevin Fiala really flourish with the Wild. He showed flashes of brilliance with the Predators, but either couldn’t get it done, didn’t get enough chances, or a combination of those factors.

But let’s not see more of hits like this dangerous one, which will surely get extra looks from the Department of Player Safety:

It was a tough night for the Kings overall.

NHL scores

Bruins 4, Penguins 1
Rangers 3, Sabres 2 (OT)
Flyers 3, Devils 1
Capitals 6, Islanders 3
Hurricanes 1, Lightning 0 (OT)
Blue Jackets 3, Panthers 2 (SO)
Canadiens 4, Flames 2
Wild 5, Kings 3
Stars 7, Red Wings 3
Avalanche 3, Sharks 0
Coyotes 3, Ducks 2
Maple Leafs 4, Oilers 3
Canucks 4, Senators 1
Golden Knights – Blues postponed

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

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