NHL Three Stars from Tuesday
1. Kevin Lankinen, Chicago Blackhawks
There were plenty of strong goaltending performances from around the NHL on Tuesday. Sergei Bobrovsky even bounced back from a pretty hideous goal allowed. Lankinen even witnessed a strong goaltending performance at the other end of the ice, as Jake Oettinger helped the Stars push the Blackhawks to overtime.
But Lankinen continues to be a most-unexpected success story, at least early in the season for the Blackhawks.
By stopping 34 out of 35 shots, Lankinen improved his record to 5-1-3. That might not sound like much, until you remember how sorry the Blackhawks look many nights. He ranked third in Goals Saved Against Average at 6.28 even before tonight. This performance pushed the goalie’s save percentage to a lofty .933 through eight games.
For what it’s worth, the 25-year-old put up strong numbers in Finland in 2016-17 and 2017-18. As Lankinen’s gotten closer to the Blackhawks’ orbit via some time with the Rockford IceHogs, his numbers have been … fine. So maybe there’s a chance the Blackhawks found something in Lankinen, but the sample size is small.
Even with those caveats out of the way, this has been quite something. It’s tempting to wonder if Lankinen might play so well, the Blackhawks might want to trade him. (In case you’re wondering, this isn’t a contract year. Via Cap Friendly, Lankinen is under contract for $800K next season, matching his 2020-21 AAV with the Blackhawks.)
2. Dustin Brown, Los Angeles Kings
Look, Dustin Brown isn’t what he once was. You can use that phrase for Brown, and really many other remaining Kings from that two-Stanley-Cup run (including Jeff Carter, Jonathan Quick, Drew Doughty, and to the least extent, Anze Kopitar).
Every now and then, Brown can turn back the clock to when he was a nuisance for opponents, and a captain for the Kings. Tuesday was one of those nights.
Brown scored two goals and one assist, firing four shots on goal. As usual, Brown was busy in other areas, getting credited with three hits and one blocked shot.
3. Steven Stamkos, and the Tampa Bay Lightning as a whole
Seeing Stamkos reach three points doesn’t present the same level of novelty as Dustin Brown doing it. Especially in 2021. Especially as the Lightning totally confound the overmatched Predators. Also, they already received a lot of the spotlight already on Tuesday.
But, hey, we’re not that far removed from wondering what kind of presence Stamkos would be. And there was at least a teeny, tiny, microscopic question about how the Lightning would defend their title with Nikita Kucherov.
(Not much of one, yet still.)
So far, it’s still quite good for Stamkos and the Lightning. Stamkos collected two goals and one assist, and his teammates provided arguments to be in the three stars, too. Andrei Vasilevskiy shook off an early goal to generate 32 saves, maintaining his elite recent play. Mikhail Sergachev ranked right up there with Stamkos, collecting three points of his own (3A).
Dubois makes quiet debut with Winnipeg Jets
On one hand, Paul Maurice praised Pierre-Luc Dubois after his Jets debut. Scott Billeck reports that Maurice didn’t see “holes” in Dubois’ game during his Jets debut.
On the other hand, it was a pretty quiet Jets debut for Dubois. The strong-skating center finished the night without a goal or assist. PLD wasn’t even credited with a shot on goal.
He also wasn’t deployed very often. Dubois received just 13:10 TOI in his first game with the Jets. Rather than putting him out there among the six Jets trying to tie a 3-2 game, Dubois instead sat and watched.
Obviously, that’s ultimately Maurice’s decision. Dubois had to shake off the cobwebs, and maybe didn’t want to play big minutes. But it’s not exactly the most fun way for things to play out.
Contrast that with the hot (a two-goal game, three tallies in his first three games) and cold (the much-discussed benching in game four) of Patrik Laine beginning his tour of Torts, and this feels a bit like drinking lukewarm tap water. Maybe something more interesting will bubble up once Dubois gets more acquainted with the Jets?
Stat of the night
This just in: the Oilers rely upon Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl an awful lot.
#Oilers win a game when neither Connor McDavid or Leon Draisaitl record a point for the first time since November 28, 2017 vs Arizona
— Sportsnet Stats (@SNstats) February 10, 2021
To be fair to the Oilers, teams probably don’t shut down both McDavid and Draisaitl all that often, right? Maybe?
Highlight of the night
As strong as Dustin Brown’s performance was for the Kings, the Sharks swiped a shootout victory. If nothing else, Martin Jones has been sharp in shootouts for San Jose lately …
Tuesday’s NHL scores
Panthers 2, Red Wings 1
Oilers 3, Senators 2
Lightning 6, Predators 1
Blackhawks 2, Stars 1 (OT)
Golden Knights 5, Ducks 4
Flames 3, Jets 2
Sharks 4, Kings 3 (SO)
James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.