The Buzzer: Spectacular Saturday for McDavid, Matthews, Crosby, NHL stars

NHL Three Stars from Saturday

1. Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers

When scoring a natural hat trick is just part of your great night, you’ve had an incredible night. When a stupendous Auston Matthews performance can’t knock you off of the throne, you’re probably Connor McDavid.

McDavid collected those three goals plus two assists to pull off a five-point performance against the helpless Flames.

Remarkably, Connor McDavid finished his scoring barrage less than halfway through the second period. By then, the Oilers generated a 5-1 lead that would eventually stretch to 7-1. If the Flames managed to beat Mikko Koskinen more often (Koskinen deserved a mention with 43 saves), would McDavid have scored more?

It’s not as though McDavid has been too merciful, particularly against rivals like the Flames, but this isn’t the first night when he would have been wise to take it easy after an early blowout. On Jan. 31, McDavid scored five points against the Senators — and stopped scoring a bit more than midway through that game. These are times when it feels like McDavid can just do whatever he wants. He’s now at an absurd 37 points in just 20 games, making 100 seem somewhat plausible.

Beyond McDavid and Koskinen, other Oilers deserve mentions here, on a star-studded Saturday night in the NHL. At this rate, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins might price himself out of Edmonton (2G, 1A; 18 points this season).

If you need an alternate highlight of the night for Saturday in the NHL, McDavid provided an option:

(Still going with MacKinnon, though …)

2. Auston Matthews, Toronto Maple Leafs

Speaking of improbable runs in a shortened NHL season, Auston Matthews ended Saturday with 18 goals (and 29 points) in 18 games. Scoring 50 goals in this shortened season seems ridiculous, but Matthews is giving himself a chance.

For the second straight game, Matthews authored a two-goal, two-assist performance. At some point, Matthews is likely to see his shooting percentage (now 24 percent) drop, but it hasn’t exactly shown signs of cooling off anytime soon. Quite the milestone for Matthews through his first 300 games:

Mitch Marner (or Mitchell Marner, if you’re not into that whole brevity thing) demands credit, too. The gifted playmaker finished just behind Matthews for the night (three points) and just ahead of Matthews for the season in points (30) after scoring a goal and two assists on Saturday.

The hockey world is a better place now that those two line up together … unless you’re their opponents.

3. Kevin Fiala, Minnesota Wild

Through the first four games of the season, Fiala failed to score a single point. He also was suspended early in 2020-21. Not great.

But Fiala’s been heating up for a while now. In what was his best performance of this young season, Fiala scored two goals (including the game-winner) and an assist. Those three points push Fiala to six goals and one assist for seven points in his past seven games.

Fiala, Kirill Kaprizov, and the Wild’s stingy defense could combine to make Minnesota an annoying out this season.

Highlight of Saturday night in NHL: MacKinnon stars at Lake Tahoe

For those wondering why Nathan MacKinnon didn’t make the three stars, well … here. He gets his own section.

OK, that’s not totally true. This section is for those wondering about how that odd-but-beautiful Lake Tahoe game turned out between the Avalanche and Golden Knights. Well, the first and second goals occurred nine hours a part, and Nathan MacKinnon was unstoppable whenever they could play. That was especially true during the second and third periods at night.

Along with two assists, MacKinnon produced this goal, the highlight of Saturday night in the NHL:

Ultimately, MacKinnon made the difference as the Avalanche beat the Golden Knights 3-2 at Lake Tahoe. Read more about that here. (There are pretty pictures.)

Want more NHL outdoor action at Lake Tahoe? Yeah you do …

Bruins-Flyers stream pre-game coverage begins at 7 p.m. ET on NBCSN. You can watch the game online and on the NBC Sports app by clicking here.

Penguins celebrate Sidney Crosby‘s 1,000th game

Enjoy this ode to Sidney Crosby’s 1,000th game, featuring the likes of Alex Ovechkin. Penguins players giving Sidney grief about his superstitions is good stuff. For more on Crosby at 1,000 games, check this out.

(Also, Sidney Crosby almost pushed his way into the three stars with two assists.)

Saturday’s NHL scores

Sabres 3, Devils 2
Rangers 4, Capitals 1
Red Wings 2, Panthers 1
Penguins 3, Islanders 2
Predators 4, Blue Jackets 2
Sharks 5, Blues 4
Kings 4, Coyotes 2
Maple Leafs 5, Canadiens 3
Hurricanes 4, Lightning 0
Wild 5, Ducks 1
Oilers 7, Flames 1
Avalanche 3, Golden Knights 2

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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    Hughes has first NHL hat trick, Devils beat Capitals 5-1

    Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports
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    NEWARK, N.J. – Jack Hughes had his first career NHL hat trick, Vitek Vanecek made 38 saves against his former team and the New Jersey Devils beat the Washington Capitals 5-1 on Saturday for coach Lindy Ruff’s 800th victory.

    “It’s exciting,” Hughes said. “Couple of two-goal games in my career, so nice to cap it off with the third one tonight.”

    Ruff became the fifth NHL coach to reach the 800-victory mark. The former Buffalo player won 571 games with the Sabres from 1997-2011. He had 165 wins in five seasons with Dallas and has 64 in two-plus seasons with New Jersey.

    “It means I’ve been around a long time,” Ruff cracked. “Great to win the game. Again, you got to do a lot of right things, have good teams, and the way our team is playing I have to give them a lot of credit for getting me there.”

    The Atlantic Division-leading Devils have won two in a row after seeing their franchise-record 13-game winning streak snapped by Toronto.

    Devils captain Nico Hischier and Fabian Zetterlund also scored.

    John Carlson scored for Washington and Charlie Lindgren made 24 saves.

    “Not scoring goals, not capitalizing on our chances,” Carlson said. “We’ve had our chances, especially today, but we only walked away with one goal. We could have had five or six. It’s just not going in right now.”

    Vanecek, meanwhile, was hoping for the shutout against a familiar foe.

    “That would have been nice, but that’s hockey,” Vanecek said, “For sure you’re trying, but not every time; the win is more important.”

    Hischier opened up the scoring with his 10th goal of the season midway through the first period on a power play after Alexander Ovechkin was called for slashing.

    Hughes wrapped the puck around goalie Lindgren’s right leg and the goal post to put the Devils up 2-0 5:59 into the second period. Hughes appeared to have lost his angle on the goal when he ripped a shot off Lindgren’s face mask and into the net midway through the period for his 10th goal of the season to give New Jersey a 3-0 lead.

    The 2019 No. 1 overall draft pick added his third midway through the third period as hats rained down on the ice with New Jersey up 4-0.

    “You want to continue to play the right way, but if an opportunity comes you want to definitely put it in the back of the net with authority,” Hughes said. “So tonight, I was able to cap it off and it was nice.”

    Fabian Zetterlund capped the scoring for New Jersey late in the third period.

    NOTES: The Devils improved to 16-0-0 this season when Hischier has a point. New Jersey’s Nathan Bastain (upper body) did not return after the first period. . Ovechkin is still nine goals away from 800 and 11 from passing Gordie Howe for second place on the NHL goals list.

    UP NEXT

    Capitals: At Vancouver.

    Devils: At the New York Rangers.

    Bruins set NHL record with 12 straight home wins to start season

    Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
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    BOSTON — The Boston Bruins set the NHL record for most home victories to start a season with their 12th straight, topping the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2 in overtime with a power-play goal from David Pastrnak.

    The Bruins broke the mark of 11 that was set by the 1963-64 Chicago Blackhawks and equaled by the Florida Panthers last season.

    “That felt awesome,” Bruins first-year coach Jim Montgomery said. “We talked about it after the second (period) going into the third. There’s been a lot of great teams in this league and you’re able to set a precedent, break a record. It’s pretty special and it doesn’t happen if those guys don’t believe in themselves like they do.”

    Boston, which trailed 2-0 late in the second period, tied it with 9:33 left in regulation when David Krejci scored his second of the game on a shot from the right point.

    “It’s never fun being down going into the third, you’re sitting in here (in the locker room) trying to figure it out,” Krejci said. “You want to come out and do the job, something special on the line. It’s hard to win in this league. To get 12 in a row at home is pretty special.”

    In overtime, Carolina was playing shorthanded after being called for too many men on the ice when Pastrnak one-timed a pass from Brad Marchand inside the far post from above the left circle.

    “It was a big win for us, obviously, coming from behind,” Pastrnak said.

    Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Stefan Noesen each scored a power-play goal for Carolina, and Pyotr Kochetkov made 38 saves. The Hurricanes lost their fifth straight.

    In a rematch of last spring’s opening-round playoff series that the Hurricanes won in seven games, Carolina shutout the NHL’s highest scoring team for nearly two periods and jumped ahead a pair of power-play goals in the opening period.

    “We took too many penalties. That’s hurting us right now,” Kotaniemi said. “I think 5-on-5 we’re doing a really good job. We started good tonight and couldn’t keep that up.”

    Boston’s tying goal was originally disallowed because of goaltender interference on Nick Foligno but overturned on a coach’s challenge after it was ruled that he was nudged into the crease by Carolina defenseman Brett Pesce.

    Boston starting goaltender Linus Ullmark made 28 saves but had to leave with 13:03 left in the third period with an undisclosed upper-body injury. Teammate Connor Clifton had jumped on him to block a shot during a scramble. Jeremy Swayman made six stops in relief.

    Carolina’s Noesen scored at 6:34 in to make it 1-0. And with five minutes left in the period, Kotkaniemi collected the puck near the side of the net after Seth Jarvis‘ shot bounced off the back glass and slipped it inside the post at 15:05.

    Krejci scored for Boston with 31 seconds left in the second.

    Boston came in with a league-high 82 goals in 20 games (4.10 per game), but it was held to relatively few chances despite getting a 5-on-3 power-play advantage early on.

    TAKE NOTE

    The Bruins honored captain Patrice Bergeron, who recorded his 1,000th career point when the team was on the road against Tampa Bay, with a message on the Jumbotron. The crowd gave him a standing ovation.

    Bergeron became just the fourth Bruin to reach the mark, joining Hall of Famers Ray Bourque (1,506), Johnny Bucyk (1,339) and Phil Esposito (1,012).

    UP NEXT

    Hurricanes: Host the Calgary Flames.

    Bruins: Host the Tampa Bay Lightning.

    Predators postpone 2 games due to Nashville water main break

    Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports
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    NASHVILLE, Tenn. —  The Nashville Predators postponed two home games because of a water main break that soaked their downtown arena.

    Hours after the Predators decided they couldn’t play against the Colorado Avalanche, the team announced it also postponed the game against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Makeup dates for the two games will be announced later.

    The NHL said the water main break that occurred “significantly impacted the event level” of Bridgestone Arena. Team locker rooms and the ice surface are on the event level.

    Predators President and CEO Sean Henry told reporters that the water in the event level ranged from 3 inches to 3 feet.

    “We’re assessing it right now. We’re remediating it,” Henry said. “The good thing is, the water got shut off, the city responded in a pretty fast manner. I don’t think anyone is ready for things like this the Friday after Thanksgiving.”

    Video posted by a WTVF-TV reporter shows the water puddled up on the main floor’s concourse area and the team store. The team was forced to close the store until further notice, pointing shoppers online for Black Friday specials.

    The Predators’ next home game is now scheduled for Tuesday against the Anaheim Ducks.

    The water issue also resulted in a switch to a different venue for a college hockey game between Northeastern and Western Michigan. They also had been scheduled to play at Bridgestone Arena, a game that was moved to Ford Ice Center Bellevue.

    Rangers trade Ryan Reaves to Wild for 5th-round pick in 2025

    Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
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    ST. PAUL, Minn. — The New York Rangers traded enforcer Ryan Reaves to the Minnesota Wild for a 2025 fifth-round pick.

    Reaves had been a healthy scratch for eight of the past 12 games for the Rangers. He gives struggling Minnesota some extra muscle and a veteran presence.

    The 35-year-old is signed through only the rest of this season at a $1.75 million salary cap hit. He has no points and 12 penalty minutes in 12 games of his second season with New York.

    Reaves has played in 869 NHL regular-season and playoff games for the St. Louis Blues, Pittsburgh Penguins, Vegas Golden Knights and Rangers. He was with the Golden Knights during their inaugural season in 2017-18 when the reached the Stanley Cup Final.