The Buzzer: McDavid smashes slump; Acciari hat trick; PWHPA Dream Gap Tour

NHL Three Stars from Saturday

1. Noel Acciari, Florida Panthers

If you ever want to identify an all-or-nothing player, at least from an offensive standpoint, you might not do better than Noel Acciari.

Despite averaging a solid 14:24 TOI per night through 14 games, Acciari failed to score a single goal or assist for the Florida Panthers this season. Until Saturday, that is.

Facing the struggling Predators, Noel Acciari scored a hat trick.

Remarkably, it’s the third hat trick of Noel Acciari’s career. Through 261 career NHL games, Acciari’s scored 41 goals. Pretty odd.

To be fair, he did score 20 goals (and seven assists) over 66 games last season. Granted, it was also hot-and-cold in its way, as Acciari rode an 18.5 shooting percentage. Either way, pretty quirky stuff. Hockey’s strange!

2. Anze Kopitar, Los Angeles Kings

It’s even tougher than usual to split hairs regarding the three stars of Saturday in the NHL. Especially if you ding Acciari for generating his hat trick in something of a blowout for Florida.

So, feel free to disagree about these choices, but let’s make goals stand as tiebreakers.

And then there’s the extra tiebreaker of points coming at a premium. That’s why Anze Kopitar stands a little taller than his counterparts.

Kopitar scored two goals and one assist for the Kings, who managed to beat the Blues in overtime. While Kopitar didn’t factor into that OT-winner, he contributed to all three Kings goals in regulation.

If you’re pointing fingers at the Kings’ slide, it’d be fair to critique players who’ve fallen really far (Jeff Carter), ones who might be playing more on reputation (Jonathan Quick over Cal Petersen?), and a high-price polarizing player (Drew Doughty). But Kopitar? He’s mostly been a rock, albeit a pricey one.

With those three points, Kopitar’s generated an impressive 28 points in 23 games.

3. Brendan Gallagher, Montreal Canadiens

OK, in this case, goals were not really at a premium. The Canadiens roasted the Jets to a score of 7-1.

You know it’s a rough one when your Twitter feed laments the sheer pain of it all.

Gallagher dished out the most pain, though. He scored two goals and one assist, including a tally that Connor Hellebuyck will want purged from the collective memory. Gallagher ended up +3 with three shots on goal, too.

Connor McDavid breaks his slump, and other honorable mentions

  • To reiterate: it’s difficult to prioritize these three-point nights. Then again, maybe Connor McDavid dominates the highlights so much, it’s fair to bump him down a bit every now and then?

Either way, McDavid went the extra mile to make sure that he’s still never experienced a four-game point drought in his illustrious career. McDavid scored the game-winner and two assists in a 3-2 game. Looks like McDavid can resume trying to match or exceed Sidney Crosby‘s career scoring pace.

  • For all the things that have gone wrong for the Canucks, Brock Boeser‘s been a rock. At least when it comes to scoring. With a goal and two assists, Boeser improved to 28 points in as many games played. Thirteen of those points are goals. Pretty impressive, and a reminder that the Canucks were allegedly pondering trading Boeser. Hot take alert: they probably shouldn’t do that.
  • Rounding things out, Rickard Rakell scored two goals and an assist as the Ducks beat the Avs in OT. After a rough start to the season, Rakell is now off to a five-game point streak (3G, 6A). Those nine points represent a significant chunk of his 16 over 25 games this season.

Highlights of the night: Barzal, Terry, Huberdeau show off hands

Islanders star Mathew Barzal scored what could be the goal of the year. Just incredible stuff from an incredible talent.

Impressively, other NHL players scored goals that gave Barzal competition on Saturday. With two goals, Troy Terry almost enjoyed as strong a night as Ducks teammate Rakell, and he showed nifty hands against a goalie about as helpless as the one Barzal bamboozled.

Completing that trifecta of soft hands in close, check out Jonathan Huberdeau.

Saturday’s NHL scores

Rangers 6, Devils 3
Islanders 5, Sabres 2
Penguins 4, Flyers 3
Panthers 6, Predators 2
Coyotes 5, Wild 2
Canadiens 7, Jets 1
Canucks 4, Maple Leafs 2
Stars 5, Blue Jackets 0
Ducks 5, Avalanche 4 (OT)
Kings 4, Blues 3 (OT)
Oilers 3, Flames 2
Golden Knights 4, Sharks 0

PWHPA Dream Gap Tour: Minnesota beats New Hampshire

Team Minnesota beat Team New Hampshire 4-1 on Saturday as part of the PWHPA’s Dream Gap Tour’s stop in Chicago.

As you can see from the highlights embedded above this post’s headline, Minnesota enjoyed strong work from the likes of Abby Roque and Kendall Coyne Schofield. Nicole Hensley nearly generated a shutout (33 out of 34 saves), but Brianna Decker scored a late spoiler goal.

Check out some other stats, via Sportslogiq:

The PWHPA has partnered with the Blackhawks and Bauer Hockey to host a pair of 2021 Secret® Dream Gap Tour games in Chicago on March 6-7, with Saturday’s matchup at United Center live on NBCSN, followed by a game at Fifth Third Arena in Chicago.

Comprised of approximately 125 of the world’s best hockey players, the PWHPA was formed to advocate for and advance equity, fairness and opportunity in women’s professional hockey. Specifically, the group’s goal is to create a sustainable league that pays a living wage to players, provides appropriate elite-level resources (i.e. ice time, facilities, trainers, etc.) and invests in marketing that showcases the players and game. Supporting the series in Chicago, AT&T will serve as the local presenting sponsor.

NBC Sports is proud to celebrate Women’s History Month.
For the latest in women’s sports news and features all year round:

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

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    Thompson nets 4 in 1st, 5 overall, as Buffalo tops Columbus

    buffalo sabres
    Russell LaBounty/USA TODAY Sports

    COLUMBUS, Ohio — Tage Thompson matched an NHL record by scoring four times in the first period and finished with five goals and an assist as the Buffalo Sabres won their third straight road game, 9-4 over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday night.

    Thompson is the second U.S.-born player to score five goals in a game. He is the fourth player in NHL history to record four goals in the first period of a regular-season game, joining Peter Bondra (1994), Grant Mulvey (1982) and Joe Malone (1921). He is also the fourth active player to score five goals in a game, joining Timo Meier (Jan. 17, 2022), Mika Zibanejad (March 5, 2020) and Patrik Laine (Nov. 24, 2018).

    “It’s definitely a rewarding feeling,” Thompson said. “You’ve spent a lot of years working to get to this point and to be rewarded for it is a pretty good feeling and it just leaves you hungrier.”

    Thompson’s outburst helped Buffalo score six times in the first 16:40.

    “That was an amazing performance by Tage, and really, the whole group set the table,” Sabres coach Don Granato said. “I thought the energy, the collective effort, the focus to start was really good and enabled that to happen.”

    Alex Tuch had a goal and three assists, Dylan Cozens added a power-play goal and two assists and Rasmus Dahlin finished with a goal and two assists. Peyton Krebs also scored. Jeff Skinner picked up four assists and Jacob Bryson had two. Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen stopped 20 shots.

    Patrik Laine and Gustav Nyquist each scored twice for Columbus.

    Joonas Korpisalo stopped two shots before being pulled in the first in favor of Elvis Merzlikins, who stopped 15 shots through the second period. Korpisalo returned in the third and finished with six saves.

    Columbus has lost six straight home games and five of its last six overall.

    “We didn’t have an answer for that one line,” Blue Jackets coach Brad Larsen said. “Tage Thompson just tore us up tonight.”

    Buffalo dominated from the puck drop, scoring four goals on its first six shots.

    Cozens put the Sabres on the board at 3:21 of the first, 53 seconds into a Blue Jackets penalty, and Thompson made it 2-0 just 2:09 later. Dahlin scored Buffalo’s third goal at 7:28 of the first, driving Korpisalo from the net in favor of Merzlikins, who gave up Buffalo goal No. 4 to Thompson 32 seconds later.

    Thompson’s third career hat trick and second of the season came on a power-play goal at 12:22 of the first. He followed with his fourth goal, also on the power play, at 16:40.

    Columbus scored two goals in just over a minute, with Laine at 10:49 and Nyquist at 12:04, before Buffalo reeled off three straight in just over three minutes to end the period, including Thompson’s fifth, and goals by Krebs and Tuch.

    Laine and Nyquist scored in the third period for Columbus.


    Cozens has 12 points in his last five games and is riding a career-best, five-game point streak. Thompson has eight goals and five assists in his last five games and 10 multi-point games. Dahlin has a five-game point and assist streak, and Gaudreau stretched his points streak to six games.

    NOTES: The Sabres joined the Kraken as the second team this season to score nine goals in a game. … Thompson is the second player in Buffalo history to have five goals in a game, joining Dave Andreychuk, who had five goals and an assist on Feb. 6, 1986.


    Buffalo: Hosts Pittsburgh on Friday.

    Columbus: Hosts Calgary on Friday.

    Ovechkin, Strome lead Capitals past struggling Flyers 4-1

    washington capitals
    Eric Hartline/USA TODAY Sports

    PHILADELPHIA — Alex Ovechkin scored two empty-net goals, Dylan Strome had a goal and an assist and the Washington Capitals defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 4-1 on Wednesday night.

    T.J. Oshie also scored for the Capitals, who finished 3-3 on a six-game trip. Charlie Lindgren made 29 saves.

    Kevin Hayes scored for Philadelphia, which has lost 13 of 15 games. Carter Hart made 23 stops.

    Strome broke a 1-all tie with 10:41 remaining when he deflected John Carlson‘s shot from long range past Hart.

    Hayes had a golden opportunity to tie it on a Philadelphia power play, but Lindgren made a great right pad save on a try from close range with 8:20 remaining.

    Ovechkin iced it, scoring into an empty net with 1:35 left and adding another empty-netter with 8.2 seconds left for his 15th of the season. Ovechkin has 795 career goals, good for third all-time. He is six goals away from tying Gordie Howe for second place. Wayne Gretzky, with 894 goals, tops the list.

    Hayes scored his ninth goal of the season for his team-leading 28th point with 4:14 left in the first period to give the Flyers a 1-0 lead. Hayes rushed to the bench after breaking his stick on a slap shot attempt, and scored on a wrist shot from the high slot with his new stick.

    The Flyers had a power-play goal for the third straight game and have four overall in that stretch. Philadelphia, which began play ranked 30th in the NHL in scoring on the man advantage, now has converted 16.7% (14 of 84) of its chances.

    Oshie tied it 3:51 into the second on the Capitals’ fourth power play as the Flyers continued to take sloppy penalties. This time, James van Riemsdyk committed Philadelphia’s third tripping minor of the game. Oshie made them pay with his fifth goal of the season when he finished a nifty passing sequence with Strome and Evgeny Kuznetsov with a perfectly placed one-timer over Hart’s left shoulder.

    NOTES: Van Riemsdyk returned after missing the last 20 games due to a broken right index finger. . Flyers forward Tanner Laczynski was placed on injured reserve after departing midway through the third period of Monday’s 5-3 win over Colorado with what looked like an injury to his left leg. . Washington was without several injured players, including starting goalie Darcy Kuemper (upper body). Kuemper was with the team, but missed his second in a row. . Carlson had two assists. . Philadelphia’s Cam Atkinson, out all season with an upper body injury, has been practicing and is close to returning.


    Capitals: Host Seattle on Friday night.

    Flyers: Open four-game trip at Vegas on Friday night.

    Penguins prospect Sam Poulin taking leave of absence

    pittsburgh penguins
    Jeanine Leech/Getty Images

    PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh Penguins forward prospect Sam Poulin is taking a leave of absence from the club’s American Hockey League affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

    Penguins general manager Ron Hextall announced on Wednesday that the 21-year-old Poulin, Pittsburgh’s first-round pick in the 2019 draft, is stepping away due to “personal reasons.”

    “The Penguins support Sam’s decision to take time away from hockey to focus on himself,” Hextall said in a release. “As with all of our players, our priority is them as individuals first. We look forward to having him back with the team when he is ready.”

    Hextall said Poulin will return home to Quebec and continue to work out on his own.

    Poulin made his NHL debut in October and had one assist in three games before heading back to the AHL. Poulin had four goals in 13 games for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton at the time of his decision.

    Nathan MacKinnon sidelined about a month with upper-body injury

    Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports

    DENVER — The injury-riddled Colorado Avalanche will be without leading scorer Nathan MacKinnon for about a month after he suffered an upper-body injury in a loss to Philadelphia.

    The team announced the news on social media.

    MacKinnon has eight goals and 26 assists for a team-best 34 points this season for the defending Stanley Cup champions. He joins a long list of banged-up players, including Valeri Nichushkin, Evan Rodrigues, Bowen Byram, Kurtis MacDermid, Josh Manson, Darren Helm and captain Gabriel Landeskog. Forward Artturi Lehkonen also missed the game in Philadelphia.

    The 27-year-old MacKinnon signed an eight-year extension in August. He was coming off a postseason in which he tied for the league lead with 13 goals, helping the Avalanche raise their third Stanley Cup in franchise history.