NHL Three Stars from Friday
1. Kirill Kaprizov, Minnesota Wild
For the first time in his NHL career, Kirill Kaprizov generated a hat trick. By reaching that mark, the 23-year-old already has 10 goals in 25 games. Naturally, he’s just as dangerous passing as shooting, as he’s now close to a point-per-game (23 in 25) thanks to his 13 assists.
Even in a pandemic-shortened season, Kaprizov has a shot at reaching or exceeding the Wild’s rookie goal-scoring record. That mark is (not surprisingly) held by Marian Gaborik, who collected 18 in his debut year back in 2000-01.
Most people (Wild fans included) would probably agree that Kaprizov is the most exciting young forward the team’s employed since Gaborik’s prime. For those who want to harp on Kaprizov’s age in the Calder Trophy race, he’s putting up impressive for-a-23-year-old numbers, too.
Points-per-game at age-23, #mnwild history:
1. Marian Gaborik, 05-06: 1.02
2. KIRILL KAPRIZOV, 20-21: 0.92
3. Kevin Fiala, 19-20: 0.84
4. Pierre-Marc Bouchard, 07-08: 0.79
5. JORDAN GREENWAY, 20-21: 0.76
6. Mikko Koivu, 06-07: 0.66
7. JOEL ERIKSSON EK, 20-21: 0.60
— Tony of the USS 10KRinks.com (@OhHiTony) March 13, 2021
Scroll to the highlights of the night for Friday in the NHL to witness that Kaprizov hat trick.
In generating his first hat trick, Kaprizov deserves the limelight. Other Wild players enjoyed big Friday performances, too, though.
Considering all Mats Zuccarello has gone through the last few years, including just for 2020-21, it’s delightful to see him produce three assists. On paper, it makes sense that Zuccarello would make great music with Kaprizov, but that kind of thing doesn’t always translate to on-ice performances.
Cam Talbot also notched a shutout by making all 25 saves. He didn’t quite earn the sort of shutout that would land him as one of the three stars of Friday in the NHL, but he could form a nice goalie duo with Kaapo Kahkonen at this rate.
2. Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers
While Kaprizov didn’t get his hat trick going until the third period, Connor McDavid didn’t waste much time (re-)asserting his dominance over the Ottawa Senators.
Just 10 seconds into Friday’s game, McDavid scores against the Senators. He’d end up with three points (1G, 2A) as the Oilers once again made easy work of Ottawa. Leon Draisaitl (1G, 1A) and Tyson Barrie (1G, 1A) also got in on the one-sided fun.
Even outside of their work against the Senators, McDavid and Draisaitl would be putting together impressive seasons. These lopsided games just really hammer the point home that McDavid should probably be a no-brainer Hart Trophy frontrunner.
The Senators just have to find some comfort in getting seven games out of the way against McDavid:
McDavid & Draisaitl with 33 pts (10g-23a) combined in 7 games vs. the Senators this season.
— NHL Watcher (@NHL_Watcher) March 13, 2021
3. Devan Dubnyk, San Jose Sharks
There was a time when Devan Dubnyk would be the player racking up three star nominations. Sometimes, both in last season with the Wild and this one in the Sharks, those nights feel like distant memories.
Yet, on this Friday in the NHL, Devan Dubnyk earned a 34-save shutout.
You could point to other Sharks for a three stars nod, as they absolutely trounced the Ducks. Once again, John Gibson suffered through a rough night, even if it wasn’t really his fault.
One might prefer Kevin Labanc (1G, 2A) in this spot. The Ducks have to just want this season to end.
Highlights of Friday night in the NHL: Kaprizov hat trick, more
Via the NHL, here are all three of the goals from that Kirill Kaprizov hat trick. Note that he scored all of them in the third period. Maybe Kaprizov is extra-dangerous in the clutch (and/or when opponents might be a little tired)?
The Golden Knights’ power play looked punchless at times as they traded blows in a real slugfest with the Blues. That unit finally broke through in overtime when Reilly Smith connected on a nice bit of “tic-tac-toe” passing.
(After a false positive in a COVID test, Marc-Andre Fleury earned the win … though it wasn’t a night he’d like to repeat. Then again, Jordan Binnington probably wanted to perform at a higher level following news of his big, surprising contract extension, too.))
Friday’s NHL scores
Golden Knights 5, Blues 4 (OT)
Wild 4, Coyotes 0
Avalanche 2, Kings 0
Oilers 6, Senators 2
Sharks 6, Ducks 0