NHL Three Stars from Tuesday
1. Kaapo Kahkonen, Minnesota Wild
We’re well beyond the point where people can just joke about Kaapo Kahkonen’s name being so similar to that of Kaapo Kakko‘s name, then just move on. Kaapo Kahkonen’s simply on too hot of a streak.
Really, it’s instead fair to wonder where Kahkonen might figure into the Calder Trophy race. Could he steal some of the thunder from teammate Kirill Kaprizov? (OK, that might be a bit hasty.)
Either way, Kahkonen and the Wild are on a red-hot run. By shutting out the Coyotes on Tuesday, the Wild are now on a five-game winning streak.
As hot as the Wild are as a team, Kahkonen’s even hotter. After authoring the first shutout of his young career against the Golden Knights (26 saves on March 8), Kahkonen stopped all 31 shots to blank the Coyotes. He’s now on a personal nine-game winning streak.
Between Kahkonen, Cam Talbot, and a strong team defense, the Wild have been extremely tough to score against, let alone beat.
Since Feb. 18, Kahkonen and Talbot rank 1st in the NHL in GAA (2.00), T-1st in shutouts (2), T-2nd in SV% (.928) and T-3rd in fewest goals allowed (30).
The #mnwild goalies rank 3rd in the NHL in SV% (.918), 6th in GAA (2.37) and 6th in fewest goals allowed (64) this season.
— Michael Russo (@RussoHockey) March 17, 2021
Once the Wild built up their 3-0 lead after 40 minutes, they really let Kahkonen “earn” his shutout. The Coyotes generated a 17-4 shots on goal advantage in the third period, yet Kahkonen preserved his shutout. Arizona had extra drive, too, thanks to the anger stemming from a bad hit on Conor Garland.
Kahkonen stood out among some stout goalies on Tuesday in the NHL
2. Nazem Kadri, Colorado Avalanche
Maybe the Ducks just made the Avalanche angry on Tuesday. At different points, the Ducks built early leads of 2-1 and even 4-2. Perhaps Jared Bednar screamed paint off the walls during the intermission(s), as the Avs dominated from there.
In the second period, the Avalanche tied things up 4-4 with two goals. They added four more in the third. Even with one of those goals being an empty-netter, that’s still some real muscle-flexing.
The @Avalanche are the first NHL team to allow 4+ goals in the first period and yet win the game by 4+ goals since March 12, 1988, when the Flames allowed 4 goals in the first against Buffalo but won 10-4.
— Stats By STATS (@StatsBySTATS) March 17, 2021
Nazem Kadri played a big role in that rally, scoring two goals and two assists. After collecting two points vs. the Kings, Kadri now has six points in his last two games. He’s almost as hot as that Kahkonen fella.
Overall, the Avalanche have won four games in a row.
3. Dan Vladar, Boston Bruins
Wild goalie Kahkonen took the cake among goalies on Tuesday in the NHL, but he faced serious competition. Dan Vladar (sometimes Daniel) wasn’t far off the mark, making 34 saves for his first NHL win. Doing so against the potentially dangerous Penguins pushes that up a notch, too.
Joey Daccord pulled on heartstrings with his first NHL win, but Vladar provided the more impressive performance this week.
Scroll down and you can see that Vladar also provided one of the highlights of the NHL on Tuesday with a tremendous save.
Beyond Kahkonen and Vladar, other netminders distinguished themselves. Mackenzie Blackwood made 33 saves to extend the Sabres’ miserable losing streak to 12 games. Meanwhile, Jonathan Bernier‘s pushing the Red Wings to become more of an upset threat lately, this time scorning the Hurricanes by making 35 out of 37 saves.
Winning streaks end for Islanders, Penguins; Fun doesn’t stop for Sabres
- By fun, we of course mean … losing. You know it’s not so great when players can’t wiggle out of questions about changes. How could you when an already slipping team goes on to lose 12 games in a row, like the hapless Sabres? Not a great sign when a beat writer keeps pairing quotes with his article about Sabres coaching candidates, as John Vogl did on Tuesday:
Is Brandon Montour expect changes for Sabres?
"Yeah I guess. It's been awhile now and there hasn't been much. It's part of the business. That's 12 in a row now and it is what it is. It's the business. I think guys expect something just to get out of this" https://t.co/qLSBe8RDwO
— John Vogl (@BuffaloVogl) March 17, 2021
(Well, at least Taylor Hall seems to be OK after taking a puck to the face.)
- Alex Ovechkin scored his 718th goal, and also grabbed an assist for point 1,300, to help the Capitals win six in a row. In doing so, the Capitals snapped the Islanders’ nine-game winning streak, and also ended the Islanders’ point streak at 12 games.
- By losing to the Bruins, the Penguins’ winning streak ends at six games.
Highlights from Tuesday in NHL: Ovechkin scores 718, that Vladar save
You can read more about Alex Ovechkin climbing to sixth all-time (passing Phil Esposito) with goal number 718 here. And, again, he also reached 1,300+ points (goal 718 was point 1,301 for Ovechkin). Now enjoy Ovechkin scoring number 718 from “his office.”
Feast your eyes on that Dan Vladar save, which helped the Bruins end the Penguins’ winning streak.
Tuesday’s NHL scores
Bruins 2, Penguins 1
Devils 3, Sabres 2
Capitals 3, Islanders 1
Red Wings 4, Hurricanes 2
Wild 3, Coyotes 0
Lightning 4, Stars 3 (SO)
Avalanche 8, Ducks 4
James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.