1. Seth Jones, Columbus Blue Jackets. Do not look now but the Columbus Blue Jackets are right back in the thick of the Central Division playoff race. With their 3-2 overtime win against the Carolina Hurricanes on Thursday, combined with the Chicago Blackhawks’ 4-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning, the Blue Jackets are all of a sudden just two points out of a playoff spot. Given all of the chaos and drama this season surrounding Pierre-Luc Dubois, and then the rocky start to the Patrik Laine era, to all of the losses in recent weeks, it would have been easy to write this team off. But here they are. Jones was the big star on Thursday by logging 25 minutes and scoring a pair of goals, including the game-winning goal in overtime.
2. Robby Fabbri, Detroit Red Wings. Here is a bright spot for the Red Wings this season. Fabbri recorded his second career hat trick on Thursday, accounting for all of the offense in their 3-2 win over the Dallas Stars. He scored his third goal of the game, and the eventual game winner, after he had to briefly exit the game when he was struck in the throat by the puck. Since joining the Red Wings in a trade with the St. Louis Blues a year ago Fabbri has 23 goals and 46 total points in 74 games. Pretty solid production. He always looked like he had a chance to be a quality player in St. Louis until a series of injuries disrupted multiple seasons.
3. Mikko Rantanen, Colorado Avalanche. The Avalanche are starting to click and they were dominant again on Thursday night in a 5-1 win over the Minnesota Wild. Their top line was outstanding with Rantanen leading the way with a four point night. He scored two goals and added two assists in the win. Read more about the Avalanche here.
Other Notable Performances From Thursday
• Scott Wedgewood was a surprise starter for the New Jersey Devils and stopped 40 shots against a shorthanded Pittsburgh Penguins lineup in a 3-2 win.
• David Pastrnak had a goal and an assist as the Boston Bruins were 4-2 winners in Buffalo, pushing the Sabres losing streak to 12 games.
• Jusse Saros returned to the lineup for the Nashville Predators and made 40 saves in a 2-1 win over the Florida Panthers.
• Victor Hedman had a two point game and Andrei Vasilevskiy won his 10th game in a row as the Tampa Bay Lightning were 4-2 winners over the Chicago Blackhawks.
• Connor McDavid scored two goals in the Edmonton Oilers 2-1 win over the Winnipeg Jets. He now has 20 goals on the season and is just one goal behind Toronto Maple Leafs forward Auston Matthews for the league lead.
• The Anaheim Ducks got a glimpse of their future on Thursday when top prospects Jamie Drysdale and Trevor Zegras both scored their first NHL goals in a comeback 3-2 win over the Arizona Coyotes. Adam Henrique scored the game winning goal in overtime for the Ducks.
Highlights Of The Day
Look at this shot by Jack Hughes. Just perfect placement in a multi-point game for the Devils’ emerging star.
Joonas Korpisalo with a game-changing save for the Columbus Blue Jackets.
This Rantanen goal is a thing of beauty as he knocks the puck out of mid-air at the blue line to himself and then scores on a beautiful backhand shot.
New Jersey Devils 3, Pittsburgh Penguins 2
Boston Bruins 4, Buffalo Sabres 1
Philadelphia Flyers 4, New York Islanders 3
Columbus Blue Jackets 3, Carolina Hurricanes 2 (OT)
Tampa Bay Lightning 4, Chicago Blackhawks 2
Nashville Predators 2, Florida Panthers 1
Detroit Red Wings 3, Dallas Stars 2
Edmonton Oilers 2, Winnipeg Jets 1
Colorado Avalanche 5, Minnesota Wild 1
Anaheim Ducks 3, Arizona Coyotes 2 (OT)
Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.