The Buzzer: Golden Knights first to clinch, more from Wednesday in NHL

The Buzzer: Golden Knights first to clinch, more from Wednesday in NHL
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3 Stars for Wednesday in the NHL

1. Jonathan Marchessault, Golden Knights

The Vegas Golden Knights became the first NHL team to clinch a playoff spot in 2020-21 on Wednesday, and Jonathan Marchessault was a big part of that. (This also represented the Golden Knights’ eighth win in a row. They’re pretty good.)

Heading into Wednesday’s NHL action, Marchessault was pretty cold. The often-trigger-happy forward wasn’t shooting that often, firing a single shot on goal in each of his past two games (both without points). He also hadn’t scored a goal in his past five games, settling for an assist during that span.

Marchessault broke through in this one, though. He scored two goals and two assists for the second four-point night of his career. Marchessault attempted to make it a hat trick with an empty-netter, but ended up assisting on Mattias Janmark‘s first goal with Vegas.

Along with those four points, Marchessault ended the night with five SOG, one hit, and a +4 rating.

2. Cam Talbot, Minnesota Wild

If you look at the 4-1 score, you might think that the Wild dominated the Coyotes as part of Wednesday’s NHL action. Cam Talbot’s play explained why this wasn’t a closer game, if not a Coyotes win.

Arizona fired 40 shots on goal, but only beat Cam Talbot once. Even then, Christian Dvorak scored on the power play, so Talbot was perfect at even-strength.

You have to wonder if Talbot’s already-strong season would be more impressive if he’d been able to stay healthy. After this strong win, Talbot is now 15-6-3 with a sparkling .925 save percentage.

During his past 13 games, Talbot’s only lost once during regulation (10-1-2). Many nights, the Wild make life relatively easy for their goalies, Talbot included. Here, Talbot was clearly a difference-maker.

3. Brandon Hagel, Chicago Blackhawks

After falling behind 4-1, the Blackhawks finally notched a win against the Predators this season. Brandon Hagel and Malcolm Subban (36 saves) made the biggest difference in what was a stunner for the NHL on Wednesday.

Hagel scored the overtime game-winner, capping a night where he already generated two assists. With that three-point burst, Hagel continues to heat up, as he now has five points (2G, 3A) in his past four games.

Through 43 games with the Blackhawks this season, Hagel now has a solid 19 points.

Although Subban allowed four goals, it’s tough to beat him up too much for any of them. He now sports a .911 save percentage, making Subban the less dramatic pleasant Blackhawks surprise in net. This isn’t Kevin Lankinen-level stuff, but it would be nice if Subban could establish himself as a reliable NHL backup.

Habs – Oilers almost produced top stars for Wednesday in the NHL. If Josh Anderson‘s stick didn’t break, he likely would’ve scored an empty-netter to nab a hat trick. Connor McDavid and the Oilers almost pulled off a Blackhawks-like rally against Anderson’s Canadiens, as McDavid generated three points. But it wasn’t quite enough, and Hagel scored an OTGWG, so Hagel gets the nod.

Highlights of the night for Wednesday in the NHL

Watch that Hagel OTGWG and that staggering Blackhawks comeback via these extended highlights:

Both Nico Sturm‘s sauce pass and Kevin Fiala‘s slick finish make this a very pretty goal:

Stat of the Night: Another Marleau milestone

It won’t top breaking Gordie Howe’s games played record, but Patrick Marleau played in his 900th consecutive game, joining a rare “Ironman” club.

[Stunning numbers on Marleau breaking Gordie Howe’s games played record]

Wednesday’s NHL scores

Blackhawks 5, Predators 4 (OT)
Wild 4, Coyotes 1
Golden Knights 5, Sharks 2
Canadiens 4, Oilers 3

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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