3 Stars for Sunday in the NHL
1. Mika Zibanejad (and Adam Fox), New York Rangers
Mika Zibanejad became the first NHL player to record three different hat tricks (hence, hat trick of hat tricks?) this season with his trio on Saturday.
Remember when Zibanejad was mired in a bad slump? Yes, that happened this season.
Since March, Zibanejad’s been one of the league’s most explosive players. He’s generated a blistering 17 goals and 22 assists for 39 points in just his last 30 games. Before that, Zibanejad was limited to two goals and four assists during his first 19 games.
Considering Zibanejad’s almost unthinkable 2019-20 season (41 goals, 75 points in just 57 games after 74 points in 82 games in 2018-19), he was bound to slip. But it’s clear that, with the opportunities Artemi Panarin and Adam Fox open up for him, he can be almost unstoppable at times.
On a similar note, consider Adam Fox 1b.
The 23-year-old continues to build his Norris Trophy argument with great point production matching long standing analytics dominance. He collected three assists in that Rangers romp against the Sabres, pushing his season points total to an impressive 46 points in just 48 games. Kaapo Kakko also contributed in a nice way, firing in two goals.
This Rangers team kept dim playoff hopes alive with this win. While they’re unlikely to make that stick, it’s easier and easier to picture a promising future. (And the light might not be that far away at the end of the old tunnel.)
2. Tristan Jarry, Pittsburgh Penguins
On paper, Tristan Jarry has an argument to be the first star for Sunday in the NHL. Any way you slice it, a 30-save shutout is pretty impressive.
But the Bruins and Penguins really locked their game down, sanding down the degree of difficulty for Jarry. Either way, good stuff from Jarry, who helped the Penguins at least temporarily take the lead in the NHL’s East Division on Sunday.
It will be interesting to see if the Penguins lean toward Jarry or Casey DeSmith come playoff time. DeSmith’s put together a better full season of work, but Jarry’s been hot lately. He’s 5-0-1 in his last six games, and hasn’t been credited with a regulation loss since March 18.
3. Claude Giroux, Philadelphia Flyers
There was some quality competition for the third star for Sunday in the NHL.
Ondrej Palat scored more points that “actually count,” as he generated a goal and two assists as the Lightning squeezed past the Blue Jackets in OT. There were plenty of players putting out solid two-point performances, including Victor Hedman, who scored a nice OTGWG. The silly dance really ties that room together.
But the Flyers even-slimmer-than-the-Rangers playoff hopes are still hanging on by a thread thanks to some late-game heroics from Claude Giroux. Down 3-1 with their net empty, Claude Giroux scored two goals within 22 seconds to send that game to OT. He then helped the Flyers win the shootout by scoring a shootout tally.
While his numbers aren’t what they once were, Giroux is still a valuable two-way asset for the Flyers. His hard work probably won’t push Philly into the postseason, but it’s promising that he can still bring something to the table.
Top highlights for Sunday in the NHL
Watch as Mika Zibanejad collects his third hat trick of the 2020-21 NHL season:
Stat of the Night: Giroux milestone
- Speaking of Claude Giroux, he reached the 850-point mark:
850 points and unlimited respect for our Captain.
— Philadelphia Flyers (@NHLFlyers) April 26, 2021
That makes Giroux the third highest-scoring player in Flyers history, apparently.
Sunday’s NHL scores
Penguins 1, Bruins 0
Lightning 4, Blue Jackets 3 (OT)
Flyers 4, Devils 3 (OT)
Rangers 6, Sabres 3