The Buzzer: McDavid, Benn headline Monday in NHL

The Buzzer: McDavid, Benn headline Monday in NHL
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3 Stars for Monday in the NHL

1. Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers

Earlier on Monday, PHT’s Adam Gretz explored what Connor McDavid needs to do — not to lead the NHL in scoring, but somehow reach 100 points this season. By scoring four points, McDavid now needs 19 points in 10 games, as number 97 is now at 81 points this season.

McDavid enjoyed the strongest Monday of any NHL skater, generating a hat trick and an assist as the Oilers took care of business vs. the Jets. That hat trick pushes McDavid to 28 goals on the season, giving him at least an outside chance at catching Auston Matthews (34 goals) for the Maurice Richard Trophy.

Normally, a six-goal gap would be asking too much, at least this late in the season. (And with Matthews having a chance to widen that.) But, much like scoring 100 points in this abbreviated season, would anyone feel safe denying that McDavid might do it?

Beyond McDavid, the Oilers produced at least one other candidate for three stars of Monday in the NHL. Mike Smith played a strong game, stopping 36 out of 37 shots to keep Oilers – Jets from being a close game.

Side note: this was Connor McDavid’s third hat trick of the season, tying Mika Zibanejad, who just took the league lead with that many recently.

2. Jamie Benn, Dallas Stars

OK, you can make an argument that Benn — not Connor McDavid — was the true top star for Monday in the NHL.

Both players reached four points on the night. In Benn’s case, he generated three assists, then scored the overtime game-winner. While McDavid was leading a blowout, the Stars needed all four of Benn’s points.

Remarkably, it’s the second straight game where Benn scored an OTGWG for the Stars. By doing that, Benn scored the ninth OT goal of his career, tying Mike Modano for the most in Dallas Stars franchise history.

3. Evander Kane, San Jose Sharks

Actually, Evander Kane rounds out the three stars of Monday in the NHL by collecting four points. While Kane scored his goal on an empty net, he did also produce three assists.

With this four-point output, Kane improved to 19 goals and 22 assists for 41 points in 48 games. If you prorate that .854 point-per-game pace over a full 82-game season, that would translate to 70 points. Such a pace would absolutely blow away Kane’s career-high of 56 points from 2018-19. Kane’s also on a pace of around 32 goals.

Not a lot has gone right for the Sharks this year, but Evander Kane’s enjoyed a strong scoring season.

Honorable mentions: Another big Saros performance, and more

  • Juuse Saros continues to power the Predators’ playoff push. He nabbed Nashville an important win by stopping 39 out of 40 shots. Depending upon your taste, that might be good enough to push Kane into the honorable mentions, instead.
  • David Perron produced three points (1G, 2A), and Jordan Binnington made 31 saves as the Blues managed another win against the mighty Avalanche. It’s looking almost certain that St. Louis can outrun the Coyotes for the West Division’s fourth spot. If these recent games are any indication, maybe the Avs wouldn’t be so sad about drawing the Wild in the second round, if it came to that?
  • Jakob Chychrun nearly triggered a big Coyotes comeback with two goals and one assist. It wasn’t enough, though, and things look dire for Arizona.

Top highlights for Monday in the NHL

Watch Connor McDavid collect his hat trick (+ assist) in style, as you’d likely expect:

Compare and contrast McDavid’s four points with those of Benn, if you feel like it:

Monday’s NHL scores

Stars 4, Hurricanes 3 (OT)
Canadiens 2, Flames 1
Senators 2, Canucks 1
Blues 4, Avalanche 1
Predators 4, Panthers 1
Oilers 6, Jets 1
Kings 4, Ducks 1
Sharks 6, Coyotes 4

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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