NHL Rink Wrap: Four-goal nights from Bergeron, Nelson

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Top players from Thursday in the NHL

Patrice Bergeron, Bruins / Brock Nelson, Islanders

Thursday presented a rare night in the NHL: there were two four-goal performances.

Heading into Thursday’s NHL action, Patrice Bergeron hadn’t yet scored a goal in 2021-22. Through seven games, the perennial Selke Trophy candidate managed a mere three assists. He wasn’t knocking down the door with 17 shots on goal through those seven games, but he was “due.” Patrice collected against the Red Wings. He broke that slump with a natural hat trick. At the end of the game, he added one more. Brad Marchand collected four assists on Bergeron’s goals, so certainly give him an honorable mention.

(Curiously, David Pastrnak didn’t collect a single point.)

If you could legally only name one player of the night for Thursday in the NHL, you’d maybe lean toward Bergeron. That’s because, after generating a hat trick, Brock Nelson’s fourth goal was an empty-netter. We’re generous here at PHT, so huzzah: Bergeron and Brock both get the nod.

Highlights from Thursday in the NHL

Well, duh, might as well feature Patrice Bergeron’s four-goal night:

And then you compare/contrast with Nelson’s four:

Robin Lehner is a large human. Some go as far as to call him a panda. That big goalie can move though:

Jordan Eberle made history on Thursday by recording the first hat trick in Seattle Kraken history:

Thursday’s NHL takeaways

Ovechkin not just scoring goals, might be a vampire

Uh, don’t look now, but Alex Ovechkin is very much in the Maurice Richard Trophy race. Heck, he’s not that far behind Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid in the Art Ross race, either.

Part of Thursday’s NHL takeaway is that the Panthers made another statement by beating the Capitals in OT. Florida won that Southeast Division reunion.

But … whoa, did Ovechkin find a fountain of youth? Did he drain a previous one, only to find another?

He’s been red-hot to start the season. In the Capitals’ OT loss to the Panthers, Ovechkin generated a goal and two assists. That places Ovechkin at 10 goals in as many games played.

It’s no secret Ovechkin can still score goals, but grabbing eight assists for 18 points is worth noticing. Consider that, in 2019-20, Ovechkin scored 48 goals  … but just 19 assists.

If teams need to respect Ovechkin’s (often-underrated) passing more, it will only open up more space for him to unleash bombs. He’s even scoring when he’s leaving his “office,” persumably not just when he wants some coffee.

Eh, maybe the Sabres didn’t get that great a Jack Eichel trade return

No doubt, when Kevin Weekes tweeted about the Flames dangling Matthew Tkachuk and actually good futures, it felt a bit like someone strategically leaking something to Weekes. Maybe the Sabres thought that tweet would squeeze out a little extra from the Golden Knights. Perhaps some other tomfoolery was afoot.

Frankly, it was still fun to imagine that trade. Will Matthew Tkachuk or Jack Eichel bring more value in the mid and long-term? The answer matters less if the question isn’t framed around the Flames trading for Eichel.

Instead, the Golden Knights made the Eichel trade work, sending the Sabres a package including Alex Tuch, Peyton Krebs, and picks with a lottery protection caveat or two.

Not bad. Especially if Tuch either jumps a level, or is packaged in another trade down the line.

But it was kind of … anticlimactic. In particular, it’s hard to believe that a Jack Eichel trade wouldn’t have been more lucrative for the Sabres during the offseason. Unless something leaks, perhaps we’ll never know.

(And we’ll certainly never know every possible Eichel trade. That’s for few beyond Kevyn Adams to know.)

Senators still have a long way to go

By winning two of their first three games, the Senators inspired some hope that they might stride away from a full-blown rebuild. Recent events paint a different picture.

Normally, the Golden Knights would be big favorites against the Senators. Yet, with a massive injury list, the Golden Knights arguably stood as the underdogs on Thursday. At minimum, Ottawa’s rarely been on such even footing with Vegas.

While it wasn’t a light night for Robin Lehner (38 saves), the Senators often made it too easy for the undermanned Golden Knights.

In three consecutive losses, the Senators have allowed five goals in each contest. They’ve also lost six of seven to slip to 3-6-1 overall.

No, the Senators weren’t expecting to soak in that “unparalleled success” in 2021-22. They were likely hoping to finally convert some of that potential into actual on-ice production, though. Maybe these stumbles translate to growing pains — or maybe the young birds won’t learn how to fly anytime soon.

Friday’s big story

A fun test for the Oilers and Rangers

Maybe call it “The Lottery Bowl?”

Few teams have enjoyed draft lottery bounces quite like the Oilers (8-1-1) and Rangers (6-2-2) have recently. (More recent for the Rangers than Oilers, but still.)

While that may leave Steve Yzerman and plenty of fans grumbling, the rest of us can enjoy a nice, star-filled temperature check.

Can the Rangers stop the juggernaut that is the Connor McDavid – Leon Draisaitl combination? Perhaps they’ll just use Artemi Panarin, Adam Fox, and those lottery winnings to outscore those issues? (Also: Igor Shesterkin can steal another one.)

Either way, Oilers – Rangers should be fun. If we’re lucky, it might give us a better idea of where these two teams are headed.

Thursday’s NHL scores

Bruins 5, Red Wings 1
Maple Leafs 2, Lightning 1 (OT)
Islanders 6, Canadiens 2
Golden Knights 5, Senators 1
Panthers 5, Capitals 4 (OT)
Penguins 3, Flyers 2 (OT)
Stars 4, Flames 3 (OT)
Kraken 5, Sabres 2
Blues 5, Sharks 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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