NHL Power Rankings: Rangers, Wild climbing toward top

NHL Power Rankings
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In this week’s edition of the NHL Power Rankings we see some big climbs from the Rangers and Wild, two of the hottest teams in the league.

Both teams are riding winning streaks of at least five games or more and keep finding ways to win.

For Minnesota, it is the kind of offense that we have never really seen from the Wild.

For the Rangers, it is all about the goaltending of Igor Shesterkin and their superstars at the top of the lineup. They check in with second and third place rankings this week, making big climbs up to the top-10.

Where does your team sit?

To this week’s NHL Power Rankings!

1. Florida Panthers (LW: 5). A three-game winning streak, including wins against Washington and St. Louis, helps the Panthers regain the top spot. They have the league’s best record (by points percentage) and have built a heck of a team.

2. New York Rangers (LW: 9). Are they best team in hockey? Not sure of that. But they have superstars in the right places to carry them pretty far. Their only loss over the past month was a 2-1 loss to Toronto, another of the league’s hottest teams at the moment.

3. Minnesota Wild (LW: 10). He is not the only one responsible for it, but it is amazing how much the arrival of Kirill Kaprizov a year ago completely changed the identity and playing style of this team.

[Related: Wild’s offense scoring goals like never before]

4. Toronto Maple Leafs (LW: 1). Little bit of a slip-up the past two games but they are still playing great hockey this season. The past will haunt them until they do something different, but try to enjoy the moment if you are a Maple Leafs fan.

5. Washington Capitals (LW: 2). The way they have continued to score goals and win with so many key players sidelined has been impressive, and overshadowed a nice bounce back season so far for Ilya Samsonov in net. Also, Alex Ovechkin keeps chasing Wayne Gretzky.

[Related: Ovechkin reaches 750 goals, keeps chasing Gretzky]

6. Tampa Bay Lightning (LW: 7). The way this team is still playing without Nikita Kucherov and Brayden Point at the moment is absurd. An insanely deep team and organization. You do not win back-to-back Stanley Cups by accident.

7. Colorado Avalanche (LW: 6). Cale Makar is going to be one of those guys that is head and shoulders above everybody else at his position.

8. Calgary Flames (LW: 9). The defense and goaltending has been great, but they are still scoring goals, too. Johnny Gaudreau specifically is having a huge year. Good news for him in a contract year.

9. Edmonton Oilers (LW: 3). The true barometer for this team will be what they look like when their power play and penalty kill numbers come back to earth a little bit.

10. Carolina Hurricanes (LW: 4). Their only wins over the past seven games have come against Philadelphia and Buffalo. They have hit their first slump of the season. Not going to worry too much yet.

11. Dallas Stars (LW: 15). Things are starting to come together here for the Stars as they are looking like the team they were supposed to be. They have won nine of their past 10 games, allowing more than two goals in just one of those games. As of Tuesday they have a six-game winning streak.

12. Vegas Golden Knights (LW: 11). Still trying to find some consistency, but given the injury situation they have done their job to stay in it until everybody can get back in the lineup (and that is starting to happen).

13. Boston Bruins (LW: 12). They are keeping the seat warm for Tuukka Rask. The question, though, is can they find somebody to play center?

[Related: Bruins keeping crease warm for potential Rask return]

14. Pittsburgh Penguins (LW: 14). Jake Guentzel is one of the best wingers in hockey and he is playing some of the best hockey of his career right now.

15. Winnipeg Jets (LW: 17). They are starting to play their way out of the slump that took over most of November. Still feels like Connor Hellebuyck has another level he can get to this season.

16. Detroit Red Wings (LW: 22). The two players they need to be great (Lucas Raymond and Moritz Seider) look great, and they are still in playoff contention approaching the new calendar year. Not only are better days ahead, they are close.

17. St. Louis Blues (LW: 13). They started the year 7-1-1 but are just 5-7-3 in the 15 games since then. Trending in the wrong direction.

18. Anaheim Ducks (LW: 19). Will they make the playoffs? Not sure, but they are absolutely exceeding expectations and have some real promise ahead.

19. Columbus Blue Jackets (LW: 16). Columbus is better than expected right now, but is that going to be enough to sneak in the playoffs?

20. Nashville Predators (LW: 18). This might be the best Nashville can hope for right now with this group: Fringe playoff contention.

21. San Jose Sharks (LW: 23). The biggest shocker of the season might be the play of James Reimer in goal. They might have had another Stanley Cup Final appearance over the past six years with goaltending like he is giving them.

22. Seattle Kraken (LW: 24). Big step backward against Pittsburgh on Monday night but they are still 5-2-1 over the past eight games so they are definitely going in the right direction.

23. New Jersey Devils (LW: 20). Such a promising start that is getting erased.

24. Chicago Blackhawks (LW: 25). They have been a lot better since the coaching change but they buried themselves with such a terrible start.

25. Philadelphia Flyers (LW: 20). The thought here was that if Carter Hart was good, the Flyers would be good. He has been good, and the Flyers have still been lousy. Not exactly a good sign for the rest of the team.

[Related: Flyers coach Vigneault fired after slow start]

26. Los Angeles Kings (LW: 26). They are either winning a lot of games in a row or losing a lot of games in a row. Right now it is more of the latter.

27. Buffalo Sabres (LW: 27). Tough to see how things get better anytime soon here with this roster. It is a long road back to the playoffs.

28. New York Islanders (LW: 28). The losing streak is now at 11 games. Some of it is out of their control with their COVID issues and mounting injuries, but nothing is going well here even outside of that.

29. Ottawa Senators (LW: 32). They strung together a couple of wins this week but this is still a bleak situation with little progress.

30. Vancouver Canucks (LW: 31). The significant organizational changes were long overdue.

31. Montreal Canadiens (LW: 30). They did not need injuries to Josh Anderson and Tyler Toffoli. That makes an already thin lineup even thinner.

32. Arizona Coyotes (LW: 32). You have to look for positives here. Shayne Gostisbehere has been a positive, if only to be used as another trade chip.

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    Devils rally from two goals down to beat Rangers 5-3

    Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports
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    NEW YORK – Jack Hughes and Michael McLeod scored in the second period, Vitek Vanecek stopped 35 shots and the surging New Jersey Devils rallied from an early two-goal deficit to beat the New York Rangers 5-3 on Monday night.

    Yegor Sharangovich had two goals and Tomas Tatar also scored to help the first-place Devils win their third straight since having their 13-game winning streak snapped last week. New Jersey has won 10 straight road games and has only one loss since starting the season 3-3-0.

    The Rangers raced to a 2-0 lead just three minutes into the contest but the Devils scored twice to tie it later in the first period to tie it and then scored twice in the second period to take the lead.

    “We stayed with our game. There was a calmness on the bench,” Devils coach Lindy Ruff said of his team’s early deficit. “All I said on the bench was ‘let’s get the next goal and we’ll be back in the game.”‘

    Vanecek improved to 11-2-0 as scattered chants of “Let’s Go Devils” were heard at Madison Square Garden.

    The Devils have made the playoffs only once – in 2018 – since beating the Rangers in six games in the 2012 Eastern Conference finals.

    “It was great to hear the fans here on our side,” Devils forward Miles Wood said. “We can’t thank them enough.”

    Artemi Panarin, Mika Zibanejad and Vincent Trocheck scored and Chris Kreider had two assists for the Rangers, who fell to 4-5-3 at home. Igor Shesterkin had 33 saves.

    New York also lost its second straight at home in a disheartening fashion. The Rangers squandered a 3-0 third-period lead against Edmonton on Saturday to lose 4-3. Last season, they won 27 of 41 games at the Garden.

    “When one thing goes wrong it starts to snowball on us,” Rangers defenseman Ryan Lindgren said. “We keep saying we have to play a full 60. You can’t keep talking about it, you have to go out and do it.”

    Rangers coach Gerard Gallant credited the young and hungry Devils with playing a superior game.

    “They put lots of offense at you, they play fast and they showed that,” Gallant said. “Tonight they were the better team.”

    Tatar narrowed the deficit to 2-1 at 7:31 of the first with a nifty high backhand shot past Shesterkin for his sixth of the season. Jesper Bratt had an assist on the play, giving him a point in 18 for the Devils’ 23 games this season.

    Sharangovich tied it with an unassisted goal with 6:35 left in the first.

    Hughes put the Devils ahead at 5:44 of the second after he gained a stride on Lindgren before sliding the puck past Shesterkin for his 12th of the season and fourth in the last two games.

    McLeod made it 4-2 at 9:40 with his third goal after Wood hit the crossbar behind Shesterkin.

    “I have to play better,” said , who was also in goal for Saturday’s meltdown against Edmonton and has lost three of his last five games.

    It was the fourth time in their last six games the Devils scored at least four times and New Jersey improved to 9-0-0 when the 21-year-old Hughes – the top overall pick by the Devils in the 2019 draft – has a goal.

    Trocheck scored his eighth goal on the power play for the Rangers with 6:42 left in the third to pull within one, but Sharangovich added an empty-netter with 16 seconds remaining to seal the win.

    The Devils improved a franchise-best 13-1-0 in November and an NHL-best 16-0-0 when leading after two periods.

    “It’s fun playing here,” Hischier said. “It feels great to beat the Rangers,?

    Panarin scored 1:20 into the game to end a personal 12-game goal-scoring drought with his sixth of the season and first since Oct. 30 at Arizona.

    Zibanejad made it 2-0 at 3:01 with his team-best 11th of the season.

    UP NEXT

    Devils: Host Nashville on Thursday night.

    Rangers: At Ottawa on Wednesday night.

    Stamkos lifts Lightning past Sabres 6-5 in OT

    Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
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    BUFFALO, N.Y. – Steven Stamkos scored his second goal of the game 2:44 into overtime to give the Tampa Bay Lightning a 6-5 win over the Buffalo Sabres on Monday night.

    Brayden Point also had two goals, Brandon Hagel had a goal and an assist, and Corey Perry also scored for the Lightning, who rallied from two goals down in the third period to force overtime. Nikita Kucherov and Mikhail Sergachev each had three assists, and Stamkos added one for a three-point night.

    Brian Elliott had 32 saves to get the win.

    “We got the breaks at the end to pull us back, some big-time players got us back into it,” Tampa Bay coach Jon Cooper said.

    Tage Thompson had a goal and an assist, and Tyson Jost, Jeff Skinner, Jack Quinn and Dylan Cozens also scored for Buffalo. Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen made 19 saves.

    “You allow good players a little bit of extra time and a little bit of extra space, they’re going to make plays on you,” Sabres coach Don Granato said. “We had hesitation in our game and it was only the last 10 minutes.”

    In the extra period, Stamkos got the winner on a blast from the right circle for his 12th of the season.

    “There’s going to be games where we don’t deserve the two points and tonight was probably one of those, but we’ve been on the other side of that too,” Stamkos said.

    With the score tied at 3-3 to open the third period, the Sabres appeared to take control in the third with two goals for a 5-3 lead with a little more than 5 1/2 minutes remaining.

    Cozens put Buffalo ahead at 9:37, ripping a shot from the right circle under the crossbar and beating Elliott on the glove side. Skinner made it 5-3 with 5:41 remaining, finishing from a tight angle after an odd-man rush was initially stopped.

    However, the Lightning answered back with two goals 3 1/2 minutes apart.

    Stamkos scored just 16 seconds after Skinner’s goal to get the Lightning within one. Hagel tied it with a power-play goal with 2:02 remaining. With Elliott pulled to create a 6-on-4 advantage, Kucherov’s shot from the right circle was deflected by Hagel past Luukkonen.

    Point opened the scoring 7:54 into the game with a power-play goal from close range for his ninth.

    Perry made it 2-0 with 3:12 left in the first off a cross-ice pass from Stamkos.

    Thompson put Buffalo on the board with 2:06 left in the first, beating Elliott with some nifty stick-handling after forcing a turnover in front of the Tampa net.

    Quinn evened it 59 seconds later, finishing a nice feed from JJ Peterka on a quick offensive rush.

    Jost gave Buffalo a 3-2 lead midway through the second period, scoring his first goal with the Sabres after he was acquired off waivers from Minnesota on Nov. 19.

    Point tied it 3-3 on the power play with 3:34 left in the second after getting a pass from Kucherov.

    INJURY RETURNS

    Each team had one player return from a recent injury. Sabres center Rasmus Asplund returned after missing two games with an upper-body injury. Tampa Bay forward Cole Koepke returned after missing three games with an upper-body injury.

    UP NEXT

    Lightning: At Boston on Tuesday night.

    Sabres: At Detroit on Wednesday night.

    Hughes has first NHL hat trick, Devils beat Capitals 5-1

    Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports
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    NEWARK, N.J. – Jack Hughes had his first career NHL hat trick, Vitek Vanecek made 38 saves against his former team and the New Jersey Devils beat the Washington Capitals 5-1 on Saturday for coach Lindy Ruff’s 800th victory.

    “It’s exciting,” Hughes said. “Couple of two-goal games in my career, so nice to cap it off with the third one tonight.”

    Ruff became the fifth NHL coach to reach the 800-victory mark. The former Buffalo player won 571 games with the Sabres from 1997-2011. He had 165 wins in five seasons with Dallas and has 64 in two-plus seasons with New Jersey.

    “It means I’ve been around a long time,” Ruff cracked. “Great to win the game. Again, you got to do a lot of right things, have good teams, and the way our team is playing I have to give them a lot of credit for getting me there.”

    The Atlantic Division-leading Devils have won two in a row after seeing their franchise-record 13-game winning streak snapped by Toronto.

    Devils captain Nico Hischier and Fabian Zetterlund also scored.

    John Carlson scored for Washington and Charlie Lindgren made 24 saves.

    “Not scoring goals, not capitalizing on our chances,” Carlson said. “We’ve had our chances, especially today, but we only walked away with one goal. We could have had five or six. It’s just not going in right now.”

    Vanecek, meanwhile, was hoping for the shutout against a familiar foe.

    “That would have been nice, but that’s hockey,” Vanecek said, “For sure you’re trying, but not every time; the win is more important.”

    Hischier opened up the scoring with his 10th goal of the season midway through the first period on a power play after Alexander Ovechkin was called for slashing.

    Hughes wrapped the puck around goalie Lindgren’s right leg and the goal post to put the Devils up 2-0 5:59 into the second period. Hughes appeared to have lost his angle on the goal when he ripped a shot off Lindgren’s face mask and into the net midway through the period for his 10th goal of the season to give New Jersey a 3-0 lead.

    The 2019 No. 1 overall draft pick added his third midway through the third period as hats rained down on the ice with New Jersey up 4-0.

    “You want to continue to play the right way, but if an opportunity comes you want to definitely put it in the back of the net with authority,” Hughes said. “So tonight, I was able to cap it off and it was nice.”

    Fabian Zetterlund capped the scoring for New Jersey late in the third period.

    NOTES: The Devils improved to 16-0-0 this season when Hischier has a point. New Jersey’s Nathan Bastain (upper body) did not return after the first period. . Ovechkin is still nine goals away from 800 and 11 from passing Gordie Howe for second place on the NHL goals list.

    UP NEXT

    Capitals: At Vancouver.

    Devils: At the New York Rangers.

    Bruins set NHL record with 12 straight home wins to start season

    Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
    2 Comments

    BOSTON — The Boston Bruins set the NHL record for most home victories to start a season with their 12th straight, topping the Carolina Hurricanes 3-2 in overtime with a power-play goal from David Pastrnak.

    The Bruins broke the mark of 11 that was set by the 1963-64 Chicago Blackhawks and equaled by the Florida Panthers last season.

    “That felt awesome,” Bruins first-year coach Jim Montgomery said. “We talked about it after the second (period) going into the third. There’s been a lot of great teams in this league and you’re able to set a precedent, break a record. It’s pretty special and it doesn’t happen if those guys don’t believe in themselves like they do.”

    Boston, which trailed 2-0 late in the second period, tied it with 9:33 left in regulation when David Krejci scored his second of the game on a shot from the right point.

    “It’s never fun being down going into the third, you’re sitting in here (in the locker room) trying to figure it out,” Krejci said. “You want to come out and do the job, something special on the line. It’s hard to win in this league. To get 12 in a row at home is pretty special.”

    In overtime, Carolina was playing shorthanded after being called for too many men on the ice when Pastrnak one-timed a pass from Brad Marchand inside the far post from above the left circle.

    “It was a big win for us, obviously, coming from behind,” Pastrnak said.

    Jesperi Kotkaniemi and Stefan Noesen each scored a power-play goal for Carolina, and Pyotr Kochetkov made 38 saves. The Hurricanes lost their fifth straight.

    In a rematch of last spring’s opening-round playoff series that the Hurricanes won in seven games, Carolina shutout the NHL’s highest scoring team for nearly two periods and jumped ahead a pair of power-play goals in the opening period.

    “We took too many penalties. That’s hurting us right now,” Kotaniemi said. “I think 5-on-5 we’re doing a really good job. We started good tonight and couldn’t keep that up.”

    Boston’s tying goal was originally disallowed because of goaltender interference on Nick Foligno but overturned on a coach’s challenge after it was ruled that he was nudged into the crease by Carolina defenseman Brett Pesce.

    Boston starting goaltender Linus Ullmark made 28 saves but had to leave with 13:03 left in the third period with an undisclosed upper-body injury. Teammate Connor Clifton had jumped on him to block a shot during a scramble. Jeremy Swayman made six stops in relief.

    Carolina’s Noesen scored at 6:34 in to make it 1-0. And with five minutes left in the period, Kotkaniemi collected the puck near the side of the net after Seth Jarvis‘ shot bounced off the back glass and slipped it inside the post at 15:05.

    Krejci scored for Boston with 31 seconds left in the second.

    Boston came in with a league-high 82 goals in 20 games (4.10 per game), but it was held to relatively few chances despite getting a 5-on-3 power-play advantage early on.

    TAKE NOTE

    The Bruins honored captain Patrice Bergeron, who recorded his 1,000th career point when the team was on the road against Tampa Bay, with a message on the Jumbotron. The crowd gave him a standing ovation.

    Bergeron became just the fourth Bruin to reach the mark, joining Hall of Famers Ray Bourque (1,506), Johnny Bucyk (1,339) and Phil Esposito (1,012).

    UP NEXT

    Hurricanes: Host the Calgary Flames.

    Bruins: Host the Tampa Bay Lightning.