NHL Rink Wrap: Nathan Walker – Australian for hat trick; Fleury at 500 wins

NHL Rink Wrap: Nathan Walker - Australian for hat trick; 500 wins for Fleury
Scott Rovak/NHLI via Getty Images

Top players from Thursday in the NHL

Nathan Walker, Blues

(Must resist urge to crikey.)

On Thursday, Nathan Walker became the first Australian to generate a hat trick in NHL history. He’s also the first Australian to play in an NHL game (the Capitals selected Walker 89th overall in 2014).

If Nathan Walker can convince the Blues to keep him with the big club, he has a strong chance to make more history. Especially if you get really obscure and try to squeeze in “first Australian to draw a high-sticking double-minor in NHL history.”

(Come to think of it, maybe he should corner the market and grab a goalie record or two. After all, the Blues do need an EBUG.)

All mostly awful Australian jokes aside, this is pretty impressive stuff from Nathan Walker. He notched that hat trick in his first NHL game of this season. Overall, he’s now at 26 NHL games played, including eight quiet ones (one goal, zero assists) last season.

For what it’s worth, Nathan Walker’s been productive outside the NHL. Through 19 games in the AHL, he’s scored 17 points. Maybe that makes him a “quadruple-A player.” Or maybe he just deserves more chances.

Steven Stamkos, Lightning

No big deal, but Steven Stamkos is now on a nine-game point streak (6G, 11A, for 17 points). He’s only failed to generate a point in six of 25 games this season, and suffered through just one multi-game pointless streak (merely two contests).

Overall, Stamkos is at 32 points in 25 games after generating four points (1G, 3A) on Thursday, leaving him fifth in the NHL in scoring this season. (As of this writing, Stamkos ranks among a mere eight players at 30+ points.)

Understandably, people chalk up the Lightning persisting without Nikita Kucherov and Brayden Point to a combination of Andrei Vasilevskiy‘s brilliance, Victor Hedman‘s value, and Tampa Bay’s overarching competence. Don’t sleep on what Stamkos is doing this season, though. Heck, Team Canada can’t help but notice, right?

Highlights from NHL games on Thursday

Here’s footage of that Nathan Walker hat trick.

With about 12 seconds remaining in regulation, Eeli Tolvanen scored a game-winner for the Predators, keeping the Islanders winless at their new home arena.

Brad Marchand made some fairly obscure shorthanded goal history in impressive fashion.

Kyle Connor celebrated his 25th birthday with two goals, while Connor Hellebuyck shut out (/leashed?) the Kraken.

NHL takeaways from Thursday

Marc-Andre Fleury gets a shutout, picks up 500th NHL win

Not that long ago, Marc-Andre Fleury already moved into third all-time in goalie wins. During Thursday’s NHL action, Fleury reached a milestone that really ties the room together, though: 500 wins.

With at least a gesture toward considering retirement, the 37-year-old doesn’t seem like a threat to Martin Brodeur’s lofty NHL record of 691 wins. That said, if Marc-Andre Fleury decided to stick around, Patrick Roy (551) isn’t that far out of reach at second place.

By the way, Brodeur welcomed Fleury to the 500 win club later in the night.

Fleury acknowledged that reaching 500 wins against the Canadiens made it extra special. Consider Fleury another player of the night for Thursday in the NHL, by the way, as he pitched a 30-save shutout.

Fleury reaching 500 wins gave the Blackhawks something to celebrate, even.

Now that the Blackhawks have gotten at least partially back on track, Fleury’s been heating up. Much like with Stamkos, Fleury is likely gaining some interest from Team Canada. Frankly, he’s also building an argument that he can still deliver strong goaltending in the NHL.

If he’s interested in playing next season, it wouldn’t be surprising if he found some takers.

Eight straight wins for the Wild

Well, wow.

Halfway through a four-game road trip, the Wild haven’t shown many signs of slowing down. During what’s now an eight-game winning streak, the Wild scored seven goals once, five goals three times (including on Thursday), four goals three times, and three goals once.

Maybe that offense will slow down, but certainly not yet.

To little surprise, Kirill Kaprizov ranks as one of the leading catalysts of the Wild’s winning streak. With a goal and an assist, Kaprizov is now on a seven-game point streak (4G, 9A, 13 points). Jim Dowd holds the Wild record of nine straight games with at least a point.

Still no home wins for the Islanders

Somewhere, probably not that far from the Islanders’ new arena, CM Punk must be smiling. (Especially since his Blackhawks won.)

Yep, pro wrestling heels can continue to ham it up, because the Islanders remain winless (0-5-2) at home. As bad as things have been for the Islanders, it’s quite a quirk that wrestlers would’ve struggled for cheap heat mere months ago. I mean, I guess you could roll with Tampa Bay Lightning T-shirts or something, but beyond that …

Keep an eye on the NHL Board of Governors meetings

PHT will monitor some of the biggest takeaways from the NHL’s latest Board of Governors meetings. Read about some new employee training “enhancements” here, and peruse details of the Penguins sale being approved.

Among other subjects, it sounds like the whole Coyotes thing may be addressed on Friday. That could be important since that bad news just seems to keep coming …

Friday’s big story

Penguins – Capitals rivalry: not dead yet?

Ideally, Evgeni Malkin would be healthy. And maybe time would move slower? That would be nice, too.

But, all things considered, let’s take a moment to relish the notion that the Capitals – Penguins rivalry isn’t necessarily dead just yet. At 16-4-6, the Capitals are on a much stronger start, and lead the Metropolitan Division (they have a habit of winning division titles during the Alex Ovechkin era). Meanwhile, the Penguins exhibit their own habit of finding ways to survive various injuries to key stars. At 12-8-5, they’re hanging in there thanks to Sidney Crosby, but also their structure, and goalie Tristan Jarry.

True, it remains to be seen if the Capitals and/or Penguins can make another run. Often, the playoffs tend to make those older legs feel heavier.

Yet, with Alex Ovechkin playing at a Hart level, and the Penguins sale giving reason not to blow things up, maybe we’ll luxuriate in more sweet memories before these teams finally fade? (If they fade?)

Thursday’s NHL scores

Lightning 5, Maple Leafs 3
Blackhawks 2, Canadiens 0
Ducks 2, Blue Jackets 1 (SO)
Predators 4, Islanders 3
Blues 6, Red Wings 2
Hurricanes 2, Flames 1 (OT)
Bruins 3, Oilers 2
Jets 3, Kraken 0
Kings 4, Stars 0
Wild 5, Sharks 2

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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