NHL Rink Wrap: Hats off to Atkinson; Pacioretty goal streak at 7; Senators keep rolling

NHL Scores
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Top player from Tuesday in the NHL

Cam Atkinson, Philadelphia Flyers

The Philadelphia Flyers are always a team of streaks. After their 10-game losing streak ended over the weekend they are now on a three-game winning streak thanks to their dominating 6-1 win over the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday night. Leading the way was a spectacular game from forward Cam Atkinson as he recorded his first hat trick as a member of the Flyers and finished with four points (three goals, one assist), was a plus-five, and had seven shots on goal. Atkinson now has 12 goals in his first 27 games with the Flyers after being acquired in an offseason trade with the Columbus Blue Jackets for Jakub Voracek.

Highlights from Tuesday in the NHL

Kasperi Kapanen started the scoring for the Pittsburgh Penguins in their 5-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens by bunting in a goal for his seventh goal of the season.

The Vancouver Canucks improved to 5-0-0 under new coach Bruce Boudreau by completing an incredible comeback against the Columbus Blue Jackets. Bo Horvat tied the game thanks to this incredible pass by Quinn Hughes.

Auston Matthews and the Toronto Maple Leafs handed the Edmonton Oilers their sixth consecutive defeat, with Matthews scoring a pair of goals in the 5-1 win to give him 20 goals on the season.

Three Takeaways from Tuesday in the NHL

Max Pacioretty has scored a goal in seven consecutive games

As soon as the Vegas Golden Knights started to get their top players back they all of a sudden started winning a bunch of games. Max Pacioretty’s return has been one of the big additions to the lineup as he continues his incredible start to the season. He now has 12 goals in his first 11 games and is currently riding a seven-game goal-scoring streak after adding to it with a pair of goals in their 4-1 win over the Boston Bruins on Tuesday night. It is already his fourth multi-goal game of the season and his third during his current goal-scoring streak. He also has 19 total points on the season. Pacioretty has always been one of the games best goal scorers and he is playing some of the best hockey of his career right now.

The Ottawa Senators are playing some fantastic hockey right now

That is no joke, either. They are on a roll and against some of the best teams in the league. Thanks to their 8-2 win over the Florida Panthers on Tuesday the Senators are now 5-1-0 in their past six games, outscoring their opponents by a 27-16 margin. Their opponents during that stretch: Carolina Hurricanes (win), Colorado Avalanche (win), New Jersey Devils (win), New York Islanders (the one loss), Tampa Bay Lightning (win), and Florida Panthers (win). That list includes four of the best teams in the league. Just prior to this stretch they had lost 15 out of 17 games, so this is quite the unexpected turnaround.

Vladimir Tarasenko keeps rolling

Vladimir Tarasenko wanted out of St. Louis during the offseason and the St. Louis Blues were willing to move him. They were willing to lose him for nothing in the Seattle Kraken expansion draft. Nobody went for it, and the Blues are benefitting from that. Tarasenko had three more points in the Blues’ 4-1 win over the Dallas Stars on Tuesday night, giving him nine goals, 17 assists, and 26 total points this season. After two consecutive seasons where he dealt with major injuries and a lack of production when he was on the ice, Tarasenko is clearly back to being an impact player and probably making a lot of teams second guess their offseason approach.

Wednesday’s big story

On the ice we are going to go with Alex Ovechkin looking to continue his unbelievable season as the Washington Capitals visit the Chicago Blackhawks. Ovechkin is third in the NHL in scoring this season and having one of the best offensive seasons of his career, which is absolutely insane given that he is in his mid-30s and should be at an age where he should be slowing down offensively. It is not happening. Off the ice all eyes and attention will be on what happens with the league’s COVID situation after several players and coaches entered the protocol on Tuesday.

Tuesday’s NHL Scores

Vegas Golden Knights 4, Boston Bruins 1
Tampa Bay Lightning 3, Los Angeles Kings 2 (OT)
Ottawa Senators 8, Florida Panthers 2
Philadelphia Flyers 6, New Jersey Devils 1
Pittsburgh Penguins 5, Montreal Canadiens 2
Detroit Red Wings 2, New York Islanders 1
Buffalo Sabres 4, Winnipeg Jets 2
St. Louis Blues 4, Dallas Stars 1
Colorado Avalanche 4, New York Rangers 2
Toronto Maple Leafs 5, Edmonton Oilers 1
Vancouver Canucks 4, Columbus Blue Jackets 3
Seattle Kraken 3, San Jose Sharks 1
Calgary Flames vs. Nashville Predators (Postponed)
Carolina Hurricanes vs. Minnesota Wild (Postponed)

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    Thompson nets 4 in 1st, 5 overall, as Buffalo tops Columbus

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    COLUMBUS, Ohio — Tage Thompson matched an NHL record by scoring four times in the first period and finished with five goals and an assist as the Buffalo Sabres won their third straight road game, 9-4 over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Wednesday night.

    Thompson is the second U.S.-born player to score five goals in a game. He is the fourth player in NHL history to record four goals in the first period of a regular-season game, joining Peter Bondra (1994), Grant Mulvey (1982) and Joe Malone (1921). He is also the fourth active player to score five goals in a game, joining Timo Meier (Jan. 17, 2022), Mika Zibanejad (March 5, 2020) and Patrik Laine (Nov. 24, 2018).

    “It’s definitely a rewarding feeling,” Thompson said. “You’ve spent a lot of years working to get to this point and to be rewarded for it is a pretty good feeling and it just leaves you hungrier.”

    Thompson’s outburst helped Buffalo score six times in the first 16:40.

    “That was an amazing performance by Tage, and really, the whole group set the table,” Sabres coach Don Granato said. “I thought the energy, the collective effort, the focus to start was really good and enabled that to happen.”

    Alex Tuch had a goal and three assists, Dylan Cozens added a power-play goal and two assists and Rasmus Dahlin finished with a goal and two assists. Peyton Krebs also scored. Jeff Skinner picked up four assists and Jacob Bryson had two. Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen stopped 20 shots.

    Patrik Laine and Gustav Nyquist each scored twice for Columbus.

    Joonas Korpisalo stopped two shots before being pulled in the first in favor of Elvis Merzlikins, who stopped 15 shots through the second period. Korpisalo returned in the third and finished with six saves.

    Columbus has lost six straight home games and five of its last six overall.

    “We didn’t have an answer for that one line,” Blue Jackets coach Brad Larsen said. “Tage Thompson just tore us up tonight.”

    Buffalo dominated from the puck drop, scoring four goals on its first six shots.

    Cozens put the Sabres on the board at 3:21 of the first, 53 seconds into a Blue Jackets penalty, and Thompson made it 2-0 just 2:09 later. Dahlin scored Buffalo’s third goal at 7:28 of the first, driving Korpisalo from the net in favor of Merzlikins, who gave up Buffalo goal No. 4 to Thompson 32 seconds later.

    Thompson’s third career hat trick and second of the season came on a power-play goal at 12:22 of the first. He followed with his fourth goal, also on the power play, at 16:40.

    Columbus scored two goals in just over a minute, with Laine at 10:49 and Nyquist at 12:04, before Buffalo reeled off three straight in just over three minutes to end the period, including Thompson’s fifth, and goals by Krebs and Tuch.

    Laine and Nyquist scored in the third period for Columbus.

    STREAKING

    Cozens has 12 points in his last five games and is riding a career-best, five-game point streak. Thompson has eight goals and five assists in his last five games and 10 multi-point games. Dahlin has a five-game point and assist streak, and Gaudreau stretched his points streak to six games.

    NOTES: The Sabres joined the Kraken as the second team this season to score nine goals in a game. … Thompson is the second player in Buffalo history to have five goals in a game, joining Dave Andreychuk, who had five goals and an assist on Feb. 6, 1986.

    UP NEXT

    Buffalo: Hosts Pittsburgh on Friday.

    Columbus: Hosts Calgary on Friday.

    Ovechkin, Strome lead Capitals past struggling Flyers 4-1

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    PHILADELPHIA — Alex Ovechkin scored two empty-net goals, Dylan Strome had a goal and an assist and the Washington Capitals defeated the Philadelphia Flyers 4-1 on Wednesday night.

    T.J. Oshie also scored for the Capitals, who finished 3-3 on a six-game trip. Charlie Lindgren made 29 saves.

    Kevin Hayes scored for Philadelphia, which has lost 13 of 15 games. Carter Hart made 23 stops.

    Strome broke a 1-all tie with 10:41 remaining when he deflected John Carlson‘s shot from long range past Hart.

    Hayes had a golden opportunity to tie it on a Philadelphia power play, but Lindgren made a great right pad save on a try from close range with 8:20 remaining.

    Ovechkin iced it, scoring into an empty net with 1:35 left and adding another empty-netter with 8.2 seconds left for his 15th of the season. Ovechkin has 795 career goals, good for third all-time. He is six goals away from tying Gordie Howe for second place. Wayne Gretzky, with 894 goals, tops the list.

    Hayes scored his ninth goal of the season for his team-leading 28th point with 4:14 left in the first period to give the Flyers a 1-0 lead. Hayes rushed to the bench after breaking his stick on a slap shot attempt, and scored on a wrist shot from the high slot with his new stick.

    The Flyers had a power-play goal for the third straight game and have four overall in that stretch. Philadelphia, which began play ranked 30th in the NHL in scoring on the man advantage, now has converted 16.7% (14 of 84) of its chances.

    Oshie tied it 3:51 into the second on the Capitals’ fourth power play as the Flyers continued to take sloppy penalties. This time, James van Riemsdyk committed Philadelphia’s third tripping minor of the game. Oshie made them pay with his fifth goal of the season when he finished a nifty passing sequence with Strome and Evgeny Kuznetsov with a perfectly placed one-timer over Hart’s left shoulder.

    NOTES: Van Riemsdyk returned after missing the last 20 games due to a broken right index finger. . Flyers forward Tanner Laczynski was placed on injured reserve after departing midway through the third period of Monday’s 5-3 win over Colorado with what looked like an injury to his left leg. . Washington was without several injured players, including starting goalie Darcy Kuemper (upper body). Kuemper was with the team, but missed his second in a row. . Carlson had two assists. . Philadelphia’s Cam Atkinson, out all season with an upper body injury, has been practicing and is close to returning.

    UP NEXT

    Capitals: Host Seattle on Friday night.

    Flyers: Open four-game trip at Vegas on Friday night.

    Penguins prospect Sam Poulin taking leave of absence

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    PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh Penguins forward prospect Sam Poulin is taking a leave of absence from the club’s American Hockey League affiliate in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

    Penguins general manager Ron Hextall announced on Wednesday that the 21-year-old Poulin, Pittsburgh’s first-round pick in the 2019 draft, is stepping away due to “personal reasons.”

    “The Penguins support Sam’s decision to take time away from hockey to focus on himself,” Hextall said in a release. “As with all of our players, our priority is them as individuals first. We look forward to having him back with the team when he is ready.”

    Hextall said Poulin will return home to Quebec and continue to work out on his own.

    Poulin made his NHL debut in October and had one assist in three games before heading back to the AHL. Poulin had four goals in 13 games for Wilkes-Barre/Scranton at the time of his decision.

    Nathan MacKinnon sidelined about a month with upper-body injury

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    DENVER — The injury-riddled Colorado Avalanche will be without leading scorer Nathan MacKinnon for about a month after he suffered an upper-body injury in a loss to Philadelphia.

    The team announced the news on social media.

    MacKinnon has eight goals and 26 assists for a team-best 34 points this season for the defending Stanley Cup champions. He joins a long list of banged-up players, including Valeri Nichushkin, Evan Rodrigues, Bowen Byram, Kurtis MacDermid, Josh Manson, Darren Helm and captain Gabriel Landeskog. Forward Artturi Lehkonen also missed the game in Philadelphia.

    The 27-year-old MacKinnon signed an eight-year extension in August. He was coming off a postseason in which he tied for the league lead with 13 goals, helping the Avalanche raise their third Stanley Cup in franchise history.