NHL Rink Wrap: Stars end Penguins’ streak; Fleury wins in Vegas return

NHL Rink Wrap: Stars end Penguins' streak; Fleury wins in Vegas return
Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Top players from Saturday in the NHL

Tomas Hertl, Sharks

From a cold, calculated standpoint, the Sharks probably shouldn’t sign Tomas Hertl to a contract extension. This is the 28-year-old’s chance for that big UFA contract, and he’s unlikely to compromise on price or term. Considering where the Sharks stand — even if they’re not as dour as expected — the risks likely outweigh the rewards.

But watch Hertl when he really heats up, and it’s tough to blame the Sharks for struggling with the idea of waving goodbye. That must apply to Saturday in the NHL, as Tomas Hertl generated a hat trick that included an overtime game-winner.

With that hat trick, Hertl is already at 20 goals this season, one more than in 2020-21. He’s reasonably close to a point per game (31 in 36), too. That kind of output will make him tough to let go … but also that much more expensive to keep.

Although, the Sharks are assuming they may be able to terminate Evander Kane’s contract, so maybe they’re feeling flush?

Mikko Rantanen, Avalanche

Thanks to Auston Matthews‘ second goal of the night, the Maple Leafs built a 3-0 lead 14:50 into the first period vs. the Avalanche. That lead wouldn’t hold, and Mikko Rantanen ranked as a big reason why Colorado came back from what looked like a defeat.

In all, Rantanen collected four assists in this rally, including three primary helpers. Rantanen generated four shots on goal, one hit, and a +3 rating in 25:09 of ice time.

Rantanen’s produced seven points in his last two games, pushing his season points total to 40 in 28 contests. Over an 82-game season, that would translate to 117 points.

Unfortunately, Rantanen hasn’t been able to stay totally healthy lately, so that projection is somewhat fanciful. The Avalanche would settle for having Rantanen and other key players healthy and sharp for the playoffs, though.

Highlights from NHL games on Saturday

Saturday ended up being quite the night for high-level goalie saves around the NHL.

First, watch Joonas Korpisalo absolutely rob Nico Hischier:

Plenty of Superman references following this Jack Campbell save:

Finally, Zach Fucale made a tremendous save of his own:

There was also this from that Capitals game. (Oh, and check out the shutout record Fucale set, by the way. Remember Matt Hackett?)

Watch Tomas Hertl’s hat trick, including the OT game-winner:

Devon Toews added an exclamation point to the Avalanche’s comeback win against the Maple Leafs with this OT tally:

One more OT-winner: tremendous pass from Jonathan Huberdeau, skilled finish by Anthony Duclair for a Florida W.

NHL takeaways from Saturday

Sharks waive Evander Kane in order to terminate his contract

In the most unexpected NHL news of Saturday, the Sharks placed Evander Kane on waivers with the goal of terminating his contract. While the NHLPA hasn’t specified its plans yet, the widely reported belief is that Kane will file a grievance. Read up on the situation in this post.

Stars end Penguins’ winning streak at 10, Klingberg makes waves

By itself, Saturday’s early Penguins – Stars game was noteworthy enough. Carrying a 10-game winning streak into the NHL action on Saturday, the Penguins ended the first period up 2-0 vs. the Stars. With a goal in the second and two more in the third, the Stars ended up rallying to end the Penguins’ winning streak. In doing so, the Stars are heating up in their own right, as this was their fourth consecutive win.

But John Klingberg‘s comments to the media delivered bigger headlines.

While Klingberg denied an outright trade request from the Stars, he acknowledged frustrations with a lack of movement regarding a contract extension. In other words, it doesn’t sound like Klingberg is totally stunned by talk of his days being numbered with the Stars.

Not a bad way to get some wheels spinning about the 2022 NHL Trade Deadline, which is on March 21.

Fleury wins in return to Vegas

In an emotional moment, Vegas welcomed Marc-Andre Fleury back with a tribute video, spotlighting the nice highs of his Golden Knights years. (The lows of his departure weren’t necessarily in the front of his mind. Hopefully.)

Through the first period, a Ben Hutton goal gave Vegas a 1-0 lead. That would end up being the last time they beat Marc-Andre Fleury in this game, as he stopped 30 of 31 shots to grab a win for the Blackhawks. Maybe “The Flower” hasn’t gotten the last laugh, but he got the latest one.

Sunday’s big story

Next step in Evander Kane – Sharks situation

Barring an unexpected claim, Evander Kane is expected to clear waivers on Sunday afternoon.

Again, we know that while not official, it’s likely Kane and the NHLPA will file a grievance about the Sharks trying to terminate his contract. What we don’t know is:

  • Which team, or teams, would be interesting in signing Evander Kane as a free agent?
  • Could there even be a bidding war of sorts? Would a multi-year contract be possible?

With two Saturday NHL games scheduled six hours apart, fans can soak in each contest — and possibly more information on the Kane – Sharks situation.

NHL scores from Saturday

Stars 3, Penguins 2
Bruins 5, Lightning 2
Sharks 3, Flyers 2 (OT)
Panthers 4, Hurricanes 3 (OT)
Blue Jackets 4, Devils 3
Avalanche 5, Maple Leafs 4 (OT)
Wild 3, Capitals 2 (SO)
Predators 4, Coyotes 2
Blackhawks 2, Golden Knights 1
Rangers 4, Ducks 1
Kings 4, Red Wings 0

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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