NHL Rink Wrap: Big upsets; Pastrnak hat trick boosts Rask’s return

NHL Rink Wrap: Big upsets; Pastrnak hat trick boosts Rask's return
Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images

Top player from Thursday in the NHL

David Pastrnak, Bruins

While Tuukka Rask’s return to action was the biggest Bruins story for Thursday, David Pastrnak laid claim to player of the night on Thursday.

According to Hockey Reference, Pastrnak came into Thursday with 12 hat tricks in the NHL. He generated 10 of them during regular season games, and two in postseason play.

That’s … pretty darn impressive for a forward who’s still just 25 years old. So, with this hat trick, Pastrnak has 11 in regular season play, which is already moving him up the all-time Bruins ranks.

In general, Pastrnak’s been heating up lately. While he went pointless in the Bruins’ previous game, Pastrnak generated four goals and an assist in two contests on Jan. 8 and 10th. This also inches Pastrnak closer to a point-per-game this season (16G, 30P in 34 GP).

NHL highlights from Thursday

Check out footage of that David Pastrnak hat trick:

Very, very slick goal by Canucks forward Tyler Motte:

The Kings ran away with their game against the Penguins, rapidly changing a 2-2 tie to a 6-2 win. That surge included goals just 12 seconds apart:

A controversial goal from Blackhawks – Canadiens. Is it gauche to ask if Montreal’s better off losing anyway, though? (Oof, although that first-rounder could end up benefiting the Coyotes instead, depending upon trade conditions. So, uh, oof again.)

Great saves from Elvis Merzlikins on his way to a shutout, and upset, of the Hurricanes:

Thursday NHL Takeaways

Rosters shared: U.S. Olympic men’s ice hockey team, 2022 NHL All-Star Game

Did someone decide that Thursday was the day for hockey teams to share rosters? Did this come out of a focus group? Anyway …

  • USA Hockey unveiled its roster for the 2022 U.S. Olympic men’s ice hockey team. You’ll notice some deep cuts from NHL rosters past, including David Warsofsky and Nick Shore. The most interesting names are high-end prospects, though. Matty Beniers, the second pick of the 2022 NHL Draft, ranked among the most noteworthy names for Team USA.
  • Later on, each divisional roster was revealed for the 2022 NHL All-Star Game. There’s a twist, though. Fans can vote the “Last Men in” — one per division — to complete the rosters. Click here for more.

Stunning upsets during some NHL games on Thursday

If you’re like me, you glance at the standings, then peek at a schedule, only to notice that quite a few games feel like “filler.” Couldn’t the lowly team just forfeit or something? Save the bruises? (Blocked shots still hurt, even when you’re tanking.)

Well, (Chris Berman voice) that’s why they play the game.

Sure, in some Thursday games, the higher-ranked NHL team won. But there were some eyebrow-raisers.

  • The Blue Jackets didn’t just beat the Hurricanes; they creamed them 6-0.
  • Instead of ending a losing streak, the Flames fell to the Senators. Calgary’s now lost four in a row.
  • On Tuesday, the Predators outlasted the Avalanche to push their winning streak to five games. In their next game, the Predators lost to the … Sabres?

Hockey’s a strange sport sometimes.

NHL goalie notes: Impressive shutouts, Rask is back

Well, hey, look who’s back.

Philadelphia Flyers v Boston Bruins
(Photo by Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)
  • Again, that Pastrnak hat trick helped Rask win in his return to action for the Bruins. Rask did his part, too, making 25 out of 27 saves. From a performance standpoint, other goalies upstaged him a touch.
  • Elvis Merzlikins made that dazzling save in the highlights section. He also didn’t allow a goal, pitching a 31-save shutout.
  • Connor Hellebuyck continues to be, well, Connor Hellebuyck. He generated a 33-save shutout as Winnipeg handled Detroit.
  • Closing out the night, Igor Shesterkin pitched a 36-save shutout. Tough to deny claims that Shesterkin’s already among the cream of the crop.

Friday’s big story

Can the Ducks start to get on track, on the road, against the Wild?

No, it’s not yet time to totally panic about the Anaheim Ducks. That said, they’ve been wavering lately, going 2-4-2 in their last eight games.

If you look at the Ducks’ record, you’ll see brilliance at home (12-6-4) but middle-of-the-road work away (7-7-3). Starting with a tough road test against the Wild on Friday, the Ducks seven of their next nine games away from home.

With many of the Pacific Division races tightening up, better road work may make a difference for the Ducks. (Like, maybe they can grab a round of home-ice advantage, even?)

NHL scores from Thursday

Bruins 3, Flyers 2
Lightning 4, Canucks 2
Blue Jackets 6, Hurricanes 0
Jets 3, Red Wings 0
Islanders 3, Devils 2
Blues 2, Kraken 1
Sabres 4, Predators 1
Blackhawks 3, Canadiens 2 (OT)
Senators 4, Flames 1
Kings 6, Penguins 2
Rangers 3, Sharks 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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