NHL Rink Wrap: Big (but clean?) Tom Wilson hit; Oilers streak continues

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Brian Fluharty-USA TODAY Sports
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Top players from Thursday in the NHL

Jason Robertson and Tyler Seguin, Stars

Overall, it’s not ideal that the Stars narrowly beat the Sabres, and needed four power-play goals to do it. But there’s something to be said for exerting your will to win a game, and that can be seen most immediately in 47 shots on goal for the Stars.

Robertson and Seguin collected 5 SOG apiece on their way to two-goal, one-assist performances. If this is one of John Klingberg‘s last games with the Stars, at least he factored into the win, generating three assists.

Even with this three-goal outburst, Seguin’s season totals are disappointing. He’s just shy of a point every other game with 18 in 36 contests. If nothing else, Seguin may be heating up, as he’s stacked up two straight multi-point games (3G, 2A).

Darcy Kuemper, Avalanche

The Avs topped the Kings 4-1 to spoil Quinton Byfield‘s season debut. The biggest roadblock in LA’s way was Kuemper, who stopped 40 of 41 shots faced in the win. It was a good rebound for the Colorado netminder after leaving Monday’s game following a collision with Jordan Greenway.

Sergei Bobrovsky, Panthers

No doubt, plenty will be made about the Oilers seeing their losing streak reach seven games. It’s also their seventh loss in eight home games.

But the story could’ve been very different if Sergei Bobrovsky wasn’t on fire. Instead, “Bob” stopped all 40 shots on goal to make life more miserable for the Oilers.

More on that in the NHL Takeaways section of the Thursday Rink Wrap …

NHL highlights from Thursday

Nice tribute from the Flyers for Jakub Voracek:

Likewise, a nice video for Matt Murray for the Penguins, who call him an “all-time great human.”

Scroll for more on the nastiness of Capitals – Bruins, including another big Tom Wilson hit. Beyond the nastiness, the teams also displayed great skill, including a nice goal by Evgeny Kuznetsov, and a late game-winner by Charlie McAvoy:

Watching the Sabres can’t be easy these days, except when Rasmus Dahlin does something remarkable.

Kudos to Stars sophomore Jason Robertson for scoring a baseball-themed goal during Rangers night.

Few modern NHL players are as strong on the backhand as Sidney Crosby, something he put on display on Thursday:

Shea Theodore netted the overtime winner for the Golden Knights and did it after some offensive zone domination:

Thursday NHL Takeaways

Hot start isn’t enough for Oilers, who see losing streak hit seven games

If you go by the first period alone, the Oilers deserved better against a formidable Florida Panthers team.

During that opening frame, the Oilers were humming, hammering 17 shots on goal (compared to seven for the Panthers). That volume generally continued, but Sergei Bobrovsky kept coming up big.

The air really went out of the Oilers’ sails on Aleksander Barkov‘s second goal of the night, a shorthanded tally.

From there, a reasonably close game devolved into a 6-0 stomping. The last player to score a Florida Panthers goal against David Tippett and the Oilers? Cruelly, it was Owen Tippett. (No relation.)

With that, the Oilers saw their losing streak grow to an unnerving seven games. It’s foolish to panic over cold streaks, but what if those cold streaks put the same old problems on display?

Tom Wilson delivers another big hit, but Bruins take issue with a different Capitals hit

Tom Wilson is no stranger to getting booed by opposing fans. That certainly happened on Thursday, as Bruins fans showered him with profane chants after a hard hit on Anton Blidh.

Blidh left that rough Bruins – Capitals game with an injury. Yet, while some took issue with the latest Tom Wilson hit, plenty of others called it clean. You be the judge:

Instead, the bigger issue was a Garnet Hathaway check that injured Brad Marchand. Bruins coach Bruce Cassidy believed it was “cheap.” Again, judge for yourself:

Despite those controversial hits (and some painful injury losses), the Bruins gutted out a 4-3 win over the Capitals. While the Bruins haven’t really improved their playoff seeding, they’ve still been hot lately, winning eight of their last 10 games.

Flyers ‘accomplish’ rare feat of two 10-game losing streaks already this season

So far, the Flyers have played 40 games in this lost season. Somehow, the Flyers already suffered two different 10-game losing streaks. The AP’s Dan Gelston notes that the 2010-11 Colorado Avalanche are the last NHL team to suffer two losing streaks of at least 10 games in a single season.

(Considering those 10-game losing streaks, you’d almost expect the Flyers to sport an even uglier record than 13-19-8. Not that it’s much solace.)

In case you’re wondering, the Flyers’ franchise record for longest losing streak is 12 games.

Hey, at least the Flyers still have their first-round pick, though. (Not their second-rounder, however. They gave that up to trade away Shayne Gostisbehere.)

At this point, the Flyers are aiming to avoid making more dismal history, while fans may be focusing on the 2022 NHL Trade Deadline and the 2022 NHL Draft. You have to wonder if Flyers management will be around to make calls in free agency and the draft after this wasted (and wastefully expensive) season.

Friday’s big story

Rangers – Hurricanes in a clash of contenders; Metro Division title implications?

Heading into the NHL action on Friday, the Rangers boast the most standings points (56 points in 40 games played) while the Hurricanes could easily close that gap (54 points, but with four games in hand [36 GP]).

In the most direct terms, the Rangers and Hurricanes get to influence the battle for the Metropolitan Division title.

But this could be an especially nice opportunity for the Rangers to make a statement. Despite being fairly close in the standings, the Hurricanes carry a bit more longer-term credibility than the Rangers. You can delve deeper into fancy stats, or merely note that the Hurricanes loom large with an impressive +45 goal differential, more than double the also-good Rangers’ differential (+20).

Beating the Hurricanes in Carolina wouldn’t dissolve all doubt about the Rangers. It would rank as one of their better wins, though. (Of course, that’s easier said than done.)

NHL scores from Thursday

Bruins 4, Capitals 3
Stars 5, Sabres 4
Blue Jackets 2, Flyers 1
Penguins 6, Senators 4
Predators 5, Jets 2
Panthers 6, Oilers 0
Avalanche 4, Kings 1
Golden Knights 4, Canadiens 3 (OT)
Kraken 3, 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.