NHL Rink Wrap: Scheifele, the natural; Eichel makes Golden Knights debut

NHL Rink Wrap: Scheifele, the natural; Eichel makes Golden Knights debut
Jeff Bottari/NHLI via Getty Images

Top players from Wednesday in the NHL

Mark Scheifele, Jets

What’s cooler that a hat trick? (Cheats.) Why, a natural hat trick is cooler.

After the Wild generated a 1-0 goal lead, Mark Scheifele scored three consecutive goals (two in the second period, one in the third) to nab that natural hat trick. The Jets center ended up adding an assist on an empty-netter to make it a four-point night.

Scheifele was already on a hot streak, so this natural hat trick really brings it up a notch. Scheifele extended his point and goal streak to five games (7G, 4A). Blake Wheeler‘s been hot on his own right, and it’s worth noting that he assisted on all three of Scheifele’s goals for that natural hat trick. Wheeler also got in on that empty-netter, so both players enjoyed four-point games.

Thanks to this run, Scheifele is very close to a point per game on the season (40 points in 41 games). It’s unclear if a keyed-in Scheifele + Wheeler combo can fuel a Jets playoff run, but this is impressive either way.

Wednesday NHL highlights

Two great highlights from Hurricanes vs. Panthers alone. First, quite the “save” from Lucas Carlsson.

Here’s a tough call. Was that Lucas Carlsson “save” better than this outstanding Aleksander Barkov goal? Not sure about you, but I might give the Barkov goal a slight advantage. Maybe the answer can change based on your mood?

Watch Scheifele generate that natural hat trick:

Heck of a shot by Gabriel Landeskog, but my goodness, what a keep-and-pass by Cale Makar:

Wednesday NHL Takeaways

Jack Eichel debuts with Golden Knights; MacKinnon hit on Patrick

At the start of his Golden Knights debut, Jack Eichel lined up with Max Pacioretty and Evgenii Dadonov. Personally, those linemates tickle, because people likely floated both as players the Golden Knights might trade to clear cap space for Eichel. (Dadonov more than Pacioretty, but still.)

To reiterate, the most interesting Eichel – Golden Knights debate will probably need to wait until the postseason. Do you load up with Eichel, Pacioretty, and Mark Stone? Or do you keep Pacioretty and Stone with Chandler Stephenson — capitalizing on something that’s worked quite well — and hope Eichel can carry another line?

The best highlight might just be this fan sign:

Colorado Avalanche v Vegas Golden Knights
“Mr. Eichel” really ties it together, and might be a good starter nickname for his time with the Golden Knights. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

As far as how Eichel performed for the Golden Knights, well … it’s a work in progress. Eichel took two penalties, finished with a -1 rating, and was unable to score. He fired one shot on goal with 15:53 TOI.

Another thing to watch from Eichel’s first game with the Golden Knights: Nathan MacKinnon delivered this hit on Nolan Patrick:

Considering Nolan Patrick’s struggles, this is especially concerning. Hopefully Patrick is OK, and very much unnecessary from Nathan MacKinnon.

Panthers pull off win in final regular season matchup vs. Hurricanes

If the Panthers and Hurricanes face each other again in 2021-22, it would be in a playoff matchup. You can bet that if a Panthers – Hurricanes series happens, it will be great.

For much of their latest game, it seemed like the Hurricanes might squeeze out a tight win against the Panthers. Tony DeAngelo scored a 2-1 goal 3:13 into a third period. The Panthers really showed their relentless style during that frame, though, outshooting the Hurricanes 11-2. Sam Reinhart ended up breaking through with less than a minute to go, and then Aaron Ekblad scored the overtime game-winner for a Florida W.

“The better team won tonight,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said after the Panthers win.

Might as well soak in those full highlights:

No rest advantage for Flames vs. Ducks? No problem, apparently

Honestly, it wouldn’t have been surprising if the Flames tired themselves out from clobbering Columbus on Tuesday, to the point that they struggled against the Ducks.

Um, nope.

The Ducks needed this one much more (see Thursday’s big story), but the Flames made no mistake about this. Most remarkably, the Flames didn’t even really slow down in the third period of a back-to-back closeout that they were leading.

Thursday’s big story

Pacific Division, West wild-card implications in Ducks vs. Oilers

Amid a three-game winning streak (and a 7-2-1 mark in their last 10 games), the Oilers appear about as stable as they’ve been in some time. At least at the moment.

As embattled Oilers GM Ken Holland said, this team’s season keeps going up and down … like, um, a toilet seat? Anyway, the Oilers appear to be in a better position, but that can change quickly, thanks to games like Thursday’s vs. the Ducks.

With players like Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl in tow, it’s no surprise that the Oilers draw so much attention with their highs and lows. (A swirling soap opera, if you will.) Yet, the Ducks also find themselves struggling to stay in the West/Pacific Division playoff races. Losing to the Flames despite a rest advantage on Wednesday won’t make matters easier.

Both the Ducks and the Oilers have plenty of incentive to win this one, and to do so during regulation. Being that the Ducks played the Flames on Wednesday, the Oilers also have a rest advantage. If they don’t exploit that edge, they’ll hear about it.

NHL scores from Wednesday

Jets 6, Wild 3
Panthers 3, Hurricanes 2 (OT)
Flames 6, Ducks 2
Avalanche 2, Golden Knights 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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