Top player in the NHL on Sunday
Jack Eichel, Vegas Golden Knights
The Vegas Golden Knights acquired Jack Eichel with the hopes that he will be a game-changer in their lineup, adding to their already star-laden roster. On Sunday, he made a big impact on their 4-1 win over the San Jose Sharks scoring his first goal with the team and also adding an assist. Eichel already has three points for the Golden Knights after making his debut less than a week ago. They are in a tough fight for the top spot in the Western Conference’s Pacific Division with the Calgary Flames. Assuming the Golden Knights can get fully healthy for the playoffs (meaning the return of starting goalie Robin Lehner and a healthy Mark Stone) they should still be one of the top contenders in the Western Conference for the Stanley Cup.
Highlights from around the NHL on Sunday
Have a look at Eichel’s first goal with the Golden Knights.
The Carolina Hurricanes won a first place showdown with the Pittsburgh Penguins on Sunday afternoon, 4-3, thanks to a couple of quick goals. They scored nine seconds into the second period to take a 2-0 lead, and then also scored nine seconds into the third period to take a 3-2 lead after the Penguins had rallied to tie the game late in the second period. That early third period goal was this Jesper Fast goal scored off the rush.
The Minnesota Wild were 7-3 winners in Edmonton on Sunday night against the Oilers, and Kevin Fiala played a big role with two goals and an assist. This goal to give the Wild a 3-0 lead just seven minutes into the game was a very slick move to beat Oiler goalie Mike Smith on an odd-man rush.
Also on Sunday check out how close New York Rangers goalie Igor Shesterkin came to scoring a goal against the Ottawa Senators.
Three takeaways from the NHL on Sunday
Oilers lose first game under Woodcroft
The Edmonton Oilers were on quite a roll after replacing Dave Tippett with Jay Woodcroft behind the team’s bench, winning five games in a row heading into Sunday’s home game against the Minnesota Wild. That winning streak came to an emphatic end against the Wild in a 7-3 decision that was never really close. Oilers goalie Mike Smith had a particularly tough game and was benched after allowing three goals on the first seven shots he faced. Things are about to get really tough for the Oilers as they started a road trip this week that will start with games in Carolina, Tampa Bay, and Florida, three of the NHL’s best teams.
Patrik Laine keeps rolling
The Columbus Blue Jackets have won seven of their past nine games and playing their best hockey of the season. Leading the way has been Patrik Laine who has been on a roll and he continued it on Sunday with another two-point game, recording two assists in a 7-3 win over the Buffalo Sabres. Laine has 18 points in those nine games (averaging two points per game), scoring 10 goals to go with eight assists. He has seven multi-point games over that stretch. He is definitely playing himself to a significant payroll this summer.
Stars struggle against Arizona
The Dallas Stars are a difficult team to get a grasp on. When it looks like their season is slipping away, they go on a roll to climb back into the playoff race. When it looks like they are back on track, they lose a game they should win and then go on a losing streak. They entered Sunday’s game in Arizona having won 9 of their past 12 game (9-3-0) to climb back into playoff contention in the Western Conference. Playing a Coyotes team that is among the league’s worst seemed like a great chance to continue that recent surge and climb in the standings. Then they lost a 3-1 decision on Sunday. Can not lose games like that when you are competing for a playoff spot on the playoff bubble.
Monday’s big story
The most exciting game on the Monday schedule is in the afternoon when the Boston Bruins host the Colorado Avalanche. Boston has struggled since Brad Marchand’s six-game suspension while the Avalanche remain one of the league’s best teams with the best record. Also on Monday the Montreal Canadiens go for their first three game winning streak of the season when they play the Toronto Maple Leafs. Sunday is the first time they have won back-to-back games all season (read about that here).
Sunday’s NHL Scores
Carolina Hurricanes 4, Pittsburgh Penguins 3
Montreal Canadiens 3, New York Islanders 2 (SO)
Florida Panthers 5, Chicago Blackhawks 2
New York Rangers 2, Ottawa Senators 1
Columbus Blue Jackets 7, Buffalo Sabres 3
Arizona Coyotes 3, Dallas Stars 1
Vegas Golden Knights 4, San Jose Sharks 1
Minnesota Wild 7, Edmonton Oilers 3
Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.