NHL Rink Wrap: DeBrusk’s first hat trick; Maple Leafs’ stars deliver

NHL Rink Wrap: DeBrusk's first hat trick; Maple Leafs' stars deliver
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

Monday’s top NHL player

Jake DeBrusk, Bruins

Less than a minute into the second period of Bruins – Kings, Jake DeBrusk already recorded his first career hat trick. That also happened to be the first three goals of the game, making it a natural hat trick.

DeBrusk factored into what was a long night (figuratively) for Jonathan Quick, whose start literally got cut short after the Bruins piled two more goals on the Kings. Quick would end up getting the hook with 7:18 remaining in the second period.

Despite a tough overall night, Jonathan Quick made two stupendous saves.

One with his skate:

The other with his glove:

From Feb. 1-Feb. 17, Jake DeBrusk slogged through a six-game pointless streak. He also only managed an assist over eight games.

This hat trick pushes DeBrusk’s point streak to five games, however. He’s now at 23 points in 48 games, with 14 goals. A night like this might not stop the Bruins from eventually trading DeBrusk, yet if they can’t find a partner, he might just find his groove and give them that crucial secondary scoring.

Jeremy Swayman warrants an honorable mention with 34-save shutout, his third this season. Naturally, in a 7-0 win, other top Bruins scorers feasted against the Kings, too.

Monday NHL highlights

Three NHL games on Monday sets the stage to enjoy full highlights from each one.

Special teams helped the Capitals claw back into their game against the Maple Leafs, but Toronto made enough plays to win (more on that in the takeaways).

Well, maybe future Jack Hughes vs. Quinn Hughes matchups can be a little, uh, closer and more relevant? If not, at least get Luke Hughes involved?

One night shouldn’t discourage Jonathan Quick and the Los Angeles Kings too much, but the Bruins sure took it to L.A.

Monday NHL Takeaways

NHL, IIHF react to Russian invasion of Ukraine

Both the IIHF and NHL addressed Russia’s invasion of Ukraine recently.

The IIHF announced it has banned Russian and Belarusian national teams and clubs from participation “in every age category” and in IIHF competitions “until further notice.” Meanwhile, the NHL released a statement condemning the actions, and also suspended relationships with business partners in Russia.

PHT’s Sean Leahy detailed the IIHF and NHL’s reactions, including which international competitions will be affected.

Follow NBC News for up-to-date coverage of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Marner, Matthews, other key Maple Leafs come through

Could this be the way it works out for Toronto in the postseason? Maybe they just need to win ugly, with their big-money players leading the way.

Consider some of the key factors in the Maple Leafs’ 5-3 over the Capitals.

Add this to Auston Matthews‘ Selke candidate reel

If you pay attention to the nerdy stuff, you may already know this, but Auston Matthews is woefully underrated as a two-way player. You can say similar things about Mitch Marner, though not to the same extreme.

For a wider view, Auston Matthews is almost off the charts on Evolving Hockey’s handy RAPM charts.

NHL Rink Wrap: DeBrusk's first hat trick; Maple Leafs' stars deliver Matthews RAPM
via Evolving Hockey

Sometimes people crave a moment to really cement these charts and numbers, though. Auston Matthews likely authored that moment when he saved a goal by the most narrow of margins:

Actually, you probably need all of the replays here.

And maybe a frame to hammer it home.

via Sportsnet on Youtube

Mitch Marner remains red-hot

While Matthews produced the highlight-reel moment of Maple Leafs – Capitals, Mitch Marner made more of a difference on the scoreboard.

Marner collected two assists, collecting his 12th multi-point game in his last 18 contests. He’s scored a ridiculous 35 points in his past 17 games. Overall, Mitch Marner sits at 56 points in 44 games. Over an 82-game season, that would translate to about 104 points.

Marner missed some time this season, but he could still surpass his previous career-high of 94 points. Other than that 2018-19 campaign, Marner’s never scored more than 69 points. That feels like a quirk of COVID-shortened seasons, and he’s well on his way to finishing this season with huge numbers.

Of course, the key is to make sure that he produces (and wins) when it matters the most.

Maybe the John Tavares goal drought talk is tired?

Follow hockey coverage long enough, and you’ll pile up grumbles almost as often as Auston Matthews piles up goals.

One beef that didn’t broil for quite some time: cherry-picking a goal drought without noting overall play. Yes, it’s true that John Tavares hasn’t scored a goal since Jan. 29, a span of 13 games. Mentioning that seems unfair when you realize Tavares generated 10 assists during that 13-game goal drought.

Ideally, you want a top scorer to be a dual threat. Generally, Tavares is still shooting, and he’s facilitating on a high level. Both of his assists from Maple Leafs – Capitals were the sort of alert, hard-working plays that could make a difference in the postseason pressure-cooker.

Tuesday’s big story

Can Wild avenge 7-3 loss to the Flames?

Maybe the Calgary Flames channeled the shock and rage of seeing their 10-game winning streak go up in smoke in a 7-1 loss to the Canucks. Perhaps Calgary’s just this good. Whatever the case may be, the Flames mashed the Wild 7-3 in their last meeting on Saturday.

Now it’s time to see if the Wild will respond.

These are two teams who have really been rising up the West ranks recently, making this home-and-home set a fascinating barometer for each squad. From Kirill Kaprizov to Johnny Gaudreau, there should be no shortage of firepower.

There also might be some bad blood, being that Oliver Kylington suffered a scary injury in that last Flames – Wild game.

Monday NHL scores

Maple Leafs 5, Capitals 3
Devils 7, Canucks 2
Bruins 7, Kings 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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    LA Kings put goaltender Cal Petersen on waivers

    Perry Nelson-USA TODAY Sports

    LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Kings put goaltender Cal Petersen on waivers, a surprising move for a player once considered the successor in net to two-time Stanley Cup winner Jonathan Quick.

    Petersen, 28, went on waivers the day after allowing four goals on 16 shots in relief of Quick during a 9-8 overtime loss to the Seattle Kraken. Quick was pulled after giving up five goals on 14 shots.

    Only one NHL goalie has a save percentage lower than Petersen’s .868 this season, Elvis Merzlikins of the Columbus Blue Jackets with .864. Petersen is 5-3-2 in 10 games with a 3.75 goals-against average in his third full season with the Kings and fifth overall.

    L.A. signed Petersen to a three-year, $15 million contract in September 2021, and he figured to take the starting job from Quick, who turns 37 in January and is set to be a free agent after the season. Petersen has two years left on that deal after this one at an annual salary cap hit of $5 million.

    Penguins’ Kris Letang out indefinitely after 2nd stroke

    Kris Letang Penguins
    Getty Images

    PITTSBURGH — Kris Letang plays hockey with a grace and inexhaustible fluidity seemingly impervious to the rigors of spending nearly half his life in the NHL.

    For the second time in less than a decade, however, a major health scare has brought Letang’s career to a halt.

    The 35-year-old Letang is out indefinitely after suffering a stroke for a second time. Letang reported feeling ill and was taken to the hospital, where tests confirmed the stroke.

    While general manager Ron Hextall said Wednesday this stroke doesn’t appear to be as serious as the one Letang sustained in 2014, the Penguins will have to find a way forward at least in the short term without one of their franchise pillars.

    “I am fortunate to know my body well enough to recognize when something isn’t right,” Letang said in a release. “While it is difficult to navigate this issue publicly, I am hopeful it can raise awareness. … I am optimistic that I will be back on the ice soon.”

    The three-time Stanley Cup champion missed more than two months in 2014 after a stroke, which doctors determined was caused by a small hole in the wall of his heart. He spent Monday feeling off and told team trainers he was dealing with what Hextall described as a migraine headache.

    Penguins team physician Dr. Dhamesh Vyas recommended Letang go to the hospital, where tests confirmed the stroke.

    “He didn’t know (he had a stroke),” Hextall said. “He just knew something wasn’t right.”

    Letang is continuing to undergo tests but felt well enough on Tuesday to be at the arena for Pittsburgh’s 3-2 overtime loss to Carolina. He spent the second period chatting with Hextall then addressed his teammates in the locker room afterward in an effort to help allay their concerns.

    “I think it was important for Kris to be there because his teammates got to see him in good spirits and that he’s doing well,” Penguins coach Mike Sullivan said.

    Sullivan added initial test results on Letang have been “very encouraging.” Letang will continue to undergo testing throughout the week, though he felt good enough in the aftermath to ask Sullivan and Hextall if he could skate, an activity that is off the table for now.

    Hextall said he “couldn’t even guess” how long the Penguins may be without the married father of two, adding hockey is low on the team’s list of concerns about a player who, along with Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, has helped the franchise to three Stanley Cups during his 17-year career.

    “First and foremost this is about the person and I told Tanger about that last night,” Hextall said. “This is Kris Letang, the father and family guy, the Pittsburgh Penguins, that’s second.”

    Letang, a six-time All-Star, has been one of the most durable players in the NHL. His 662 career points (145 goals, 517 assists) are a franchise record for a defenseman. He’s averaged well over 24 minutes of playing time over the course of his career, a number that’s ticked above 25 minutes per game seven times in eight-plus seasons since he returned from the initial stroke.

    The Penguins felt so confident in Letang’s durability that they signed him to a six-year contract over the summer rather than let him test free agency for the first time.

    “The level of hockey he’s played for as long as he’s played is absolutely incredible,” Hextall said. “The level he’s continued to play at at his age, the type of shape he’s in … he’s a warrior.”

    Letang has one goal and 11 assists in 21 games so far this season for Pittsburgh, which hosts Vegas on Thursday night. The Penguins are pretty deep along the blue line, but Sullivan knows he can’t try to replace Letang with any one player.

    “It’s not anything we haven’t been faced with in the past and the reality is we have what we have, and we’ll figure it out,” Sullivan said, adding “it’ll be by committee, as it usually is when you replace a player of that stature.”

    Ovechkin tops Gretzky for most road goals, Capitals beat Canucks

    Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports

    VANCOUVER, British Columbia – Alex Ovechkin scored twice, passing Wayne Gretzky for the most road goals in NHL history, and the Washington Capitals beat the Vancouver Canucks 5-1 on Tuesday night.

    Ovechkin has scored 403 of his 793 career goals away from home. Gretzky holds the overall record with 894.

    “It’s always nice when you beat the Great One,” Ovechkin said. “It doesn’t matter what kind of milestone it is. It’s history.”

    Anthony Mantha added a goal and an assist for the Capitals (10-11-3). John Carlson and Martin Fehervary also scored, and Darcy Kuemper stopped 31 shots.

    Nils Hoglander scored for the Canucks (9-11-3), who had won three in a row. Spencer Martin made 23 saves.

    “Spencer’s been great for us. He’s probably a bit like the other players tonight. They weren’t ready to play and it showed on the scoreboard,” Vancouver coach Bruce Boudreau said.

    The 37-year-old Ovechkin nearly netted a hat trick when Vancouver pulled Martin for an extra skater with just over six minutes left, but his rocket of a shot skimmed the outside of the post.

    “I think he has 13 goals this year and I want to say like eight or nine have been like a new record. So it’s been cool,” Washington center Dylan Strome said. “Any time you pass Wayne Gretzky in anything, it deserves a standing ovation, which he got.”

    Fehervary was the one who sealed it, flipping the puck high into the Canucks zone and into the empty net at 15:57 of the third period.

    Ovechkin topped Gretzky 11:52 into the first, firing a one-timer from the left circle past Martin to give the Capitals a 2-0 lead with his 13th goal of the season.

    “On his second goal, it looks like, `Oh, maybe (Martin) should have had it.’ But I’ve seen (Ovechkin) score 100 goals like that,” said Boudreau, who coached the Capitals from 2007-11. “He’s got a shot that finds its way in.”

    The star forward from Russia got his first of the night 5:35 in, taking the puck off the stick of Vancouver defenseman Quinn Hughes near the net and batting in a quick shot.

    “It could have been 6-1 after the first period, quite frankly, with the amount of chances (Washington) had,” Boudreau said.

    It was Ovechkin’s 135th game-opening goal, tying Jaromir Jagr for the most in NHL history.

    “(Ovechkin) was really good in the first and I thought we were really good in the first so it was nice to get out and get a jump like that,” Capitals coach Peter Laviolette said. “He certainly led. We knew we needed to have a good first period, have a good game, and you need your best players to do that.”

    Carlson scored the lone goal of the second, chipping in a loose puck from the low hash marks at 18:47 to give Washington a 4-1 cushion.

    “It’s frustrating. Because when you lose games, it should never be about your compete level and battle level,” Canucks center J.T. Miller said. “It’s frustrating because they didn’t out-skill us today, they didn’t out-system us. They literally just outbattled us and created their own chances.”

    NOTES: Washington’s Lars Eller got his 200th career assist. … Miller had an assist, extending his point streak to nine games (four goals, seven assists). … The Capitals swept the two-game season series. … Vancouver assigned winger Vasily Podkolzin and defenseman Jack Rathbone to the Abbotsford Canucks on Monday, then recalled forward Phillip Di Giuseppe from the American Hockey League club on Tuesday.


    Washington: At Seattle on Thursday in the second of a five-game trip.

    Vancouver: Host Florida on Thursday in the second of a four-game homestand.

    Deal for Coyotes’ proposed arena approved by Tempe council

    David Kirouac-USA TODAY Sports
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    TEMPE, Ariz. — The Tempe City Council has unanimously approved a proposal for a new Arizona Coyotes arena and entertainment district, clearing the way for a public vote on the project next year.

    The City Council approved the proposal 7-0 after a lengthy meeting that included NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman.

    The $2.1 billion project would include a 16,000-seat arena, practice rink, 1,600 apartments, two hotels and a theater. Approval of the project was the final step before it goes to referendum on May 16.

    The team is currently playing at Arizona State’s 5,000-seat Mullett Arena, by far the NHL’s smallest arena.

    The Coyotes have been searching for a permanent home since the city of Glendale pulled out of a multimillion-dollar lease at Gila River Arena. Arizona had been playing on an annual lease until Glendale said it would not be renewed for the 2022-23 season.