Top player in the NHL on Saturday
Johnny Gaudreau, Calgary Flames
What an incredible, amazing year for the Calgary Flames, and especially their top-line duo of Johnny Gaudreau and Matthew Tkachuck. They both had monster games in the Flames’ 9-5 win over the Edmonton Oilers on Saturday night, with Tkachuk finishing with two goals and two assists while Gaudreau had five assists. He is now up to 90 points on the season, good enough for third place in the entire NHL. His career year is coming at a perfect time as he is set to be an unrestricted free agent after this season and is playing his way to an absolutely massive contract for somebody. Tkachuk is sixth in the NHL scoring race with 82 points. The Flames continue to distance themselves from the rest of the pack in the Western Conference’s Pacific Division with the win. All nine of the Flames’ goals on Saturday were scored during 5-on-5 play.
Highlights from around the NHL on Saturday
Evgenii Dadonov keeps rolling for the Vegas Golden Knights to keep their playoff chances going after they tried to trade him earlier this week.
Auston Matthews matches his career high of 47 goals. It took just 36 seconds on Saturday night against the Montreal Canadiens. The Canadiens would go on to win the game, 4-2, though.
Timo Meier records his third career hat trick for the San Jose Sharks in their 4-1 win over the Anaheim Ducks.
Three takeaways from the NHL on Saturday
Lightning offense slumping, but power play comes through
While the Boston Bruins have been climbing the standings, the Tampa Bay Lightning have been in a bit of a rut lately, especially offensively. Some of their top players have been going through lengthy goal droughts and they entered Saturday’s game against the Detroit Red Wings having lost six of their previous eight games, scoring just 15 goals during that stretch. The offense struggled again on Saturday, but the power play did just enough to lift them to a 2-1 overtime win. Steven Stamkos tied the game on a late third period power play goal to send it to overtime, where Brayden Point scored the game-winning goal on another power play. This recent stretch should not be too much of a concern right now. Extended scoring slumps for individual players, even star players, are common throughout the course of an 82-game season. The Lightning had their share of them a year ago and were just fine in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. This is still one of the league’s elite teams and they will eventually start scoring goals like we are used to them scoring goals.
Marc-Andre Fleury wins debut with Minnesota Wild
The Minnesota Wild were 3-2 overtime winners against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday night thanks to Jared Spurgeon‘s game-winning goal. The big story here though is Marc-Andre Fleury making his debut with the Wild, stopping 23 out of 25 shots in the win. The Wild have now won five games in a row and are 3-0-0 since the trade deadline on Monday.
Western Conference Playoff race update
The Vegas Golden Knights got a huge win and temporarily moved into a Wild Card spot in the Western Conference, taking a one point lead over the Dallas Stars who lost to the Vancouver Canucks, 4-1, on Saturday. The problem for the Golden Knights is that Dallas still has four games in hand. The Golden Knights also closed to within one point of the Oilers, who were 9-5 losers to the Flames, for the third spot in the Pacific Division. The Oilers still have two games in hand in that race. Vegas still has a lot of work to do and needs a lot of help. The Canucks are still trying to hang in that race. The Los Angeles Kings also continued to strengthen their playoff position with a 4-2 win over the Seattle Kraken. They remain in a good spot for second place in the Pacific Division and potential home ice advantage in the First Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Sunday’s big story
There are two really good divisional matchups on Sunday, with the Florida Panthers visiting the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Colorado Avalanche taking on the Minnesota Wild. Colorado and Florida are two of the league’s best teams, while Toronto and Minnesota are on that second tier of contenders that are still capable of making a lot of noise in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Both of these games could be really good potential second round matchups in the playoffs.
Saturday’s NHL Scores
Boston Bruins 6, New York Islanders 3
Tampa Bay Lightning 2, Detroit Red Wings 1 (OT)
Vegas Golden Knights 5, Chicago Blackhawks 4 (OT)
Vancouver Canucks 4, Dallas Stars 1
Montreal Canadiens 4, Toronto Maple Leafs 2
Florida Panthers 4, Ottawa Senators 3 (SO)
Washington Capitals 4, New Jersey Devils 3
Carolina Hurricanes 7, St. Louis Blues 2
Minnesota Wild 3, Columbus Blue Jackets 2 (OT)
Calgary Flames 9, Edmonton Oilers 5
Los Angeles Kings 4, Seattle Kraken 2
San Jose Sharks 4, Anaheim Ducks 1
Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.