NHL Rink Wrap: Bruins beat Lightning; Don’t sleep on the Blues

NHL Rink Wrap: Bruins beat Lightning, and don't sleep on the Blues
Scott Rovak/NHLI via Getty Images

Friday’s top NHL players

Nikolaj Ehlers/Mark Scheifele, Jets

While we keep seeing mammoth games, Friday presented a less explosive night of NHL scoring.

Although the Jets ended up losing in overtime, Nikolaj Ehlers and Mark Scheifele topped the nights scores, recording two goals and one assist apiece.

With that, Ehlers is now on a five-game point streak (4G, 4A). Overall, Ehlers has scored 45 points in 52 games this season. It’s not quite falling one point short of a point-per-game like last season (46 points in 47 games), but Ehlers continues to establish himself as a go-to player on a Jets team that can’t seem to surround some quality players with enough help to get back into playoff contention.

Mark Scheifele’s been on a tear of his own. With that three-point game, Scheifele has now generated at least one point in four straight (3G, 4A). This pushes Scheifele to a strong 69 points in 66 games, and with 29 goals, he’s closing in on his third-career 30+ goal season. His career high is 38.

If you want a Friday NHL player of the night from a winning team, consider Nathan MacKinnon. He finished with a goal and an assist, including a helper on Cale Makar‘s OT game-winner. But it’s his resounding 11 shots on goal that put him in the running.

Friday NHL highlights

Look, maybe the Panthers would rather not need a last-minute goal to beat the Sabres in regulation. Sometimes, you’re not going to win pretty, though. Pretty or ugly or messy-fun, the Panthers remain hot; they extended their winning streak to six games during the NHL action on Friday. Sam Bennett scored his 27th goal of the season to win it:

Charlie Coyle and Jake DeBrusk have been heating up lately for the Bruins, and both scored in a tight OT win over the Lightning, with Coyle notching the OT-winner:

Cale Makar made the difference for the Avalanche against the Jets, also in OT:

Eighteen seconds into the third period, the Wild enlarged their lead to 3-1 against the Blues. St. Louis answered back with two goals in regulation, then Robert Thomas scored yet another OT goal during the Friday NHL action:

Friday NHL Takeaways

Bruins grind out overtime win against Lightning, increase odds of matchup vs. Maple Leafs

Did you want a taste of the wide array of close, OT games the star-studded Atlantic Division can provide? This week had you covered.

First, there was the action-packed, often-outrageous overtime thriller between the Panthers and Maple Leafs, with Florida winning a game that featured 13 combined goals. During the NHL games on Friday, the Bruins and Lightning combined for three goals in a contest Boston won in OT.

Being that the Lightning managed a standings point, the Bruins’ gains were modest, but they’re now ranked ahead of the Bolts by more than a mere tiebreaker. Check out the updated Atlantic Division standings from spots 2-4 (the Panthers are way ahead with 106 points in 71 games played).

Maple Leafs: 98 points in 71 games played, 44 regulation/OT wins
Bruins: 95 points in 71 GP, 43 ROW
Lightning: 94 points in 71 GP, 41 ROW

In his past five games, Jake DeBrusk’s collected eight points. Overtime hero Charlie Coyle’s up to 15 points in his past 18 contests.

[Bruins keep climbing PHT’s Power Rankings]

If DeBrusk and Coyle can remain productive, the Bruins may just enjoy the sort of diverse offensive attack they’ve sometimes lacked as a “top-heavy team.” Lately, Coyle’s been finding nice chemistry with Craig Smith, while DeBrusk is flourishing with stars Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron. That also gives the Bruins room to send out David Pastrnak with Taylor Hall (and generally Erik Haula).

Naturally, the Bruins’ defense deserves the most credit, as that mix of underrated blueliners and sharp two-way forwards held the Lightning to limited high-danger chances and a single goal. You need to create some offense to put together a run like this, though, and Boston’s finding combinations that work at the perfect time. They may just slide into that third Atlantic Division spot, with at least a slight chance to gain home-ice advantage.

You know, not that facing the Maple Leafs is as easy as some might expect.

Don’t sleep on Robert Thomas and the Blues — especially if you’re the Wild

It seems like the major Central Division teams keep getting their “close up,” while the Blues slip a bit under the radar. The Avalanche … they’re the Avalanche. The Predators shocked just about everyone with their peaking play. And the Wild keep raising the bar for what we expect of them. (Even the Stars look like they could pull away from the Golden Knights and solidify the West’s wild-card picture.)

Don’t forget about the St. Louis Blues.

By rallying to beat the Wild in overtime, the Blues gave themselves a chance to eventually snatch home-ice advantage from Minnesota. Here’s how they look in the battle for home-ice advantage:

Wild: 92 points in 70 games played, 38 regulation/OT wins
Blues: 92 points in 71 GP, 39 ROW.

For whatever it’s worth, the Blues boast an impressive +52 goal differential, comfortably ahead of the Wild’s (still-quite-nice) +38 mark.

Depth may prove to be one of the Blues’ strengths, as people may still not be aware of the rise of younger scorers like Robert Thomas and Jordan Kyrou. Thomas extended his point streak to eight games with that OT goal and an assist, giving him six multi-point games during that span. The incredibly smooth passer has 45 assists to go with 17 goals for 62 points in 61 games played. That leaves him just a stride behind Kyrou, who leads the Blues with 63 points. Vladimir Tarasenko‘s tied with Thomas at 62 points, but has played a few extra games.

At the moment, the Blues boast six players above 50 points this season, with David Perron (49) and Ryan O'Reilly (47) ready to join the club. Seven different Blues players have already scored 20 goals.

No, the Blues don’t scare you in the same way that Avs might, but they clearly need to be taken seriously. Especially if you’re their likely first-round opponent, the Wild.

Owen Power signs with Sabres, other Michigan prospects NHL-bound

Despite deploying four of the top five picks of the 2021 NHL Draft, Owen Power and the Michigan Wolverines couldn’t win a national championship. Instead, Denver bounced them in the Frozen Four.

That disappointment presents a silver lining, though: it looks like we’ll see Owen Power and possibly others play before this NHL season closes. Power (to the Sabres), Kent Johnson (to the Blue Jackets), and other prospects have already left Michigan to sign NHL contracts. Others (such as Matty Beniers, the Kraken’s first-ever pick at No. 2), could follow.

Click here for more on Power and others leaving Michigan for the NHL.

By the way, it sure seems like Owen Power grew his game during this year with Michigan:

Saturday’s big story

Golden Knights really can’t lose a game like this, if it isn’t already too late

Every loss — especially in regulation — feels like it’s pushing the Golden Knights’ trembling playoff hopes closer to that cliff. If the Golden Knights beat the lowly Coyotes, it would only change so much. But if they lose? Oof.

There are other interesting NHL games on Saturday.

  • The Capitals don’t have much of a chance to pull Pittsburgh down to the wild-card, but beating the Penguins in regulation would at least increase those odds.
  • In a matchup of beasts who’ve ended up better than many expected, the Panthers square off against the Predators.
  • With the Oilers heating up recently, Saturday’s test against the Avalanche is intriguing. (And Edmonton gets the rest advantage, limiting excuses if the Oilers leak chances vs. the Avs.)

Realistically (sorry Canucks, Islanders), the Golden Knights are the team with shaky odds that can still improve their situation. They’ll need to finish hot, maybe enjoy some luck, and beat teams like Arizona.

Friday NHL scores

Bruins 2, Lightning 1 (OT)
Panthers 4, Sabres 3
Islanders 2, Hurricanes 1
Blues 4, Wild 3 (OT)
Avalanche 5, Jets 4 (OT)

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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    Kraken add some size, acquire Jaycob Megna from San Jose

    Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

    SEATTLE — The Seattle Kraken acquired defenseman Jaycob Megna from the San Jose Sharks in exchange for a 2023 fourth-round draft pick.

    Megna is in the midst of his best season with 12 points in 48 games for the Sharks while averaging more than 19 minutes per game.

    “Jaycob has shown with his play this season that he is a responsible defenseman that can be relied on in all situations,” Seattle general manager Ron Francis said. “He provides welcome depth to our defensive group and we are happy to have him join our organization.”

    The 6-foot-6, 220-pound Megna will add some size and bulk to Seattle’s lineup. Megna ranked fifth for San Jose in both blocked shots and hits.

    Megna previously played for Anaheim for parts of three seasons between 2016-19. The 48 games played this season is a career-high for the 30-year-old.

    Seattle is tied for the lead in the Pacific Division and will return from the All-Star break beginning against the New York Islanders.

    Islanders sign Bo Horvat to 8-year deal after trading for him

    Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports

    The New York Islanders signed center Bo Horvat to an eight-year contract less than a week after acquiring him in a trade with the Vancouver Canucks.

    The team announced the contract after their first practice following the All-Star break. Horvat’s deal is worth $68 million and carries a $8.5 million salary cap hit through the 2030-31 season.

    General manager Lou Lamoriello joked to reporters at practice on Long Island that Horvat’s contract was “too long and it’s too much money.”

    The Islanders sent forward Anthony Beauvillier, prospect Aatu Raty and a protected first-round pick to the Canucks for Horvat . He was set to be an unrestricted free agent after the season, and the trade was a result of Vancouver and Horvat’s camp being unable to reach a deal last summer.

    Lamoriello and Horvat expressed confidence about getting a deal done after the trade. The 27-year-old has scored more than 30 goals for a second consecutive season.

    Horvat was chosen as an All-Star and played for the Pacific Division despite the trade. He played with longtime Canucks teammate Elias Pettersson and combined on one last goal together before parting ways.

    “I want to get going,” Horvat said after the All-Star 3-on-3 tournament. “That’s enough. Let’s start playing some games and getting to know the guys. I just want to start playing hockey again.”

    Horvat was on vacation with his family in Orlando when he was traded. He said coach Lane Lambert wanted him to enjoy All-Star festivities before getting rolling with the Islanders, who play at the Philadelphia Flyers.

    “Obviously getting my legs under me is going to be No. 1 and getting systems down and obviously chemistry with the new linemates and stuff like that,” Horvat said.

    After facing the Flyers and Seattle, Horvat will play against his former team when Vancouver visits UBS Arena.

    Bruins rolling, rest of NHL making final push for playoffs

    John E. Sokolowski-USA TODAY Sports

    SUNRISE, Fla. — Bruce Cassidy’s Vegas Golden Knights lost eight of 10 games going into the All-Star break after leading the Pacific Division at the midway point of the NHL season.

    They’re still safely in a playoff spot in the Western Conference, but they can’t keep it up.

    “We’re still in a good position – that’s the way we look at it,” Cassidy said. “There’s not too many teams that can cruise home the last 30 games in this league, and we’re certainly not one of them.”

    Cassidy’s old team, the Boston Bruins, probably could. They’re atop the NHL and running away with the Atlantic Division.

    With 39 wins and 83 points through 51 games, Boston is on pace to break the record for the best regular season in NHL history. The Carolina Hurricanes, who beat Boston in seven games in the first round last year, are next in the standings at 76 points.

    “Top to bottom, there’s no weaknesses,” Carolina coach Rod Brind’Amour said.

    The Bruins are in a class of their own, but the playoff races behind them in the East and West should be hot down the stretch with roughly 30 games to go before the chase for the Stanley Cup begins.


    The Hurricanes rode a seven-game winning streak into the break, putting some fear into the Bruins in the race for the Presidents’ Trophy and home-ice advantage through the postseason. Winger Max Pacioretty re-tearing his right Achilles tendon five games into his return didn’t slow them down, and if their goaltending holds up, Carolina stands a good chance of reaching the East final.

    “This team, it’s a special group of guys,” said Brind’Amour, who captained Carolina to the Cup in 2006 and is in his fifth year as coach. “We kind of show that nightly. It’s just very consistent, and they take their job real serious. They do it right.”

    The second-place New Jersey Devils are contending for the first time since 2018. Bottoming out the next season helped them win the lottery for No. 1 pick Jack Hughes, a two-time All-Star who has them winning ahead of schedule.

    “Much better than being out of the mix,” Hughes said. “We’re really excited because it’s going to be a lot of important hockey, and it’s going to be really competitive and we’re really pumped to be where we are.”

    They’re followed by the New York Rangers, Washington Capitals, Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Islanders. All three New York-area teams could make it, which was the expectation for the Rangers after reaching the East final last year.

    “I think the run last year really taught us a few things and stuff that we obviously could build on for the rest of this year,” 2021 Norris-Trophy winning defenseman Adam Fox said.


    The Rangers lost to the Lightning in six games last spring, when two-time champion Tampa Bay reached the Stanley Cup Final for the third consecutive season before getting beat by the Colorado Avalanche.

    The Lightning are almost certain to face the Toronto Maple Leafs – who haven’t won a playoff series since the NHL salary cap era began in 2005 – in the first round and remain a threat to the Bruins.

    But Boston has separated itself despite starting the season without top left winger Brad Marchand and No. 1 defenseman Charlie McAvoy. The Bruins have lost only 12 games under new coach Jim Montgomery.

    “You just keep winning,” said All-Star right winger David Pastrnak, who’s tied for third in the league in scoring. “Every single line and every single guy is going and it obviously builds our confidence. It’s funny sometimes what confidence can do in hockey.”

    The Islanders should have some more confidence after acquiring 30-goal scorer Bo Horvat from Vancouver, but still need to make up ground to get in.


    Defending champion Colorado climbed in the standings – winning seven of eight going into the break despite an injury-riddled first half of the season. Captain Gabriel Landeskog still has not made his season debut since undergoing knee surgery. It would be foolish to bet against the Avs coming out of the West again.

    “It’s up to us: We control our own fate,” All-Star center Nathan MacKinnon said. “We need to definitely keep playing the way we were before the break. No matter who’s in the lineup we were playing well, playing hard, so it would definitely help with healthy bodies.”

    They still trail the Dallas Stars, Winnipeg Jets and Minnesota Wild in the Central, and the Nashville Predators are on their heels. Only the Stars and Jets are essentially guaranteed a spot.

    “Every point, you grind for it,” Stars leading scorer Jason Robertson said. “Every point’s going to be a dog fight, so it’s going to be a fun 30 games down the stretch.”


    Undisputed MVP favorite Connor McDavid and the Edmonton Oilers, who were swept by Colorado in the West final, have a little bit of catching up to do in the Pacific Division.

    The top spot is held by the Seattle Kraken, who surprisingly are on pace to make the playoffs in their second season but still need to fend off the Los Angeles Kings and the Vegas Golden Knights.

    Edmonton – and the Battle of Alberta rival Calgary Flames – have the talent to not only get in but make a run. McDavid leads the league with 41 goals and 92 points, 16 more than No. 2 scorer and teammate Leon Draisaitl, and is producing unlike anyone since Hall of Famer Mario Lemieux in the mid-1990s.

    Now he’ll try to carry the Oilers into the playoffs and beyond.

    “It hasn’t been easy at all for our group. We’ve kind of had to battle for everything that we’ve got,” McDavid said. “We’ve always been a second-half team for whatever reason. Even since my first year, we’ve always been better in the second half, so we’ll definitely look to continue that. That being said, we’re not going to hang our hat on that and expect that to carry us to the playoffs. There’s a lot of work to be done.”

    Capitals sign Sonny Milano to 3-year, $5.7 million extension

    Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

    ARLINGTON, Va. — The Washington Capitals signed winger Sonny Milano to a three-year extension worth $5.7 million.

    General manager Brian MacLellan announced the contract, adding to an already busy All-Star break for taking care of future business. The Capitals extended forward Dylan Strome for five years, $25 million.

    Like Strome, Milano has fit in as a new addition for Washington. He’s now set to count $1.9 million against the salary cap through the 2025-26 season.

    The 26-year-old Milano has been a near-perfect bargain signing for the Capitals after joining them on an NHL veteran one-year deal after this season got underway. He has eight goals and 14 assists for 22 points in 40 games since getting called up from Hershey of the American Hockey League.

    Originally drafted by the Columbus Blue Jackets 16th in 2014, Milano split his first eight seasons in the league with them and the Anaheim Ducks. He went unsigned as an unrestricted free agent last summer despite putting up 34 points in 66 games with Anaheim.