NHL Rink Wrap: Hurricanes beat Rangers; Key wins for Kings, Stars

NHL Rink Wrap: Hurricanes beat Rangers; Key wins for Kings, Stars
Bill Smith/NHLI via Getty Images

Tuesday’s top NHL players

Plenty of strong NHL performances on Tuesday

There were several high-quality performances from NHL players (and goalies) on Tuesday. That said, no one presented just an undeniable top performance. With that in mind, here are a few who stood out.

  • Both Juuse Saros and Scott Wedgewood pitched 25-save shutouts for the Predators and Stars respectively. Each goalie needed to produce those goose eggs, too. The Predators won 1-0 in OT, while the Stars beat the Lightning in a one-goal game.
  • It didn’t help that two of the better nights included empty-netters. Sebastian Aho reached three points by getting his third via ENG, while Matthew Tkachuk generated a hat trick capped by a third tally into an empty net. (Whoever voted the three stars in Calgary ranked Johnny Gaudreau ahead of Tkachuk, perhaps in part because Gaudreau passed the 100-point barrier?)
  • Elias Pettersson made the Golden Knights miserable with a goal and two assists.

Tuesday NHL highlights

Matty Beniers (or Matthew Beniers, if you’re not into that whole brevity thing) made an immediate impact for the Kraken, recording an assist in his NHL debut:

Jonathan Huberdeau continued his scoring tear with this tremendous overtime game-winner:

Quinn Hughes scored the overtime game-winner for the Canucks over the Golden Knights:

Roope Hintz scored the lone goal as the Stars shut out the struggling Lightning:

The latest Tom Wilson hit, with Cam Atkinson being the recipient. This ended up being ugly for the Flyers, as the Capitals dropped them to the tune of a 9-2 blowout.

Nifty, nifty backhander from David Perron:

 

Not much room for interpretation here regarding Ryan Hartman‘s, uh, gesture.

It wasn’t enough to complete a comeback, but Chris Kreider reached the 50-goal mark late in the Rangers’ loss to the Hurricanes. Kreider is the fourth player in Rangers franchise history to score at least 50 goals in one season. Not bad for a player whose previous career-high was 28 goals.

Tuesday NHL Takeaways

Wednesday’s Kraken – Jets game postponed due to blizzard

Here’s one that won’t make it into a Winnipeg tourism guide or a pamphlet the Jets hand to potential free agents. An impending blizzard caused a mid-April game between the Jets and Kraken to be postponed from Wednesday to May 1.

Someone, somewhere might wonder: does that Kraken – Jets game really even need to happen anyway? (The NHL’s answer: probably just a shoulder shrug.)

Owen Power and other NHL debuts

Truthfully, it almost always feels a little odd when rookies debut with mere weeks remaining in a season. Plenty of players do just that after the NCAA’s season (and Frozen Four) wraps up. Read up on the debuts here, including Owen Power (top pick of the 2022 NHL Draft) playing his first game with the Sabres.

OK, fine, a quick rundown.

Owen Power logged 19:50 as the Sabres upset the Maple Leafs in his NHL debut. Power ended the night with a +2 rating, a hit, and a blocked shot.

For the most part, Owen Power almost broke even as far as fancy stats went. Not bad at all, especially considering that while the Sabres won, the Maple Leafs carried most of the play.

As the Western Conference playoff race turns …

Stay tuned for PHT’s daily “Push for the Playoffs” for full standings and other information.

Overall, though, the Kings, Predators, and Stars were big winners, while the Golden Knights can only take small solace in squeezing out a single standings point.

The Predators were able to grind out a tight OT win over the Sharks, while the Stars shut out the Lightning 1-0 in regulation.

If the Kings lost to the Blackhawks, especially in regulation, they’d really be sweating Wednesday’s game vs. the Avalanche. Instead, Los Angeles took care of business.

That’s relevant because a) the Golden Knights rallied to get to overtime, but lost to the Canucks and b) the Oilers lost badly to the Wild in regulation.

The Kings now have a shot at the Pacific’s second seed, while they hold a three-point advantage over the Golden Knights. Vegas does have one game in hand (8 games remaining vs. 7 for the Kings), but every point counts, so Vancouver definitely stung the VGK. The Predators (89 points, 9 games remaining) and Stars (88 points, 9 GR) now hold significant advantages over the Golden Knights, too.

Hurricanes strengthen lead in Metro with regulation win against Rangers

Sheesh, kind of rude of Carolina to deal a big blow to Eastern Conference drama.

Sure, there’s room for East teams to maneuver, including powerful teams possibly slipping to the wild-card ranks. Yet, with the Panthers opening up a commanding Atlantic Division lead, the Metro was where there was some hope for division title drama.

Perhaps there’s still a bit, but that race looks a lot less interesting after the NHL action on Tuesday.

The Hurricanes beat the Rangers in regulation, so now their Metro title lead is at four points (104 to 100). Both teams have played 74 games this season.

While the Rangers do get another shot at the Hurricanes, it may already be too late. Carolina’s schedule is pretty cushy going forward. They face the Devils twice, and also take on the Red Wings, Coyotes, and Jets. Maybe the pesky Islanders have some upset potential, and the Avalanche also await … but it sure seems like the Hurricanes are going to nab that top spot in the Metro.

The way things are going, the Hurricanes may face the Penguins instead of the Capitals to open things up.

Wednesday’s big story

A tough test for the Kings vs. the rested Avalanche

There aren’t many, if any, situations where the Colorado Avalanche look like an easy matchup on paper. That’s true even when they’re lacking a key player or two due to injuries.

The Kings have extra odds stacked against them when they face the Avalanche. While the Kings took care of business against the Blackhawks during the Tuesday NHL action, the Avalanche rested. To increase the degree of difficulty, the Kings also face the Avalanche in Colorado. Los Angeles also may still be coming to grips with Drew Doughty‘s season-ending surgery.

Then again, maybe the Kings can use these factors as motivation? While they lack that “nothing to lose” factor, they’re expected to, so a win (or even a “charity point”) would be gravy, right?

By the way: who would have expected the Golden Knights to be rooting hard for the Avalanche this late in the season? Yikes.

Tuesday NHL scores

Blues 4, Bruins 2
Sabres 5, Maple Leafs 2
Panthers 3, Ducks 2 (OT)
Hurricanes 4, Rangers 2
Capitals 9, Flyers 2
Islanders 5, Penguins 4 (SO)
Senators 4, Red Wings 1
Wild 5, Oilers 1
Predators 1, Sharks 0 (OT)
Kings 5, Blackhawks 2
Flames 5, Kraken 3
Stars 1, Lightning 0
Canucks 5, Golden Knights 4 (OT)
Devils 6, Coyotes 2

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.

Scroll Down For: