Connor McDavid puts NHL on notice with goal-scoring frenzy

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Connor McDavid is must-see entertainment and not just for hockey fans.

The best player in the world is having such an off-the-charts year that his peers can’t help but watch his highlights. The Edmonton Oilers captain has already set career highs with 55 goals and 127 points, and there are still 15 games left in the regular season.

“He’s from a different planet,” Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin said.

McDavid’s latest act has been as a goal-scorer after spending his first seven NHL seasons as more of a playmaker. He’s shooting first, asking questions later and making the entire league take notice.

“He’s dominating,” Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby said. “He just continues to get better. And as any player, that’s what you want. But when it’s a guy like that, it’s scary.”

Trying to defend McDavid is a scary proposition for opponents, and it has been since he broke into the league in 2015 with his dazzling stick work and blinding speed. He has already won the Hart Trophy as MVP twice and four times took home the Art Ross Trophy for the most points in a season.

McDavid is authoring another MVP-worthy season this time while running away with the goal-scoring title. Much like he focused on improving in the faceoff circle and rounding out his two-way game in previous years, he made a concerted effort to score more himself and surpassed the 50-goal mark for the first time in his career.

“I’ve never been an elite goal-scorer,” McDavid said. “I’ve kind of always been a pass-first guy. I kind of always said that I take the best available play, but this year I just feel like I’ve been put in some good spots, obviously playing with some good players, and the puck’s going in. I think that’s ultimately just the difference.”

The difference between McDavid and the next-closest scorer, teammate Leon Draisaitl, is 29 points. Boston’s David Pastrnak ranks second in the league in goals and he’s still nine back of McDavid.

After six multigoal games in his last 10, McDavid is on pace for the highest single-season total since the salary cap era began in 2005, surpassing the 65 Ovechkin sored in 2007-08. Ovechkin, who trails only Wayne Gretzky on the career goals list and is 79 away from breaking the record, marvels at what McDavid is doing.

“How he play the game, how he control the puck, how he control the speed, he’s fun to watch,” Ovechkin said. “It’s great that he’s able to show not only one year, but he’s consistently doing that over and over.”

Crosby, himself a two-time MVP and three-time Stanley Cup winner, is impressed by McDavid’s eagerness to evolve. Dallas Stars coach Peter DeBoer uses McDavid as an example for young players of how to isolate a weakness and turn into a strength.

“I think that’s a lesson for everybody that this guy just wasn’t touched by the hand of God with talent,” DeBoer said. “He’s worked at it and at his game, at getting better.”

Dylan Strome witnessed McDavid honing aspects of his game when they were junior teammates in Erie, Pennsylvania.

“He’s finding new ways to become more creative,” Strome said. “Sometimes you wonder what more can he do?”

Strome, now playing with Ovechkin in Washington, sees McDavid scoring from different angles, shooting from further away from the net and attempting more one-timers. Some of that came from watching Crosby, reigning MVP Auston Matthews and others, and studying how they shoot the puck.

“So many guys go about it so many different ways,” McDavid said. “It’s always a chance to learn, watching other guys.”

McDavid is constantly learning and also inspiring some of the NHL’s best. Nathan MacKinnon, who was one of the best players on Colorado’s Stanley Cup run last year, said McDavid’s season makes him want to get better.

“It makes you want to strive for something,” MacKinnon said. “I know I won’t be as good as him no matter how hard I work, but I appreciate what he’s doing and how he does it.”

McDavid envies MacKinnon, Crosby and Ovechkin for what they’ve done that he has not: won the Cup. Now 26 with a trip to the Western Conference final last season his deepest run so far, he said his focus has always been about the team and called a winning a championship “the ultimate goal – and that’s what we’re building towards.”

Nothing McDavid does in the regular season guarantees playoff success, though carrying the Oilers like MacKinnon did with the Avalanche at times last spring could be his next trick. Vegas coach Bruce Cassidy sees evidence of that in McDavid’s production now.

“Just a dominant guy that wants to get his name on the Cup,” Cassidy said. “He’s just focused on, even though it’s regular season, driving that team, pulling that team, putting them on his back.”

On pace for the most points in a season since Mario Lemieux put up 161 in 1995-96, McDavid said he hasn’t put much thought into what his scoring total might be. Other players certainly are.

“Every time he’s on the ice he could have one or two goals,” said Florida’s Sam Reinhart, a teammate of McDavid’s on the 2015 championship Canada world junior team.

Of course, his name etched on a few more individual trophies won’t fill the void for McDavid in his quest for the Cup. He’s making Edmonton games appointment viewing and would love for that to continue well into June.

“I think everyone’s tuning in to the Oilers games most nights because of how special of a player he is,” Strome said. “Obviously, the next step is winning. He’s doing everything in his power to do that.”

Malkin’s late goal lifts Penguins past Ovechkin, Caps 4-3

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PITTSBURGH — Evgeni Malkin remains a live wire. Even now, 17 seasons into a career that is likely destined for the Hall of Fame, there’s an unpredictability the Pittsburgh Penguins star plays with that can be both endearing and exasperating to teammates and coaches alike.

The latest proof came against Washington on Saturday.

An untimely roughing penalty in the third period helped spark a Capitals’ rally from a three-goal deficit. Malkin made up for it by burying a breakaway with 1:20 left in regulation that lifted the Penguins to a 4-3 victory.

“His care factor and his compete level for me is off the charts and that’s what I love about him and usually when the stakes are high that’s when he’s at his best,” Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan said. “He gets a huge goal for us tonight at a key time.”

Malkin’s 25th goal of the season – a low wrist shot to the far post – helped the Penguins avoid a potentially messy collapse. Pittsburgh appeared to be ready to cruise to victory after Jake Guentzel‘s power-play goal 27 seconds into the third period made it 3-0.

Washington instead stormed back, with Alex Ovechkin right in the middle of it. Ovechkin scored his 42nd goal of the season and 822nd of his career from his favorite spot in the left circle with 6:42 to go in regulation. Washington drew even when Dylan Strome flipped the puck into an open net with 2:44 to go in regulation.

Yet instead of sagging, the Penguins surged. Malkin stripped Washington’s Anthony Mantha near center ice and broke in alone on Kuemper. Seconds later, the puck was in the net and Malkin was on one knee celebrating while pumping his fists, the kind of display of raw emotion that’s become one of his trademarks.

“It’s a huge goal for me, and two points for the team,” Malkin said.

Pittsburgh moved three points clear of Florida after the Panthers lost to the earlier Saturday. Both teams have nine regular-season games left.

Ryan Poehling and Chad Ruhwedel scored a little over two minutes apart in the second period for Pittsburgh. Jake Guentzel added his team-high 32nd goal early in the third before Washington scrambled back. Casey DeSmith played spectacularly at times while finishing with 31 saves.

Tom Wilson started the Capitals’ comeback with his ninth goal of the season 5:19 into the third. Kuemper stopped 36 shots, but was outplayed by DeSmith as Washington’s hopes of making a late push for a playoff berth took a serious hit. The Capitals are six points behind Pittsburgh with only eight games remaining.

“It’s a tough one,” Washington center T.J. Oshie said. “I don’t think that last play was the only thing that lost the game for us. I know that (Mantha) feels terrible about it, but we trust him with the puck. It just wasn’t a good enough 60 minutes against a good hockey team over there.”

It felt like old times for much of the night for teams that usually enter late March battling for a spot near the top of the Metropolitan Division.

Not this season.

While the 35-year-old Crosby is averaging over a point a game as usual and the 37-year-old Ovechkin is steadily making inroads on Wayne Gretzky’s all-time goal record, their teams have spent most of the year skating in place.

Pittsburgh has been wildly uneven thanks in part to goaltending that has fluctuated between solid and shaky, the main reason a 17th straight playoff appearance is hardly assured. Washington, meanwhile, appears to be pointing toward the future after injuries and a small sell-off at the trade deadline.

Pittsburgh put itself on slightly firmer footing with DeSmith making a compelling case that he should supplant Tristan Jarry as Pittsburgh’s top goaltender down the stretch.

DeSmith was spectacular at times, including stoning Ovechkin on a breakaway near the end of the second period in which Ovechkin deked DeSmith to his knees, only to see DeSmith extend his left leg just enough to knock the puck out of harm’s way.

“I’m not very tall,” the 6-foot DeSmith said. “But I had that one inch that I needed.”


Capitals: Host the New York Islanders on Wednesday.

Penguins: Visit Detroit on Tuesday.

Devils defeat Senators 5-3, clinch playoff berth

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NEWARK, N.J. — Jack Hughes had a goal and an assist, Mackenzie Blackwood had 25 saves and the New Jersey Devils defeated the Ottawa Senators 5-3 and clinched a playoff berth on Saturday night.

“It means everything to the group. I went into the dressing room after the game and just said that I was proud of the work that was put in, proud of where we got to clinch tonight to be one of three teams that have an X next to their name,” Devils coach Lindy Ruff said. “All the work that’s been put in, the adversity they face during the year. The adversity they face right at the start of the season to where we’ve got to now.”

New Jersey could have clinched its first postseason berth since 2018 with a win, but it happened before their first intermission when the Florida Panthers lost to the New York Rangers in regulation.

“I had a lesser role then,” said Jesper Bratt, who was a rookie for the Devils in 2017-18. “I would say at a younger age, it’s kind of like you think that just because it happened your first year that it might happen every year. And then it goes pretty fast with reality that was not the case and you got to work extremely hard for it.

“It’s a really tough league. So this feels really good. It’s been a lot of years with struggle, not winning, and it’s just awesome coming out now playing these kinds of games and getting that.”

Bratt, Dawson Mercer and Dougie Hamilton scored for the Devils and Tomas Tatar scored an empty netter with 42.3 seconds left to put things away.

Brady Tkachuk, Thomas Chabot and Mark Kastelic scored for the Senators and Dylan Ferguson had 30 saves.

Tkachuk scored his 33rd goal of the season to give the Senators the 1-0 lead 3:14 into the first period. The Devils responded midway through the first period with Hughes’ 40th goal of the season on a breakaway, going five-hole to tie it.

Nick Holden gave the puck away and Bratt scored his 31st goal of the season on the breakaway 2:24 into the second period to give New Jersey the 2-1 lead. Mercer’s 23rd of the season came just over a minute later.

The Senators answered midway through the second period when Thomas Chabot scored his 11th goal of the year to cut the deficit to 3-2. They knotted things up 16:03 into the second when Kastelic scored his fifth of the season.

“We were confident going into the third period. We felt like the game was there for our taking,” Travis Hamonic said. “They score on their chance, and that’s game.”

Hamilton scored 3:34 into the third period to give the Devils the lead. His 19th goal breaks the franchise record for goals in a season by a defenseman, surpassing Scott Stevens – the Devils great whose number is hanging in the rafters – record of 18 in 1993-94.

NOTES: This was the first game for the Devils backup Blackwood since Feb. 19. … Nico Hischier has a six-game point streak after recording two assists.


Senators: Host the Florida Panthers on Monday night.

Devils: Play at New York Islanders on Monday night. —

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Kings tie franchise mark with point in 11th straight game

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LOS ANGELES — Viktor Arvidsson had two goals and the Los Angeles Kings matched their longest point streak in franchise history with a 4-1 victory over the Winnipeg Jets on Saturday afternoon.

Drew Doughty had a goal and an assist and Alex Iafallo netted a power-play goal for Los Angeles, which has earned points in 11 straight games for the fourth time. The last occurrence was 2013-14, when the Kings won their second Stanley Cup championship.

Joonas Korpisalo stopped 25 shots for Los Angeles.

Pierre-Luc Dubois scored for Winnipeg and Connor Hellebuyck made 25 saves.

Arvidsson – who has 22 goals on the season – has four in the last four games while Doughty has found the net four times in the last five games.

Arvidsson’s first goal came 82 seconds into the game. Trevor Moore won the faceoff in the offensive zone and made a backhand pass to Arvidsson, who snapped it into the net from the back of the left faceoff circle.

He also had an empty-net goal late in the third period.

The Kings extended their lead to 2-0 five minutes into the second period on the power play. Phillip Danault made a great pass between Jets defenseman Brenden Dillon and Hellebuyck as Iafallo buried it into the short side of the net.

Doughty extended the lead to 3-1 27 seconds into the third period with a wrist shot from outside the right faceoff circle near the boards after Anze Kopitar won the faceoff.


Winnipeg got its first power-play goal in seven games with 1:23 remaining in the second period when Dubois took a cross-ice pass from Kyle Connor and scored from the left faceoff circle to get the Jets within 2-1.

The Jets got a five-minute power play after Los Angeles’ Blake Lizotte received a five-minute match penalty for a vicious cross-check to Josh Morrissey’s face. The goal came with 33 seconds left in the man advantage.

NOTES: Danault picked up his 300th career point and 200th assist. … Winnipeg’s Connor set a career high for most assists in a season when he got his 47th on Dubois’ goal.


Jets: Travel to the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday.

Kings: Host the St. Louis Blues on Sunday.

Coyotes minority owner suspended by NHL following arrest

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NEW YORK — Arizona Coyotes minority owner Andrew Barroway was suspended indefinitely by the NHL on Friday following his arrest for domestic violence in Colorado.

Online court records show Barroway was arrested on Thursday on suspicion of second-degree assault strangulation, a felony, and third-degree assault, a misdemeanor. He appeared in court Friday to be advised of the possible charges he is facing and is scheduled to back in court on April 3.

Barroway spent Thursday night in Pitkin County Jail after police arrested him at an Aspen hotel, according to a police report obtained by the Aspen Daily News.

“The National Hockey League is aware of the arrest of Arizona Coyotes’ minority owner Andrew Barroway,” the NHL said in a statement. “Pending further information, he has been suspended indefinitely.”

The 57-year-old Barroway was arrested after a verbal altercation with his wife turned physical, according to the police report. He is prohibited from having contact with his wife, except when it involves their children, and can’t consume alcohol under a court order.

A prominent hedge fund manager, Barroway owns 5% of the Coyotes.

“We are aware of the allegation regarding Mr. Barroway and we are working with the League to gather more information,” the Coyotes said in a statement. “When we have enough information, we will have an appropriate response. Until the investigation is complete, we will have no further comment.”