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The Buzzer: Islanders reclaim top spot in Metro; Flames clinch playoff spot

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Three Stars

1. Carter Hart, Philadelphia Flyers. This is the player the Philadelphia Flyers have been waiting decades for, a goalie that can be a difference-maker (for the better!) and steal them the occasional game. That is exactly what Carter Hart did on Sunday night as he stopped 41 of 42 shots he faced and gave his team a chance to score two late goals, one with 19 seconds remaining in regulation and another with three seconds remaining in overtime, to beat the Pittsburgh Penguins, keeping their slim playoff hopes for at least another day. Read all about it here.

2. Brock Nelson, New York Islanders. The New York Islanders reclaimed the top spot in the Metropolitan Division with a 3-2 overtime win against the Minnesota Wild. Mathew Barzal had two more assists in the win, but it was Brock Nelson that gets the star in this one for his two points, including the overtime winner. He is now up to 47 points on the season, setting a new career-high with still 10 games remaining on the regular season schedule.

3. Tyson Barrie, Colorado Avalanche. The Colorado Avalanche have no margin for error the rest of the way and need to win as many games as possible if they are going to get back into a playoff position. Sunday’s 3-0 win over the New Jersey Devils was a good place to start with Tyson Barrie’s two goals leading the way. He is now up to nine goals on the season and is just one goal away from what would be his fifth season with double-digit goals. There are only 17 active defenders in the NHL with at least that many in their career.

Other notable performances and notes from Sunday

  • Jonathan Marchessault scored two goals to help the Vegas Golden Knights keep rolling in a 6-3 win over the Edmonton Oilers. Read all about it here.
  • Entering play on Sunday Vancouver Canucks forward Tim Schaller had appeared in 37 games this season without scoring a goal. He scored two in the Canucks’ 3-2 shootout win over the Dallas Stars.
  • Alex Nylander had a pair of assists to help the Buffalo Sabres pick up a 4-3 shootout win over the St. Louis Blues.
  • Jakob Silfverberg‘s late third period goal was the difference in the Anaheim Ducks’ 3-2 win over the Florida Panthers. Not getting a point might be enough to put an end to the Panthers’ playoff chances.
  • The Pittsburgh Penguins will be without Evgeni Malkin on a week-to-week basis due to an undisclosed upper-body injury. Read all about it here.

Highlights of the Night

Carter Hart was the star of the game for the Philadelphia Flyers in their win over the Pittsburgh Penguins, but Sean Couturier made the play of the game to score the game-winning goal with just three seconds to play in overtime.

The Minnesota Wild did not get the result they wanted, but they were still able to get at least one point on Sunday night thanks in large part to this incredible goal from Zach Parise.

Tyson Barrie provided enough offense for the Colorado Avalanche on Sunday afternoon and Philip Grubauer stopped all 22 shots he faced to help their team get two important points to keep them in pursuit of a playoff spot. This is Grubauer’s best save of the day.

Factoids

  • The Calgary Flames did not even play on Sunday night but they still became the first team to clinch a playoff spot in the Western Conference thanks to the Minnesota Wild’s overtime loss to the New York Islanders. [Calgary Flames]
  • It came in a losing effort, but Connor McDavid is the first player since Vincent Lecavalier to record multiple points in at least eight consecutive games since Vincent Lecavalier in 2007. [NHL PR]
  • The Minnesota Wild have lost six of their past seven games that have gone to overtime or shootout. Those are big points to leave on the table, especially considering they are just one point out of a playoff spot as of this posting. [Michael Russo]

Scores

Colorado Avalanche 3, New Jersey Devils 0

Buffalo Sabres 4, St. Louis Blues 3 (SO)

New York Islanders 3, Minnesota Wild 2 (OT)

Vancouver Canucks 3, Dallas Stars 2 (SO)

Philadelphia Flyers 2, Pittsburgh Penguins 1 (OT)

Anaheim Ducks 3, Florida Panthers 2

Vegas Golden Knights 6, Edmonton Oilers 3

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Penguins will be without Malkin on ‘week-to-week’ basis

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PITTSBURGH — Not only did the Pittsburgh Penguins drop what could prove to be an important point against the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday night, but they also found out they will be without one of their top players for an extended period of time.

Penguins coach Mike Sullivan announced after their 2-1 overtime loss to the Philadelphia Flyers that superstar center Evgeni Malkin will be out of the lineup on a “week-to-week” basis with an undisclosed upper-body injury.

Malkin did not play in Sunday’s game after he appeared to be injured in Saturday’s loss to the St. Louis Blues.

The injury seemingly occurred when he was cross-checked away from the play by Blues defender Robert Bortuzzo. There was no penalty called on the play. Malkin was down on the ice in obvious pain for several moments but remained in the game. He was replaced on the second line on Sunday night by Teddy Blueger, who skated between Phil Kessel and Bryan Rust.

Malkin’s absence on Sunday coincided with the return of Rust, continuing what has been a frustrating run of injury luck for the team as they can not quite seem to get everyone healthy at the same time. The Penguins are already playing without two of their top defenders — including their top defender — as Kris Letang and Olli Maatta remained sidelined.

Malkin just recorded his 1,000th career point on Tuesday night in a come-from-behind win against the Washington Capitals, and in 66 games this season has 71 points (21 goals, 50 assists) and is the team’s second-leading scorer, trailing only captain Sidney Crosby.

The Penguins currently sit in third place in the Metropolitan Division, sitting three points ahead of the Carolina Hurricanes who still have two games in hand. The two teams meet two more times this season, including on Tuesday night in Raleigh. They are still seven points ahead of the Montreal Canadiens, the first team currently on the outside of the Eastern Conference playoff picture.

The Penguins have nine games remaining in the regular season and are set to begin a tough four-game road trip that will feature games against Carolina, the Nashville Predators, Dallas Stars, and New York Rangers.

Related: Hart, Flyers steal two points with late surge against Penguins

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

Hart, Flyers steal two points with late surge against Penguins

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The Philadelphia Flyers looked like they were less than 20 seconds away from having what was left of their playoff chances completely erased. Somehow, though, there remains some small amount of hope thanks to their stunning 2-1 overtime win against the Pittsburgh Penguins that looked to be a carbon copy of their Stadium Series win over their cross-state rivals just a few weeks earlier.

James van Riemsdyk scored the game-tying goal with just 19 seconds remaining in regulation to send the game to overtime, where Sean Couturier would tally the game-winner with just three seconds to play after he skated around Penguins captain Sidney Crosby in the neutral zone.

The Flyers are still six points out of a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, so the odds are still overwhelmingly stacked against them, but coming away with zero points on Sunday would have probably been enough to completely end their chances.

When these two teams met in late February in the Stadium Series game at Lincoln Financial Field the Flyers trailed by two goals with less than four minutes to play and needed a last-minute game-tying goal to force overtime, only to win it early in the extra period.

They did nearly the same thing on Sunday.

The other big development that stood out in this game for the Flyers was the sensational play of goalie Carter Hart.

Appearing in just his second game since returning from injury, Hart played one of the best games of his young career by turning around 41 of the 42 shots he faced, including several dangerous scoring chances in the second period to help keep the game scoreless.

This is the type of performance that has to give Flyers fans — and the Flyers themselves — hope for the immediate future.

Nothing can change the direction of a team more than a franchise goalie, and after decades of searching the Flyers may have finally found somebody that can actually claim that title. Yes, it has only been 24 games at this point, but the early returns have been everything the Flyers could have hoped for from their top prospect. His arrival has been one of the biggest factors in their second half turnaround that has allowed them to at least get somewhat closer to a playoff spot.

Teddy Blueger was the only Penguin to beat him on Sunday night, pouncing on a rebound in front of the net early in the third period.

Blueger was skating on the Penguins’ second line on Sunday night in place of Evgeni Malkin who missed the game due to an upper-body injury suffered on Saturday.

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.

PHT Morning Skate: Should Bolts chase history?; Malkin’s journey to NHL

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Welcome to the PHT Morning Skate, a collection of links from around the hockey world. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at phtblog@nbcsports.com.

• NHL scouts are happy about the NHL’s decision to move up the draft lottery. (The Hockey News)

• Are you curious about the two women’s leagues? Check out ESPN’s women’s hockey FAQ. (ESPN)

• Lou Pinella weighed in on whether or not the Lightning should aim to surpass regular-season records. (Tampa Bay Times)

• It might be time for the Buffalo Sabres to move on from Phil Housley. (Buffalo News)

• Former NHLer Brian Rolston was named the new director of Little Caesars Amateur Hockey. (MIHockey.com)

• Jack Hughes is no longer the top prospect on Sportsnet’s March rankings. (Sportsnet)

• Find out how $15.2 million made the Humboldt bus crash even more complicated. (Globe and Mail)

Evgeni Malkin has enjoyed a tremendous NHL career, but fleeing to North American wasn’t easy for him. (NHL.com/Penguins)

• Speaking of Malkin, his parents wrote him a letter after scored his 1,000th NHL point. (NHL.com/Penguins)

• TSN’s Travis Yost previewed potential first-round matchups involving Canadian teams. (TSN)

• How have the new Blue Jackets fit into the team’s lineup? The Cannon takes a deeper look. (The Cannon)

• A year after being a significant free-agent bust, Brendan Smith has found a way to make himself useful to the Rangers. (New York Post)

Joey Alfieri is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @joeyalfieri.

McDavid’s latest 100-point season puts him in rare company

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It was the type of night that Edmonton Oilers forward Connor McDavid has probably already become frustratingly accustomed to having early in his NHL career.

He had a productive game with a pair of assists, the sixth consecutive game he has recorded at least two points, while the rest of his team looked like it was unprepared to play in an ugly 6-3 loss to a New Jersey Devils team that had lost seven games in a row and barely resembled an NHL roster given its injury situation and the trades it made over the past month.

It was probably enough to eliminate whatever lingering playoff hopes the team had this season, slim as they may have already been.

[Related: Oilers squander opportunity to gain ground in playoff race]

The lone positive for McDavid, though, is that his two assists allowed him to reach the 100-point mark for the third consecutive season, an accomplishment that is almost unheard of in today’s NHL.

First, he is one of only five active players to have at least three 100-point seasons in his career, joining a list that includes only Sidney Crosby (five), Alex Ovechkin (four), Evgeni Malkin (three), and Joe Thornton (three).

Ovechkin is the only other one out of that group that reached the century mark in three consecutive seasons.

Crosby, who had 100-point seasons in 2005-06, 2006-07, 2008-09, and 2009-10) almost certainly would have done it six or seven years in a row had he not missed so many games to injury in 2007-08, 2010-11 and even 2011-12.

That alone is impressive. Then there is the fact he has done it within his first four seasons in the league, something that only seven other players in the history of the league have done. That list: Wayne Gretzky, Mario Lemieux, Peter Stastny, Crosby, Dale Hawerchuk, Ovechkin, and … Mike Rogers.

Rogers is the obvious name that doesn’t really seem to fit there, and his three 100-point seasons came when he was in his mid-20s after player several years in the WHA as a member of the Hartford Whalers. All of the other players were between the ages of 18 and 23 when they did it. They are all also either already in the Hall of Fame (Gretzky, Lemieux, Hawerchuk, Stastny) or will be there as soon as they retire (Crosby, Ovechkin).

So pretty good company to be included with.

Crosby, Ovechkin, and McDavid are also the only three players that have accomplished the feat outside of the high-scoring free-for-all days that were the 1980s NHL.

McDavid is currently second in the NHL scoring race, 11 points behind Tampa Bay Lightning forward Nikita Kucherov.

Between him and Leon Draisaitl the Oilers have two of the league’s top-six scorers (and Draisaitl not only has an outside shot at 50 goals, he may even join McDavid as a 100-point scorer) and are still six points out of a playoff spot in the Western Conference, likely to miss for the third time in four years with McDavid.

Adam Gretz is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @AGretz.