The Buzzer: Laine rubs elbows with Gretzky on five-goal night

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Patrik Laine, number one with a bullet

When you have a night a special as the one Laine experienced, you get your own section.

On a night of hat tricks, Laine refused to settle for a mere three goals, nearly managing a double-hatty. Ultimately, he finished with a ridiculous five goals on five shots. If anyone can do that, it’s Laine.

This isn’t just a one-night outburst for Laine, either. By the three-goal mark, he had reached at least a hat trick for the seventh time in his young career … and the third during the month of November.

In case you’re wondering, yes, it’s been a very long time since someone managed a hat trick of hat tricks during a single month.

Laine, 20, won’t turn 21 until April 19. That’s relevant to note because, while he’s unlikely to match this Wayne Gretzky mark, it’s also true that it was already unlikely that he’d generate three hat tricks in a single month.

Laine lands in Gretzky-rarified-air more than once. Sportsnet’s stats staff also notes that he’s the first 20-year-old to collect five goals since Gretzky managed that mark twice. Again, it would be asking a lot for the winger to match that mark by number 99, yet he also has the rest of the season to do so (Winnipeg’s last regular-season game comes on April 6, almost two weeks before his 21st birthday).

PHT’s Scott Billeck did a great job of recapping Laine’s red-hot ways:

Thanks to this ridiculous night, Laine now has 19 goals in 2018-19, giving him the NHL lead. Interestingly, Saturday left him at 99 career regular-season goals. It should be fascinating to see Laine try to climb this list, too.

Interesting to see Jimmy Carson right behind Gretzky, the name he’ll be linked with forever thanks to that famous trade, eh?

The other three stars

1. Kyle Connor and Bryan Little

Let’s give Laine’s partners-in-crime a little love, too.

Both Connor and Little collected four assists during Laine’s five-goal night. If you have to choose one of the two, Connor would probably get quite a bit more credit for driving play, as he finished the night with four shots on goal to go with his four assists (Little had one SOG).

Many joked about how Laine’s going to get paid on his next contract. The way things going, Connor might not be too cheap, either.

2. Andreas Johnsson

Heading into Saturday, this 24-year-old Leafs forward had two goals over his entire, young NHL career. Johnsson generated a hat trick in a single period on Saturday, and actually hit that mark with about seven minutes remaining in the opening frame.

Would Johnsson have generated even more offense if the Flyers ever got on the board in this one? Maybe, but he still enjoyed one of the night’s great performances.

(Garret Sparks‘ 34-save shutout likely kept Toronto from going too over the top.)

Read more about Toronto making life miserable for Philly’s goalies here.

3. Jake Guentzel

Guentzel didn’t need three periods to collect his hat trick. He took advantage of some splendid Sidney Crosby passing to gain three goals without about four minutes left in the second period.

This marks the first regular-season hat trick for Guentzel, who now has 18 points in 22 games during the 2018-19 campaign.

Fun fact unless you’re the one managing Pittsburgh’s salary cap: like Connor and Laine, Guentzel is headed toward RFA status. A big season would go really well with all of those playoff heroics, huh?

Highlights of the Night

Quite the no-look pass by Crosby

Matt Luff had the right stuff to make Jacob Markstrom take his bluff:

Non-Laine, non-Sabres-topping-the-league factoids

Laine isn’t the only youngster playing beyond his years.

Gotta love how specific this stat is:

Scores

WSH 5 – NYR 3
TOR 6 – PHI 0
BOS 3 – MTL 2
BUF 3 – DET 2 (SO)
CHI 5 – FLA 4 (OT)
NYI 4 – CAR 1
PIT 4 – CBJ 2
WPG 8 – STL 4
COL 3 – DAL 2
VGK 6 – SJS 0
VAN 4 – LAK 2

MORE: Your 2018-19 NHL on NBC TV schedule

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.

Canucks’ Bachman gifts Mikko Koivu with easy power-play goal

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Mikko Koivu won’t score an easier goal in his life.

And he can thank Vancouver Canucks goalie Richard Bachman for that.

Bachman was in a giving mood in the first period against Koivu’s Minnesota Wild on Thursday night. With the Canucks trying to kill off a Wild power play, Bachman tried to be a hero on an outlet pass from behind his net after Koivu dumped it into Vancouver’s zone.

What occurred next was less than heroic:

It is Bachman’s first start with the Canucks this season and just his 48th NHL game for the American Hockey League veteran. The 31-year-old is playing backup to Jacob Markstrom while Anders Nilsson has been on the shelf since late October with a fractured finger.

To Bachman’s credit, the pass was as good a tape-to-tape job as you’ll see from a goalie. He’ll just want to find a teammate’s stick next time.


Scott Billeck is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @scottbilleck

The Buzzer: Virtanen leads the way as Canucks top Blackhawks

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Three Stars

1. Jake Virtanen, Vancouver Canucks

The first multi-goal game of Virtanen’s career helped the Canucks double up the Chicago Blackhawks 4-2. A goal in the first and a goal in the second answered Chicago tallies both times. Vancouver is now in first in the Pacific Division.

2. Brendan Gaunce, Vancouver Canucks

With the score knotted at two midway through the third period, the Canucks forward, playing in his first game of the season, fired a shot following a bad defensive zone turnover from Jonathan Toews to grab the lead for good. Gaunce now has six career goals, three of which have come against Chicago.

3. Jonathan Toews, Chicago Blackhawks

The captain’s power play goal in the second period was the 299th of his career, passing Dennis Hull on the Blackhawks’ all-time list. Ahead of him in fifth place is teammate Patrick Kane, who’s sitting on 323 goals. Bobby Hull holds the franchise record with 604.

Highlights of the Night

• A little pressure couldn’t stop Virtanen from scoring his first of the evening:

Jacob Markstrom was solid in net for the Canucks making 24 stops:

• Zombie flash mob!

Factoid of the Night

Scores
Canucks 4, Blackhawks 2

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Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

 

The Buzzer: Walk with Elias (both of them)

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Three Stars

1. Elias Pettersson

Last season, Brock Boeser dazzled as a sniping rookie for the Canucks, eventually becoming perhaps the most well-coiffed All-Star Game MVP in NHL history (only because Al Iafrate didn’t get it, agreed).

This season, Elias Pettersson is dazzling just as much. Honestly, in some ways, the 19-year-old’s been even more impressive, as he’s been mixing quality shooting with magical playmaking.

One thing’s clear: it’s the type of debate that must really delight Vancouver fans hoping that this rebuild is on track.

Pettersson scored two goals on Monday, giving him seven tallies in as many games as he storms out of the gate in the Calder race. The young Swede put together a brilliant all-around game, firing three shots on goal, enjoying a +2 rating, and even blocking three shots. Considering all of the injury headaches in Vancouver, the Canucks will probably ask him to maybe dial that habit back a notch or three.

2. Elias Lindholm

It’s such a good night for dudes named Elias, the headline just needed to be a reference to the WWE superstar. (Honestly, the Devils should have lowered Patrik Elias’ jersey just to raise it up again for this momentous occasion.)

Lindholm isn’t a rookie, yet he is new to Calgary Flames fans, and so far he’s – for the most part – been a dynamite addition to Calgary’s lethal top line with Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan.

Much like Pettersson, Lindholm generated the game-winning goal for his team on Monday. Lindholm’s assist was also a primary one, which boosts him a bit beyond Monahan (who had a goal and an assist, but his was a secondary helper … also his goal was the GWG).

This gives Lindholm 12 points in as many games. If reasonably healthy, he should demolish his previous career-high of 45 points.

3. Jacob Markstrom

OK, so Monday was a pretty strong night for Swedes, even ones not named Elias.

It’s easy to forget that Markstrom was once arguably the most hyped goalie prospect during his development years, frequently dubbed “the best goalie outside of the NHL” as he tried to claw his way to a full-time gig with the Florida Panthers.

The big netminder was sharp against the Flames, making 37 out of 39 saves, including all 17 in the third period as Minnesota was trailing. Markstrom’s start has been up-and-down, but he’s now improve to above .500 in 2018-19 (4-3-0).

Highlights of the Night

Much of the Maple Leafs’ best moments were “almost” moments, like this almost-goal (and Kasperi Kapanen making outstanding moves against Flames, but to no avail).

The Eliases both scored some emphatic one-timer goals. Pettersson probably scored the best one:

Yet Lindholm’s one-timer was pretty nice, too:

Factoids

  • Calgary has been up-and-down this season, but it’s promising that the Flames are closing out games so well.

  • If it weren’t for those trifling Eliases, Monday might have been the day of the Granlund clan. Markus Granlund opened the scoring for Vancouver, while Mikael Granlund extended his point streak to eight games with an assist.
  • No surprise that Pettersson’s making some history with his red-hot start:

Scores

Flames 3, Maple Leafs 1
Canucks 5, Wild 2

MORE: Your 2018-19 NHL on NBC TV schedule

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.

The Buzzer: Bo knows goals

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Three Stars

1. Bo Horvat

The Canucks were down … just about all their noteworthy players against the Golden Knights in Vegas, but Bo Horvat made it happen in a resilient shootout win. Horvat scored two goals on three shots on goal, delivered four hits, blocked a shot, and dominated in the faceoff circle (15-7).

About the only complaint you can make is that Horvat was unable to score during the shootout, yet the Canucks won anyway.

Horvat’s strong night stood out because, despite the stray nice game (Aleksander Barkov collected two assists in Florida’s comeback win), Wednesday was a great night for goalies.

2. Frederik Andersen

OK, the Maple Leafs goalie wasn’t without a blemish. He allowed two goals during Winnipeg’s 22-shot third period as the Jets tried to get back into a game.

Andersen was pretty fantastic overall, though, stopping 38 out of 40 SOG. The Jets have a potent offense, something you could see on the two goals that ended up beating Andersen. It’s tough to really put those tallies on Andersen’s shoulders.

Similarly, Jacob Markstrom allowed two goals in an overall impressive win, making 33 saves. Andersen gets the edge from both quantity and quality perspectives.

3. Andrei Vasilevskiy

Unlike Andersen, Andrei didn’t allow a goal … I mean, unless you ding him for the would-be Gabriel Landeskog goal that was negated by an offside call via a coach’s challenge.

The box score says he was perfect, though, as Vasilevskiy pitched a 22-save shutout.

The relatively light night of work makes Vasilevskiy’s shutout a little less impressive, although it doesn’t hurt his cause that four of those SOG came from Nathan MacKinnon, and seven overall were produced by Colorado’s deadly top trio.

(Perfectionists might place Vasilevskiy at second or first. To each their own.)

Highlights of the Night

What a thing of beauty: all five members of the Islanders power play touched the puck on Jordan Eberle‘s first goal of 2018-19. Maybe this will light a fire under the winger, who’s just begun a contract year?

Horvat’s second goal of the evening (also his second in a 64-second span) was quite pretty:

Factoids

  • Horvat’s Canucks now lead the Pacific Division with 12 points in 10 games. Seriously.

The margin is small, mind you, but Vancouver is alone in the lead following Wednesday’s games.

  • Yes, Kasperi Kapanen is off to a strong start this season. No, he hasn’t really done this before at the NHL level.

  • Bold prediction: Vasilevskiy will own the Lightning’s goalie records.

Scores

Panthers 3, Islanders 2 (OT)
Maple Leafs 4, Jets 2
Lightning 1, Avalanche 0
Canucks 3, Golden Knights 2 (SO)

MORE: Your 2018-19 NHL on NBC TV schedule

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.