NHL Three Stars from Thursday
1. Anthony Mantha, Detroit Red Wings
The Lightning have been able to surge back into games lately. Maybe they’ve pulled it off often enough that they took such rallies for granted?
Either way, the Red Wings didn’t win pretty against the Lightning, but they made it happen nonetheless. Anthony Mantha loomed as the biggest reason why, scoring a goal and two assists.
(Sure, one of the assists came on an empty-netter, but still.)
Over the previous 11 games, Mantha only managed one point: a goal against the Blue Jackets on March 2. If the Red Wings are going to compete sometime during Mantha’s prime (26 years old, zero career playoff games), they’ll need his contributions. Losing like this has to take a lot out of you. So good for him for enjoying a big night.
2. Brad Marchand, Boston Bruins
Marchand, on the other hand, hasn’t had much trouble scoring lately. His Bruins have been stumbling a bit, however.
With three assists on Thursday, Marchand helped the Bruins dispatch the Rangers. Those three points pushed Marchand to 31 (12G, 19A) in 24 games this season.
Naturally, Patrice Bergeron (1G, 1A) and David Pastrnak (1G) got in on the action for Boston, too.
Depending upon your preference, you might tab Jaroslav Halak for this spot, or at least one of the three star selections for the NHL on Thursday. He pitched a 27-save shutout on Thursday. Halak’s only allowed two goals over his last three starts.
3. Nikolaj Ehlers, Winnipeg Jets
The Jets almost stole a win against the Maple Leafs for two reasons: Connor Hellebuyck, and Nikolaj Ehlers.
Nikolaj Ehlers gets the slight edge over Oliver Bjorkstrand as three-point performers whose teams lost on Thursday in the NHL. Ehlers scored his two goals on his two SOG, while Hellebuyck kept Winnipeg in the game with 34 saves.
Remember when there were rumblings about the Jets trading Ehlers? Back then, those who dug deeper into the game realized how foolish it would have been for Winnipeg to move such a transition beast as Ehlers. With 28 points in 26 games, Ehlers won’t be slipping under many radars any longer.
Another Laine benching, Binnington extension, honorable mentions
- The Blues made big news with a bold (and baffling?) six-year, $36 million extension for Jordan Binnington.
- Oliver Bjorkstrand’s great performance couldn’t keep the Blue Jackets from dropping a 4-1 lead. Patrik Laine contributed to Bjorkstrand’s night, but ultimately ended up getting benched. Read more about the latest Blue Jackets headaches here.
- While the Stars kept Kevin Lankinen from making a three stars jump, he really limited them in Chicago’s win.
- Josh Leivo scored both of the Flames’ goals in a slim 2-1 win over the Habs.
Highlights of Thursday night in the NHL
Connor Hellebuyck and the Jets tried, but you can only give Auston Matthews and the Maple Leafs so many chances.
Lowlight: An especially brutal own-goal
Look, Damon Severson is a good defenseman, especially for the Devils. But this own-goal was brutal, and could be useful if anyone wanted to explain how alone Mackenzie Blackwood must feel at times.
Thursday’s NHL scores
Bruins 4, Rangers 0
Penguins 5, Sabres 2
Islanders 5, Devils 3
Capitals 5, Flyers 3
Hurricanes 5, Predators 1
Panthers 5, Blue Jackets 4 (OT)
Maple Leafs 4, Jets 3 (OT)
Red Wings 6, Lightning 4
Blackhawks 4, Stars 2
Flames 2, Canadiens 1
James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.