After a three-day break for Christmas, the NHL went back to work with 13 games on Thursday. As busy as last night was, Saturday will be even crazier with 15 contests on the schedule.
With all that action, there was no shortage of standout performances. In fact, we had two hat tricks courtesy of Patrick Kane and Johnny Gaudreau as well as an amazing 49-save shutout out of Anton Khudobin. The performance that stood out to me though was Nikita Kucherov’s goal and three assists. Kucherov has been red hot lately and with that four-point showing, he now narrowly leads the scoring race with 61 points to Mikko Rantanen’s 60 points.
Rantanen has been a mainstay at the top of the scoring race for much of the season. He has slowed a bit recently with a goal and three points in his last four games, but this change is far more about what Kucherov has been doing right. From Nov. 15-Dec. 27, Kucherov has 10 goals and 43 points in 20 contests. The next best player during that stretch has been Johnny Gaudreau with 32 points in 20 games. Rantanen is just behind that at 31 points in 20 contests. In other words, Kucherov has just been unreal over the last month-and-a-half and now he’s the man the rest of the league is chasing.
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NEW JERSEY 5 BOSTON 2
Blake Coleman scored twice, including the game-winner. He’s up to 11 goals and 19 points in 36 contests.
Nico Hischier found the back of the net and registered an assist for the Devils. He has 10 goals and 25 points in 32 games.
Mackenzie Blackwood stopped 40 of 42 shots to earn his first career NHL win. He has a 2.16 GAA and .939 save percentage in four contests.
Patrice Bergeron scored a goal for Boston. It was his 12th marker and 31st point in 22 contests.
Jaroslav Halak kicked out 28 of 32 Devils shots. He’s 12-6-2 with a 2.28 GAA and .928 save percentage in 22 games.
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COLUMBUS 4 NY RANGERS 3 (OT)
The Rangers fell short, but Chris Kreider did he best for them with two goals. He has 19 markers and 27 points in 36 games.
Oliver Bjorkstrand scored a goal and an assist for the Blue Jackets. That gives him five goals and 11 points in 32 contests.
Pierre-Luc Dubois accounted for the overtime winner. He has 14 goals and 32 points in 37 games.
Henrik Lundqvist stopped 25 of 29 shots last night. He has allowed at least four goals in five of his last six starts.
At the other end of the ice, Joonas Korpisalo saved 19 of 22 shots. He’s 6-2-2 with a 3.49 GAA and .884 save percentage in 13 contests.
PITTSBURGH 5 DETROIT 2
Phil Kessel scored two goals, including the game-winner, and registered an assist. He has 16 goals and 40 points in 37 games.
Derick Brassard also scored twice for the Penguins. He has six goals and 11 points in 28 contests.
Dylan Larkin chipped in a goal for the Red Wings. It was his 16th goal and 37th point in 39 games.
Jimmy Howard stopped 35 of 39 shots in his third straight loss. He dropped to 10-9-4 with a 2.72 GAA and .921 save percentage in 25 contests.
Matt Murray saved 27 of 29 shots Thursday night. He has an ugly 3.30 GAA and .902 save percentage in 15 starts, but he’s bounced back recently with just three goals over his last three games.
WASHINGTON 3 CAROLINA 1
Sebastian Aho scored the Hurricanes’ lone goal. It was his 15th goal and 39th point in 36 contests.
Petr Mrazek stopped 30 of 32 Hurricanes shots. He has a 6-8-2 record, 2.59 GAA, and .901 save percentage in 16 starts.
John Carlson scored a goal and registered an assist. That gives him six goals and 37 points in 35 games.
T.J. Oshie netted the game-winning goal. It was his 11th marker and 16th point in 25 contests.
Braden Holtby turned aside 28 of 29 shots last night. He improved to 15-8-2 with a 2.72 GAA and .915 save percentage in 26 contests.
TAMPA BAY 6 PHILADELPHIA 5 (OT)
Claude Giroux scored a goal and registered an assist. He has 13 goals and 44 points in 36 contests.
Michal Neuvirth surrendered six goals on 37 shots. He’s 1-2-1 with a 4.79 GAA and .835 save percentage in four starts.
Steven Stamkos scored two goals and registered two assists. He’s up to 22 goals and 43 points in 38 contests.
Andrei Vasilevskiy stopped 28 of 33 Flyers shots. He has a 13-3-2 record, 2.54 GAA, and .924 save percentage in 18 starts.
ST. LOUIS 4 BUFFALO 1
Jack Eichel scored the Sabres’ only goal. It was his 15th marker and 49th point in 38 games.
Jake Allen stopped 30 of 31 Sabres shots last night. He’s 13-10-4 with a 3.01 GAA and .903 save percentage in 29 games.
Robert Thomas had a goal and an assist for the Blues. He’s up to three goals and 12 points in 30 contests.
Jay Bouwmeester contributed the game-winner. It was his first goal and seventh point in 31 games.
Carter Hutton allowed four goals on 32 shots to suffer his fourth straight loss. He has a 13-11-2 record, 2.64 GAA< and .916 save percentage in 26 contests.
DALLAS 2 NASHVILLE 0
Anton Khudobin stopped an incredible 49 shots last night. He picked up his first shutout of the season and the seventh of his career. He also improved to 7-7-2 with a 2.63 GAA and .920 save percentage in 18 games.
Viktor Arvidsson made his return from a broken thumb. He fired six shots on Khudobin, but of course none of them got through.
Tyler Pitlick scored the first and therefore game-winning goal. He has five goals and eight points in 34 contests in 2018-19.
Mattias Janmark accounted for the other goal. He has three goals and 13 points in 38 games.
Pekka Rinne suffered his fourth straight loss despite stopping a solid 28 of 30 shots. He’s 14-9-1 with a 2.15 GAA and .925 save percentage in 27 contests.
CALGARY 4 WINNIPEG 1
Johnny Gaudreau led the charge with a hat trick. He’s up to 19 goals and 51 points in 38 games.
Sean Monahan assisted on all Gaudreau’s goals. Monahan has 21 goals and 43 points in 38 contests.
David Rittich saved 35 of 36 Jets shots. He has a 12-4-2 record, 2.22 GAA, and .926 save percentage in 21 games.
Adam Lowry found the back of the net. It was his sixth goal and 11th point in 35 contests.
Connor Hellebuyck stopped 35 of 38 Flames shots. He’s 16-10-1 with a 2.91 GAA and .909 save percentage in 28 starts.
CHICAGO 5 MINNESOTA 2
Patrick Kane was the hero in this one with a hat trick. That gives him 20 goals and 47 points in 39 games. He’s also on a six-game point streak.
Eric Staal scored a goal and registered an assist for the Wild. He has 13 goals and 25 points in 35 contests in 2018-19.
Brandon Saad accounted for two of Chicago’s goals. He’s up to 11 goals and 22 points in 38 games.
Collin Delia saved 46 of 48 Wild shots. He has a 1.50 GAA and .964 save percentage in two starts.
VANCOUVER 4 EDMONTON 2
Elias Pettersson scored the game-winning goal and registered an assist. The rookie is up to 18 goals and 38 points in 34 contests.
Antoine Roussel also had a goal and an assist for Vancouver. He has four goals and 17 points in 35 contests.
Jacob Markstrom stopped 30 of 32 Oilers shots. He has a 15-10-3 record, 2.84 GAA, and .909 save percentage in 28 starts.
Leon Draisaitl found the back of the net and registered an assist. The Edmonton forward is up to 18 goals and 45 points in 37 contests.
VEGAS 2 COLORADO 1
Marc-Andre Fleury snapped a two-game losing streak by stopping 31 of 32 shots. He’s 21-10-4 with a 2.60 GAA and .908 save percentage in 35 starts.
Paul Stastny scored a goal and registered an assist for the Golden Knights. He has three goals and five points in 10 contests.
Brandon Pirri scored the game-winning goal. That gives him four goals and five points in four games.
Philipp Grubauer saved 41 of 43 Avalanche shots. He has an 8-4-3 record, 3.09 GAA, and .904 save percentage in 17 contests.
J.T. Compher netted Colorado’s only goal. It was his 10th marker and 16th point in 22 games.
LOS ANGELES 2 ARIZONA 1
The Coyotes’ only goal was scored by Jakob Chychrun. He has two goals and six points in 19 games.
Jake Muzzin netted a goal for the Kings. He’s up to four goals and 15 points in 38 contests.
Dustin Brown accounted for the game-winning goal. It was his 10th marker and 20th point in 28 games.
Jonathan Quick saved 26 of 27 shots to earn his third straight win. He’s 5-8-2 with a 2.92 GAA and .904 save percentage in 15 starts.
At the other end of the ice, Darcy Kuemper stopped 24 of 26 shots. He has a 5-10-2 record, 2.77 GAA, and .912 save percentage in 17 starts.
SAN JOSE 4 ANAHEIM 2
The Ducks lost far more than the game. John Gibson left the contest with an upper-body injury after stopping 15 of 16 shots in the first period. Anaheim was already missing Ryan Miller due to a sprained MCL, so Chad Johnson stepped into the contest and stopped 20 of 22 shots.
Kiefer Sherwood scored a goal for Anaheim. He has five goals and 10 points in 38 contests this season.
Brent Burns scored the game-winning goal. It was his fifth goal and 36th point in 39 games.
Barclay Goodrow assisted on three of the Sharks’ four markers. He’s up to five goals and nine points in 39 contests.
Martin Jones turned aside 25 of 27 Ducks shots. He’s 15-8-4 with a 2.83 GAA and .899 save percentage in 28 starts.