The Buzzer: Blue Jackets, Jets win without Laine and Dubois; NWHL season begins
1. Patrice Bergeron - Brad Marchand
It looks like Bergeron, Marchand, and the Bruins got the memo. They already showed signs of life in a previous showing against the Flyers, but really dominated on Saturday.
As is often the case between Bergeron and Marchand (and David Pastrnak when healthy), it’s difficult to distinguish which star was the biggest Bruins star. Both Bergeron and Marchand generated three points (2G, 1A apiece), so it makes perfect sense to give them the top star slot as a duo.
In particular, Marchand probably didn’t deserve too much heat for the Bruins’ bumps on offense. He only failed to score in a single game so far this season, with this three-point night pushing him to seven points in five contests. It’s promising that Bergeron is heating up, as the 35-year-old continues to battle Father Time (six points in five games).
At this rate, the Flyers must feel somewhat fortunate that their record isn’t worse than 3-2-1.
2. Elvis Merzlikins
It’s easy to say that a team like the Blue Jackets might be motivated with the Pierre-Luc Dubois saga behind them. But it’s another thing to push all of those distractions aside and beat the defending champion Tampa Bay Lightning.
Merzlikins helped the Blue Jackets to lock down an afternoon win with a strong 30-save performance.
So far, the Blue Jackets have struggled a bit this season, and Merzlikins hasn’t been immune to those issues. This marks his first win of the 2020-21 campaign.
3. Paul Stastny
For a while, the Jets struggled to pull away from the Senators. In fact, the Senators carried a 3-2 lead into the third period.
Even with Patrik Laine out of town, and Pierre-Luc Dubois’ window for a first game unclear, the Jets still boast serious firepower. More than the scrappy Senators, at least right now.
Stastny scored the game-winning goal on the power play, while also adding two assists. With PLD soon to be added to the lineup, Stastny’s probably the most likely player to see a lesser assignment. Production like this might force Paul Maurice to get creative to make sure that Stastny can still be a regular contributor.
[Dubois - Laine trade ... What it means for Jets ... many Blue Jackets questions]
Metropolitan Riveters 3, Toronto Six 0
The Toronto Six put together a strong effort in their NWHL debut, firing 40 shots on goal. Sonjia Shelly stopped all of them for a shutout, however, allowing the first of two Leila Kilduff tallies to stand as the game-winner.
Minnesota Whitecaps 2, Boston Pride 1
The 2019 NWHL champions began their season with a win off of 36-save performance from Amanda Leveille. Audra Curtis collected two assists for the Whitecaps, with Jonna Curtis and Winny Brodt Brown supplying the goals.
Connecticut Whale 2, Buffalo Beauts 1
Katelynn Russ scored the only goal in the shootout as the Whale edged the Beauts. Abbie Ives made 24 stops to help Connecticut join the Riveters and Whitecaps as winners on Day 1.
The single-elimination Isobel Cup Semifinals will be shown live on Thursday, Feb. 4 at 5:30 p.m. ET and 8 p.m. ET. The winners of the semifinals will advance to the Isobel Cup Final on Friday, Feb. 5 at 7 p.m. ET. In addition to coverage on NBCSN, live coverage will stream exclusively on NBCSports.com and the NBC Sports app.
NHL highlights from Saturday
Evgenii Dadonov scored his first Senators goal with some sneaky style:
When you’re as large as Victor Hedman, you’re not supposed to be able to score goals like these.
NHL scores from Saturday
Blue Jackets 5, Lightning 2
Bruins 6, Flyers 1
Canadiens 5, Canucks 2
Blues 4, Kings 2
Jets 6, Senators 3