NHL Rink Wrap: Barkov leads Panthers rally; Ritchie suspended
Top player in the NHL on Saturday
Aleksander Barkov, Florida Panthers
There is not a team in the league with a better offense this season than the Florida Panthers, and when they are on their game there is not anybody even close to them. They also are never out of a game because of that offense. We saw all of that on Saturday afternoon as they erased a four-goal third period deficit to rally for a 7-6 overtime win against the New Jersey Devils. Aleksander Barkov scored the Panthers’ fifth and sixth goals in the final five minutes to send the game to overtime, continuing his sensational season. Jonathan Huberdeau gets all of the MVP talk here, but Barkov is the guy that really makes this team run. The Panthers are averaging well over four goals per game this season, the highest single season mark by any team since the 1995-96 season, and have now scored at least seven goals in a game seven times this season. They have scored at least six goals 14 different times and at least five goals 27 different times. Just an unbelievable offensive hockey team here.
Highlights from around the NHL on Saturday
Nathan Walker’s goal puts the the St. Louis Blues ahead of the Calgary Flames for the game-winning goal in their 6-4 win.
Jason Robertson beats the buzzer to continue his magnificent season to help the Dallas Stars built a 4-1 lead through the first period against the San Jose Sharks.
Nick Suzuki helps the Montreal Canadiens beat the Tampa Bay Lightning in the shootout.
Three takeaways from the NHL on Saturday
Penguins-Avalanche was incredible
If by some chance we can see this matchup as a seven-game series in the Stanley Cup Final the hockey world should be very, very, very happy. The Pittsburgh Penguins and Colorado Avalanche played a thrilling game on Saturday afternoon that saw the Avalanche get a 3-2 win thanks to a late Devon Toews goal that came just 26 seconds after the Penguins tied the game. This game was played at an incredible pace with outstanding goaltending, great scoring chances at both ends of the ice, and an elite level of skill. The two teams play again on Tuesday night in Pittsburgh.
Nick Ritchie suspended one game for slashing
Arizona Coyotes forward Jay Beagle avoided suspension for his cross-check and fight at the end of Friday’s game that angered Trevor Zegras of the Anaheim Ducks. It all stemmed from Zegras’ lacrosse-style goal and his attempt to poke at a loose puck around the crease late in the game. But Beagle’s teammate, Nick Ritchie, did get a one-game suspension on Saturday for slashing Ducks defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk during that game.
Another big win for Stars in playoff race
The Dallas Stars extended their current winning streak to four games thanks to a 5-4 win over the San Jose Sharks, helping to solidify their playoff positioning in the Western Conference Wild Card race. They have a lead over the Vegas Golden Knights while still having three games in hand. Elsewhere in the Western Conference, the Los Angeles Kings were 3-2 winners over the Winnipeg Jets to solidify their position as a top-three team in the Pacific Division.
Sunday’s big story
All about that Western Conference playoff race as the Dallas Stars, Edmonton Oilers, and Vegas Golden Knights all play on Sunday. All three teams are separated by just three points in the standings while all three have winning streaks of at least three games or more (Vegas and Edmonton have both won three games in a row; Dallas has won four games in a row). A Vegas win (against Vancouver) and Dallas loss in regulation (to Seattle) would temporarily jump the Golden Knights back into a playoff spot (while Dallas will still have those important three games in hand), while a Vegas Win and Edmonton loss in regulation (to Anaheim) would close that gap to just one point for third place in the Pacific Division (while Edmonton would have one game in hand).
Saturday’s NHL Scores
Florida Panthers 7, New Jersey Devils 6 (OT)
Colorado Avalanche 3, Pittsburgh Penguins 2
Los Angeles Kings 3, Winnipeg Jets 2
Boston Bruins 5, Columbus Blue Jackets 2
Montreal Canadiens 5, Tampa Bay Lightning 4 (SO)
Toronto Maple Leafs 6, Philadelphia Flyers 3
Minnesota Wild 3, Carolina Hurricanes 1
St. Louis Blues 6, Calgary Flames 4
Dallas Stars 5, San Jose Sharks 4