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NHL Rink Wrap: Panthers, Sharks, Oilers stay unbeaten; Blackhawks booed off ice again

NHL Scores

SUNRISE, FL - OCTOBER 21: Teammates congratulate Carter Verhaeghe #23 of the Florida Panthers after he scored a second period goal against the Colorado Avalanche at the FLA Live Arena on October 21, 2021 in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Joel Auerbach/Getty Images)

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Top player from Thursday in the NHL

Connor McDavid, Edmonton Oilers

Another night, another dominant performance from Connor McDavid.

He scored two goals (including his 200th career goal, which you can see below) and added an assist in the Oilers’ 5-1 win over the Arizona Coyotes to improve to 4-0 on the season.

With three more points McDavid now has 11 points in the first four games of the season. That comes out to a 225 point pace over 82 games. Is he going to maintain that? No. Well, probably not. But he did have 100-points in a 56-game season so nothing should be off the table with this guy right now offensively.

Highlights from Thursday in the NHL

McDavid scored his 200th career goal on Thursday night, and it was a vintage McDavid goal where he just makes everybody else on the ice look slow.

Jesperi Kotkaniemi was back in Montreal on Thursday night and helped the Hurricanes get a 4-1 win. Of course he scored a goal.

The Blue Jackets are one of the early season surprises with wins in three of their first four games. That includes Thursday’s 3-2 overtime win against the New York Islanders that was ended with Patrik Laine’s second overtime goal of the season.

There were always going to be two important keys for Columbus to be competitive this season.

Elvis Merzlikins being great in goal (he has been). Also Laine having a bounce back season and playing like a star (he has so far). With Thursday’s goal he nows has two goals and three assists in Columbus’ first four games of the season.

Three Takeaways from Thursday in the NHL

The Panthers are 4-0 and looking good

All aboard the Florida Panthers bandwagon, because tickets are going to go fast.

With their 4-1 win over the Colorado Avalanche on Thursday, the Panthers are now 4-0 and looking like a strong contender in the early season. They are not only unbeaten through four games, they have beaten four really good teams in Pittsburgh, New York Islanders, Tampa Bay Lightning, and Colorado. They have not only beaten four quality teams, they have mostly carried the play against them, including Thursday against the Avalanche.

The key stat on Thursday: They held Nathan MacKinnon to zero shots on goal.

This team is going to be a problem.

The Sharks win again

Don’t look now but the San Jose Sharks are 3-0 this season.

They spoiled Brady Tkachuk’s season debut in Ottawa on Thursday night with a 2-1 win that was highlighted by goals from Logan Couture and Kevin Labanc, as well as a 30-save effort from James Reimer in goal. On one hand, the early season schedule has not been all that daunting just yet (games against Montreal and Ottawa are not a huge challenge), but they still managed to collect six out of a possible six points. Given how much the team has struggled in recent seasons and how bleak the outlook seemed at the start of the season, Sharks fans will definitely take that.

Blackhawks lose again, get booed off the ice again

This is getting ugly.

With their 4-1 loss to Vancouver on Thursday the Chicago Blackhawks are now 0-4-1 on the season.

They have yet to hold the lead in a single game all season.

They have been outscored 15-2 during 5-on-5 play.

In their two home games so far they have been booed off the ice at the end of each game. There is nothing else to say here.

Friday’s big story

It has to be, *checks notes*, the Buffalo Sabres?!

Yes, yes it does. The Sabres are looking to extend their season-opening winning streak to four games when they host the Boston Bruins.

The Sabres have been without question the biggest surprise this season as they have not only managed to win every game they have played so far, they have done it with a shell of an NHL roster that does currently include Jack Eichel. Based on preseason expectations them winning three of their first 10 games probably would have been a shock.

Now, to be fair, there is some reason for skepticism here given the early schedule, and things do get dramatically tougher on Friday with a game against Boston. But it is a big opportunity for Buffalo to continue to open some eyes around the league.

Thursday’s NHL scores

Hurricanes 4, Canadiens 1
Sharks 2, Senators 1
Panthers 4, Avalanche 1
Capitals 4, Devils 1
Blue Jackets 3, Islanders 2 (OT)
Flames 3, Red Wings 0
Rangers 3, Predators 1
Jets 5, Ducks 1
Canucks 4, Blackhawks 1
Oilers 5, Coyotes 1