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NHL Rink Wrap: Tkachuk hat trick; Wild streak ends; Tortorella on Zegras

NHL Rink Wrap: Tkachuk hat trick; Wild streak ends; Tortorella on Zegras

OTTAWA, ON - DECEMBER 11: Brady Tkachuk #7 of the Ottawa Senators celebrates his first NHL career hat trick in a game against the Tampa Bay Lightning at Canadian Tire Centre on December 11, 2021 in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. (Photo by André Ringuette/NHLI via Getty Images)

NHLI via Getty Images

Top players from Saturday in the NHL

Brady Tkachuk, Senators

With what he’s accomplished (and the money he’s already secured) in his young career, it’s a bit surprising that Brady Tkachuk never generated an NHL hat trick until Saturday.

Granted, you could say he’s earned plenty of Tkachuk Family Hat Tricks. (Scored, annoyed people, really annoyed people ... to the point that they bite you?)

Anyway, Brady Tkachuk did indeed notch his first career hat trick, and he did so against the Lightning. Drake Batherson was right there with him, collecting three assists. Because it’s Brady Tkachuk, opponents might want a few talking points to try to downgrade the hat trick. They’re reaches, but his third goal was an empty-netter, and his first two came against Brian Elliott instead of Andrei Vasilevskiy.

Anton Forsberg also managed a 25-save shutout in that afternoon upset of the Bolts.

While Forsberg’s overall numbers aren’t special, he’s now on a four-game winning streak. It began with a 47-save upset of the Hurricanes, with wins against the Avalanche and Devils before this latest win. Not bad, especially considering the shaky Senators team in front of Forsberg.

Highlights from NHL games on Saturday

Enjoy footage of that Brady Tkachuk hat trick.

Hope you’ve been readying your puns: Jake Bean scored an overtime game-winner for the Blue Jackets.

Max Domi also scored an impressive goal for Columbus during Saturday’s NHL action.

Remember that big game Karel Vejmelka had? This is, uh, the opposite of that. Good for Patrick Brown, though.

Things weren’t a whole lot better for Mikko Koskinen during a key Sebastian Aho goal. The Oilers are now on a five-game losing streak, and are winless four games into a six-game homestand.

NHL takeaways from Saturday

Bon voyage, Ben Bishop

In case you missed it, the Stars announced that Ben Bishop must end his NHL career. It’s a real bummer.

You can read more about that sad news, but also about his underrated career, in this post.

Wild winning streak ends at eight games thanks to the Kings

While it wasn’t by much, the Wild’s eight-game winning streak is over.

When you look at the 2-1 score, you might picture the sort of buttoned-down game the Kings and Wild usually play. Instead, this was a busy one. The Kings won the high-danger chance battle, but both teams generated plenty of opportunities. (Los Angeles took the 5-on-5 edge 15-10, while it was close in all situations 17-16 for the Kings.)

For the Kings, it’s not just about ending that Wild winning streak. They also were able to hang with one of the hottest offenses in the NHL. It’s unclear if Los Angeles can squeeze into a wild-card spot, but the Kings have to enjoy these moments of promise.

Islanders finally win at home

Credit to Scott Mayfield of the Islanders for going John Cena on CM Punk about those barbs regarding the team losing, particularly at home. (You see, Mayfield said he didn’t see it. Apparently he’s not yet All Elite?)

Instead, the Islanders took care of business. In their eighth game at their new home (UBS Arena), the Islanders finally won, beating the Devils 4-2. (Zach Parise’s shorthanded tally ended up being the game-winner against his former team.)

If the Islanders want to play their first playoff home game at UBS Arena anytime soon, they’ll really need to pick up more wins. Getting that first W is better than nothing, though.

Canucks owner has some fun with the media

... Interesting.

Tortorella ranting about that Zegras - Milano goal is as boring as that goal was captivating

Truly, the dream is for the NHL to get to the point where amazing goals like Trevor Zegras’ assist to Sonny Milano happen more often.

OK, even dreaming about a goal like that happening again might be asking for too much, even in the land of slumber. But the larger point remains. Creative moments rock. It rules when players pull off moves they’d be audacious to even consider, and it gets better when those moves work.

But if you’re a special breed of crusty, that amazing Zegras - Milano combination is, uh, bad for hockey?

For some, Tortorella complaining about Zegras - Milano is an outrage. While it’s hard to imagine that many people nodding along with Torts, the Internet teaches us that there are almost alarming quantities of people who spout off bizarre takes. Some even aren’t just trolling.

Personally? I’m wavering somewhere between that GIF of The Rock rolling his eyes and total indifference.

Can’t the cranky, so-played-out-they’re-dusty takes at least be a little more entertaining? This all feels like a broken record of an album that was never much fun to listen to when it was first released. A century ago.

Sunday’s big story

Speaking of dreaming, what if Panthers - Avalanche is a Stanley Cup preview?

Heading into Saturday, the Avalanche easily led the NHL in goals per game (4.38), while the Panthers were tied with the Wild for second-best (3.77). Those three teams are the only squads in the league averaging more than three-and-a-half goals per contest.

(The Oilers [3.48] and a few others are reasonably close. Slightly more than half of the NHL sit below three goals per game.)

With so much time left in a season, a team can play over its head, and mislead with especially hot or cold play. While both the Avalanche and Panthers may slow down a bit -- tough to match Colorado’s pace, even with that firepower -- these are legitimately impressive offenses. Any night you contain them, or merely slow them down, is one for a defense to be proud of.

So, it’s not just that the Panthers and Avalanche are successful. They’re also just a lot of fun, and that’s why it would be wonderful if these two ended up battling in the 2022 Stanley Cup Final. Or at least a championship round while they’re still this fun?

(Note: John Tortorella might find all of that Panthers and Avalanche offense to be bad for hockey, though. So maybe your mileage varies on fun/entertainment/high-level skill, too.)

Saturday’s NHL scores

Senators 4, Lightning 0
Capitals 3, Sabres 2 (SO)
Maple Leafs 5, Blackhawks 4
Penguins 1, Ducks 0
Blues 4, Canadiens 1
Islanders 4, Devils 2
Flyers 5, Coyotes 3
Bruins 4, Flames 2
Hurricanes 3, Oilers 1
Blue Jackets 5, Kraken 4 (OT)
Kings 2, Wild 1
Sharks 2, Stars 1

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.