NHL Rink Wrap: Zibanejad scoring goals again; Capitals’ OT struggles continue
Top player in the NHL on Sunday
Mika Zibanejad, New York Rangers
After an extended goal scoring slump Mika Zibanejad is starting to find the back of the net again for the Rangers. A lot. He was one of three players to record a hat trick across the NHL on Sunday, helping New York win their second game in a row against the Lightning. That performance puts him at 11 goals and 30 total points in 33 games this season. He has been especially good over the past couple of weeks, tallying six goals and three assists (nine total points) over his past five games.
Prior to this run Zibanejad had scored just one goal in the previous 17 games. He went through a similar goal scoring slump at the start of the 2020-21 season before finishing strong. Now all of a sudden he is back on pace for another 30-goal season for the Rangers.
Highlights from around the NHL on Sunday
The Avalanche overcame a 2-0 deficit against the Ducks to earn a 4-2 win, and it was Logan O’Connor scoring the game-winning goal with less than 90 seconds to play finishing this pretty passing play with Nathan MacKinnon.
Kyle Connor is having an incredible season for the Jets and scored his 19th goal of the season to give them an exciting 5-4 win over the Golden Knights.
The Flames were 5-1 winners on Sunday evening against the Blackhawks and this shorthanded Trevor Lewis goal helped put the game out of reach.
Three takeaways from the NHL on Sunday
The Washington Capitals still have an overtime problem
The Capitals overcame a 3-1 deficit against the Devils to send Sunday’s game to overtime. It was a nice comeback -- aided by a Mackenzie Blackwood turnover late in the third period -- and gave Washington an opportunity to do something they have not done all season: Win a game in overtime.
They again were unable to accomplish that when Nico Hischier scored in overtime to give the Devils a 4-3 win. That means the Capitals are now 0-7 this season in games decided in overtime, a stunning statistic for a team as good as they are with as much talent as they have. They are 18-6 in games decided in regulation. They are 2-0 in games decided in shootouts. Overtime, though, has resulted in an 0-7 record. In the grand scheme of things it is probably not a huge deal. They are still a playoff team, and playoff overtime is a regular 5-on-5 matchup in a 20 minute period. But losing out on all of those extra points might be the difference between home ice and starting the postseason on the road.
Penguins winning streak reaches eight games with pair of hat tricks
The Penguins are on a roll, extending their winning streak to eight games on Sunday afternoon with an 8-5 win over the Sharks. That win featured a pair of hat tricks as Evan Rodrigues and Bryan Rust both scored three goals in the win. Rust had five points in his return to the lineup after missing several weeks due to an injury, while Rodrigues continued what has been an incredible season as he continues to take advantage of his increased role with the team. Jake Guentzel also returned to the lineup and recorded a point in his 14th consecutive game by scoring his 16th goal of the season and adding an assist.
Big win for the Bruins
The Bruins were able to move back into a wild card spot in the Eastern Conference on Sunday with a 5-1 win over the Red Wings. The win puts Boston one point ahead of Detroit while also still having five games in hand. Based on points percentage, the Bruins have a commanding lead for that second Wild Card spot.
Perhaps the most encouraging sign for the Bruins is how they won, getting offensive contributions from all throughout their lineup. Their top line has been carrying the offense for most of the season (again) and if they are going to be a factor in the Stanley Cup Playoffs they are going to need more from the other three lines. They got that as part of an offensive performance that saw them score five consecutive goals to get the win. This is the second win in a row for them where their complementary players provided most of the offense.
Monday’s big story
There is only one game scheduled for Monday and it will feature the Rangers hosting the Oilers. These are two teams trending in different directions right now. New York has been one of the best teams in the league this season and are coming off of back-to-back wins against the back-to-back Lightning. They have their starting goalie back, while Zibanejad is starting to get on a roll.
The Oilers, meanwhile, have all of the same problems that have existed for the entirety of the Connor McDavid-Leon Draisaitl era. They have no scoring depth, they have a weak defense, and goaltending is a major question mark. After starting the season 10-2-0 through their first 12 games they are just 8-10-2 and are on a three-game losing streak entering play on Monday.
Sunday’s NHL Scores
New York Rangers 4, Tampa Bay Lightning 0
Boston Bruins 5, Detroit Red Wings 1
Pittsburgh Penguins 8, San Jose Sharks 5
Colorado Avalanche 4, Anaheim Ducks 2
New Jersey Devils 4, Washington Capitals 3 (OT)
Winnipeg Jets 5, Vegas Golden Knights 4 (OT)
Calgary Flames 5, Chicago Blackhawks 1
Arizona Coyotes vs. Dallas Stars (Postponed)