NHL Rink Wrap: Snively spoils St. Louis coaching debut; Markstrom dominates
Top player in the NHL on Thursday
Jacob Markstrom, Calgary flames
The Calgary Flames are on a roll and own the best points percentage in the NHL’s Pacific Division. They extended their winning streak to five games on Thursday night, while also winning for the eighth time in their past 10 games, with a 5-2 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs. Leading the way, again, was starting goalie Jacob Markstrom who has been sensational this season. He stopped 46 out of 48 shots on Thursday and now has a .927 save percentage for the season. He has been one of the Flames’ best players this season and one of the driving forces behind their success.
Highlights from around the NHL on Thursday
Joe Snively scores his first NHL goal for the Washington Capitals, and then Connor McMichael follows that with a goal of his own just 20 seconds later.
Jakub Voracek helps the Columbus Blue Jackets complete a comeback win against the Buffalo Sabres with this overtime goal. It is only his second goal of the season.
Gabriel Landeskog with a slick deflection to open the scoring for the Colorado Avalanche in a big win over the Tampa Bay Lightning in what is a potential Stanley Cup Final matchup.
Three takeaways from the NHL on Thursday
Martin St. Louis coaching debut in Montreal
Martin St. Louis made his NHL coaching debut for the Montreal Canadiens on Thursday night and it ended up being Joe Snively and the Washington Capitals that stole the show. Snively scored his first two career goals and added an assist in the win. St. Louis had a lot of interesting things to say at his introductory press conference and at least should have filled Canadiens fans with some optimism that he can bring some fresh, new ideas to the team despite his lack of coaching experience at any level.
Matt Murray plays against the Penguins
Matt Murray faced his former team, the Pittsburgh Penguins, for the first time on Thursday night and continued his recent turnaround. He stopped 43 out of 44 shots in a 2-0 loss, doing pretty much everything he could to give the Ottawa Senators a chance. Even though the Senators did not win, they have to be encouraged with the way Murray has played since returning from the American Hockey League. In 15 games this season at the NHL level his save percentage has climbed to an excellent .920 mark
Bruins struggle without Bergeron, Marchand
If the Boston Bruins have a flaw it is still their lack of quality depth beyond the top line. That was on display on Thursday night in an ugly 6-0 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes. The Bruins were playing without stars Patrice Bergeron (injury) and Brad Marchand (serving the first game of his six-game suspension for punching and high-sticking Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Tristan Jarry) and were no match for a Hurricanes team that is one of the league’s best. This game was never really competitive and continued to highlight the Bruins’ flaws beyond the top trio of Bergeron, Marchand, and David Pastrnak.
Friday’s big story
The Edmonton Oilers return to the ice for their first game since Thursday’s coaching change that saw them replace Dave Tippett with Jay Woodcroft. The Oilers enter the game having lost two games in a row, and three of their past four games, and remain outside of a playoff spot in the Western Conference. Maybe the Oilers did need a coaching change, it certainly could be part of the equation they need to get to where the organization needs to be with Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, but it is far from the only issue this team has had over the past decade (and more). They play host to the New York Islanders on Friday.
Thursday’s NHL Scores
Columbus Blue Jackets 4, Buffalo Sabres 3 (OT)
Carolina Hurricanes 6, Boston Bruins 0
Pittsburgh Penguins 2, Ottawa Senators 0
Washington Capitals 5, Montreal Canadiens 2
New Jersey Devils 7, St. Louis Blues 4
Calgary Flames 5, Toronto Maple Leafs 2
Colorado Avalanche 3, Tampa Bay Lightning 2