The Buzzer: Big night for Coyotes -- and Kucherov
1. Nikita Kucherov
Let’s keep this one pretty simple, because we went deep on where Kucherov’s 115 points ranks in recent history here.
Narrowing the focus to Kucherov scoring two goals and two assists for four points in Thursday’s game is impressive enough. Kucherov grabbed the game-winning goal in this one, his second GWG in his last three games (both of those decisive goals came against Detroit, by the way).
Kucherov had a +1 rating in that tight win against the Red Wings, firing five shots on goal and ending up with just under 21 minutes (20:58) in that game. Masterful work by the clear frontrunner for the Hart Trophy.
2. Vinnie Hinostroza
While he’s been streaky in 2018-19, nights like these provide useful reminders of why a lot of stats-minded people were excited about Hinostroza’s potential after he was traded from Chicago.
For the first time in his career, the 24-year-old generated a hat trick, and Hinostroza added the flourish of making it a natural hat trick. Despite a modest 13:43 in ice time in Arizona’s win against Anaheim, Hinostroza fired eight SOG on his way to that hat trick.
Hinostroza now has 15 goals and 34 points in 61 games this season, and four goals in his last two contests. With the Wild losing in regulation and the Coyotes winning big, the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs suddenly look remarkably likely for Arizona.
They’re also only four points behind Vegas for third place in the Pacific, although that’s a big hurdle to leap with the Golden Knights also holding a game in hand.
3. Anders Nilsson
There were some very strong goalie performances beyond Nilsson on Thursday, with Darcy Kuemper stopping 37 out of 38 shots, Thomas Greiss making 33 out of 34 saves, and Casey DeSmith managing a 26-save shutout. There were also other worthy scoring performances, particularly by Brett Connolly (two goals, one assist) and Mark Scheifele (one goal, two assists).
But Nilsson managed an impressive 35-save shutout, boosting his 2018-19 save percentage from .908 to .915. He did so against a strong Blues team, too.
It doesn’t really do the lowly Senators a whole lot of good, but it might improve Nilsson’s chances of staying in the NHL in 2019-20, whether he remains with Ottawa or lands somewhere else.
Highlight of the Night
This got its own post, but it’s tough to top Zdeno Chara being strong enough to send Scheifele’s stick soaring, only for Scheifele to score a goal. Good times.
By the way, the lowlight was really a highlight, too, as Tyler Seguin was a good sport in absorbing grief for missing on an empty net. That got its own post as well.
- Again, Kucherov reaching 115 is really something, so read more about it here.
- The Lightning became just the fourth team in NHL history to win at least 54 games during consecutive seasons. Steven Stamkos also scored his 383rd career regular-season goal, tying Vincent Lecavalier for the Tampa Bay team record.
- Speaking of team records, Ben Bishop set a new mark for a Dallas Stars shutout streak at 230 minutes and 53 seconds, passing Ed Belfour. Unfortunately, his streak ended with an injury.
- If you need fuel to argue for Kaapo Kakko as a (or the?) top prospect heading into the 2019 NHL Draft, here you go.
Kaapo Kakko scored his 22nd goal of the season. New record. Most goals by U18 player in Finnish league history. Aleksander Barkov held the previous record.— Sami Hoffrén (@shoffren) March 14, 2019
PIT 5 - BUF 0
NYI 2 - MTL 1
WAS 5 - PHI 2
OTT 2 - STL 0
TBL 5 - DET 4
DAL 4 - MIN 1
WIN 4 - BOS 3
ARI 6 - ANA 1
NSH 3 - LAK 1
FLA 4 - SJS 2