The Buzzer: Fiala stays hot; Rust’s hat trick gets Pens back on track
1) Bryan Rust, Pittsburgh Penguins
His third NHL hat trick helped the Penguins end a six-game slide as they defeated the Ottawa Senators, 7-3. Rust broke a 1-1 tie late in the opening period with a perfectly placed wrist shot from the high slot. He netted his second at 13:29 of the third when he buried a loose puck in front after crashing the net. No. 17 would complete his hat trick late in the third after forcing a turnover near the blue line then firing a wrist shot between the goaltenders’ pads. Evgeni Malkin had four assists and Sidney Crosby recorded his 800th career helper as the Penguins restored order in Pittsburgh with an important victory.
2) Kyle Connor, Winnipeg Jets
When you think of elite goal scorers, Connor does not immediately jump to the top of the list for many. However, the 23-year old is tied for sixth in the NHL scoring race and is closing in on his first career 40-goal season. Connor scored twice and added an assist in the Jets’ 3-1 win against the Sabres at Bell MTS Place. He has scored in four consecutive games and registered his sixth multi-goal game of the season as the Jets picked up their second win in the previous two games. Connor netted his first of the evening when he buried a perfect feed from Blake Wheeler at 13:59 of the first period. He notched his second of the game in the middle frame when he quickly pounced on a loose puck in front and buried the rebound.
The Jets remain in a heated wild-card race in the Western Conference, but Connor’s consistent offensive production should help Winnipeg reach the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
3) Kevin Fiala, Minnesota Wild
Fiala scored in his fifth straight game to lead the Wild to a crucial 3-1 victory against the Nashville Predators. The Swiss forward has five goals and six assists in the previous five games. Minnesota is only one point from both Western Conference Wild Card spots and has played two less games than the Jets who occupy the position currently. Fiala’s 23 points since February 4 are second most in the NHL, trailing the scorching-hot Leon Draisaitl of the Edmonton Oilers.
Highlights of the Night
Jake DeBrusk won a foot race and converted a breakaway to break a 10-game scoring drought as the Bruins topped the Lightning, 2-1.
Mitch Marner put the puck between his legs then slid a backhanded shot past Martin Jones to even the score at 2-2.
Fiala maneuvered around Ryan Ellis with a patient toe drag and then evened the score at 1-1 with a nifty wrist shot.
Charles Hudon’s wicked wrist shot helped the Montreal Canadiens cruise past the New York Islanders, 6-2.
Patrick Kane helped Dylan Strome notch his second goal with a perfect cross-ice pass in the Blackhawks’ 6-2 win.
Craig Smith snagged a puck with his glove then rifled a bouncing puck into the back of the net.
Push for the Playoffs
Stats of the Night
- Senators forward Artem Anisimov sustained an upper-body injury during the first period and did not return.
- Islanders defenseman Johnny Boychuk left the game immediately after Artturi Lehkonen’s skate caught him up high.
Montreal Canadiens 6, New York Islanders 2
St. Louis Blues 3, New York Rangers 1
Pittsburgh Penguins 7, Ottawa Senators 3
Boston Bruins 2, Tampa Bay Lightning 1
Minnesota Wild 3, Nashville Predators 1
Winnipeg Jets 3, Buffalo Sabres 1
Chicago Blackhawks 6, Anaheim Ducks 2
Edmonton Oilers 2, Dallas Stars 1 (OT)
Vegas Golden Knights 3, New Jersey Devils 0
San Jose Sharks 5, Toronto Maple Leafs 2
Scott Charles is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at email@example.com or follow him on Twitter @ScottMCharles.