- The Jets clinched a playoff spot, and in doing so, greatly improved their chances of winning the Central Division.
- The Bruins became the second team in the East to stamp their ticket, and it sure looks like they’ll have home-ice advantage against the Toronto Maple Leafs. Saturday was very kind to the Bruins.
The latest Hurricanes celebration
For people with no sense of humor, this is just madness.
1. Kyle Connor, and the Jets, really
You could probably give three stars to three different Winnipeg Jets and call it a night, but that would be a disservice to a busy day in the NHL. So let’s consolidate their great performances into the number category, starting with Connor.
The soon-to-be-rich winger generated a hat trick and an assist on Saturday, helping Winnipeg dominate the Predators. Connor hit a new career-high with 32 goals thanks to this game, while his 61 points also represent a career-high. He’s now a two-time 30+ goal scorer, and pretty much two-for-two in that regard, as he only played 20 games in 2016-17.
Kevin Hayes was the other Jets player who generated four points during this game, in his case getting there with one goal and three assists. Hayes now has 52 points in 2018-19, the first time he’s crossed the 50-point barrier during his already-solid NHL career. He now has 10 points in 13 games with Winnipeg, and while he’s different stylistically from Paul Stastny, it’s possible - and scary for the rest of the NHL - that the Jets once again made a big upgrade at 2C via the trade deadline.
Hayes would jostle with Connor Hellebuyck for second star consideration, if I hadn’t
copped out made the decision to consolidate the Jets into one star position.
Hellebuyck pitched a 33-save shutout against the Predators on Saturday. If you exclude a relief appearance on March 21 (where he allowed two goals on 20 shots on goal, and didn’t get a win or loss), he’s won four games in a row, and has two shutouts in consecutive starts. This hasn’t been the easiest season for Hellebuyck, yet with a .932 save percentage in March, it seems like he’s heating up at the perfect time.
2. Brendan Gallagher
Of course, by opening things up, it now means splitting hairs between other players who enjoyed great nights.
Gallagher feels like a nice catch-all, Kyle Connor-style, for the Canadiens who scored seven goals to help them earn a big win against the Minnesota Wild. Gallagher generated two goals and one assist, while both Tomas Tatar and Max Domi enjoyed one-goal, two-assist nights.
Another player who generated a noteworthy one-goal, two-assist night was Teuvo Teravainen, who helped the Hurricanes win against the Wild. thus opening up the opportunity for Carolina to roll out its “March Madness” victory celebration.
Gallagher gets the edge against those other three-pointers by managing such a volume of hard work (nine SOG) and getting the game-winning goal.
3. Alexandar Georgiev
For the second time this season, Georgiev won against the Maple Leafs while making at least 40 saves. On Feb. 10, he stopped 55 shots and only allowed one goal to beat Toronto. On Saturday. Georgiev turned aside 44 of 45 shots as the Rangers beat Toronto in overtime.
With tensions high for many regarding the Maple Leafs, losing to the Rangers will only add to the strain. But, really, the Maple Leafs played well enough. Sometimes you run into a goalie who has your number, which is maybe the case with Georgiev and the Buds.
There were a lot of great moments during Saturday’s games, even by the standards of what is typically the busiest night of the hockey week. For the sake of your browsers, here are three that stood out, whether by being great clips or just plain fun.
To start, a fun one: Blake Coleman did something of a Bobby Orr “impression” in scoring in a shootout. The stakes were obviously monumentally lower than a Stanley Cup-deciding goal, but hey, the Coyotes would argue that it was significant, as this deals a blow to Arizona’s playoff hopes.
(Artturi Lehkonen scored a great diving goal, too.)
From a great Connor goal (the one where he faked-out P.K. Subban and beat Pekka Rinne) to some fantastic saves by Rinne, Jets versus Predators provided enough highlights to be worthy of plunking the whole thing down.
With apologies to this great dish from Dylan Larkin to Anthony Mantha for an overtime-winner, this Jared McCann goal was the most unusual of the going-backward and/or no-look moments from Saturday, and it actually had more competition from Brayden Schenn.
Ugh, both the Schenn and Mantha goals were so good, it’s tough not to have second thoughts.
- Max Domi reached 200 points way, way sooner than his father Tie did.
- The Bruins reached 100+ standings points for the 23rd time, the most of any NHL team.
- Zdeno Chara became just the 22nd NHL defenseman to reach 200+ goals, and is also now really starting to stack up “oldest” milestones.
- Connor McDavid matched his career-high of 108 points from last season, and has plenty of time to improve upon that impressive mark.
NJD 2 - ARI 1 (SO)
NYI 4 - PHI 2
COL 4 - CHI 2
OTT 4 - EDM 3 (OT)
NYR 2 - TOR 1 (OT)
MTL 7 - BUF 4
BOS 7 - FLA 3
CAR 5 - MIN 1
WPG 5 - NSH 0
STL 4 - TBL 3
PIT - DAL 2
CGY 3 - VAN 1
DET 3 - VGK 2 (OT)
LAK 4 - ANA 3 (SO)