The Buzzer: Toews’ trick; Chabot puts on a show
1. Jonathan Toews - The Blackhawks followed their game one script in game two, although beating the Blues feels like a bigger accomplishment than eking out a win against the Senators (though people will note that Ottawa has a win and St. Louis does not). Regardless, for the second consecutive game, the Blackhawks rode fantastic performances from their star players.
Toews was strong in Chicago’s first win, yet Saturday was his standout night, as he generated a hat trick, with that third goal coming in OT on a head’s up play. His other two goals were very Toews goals: grinding tallies in the dirty areas of the net.
(While Toews was second to Patrick Kane in Chicago’s first win, Kane was slightly behind Toews in this one, collecting a goal and an assist.)
2. Tyler Seguin - Consider this a collective star assignment for the killer Stars top line of Seguin (two goals, two assists), Jamie Benn (two goals, one assist), and Alex Radulov (one goal, two assists).
While Dustin Byfuglien drew the Stars’ ire with a questionable hit, the Stars’ high-end firepower turned what would seem like a Central Division showdown into a laugher.
Seguin fired a whopping eight shots on goal, even going 9-3 in the faceoff circle during an impressive night in Dallas. He’s playing as if he’s in a contract year, rather than having already powered up with a Super Mario-sized contract extension.
3. John Gibson - Despite this being the leakiest time of the season for defenses, as teams get used to new systems and rookies get their first exposure to the NHL, there were some great goalie performances on Saturday.
Gibson stood just a little bit taller than some other goalie performances, grabbing another win for an injury-limited Ducks team by stopping all 41 shots to shut out the snakebitten Coyotes.
Much like Seguin, the would-be contract year case is playing as if his extension hasn’t already been settled, winning his first two games while stopping 72 of the first 74 shots he’s faced in 2018-19. If Gibson can stay healthy through 2018-19, he might truly get his recognition as one of the league’s brightest young goalies.
(Andrei Vasilevskiy, another of the NHL’s brightest young goalies, stole one for Tampa Bay against Florida in his own right.)
Most honorable among many honorable mentions:
Thomas Chabot factored in a big way in the Senators’ surprise win against the Maple Leafs, scoring two goals and one assist. It’s hasty to make “Erik Who?” jokes regarding departed defenseman Erik Karlsson, but ... you know what, Sens fans? You’ve suffered enough. Go ahead.
Elias Pettersson enjoyed a sensational start to his night, scoring his two goals and one assist through the first two periods of Vancouver’s eventual loss to the Flames, as Johnny Gaudreau’s line came through with what ended up being comparable box score numbers to the latest sensational Vancouver rookie.
Again, there were a lot of other great performances on Saturday, so feel free to share your picks for honorable mentions, or alternate three stars.
Highlight of the Night
Both of Thomas Chabot’s goals were pretty fantastic against Toronto, but this one really takes the cake:
Saturday was jam-packed with games, so there were some other great moments. Viktor Arvidsson’s video-game goal can be seen here. Meanwhile, Mikhail Vorobyev’s first goal was more of a low-light, but it should give all but Avs fans - and really, some Avs fans - a chuckle.
As another bonus, Carter Hutton’s strong night included this “three-on-none” save:
There are at least two injuries of note from Saturday. Roberto Luongo suffered a lower-body injury and didn’t return for Florida, while James van Riemsdyk endured an unfortunate lower-body issue of his own, not returning to the Flyers game. Both are issues worth monitoring.
A lousy night for the Penguins - particularly their defense - featured a milestone moment for Kris Letang.
The Wild haven’t had a knack for finishing strong, but at least they tend to begin seasons on a high note.
Frederik Andersen, meanwhile, seems to sleep through the first month of Maple Leafs seasons.
The Coyotes were haunted by an “0-fer” last season, as they didn’t win a game in October. With that in mind, they must be that much more frustrated after failing to score a goal on 71 shots on net through their first two games of 2018-19, including 41 saves from Gibson on Saturday.
Arizona’s low point probably came late in tonight’s game, as they were unable to tie a 1-0 game with a 5-on-3 power play that was essentially 6-on-3 at times when Antti Raanta was pulled from the Coyotes net.
Winning is tough in the NHL, and sometimes scoring is, too.
Flames 7, Canucks 4
Devils 5, Oilers 2
Sabres 3, Rangers 1
Senators 5, Maple Leafs 3
Lightning 2, Panthers 1 (SO)
Predators 4, Islanders 3
Canadiens 5, Penguins 1
Stars 5, Jets 1
Blackhawks 5, Blues 4 (OT)
Golden Knights 2, Wild 1 (SO)
Avalanche 5, Flyers 2
Ducks 1, Coyotes 0