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NHL Rink Wrap: Strong Giroux Panthers debut; Dadonov scores; Howden stretchered off

NHL Rink Wrap: Strong Giroux Panthers debut; Pastrnak hat trick

BOSTON, MA - MARCH 24: David Pastrnak #88 of the Boston Bruins celebrates his hat trick after the game against the Tampa Bay Lightning at the TD Garden on March 24, 2022 in Boston, Massachusetts. (Photo by Steve Babineau/NHLI via Getty Images)

NHLI via Getty Images

Thursday’s top NHL players

David Pastrnak, Bruins

While the Bruins made a big move at the 2022 NHL Trade Deadline, Hampus Lindholm’s not expected to be a major help when it comes to scoring goals. Ultimately, a lot of the pressure falls on the shoulders of David Pastrnak, Patrice Bergeron, Brad Marchand, Taylor Hall, and a select few others.

Maybe they can pull off enough to make it work?

On Thursday, Pastrnak collected a hat trick, scoring all three of the Bruins’ goals. Feels almost emblematic, doesn’t it?

With that hat trick, Pastrnak returned to a point-per-game for the season (64 in 64), with 36 goals. There’s a strong chance Pastrnak could reach 40 goals for the second time in his career. In 2019-20, Pastrnak set career-highs of 48 goals and 95 points.

By the way, Erik Haula collected three assists, while Lindholm nabbed a helper of his own.

The Bruins are now on a three-game winning streak, and are 8-1-1 in their last 10 games. That Atlantic Division, everyone.

Evgenii Dadonov, Golden Knights

In his first game since the negated trade to the Ducks, Dadonov scored and assisted on two other goals during a 6-1 rout of the Predators. The forward now has six goals in eight games.

Dadonov received a loud ovation when his named was announced and he appreciated hearing that from the Vegas fans.
“I felt that support from the stands,” said Dadonov afterward. “Probably pumped me up even more. I always loved playing here, even when I was coming (from) Florida (to) here. Great experience playing here in front of this crowd. Still think it’s the best fans in the league.”

Thursday NHL highlights

Howden stretchered off after collision with Forsberg

Brett Howden and Filip Forsberg had an awkward collision near the side boards that resulted in the Golden Knights forward having to be stretched off late in the first period.

“I thought liberty was taken. He was in a vulnerable position and I thought he got driven into the boards from behind in a dangerous spot,” said Peter DeBoer, who was coaching his 1,000th NHL game. “My initial concern was obviously about our player. It was a really dangerous hit, and anytime you see someone get stretchered off your concern is there.”

After a long delay, Howden was taken to a local hospital. The most recent update was that he’s in stable condition and has full movement.

Watch Pastrnak collect the 14th hat trick of his career (12 in the regular season):

Considering all he went through lately, it’s nice of Golden Knights fans to give Evgenii Dadonov such a warm ovation:

Read up on Claude Giroux’s Panthers debut in this post. Spencer Knight provided the highlight of Panthers - Canadiens with this beautiful save, though.

Brock Nelson and the Islanders are serious upset threats. They’re 7-2-1 in their last 10 games.

Thursday NHL Takeaways

Panthers win, Claude Giroux gets two assists in debut

Again, you can catch up on Giroux’s first game with the Panthers here. Here’s an extra tidbit from the league:

A playoff salary cap sounds like classic overthinking

Truly, it’s fascinating which aspects of “fairness” resonate with NHL GMs and other executives. Some complaints that actually matter get met with an eternal shrug. Mario Lemieux protested about obstruction to no avail. Connor McDavid couldn’t buy a single whistle despite being hooked and held relentlessly during a playoff series. Good luck getting any complaints about officiating to move the needle in all but the most trivial ways.

But complaints with some novelty might make waves. Even if they really don’t have much bearing on the game.

[NHL Trade Deadline Winners and Losers]

A dry scrape lasts about a nanosecond. Sean Avery antics demand the equivalent of emergency meetings. And now whining about teams being over the salary cap are at least being discussed.

The Athletic’s Pierre LeBrun emphasized in his report (sub required) that this might not be a big deal. Yet, the notion that even some NHL GMs would overreact to Nikita Kucherov’s T-shirt and other moments by extending the salary cap into the playoffs is ... well, typical.

Scan your memories and think of how often two truly great teams have met in Stanley Cup Final series in recent years. How often do fans even get to see dream series?

The NHL should want teams to go for broke, yet a contender with injuries would theoretically face a whole new set of headaches with some overreaction of a move. We already might see some GMs go shy after seeing the Golden Knights possibly missing the playoffs. Why would we want to give the NHL another push away from leagues like the NBA, where trades and big moves create a ton of buzz?

For the sake of potential entertainment, let’s hope that idea doesn’t get any traction.

Friday’s big story

Potential playoff preview with Rangers vs. Penguins?

Right now, the Penguins would hold home-ice advantage in a potential playoff series against the Rangers.

Naturally, a lot can change between now and then. Yet, there’s a decent chance that the Penguins and Rangers could clash, and maybe Friday’s game would help determine who would maintain that home-ice advantage.

Outside of a possible playoff preview, Penguins - Rangers can be fun by sheer merit of the two teams’ trade deadline improvements.

Through two games, Rickard Rakell hasn’t yet generated a point for the Penguins. On the other hand, Andrew Copp generated two assists in his Rangers debut.

It should be intriguing to see how Rakell, Copp, and other trade deadline additions continue to settle in with the Penguins and Rangers respectively. Combine that with playoff implications, and how talented both teams are, and it should be a fun one.

Thursday NHL scores

Bruins 3, Lightning 2
Panthers 4, Canadiens 3
Stars 4, Hurricanes 3 (SO)
Islanders 5, Red Wings 2
Flyers 5, Blues 2
Wild 3, Canucks 2
Senators 5, Jets 2
Oilers 5, Sharks 2
Golden Knights 6, Predators 1
Blackhawks 4, Kings 3 (SO)

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.