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NHL Morning Skate – Feb. 23, 2024

* The two top teams in the Metropolitan Division skated to victories, with Artemi Panarin continuing his point-producing ways for the Rangers while rookie Pyotr Kochetkov planted himself on a short list in NHL history with a 44-save shutout.

* The Maple Leafs scored early and often at T-Mobile Arena, with Auston Matthews joining rare company in franchise history by scoring his 10th goal in a five-game span and teammate Mitchell Marner tying the second-longest stretch in NHL history with two or more assists.

* Pavel Buchnevich scored two goals in a span of 0:25 to help his club score the fastest three tallies in franchise history and added to the Hockey Fights Cancer Fund of the V Foundation thanks to AstraZeneca, who is donating $5,000 to the up to $500,000 for every hat trick this season. Click here for more information.
 


METROPOLITAN’S TOP CLUBS SHINE THANKS TO STANDOUT PERFORMANCES

A pair of Metropolitan Division teams skated to wins as the Rangers (38-16-3, 79 points) earned their ninth straight victory and moved within one point of the Bruins (34-12-12, 80 points) for top spot in the Eastern Conference, while the Hurricanes (34-17-5, 73 points) notched their fourth consecutive win and handed the Panthers their first road loss since Dec. 18 – a streak that ended tied for the third longest in NHL history.

* New York, which owns the NHL’s longest active winning streak and sits one victory shy of the longest stretch in franchise history, was propelled once again by the likes of Stadium Series hero Artemi Panarin (0-3—3). Panarin (32-46—78 in 57 GP) climbed into fifth place in League scoring and did so with his 32nd career multi-assist period for the Rangers and 22nd three-assist game with the club. His 22 such outings passed Mark Messier (21) for the fourth most in franchise history.



* In the first meeting between the Panthers and Hurricanes at PNC Arena since Games 1 and 2 of the 2023 Eastern Conference Final – a span of contests that included Matthew Tkachuk finding the back of the net with 13 seconds remaining in the fourth overtime period of the series opener – it was Sebastian Aho who made the difference in the dying seconds for Carolina this time around. Aho broke a scoreless tie with 19 seconds remaining in regulation and finished with the game-winning goal for the second time in as many contests. The Hurricanes forward already owns the longest stretch of consecutive outings with a winning tally (3 GP from Feb. 26 – March 2, 2019).


Pyotr Kochetkov (44 saves), with a shutout in nearly a quarter of his career wins to date (30-16-8, 2.40 GAA, .910 SV%, 7 SO), posted his third of the season and tied Samuel Ersson for the most among rookie goaltenders in 2023-24. Kochetkov, who became the sixth different netminder in franchise history to post a 40-save shutout, established a franchise record for most saves in a shutout by a rookie goaltender.


MATTHEWS AND MARNER CONTINUE TO MAKE MAGIC FOR MAPLE LEAFS
Auston Matthews scored his 52nd goal of the season – the last of seven Toronto tallies against Vegas – and Mitchell Marner (0-2—2) collected multiple assists in his sixth straight game as the Maple Leafs (32-16-8, 72 points) captured their sixth consecutive win and gained ground on the second-place Panthers (37-16-4, 78 points) in the Atlantic Division.

* Following 15 goals in 12 games in December and 11 goals in 13 outings in January, Matthews has found the back of the net 12 times in nine games so far in February – a stretch that features 10 goals in his past five contests. He joined Rick Vaive (11-1—12 in 5 GP from Dec. 29, 1982 – Jan. 6, 1983) as just the second Maple Leafs player in the NHL’s modern era (since 1943-44) to score 10 goals in a five-game span.



* Matthews (351 in 536 GP), who can surpass Dave Keon (365 in 1,062 GP) for the third-most goals in Maple Leafs history should he score 15 more times, has netted 260 of his 351 tallies to date at even strength – the most among all players since his debut in 2016-17 and 33 more than the next closest (Connor McDavid: 227).

* Marner, despite missing Toronto’s contest on Feb. 13 against the Blues, has collected multiple assists in each of his past six appearances dating to Feb. 10 (0-15—15 in 6 GP) and established the longest such stretch in franchise history – a mark previously held by Borje Salming in 1984-85 (1-13—14 in 5 GP).
 


BLUES THRILL IN RECORD-SETTING NIGHT

Pavel Buchnevich (3-0—3) scored his fourth career hat trick and accounted for two of three Blues goals in a 32-second span to help St. Louis (30-24-2, 62 points) keep its position in the second Wild Card spot as Nashville (30-25-2, 62 points) also earned a win Thursday.

* Buchnevich tallied twice in a span of 25 seconds, which marked the fastest two goals by a Blues player since Pavol Demitra on Nov. 11, 2000 (0:25) – the last St. Louis skater to do it faster was Brett Hull on March 25, 1994 (0:23). Buchnevich also completed his first natural hat trick and became the first player since David Backes (Jan. 6, 2015) to post one for the club.


Jordan Binnington made 38 saves in a shutout performance to tie with Curtis Joseph (137) for the third-most wins in franchise history, behind Mike Liut (151) and Jake Allen (148). It also marked the most saves in a shutout by a Blues netminder since Allen on Dec. 2, 2019 (38).

U.S.-BORN PLAYERS SHARE SPOTLIGHT IN #NHLSTATS: LIVE UPDATES
A pair of U.S.-born players accomplished notable feats on an 11-game Thursday, which also just happened to be the 44th anniversary of the “Miracle on Ice” – an epic victory by Team USA during the semifinals of the 1980 Winter Olympics in Lake Placid, N.Y.

* Despite Dallas falling to Ottawa on Thursday, Joe Pavelski scored and became the fourth U.S.-born player in NHL history with 14 career 20-goal seasons following Mike Modano (16), Patrick Kane (15) and Keith Tkachuk (15). In the process, Pavelski also joined Dean Prentice (26 in 1972-73 & 20 in 1971-72) as the second player in Stars/North Stars history to record a 20-goal campaign at age 39 or older.

Dylan Larkin (1-1—2) scored the tying goal in the third period and then assisted on Kane’s overtime winner to help the Red Wings (30-20-6, 30 points) overtake the Lightning (30-23-5, 65 points) for the first Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference. Kane’s 15 career overtime goals (regular season & playoffs) are the third most in NHL history by a U.S.-born player behind Johnny Gaudreau (16) and Max Pacioretty (16).
 


NHL PODCAST WEEKLY ROUNDUP

* NHL Fantasy on Ice (2/20): Fantasy waiver wire pickups: Week 19
La Tasse de Café LNH (2/21): Spécial date limite des transactions
NHL Fantasy on Ice (2/22): 2024 NHL Trade Deadline preview; guest: David Pagnotta
NHL @TheRink (2/22): Auston Matthews’ chase for 60 goals in 60 games, Trade Deadline decisions

QUICK CLICKS


Alex Ovechkin extends point streak to 10 games
Arshdeep Bains living dream with Canucks as rare Punjabi NHL player

Mark Stone week to week for Golden Knights with upper-body injury
Emil Bemstrom traded to Penguins by Blue Jackets
*Louie DeBrusk cashes in on golden ticket son, Jake, gave him as a kid

THREE-GAME SLATE SET FOR FRIDAY
A three-game Friday opens with a showdown between the Sabres (25-27-4, 54 points) and Blue Jackets (18-27-10, 46 points) on NHL Network and concludes with the Oilers (33-18-2, 68 points) looking to extend the League’s longest active home point streak to double digits when they host the Wild (26-24-6, 58 points) at Rogers Place on Sportsnet and TVA Sports.
 

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