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NHL Morning Skate – Feb. 29, 2024

Artemi Panarin and Connor McDavid – two of the League’s top five scorers – each tallied three points to spur their respective club to victory Wednesday, as New York climbed into first place in the NHL and Edmonton moved within a point of the reigning Stanley Cup champions in the standings. McDavid (22-72—94 in 55 GP) now sits six points away from his seventh career 100-point season while Panarin (35-47—82 in 60 GP) pursues his first.

* The reigning Presidents’ Trophy-winning Bruins and Stanley Cup champion Golden Knights face off at 7 p.m. ET on Sportsnet programming before Nathan MacKinnon and fellow No. 1 pick Connor Bedard, who are each in the running for at least one NHL Award this season, go head-to-head for the third time when the Avalanche visit the Blackhawks at 9 p.m. ET on ESPN.

* The latest documents from #NHLStats taking a look at the 21st leap year day in League history and the upcoming 2024 Hockey Day in Finland are now available at the NHL’s media site. As trade winds pick up, with Chris Tanev joining the Stars via a three-team deal Wednesday, the Stats Pack for the upcoming Trade Deadline (March 8) also is available.

Artemi Panarin (1-2—3) factored on three of four New York goals and eclipsed the 80-point mark as the Rangers (40-17-3, 83 points) became the first team to reach 40 wins this season while leapfrogging the idle Canucks (38-16-7, 83 points) for top spot in the overall standings.

* The No. 1 seed in the NHL has been held by three clubs in the past week (NYR, VAN and BOS) as the battle for the Presidents’ Trophy heats up, with the top six clubs separated by only four points. New York holds the top spot for the first time in nearly two months (last: through games played Jan. 4).

* The Rangers recorded their 40th win of the season in 60 games and matched their best pace in franchise history (also 60 GP in 1971-72). This marked the fourth time that New York was the first team to 40 wins in a campaign after 1971-72, 1991-92 and 1993-94, with the Rangers going on to win the Stanley Cup following the most recent instance.

* Panarin recorded his fourth 80-point season with the Rangers – only Mark Messier (5x) and Rod Gilbert (4x) have as many with the club. It also marked Panarin’s third straight 80-point campaign, matching Messier for the longest such run in franchise history (3 from 1991-92–1993-94).

Connor McDavid (1-2—3) extended his multi-assist streak to six games before scoring his 16th career overtime tally to snap a 10-game goalless stretch and help Edmonton (35-20-2, 72 points) move within one point of idle Vegas (33-19-7, 73 points) for second place in the Pacific Division. Zach Hyman (2-0—2)benefited from the McDavid assists by scoring twice in regulation to extend his goal streak to a career-best six games and reach the 40-goal mark for the first time.

* McDavid’s first helper pushed his home point streak to 24 games dating to Nov. 4, the second-longest such run by any player this season behind only Nathan MacKinnon (29 GP; active). McDavid’s streak marks the fourth longest in franchise history behind three stretches by Wayne Gretzky (33 GP in 1985-86, 28 GP in 1979-80 & 25 GP in 1981-82).

* Despite scoring a goal for the first time since Feb. 6, McDavid is likely to finish as the League leader in points for the month of February after collecting 2-25—27 across 12 games – the next-closest players are eight points back.

* McDavid became the first player with at least 25 assists in a calendar month since Mario Lemieux in December 1992 (28 in 12 GP) and the second player in League history to achieve the feat in February after Wayne Gretzky did so in both 1986 (26 in 11 GP) and 1991 (25 in 14 GP).

The Stars made a splash with the 2023-24 Trade Deadline just over a week away, acquiring defenseman Chris Tanevfrom the Flames in a three-way trade that also involved the Devils.

Click here to read the #NHLStats Pack: 2023-24 NHL Trade Deadline.



2023-24 NHL Trade Tracker

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Connor Bedard of Blackhawks ‘on similar trajectory’ to Nathan MacKinnon of Avalanche
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#NHLStats Ahead of 2024 Hockey Day in Finland

The 2023-24 NHL season marks the 21st in League history to feature contests on Feb. 29, with the 12-game slate headlined by the Blue Jackets hosting the Hurricanes at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN+ and Hulu, along with a matchup on ESPN between Art Ross Trophy and Calder Memorial Trophy contenders when Nathan MacKinnon and the Avalanche visit Connor Bedard and the Blackhawks (9 p.m. ET). Click here for Leap Day #NHLStats, including each club’s record on Feb. 29.

* MacKinnon (35-63—98 in 60 GP), who has 1-1—2 through his first two games against Bedard (0-2—2 in 2 GP), needs two points for a second straight 100-point season. Bedard (17-23—40 in 45 GP) enters Thursday with a rookie-leading 40 points, which are 11 more than MacKinnon (15-14—29 in 45 GP) had through his first 45 career games in 2013-14 – when he won the Calder Trophy as Rookie of the Year after being selected first overall in the previous NHL Draft.

* Chicago’s Tyler Johnson (3-0—3 in 2 GP) is one of three active players with three or more career goals during Leap Day games – the others are St. Louis captain Brayden Schenn (4-0—4 in 2 GP) and Dallas forward Joe Pavelski (3-1—4 in 3 GP). Entering Thursday, only Schenn and former Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa (4-0—4 in 2 GP) have scored at least four times on Feb. 29.

Brent Burns (2-3—5 in 4 GP) has the most career points during Leap Day games among active players and needs three to tie Wayne Gretzky (2-6—8 in 4 GP) for the most in League history. Burns is set to skate in his fifth career game on Feb. 29 and tie former teammate Patrick Marleau (5 GP) for the most by an NHL player.

Did You Know? Ten players born on Feb. 29 have dressed in at least one NHL game (regular season or playoffs), including Henri Richard whose 11 Stanley Cup wins mark the most by a player in League history.

The Jets (37-15-5, 79 points) and Stars (35-17-9, 79 points) will battle for first place in the Central Division – a position Dallas held for 19 straight days until Winnipeg reclaimed the top spot Tuesday. Entering Thursday, the No. 1 seed is held by a Canadian club in both Western Conference divisions (also Vancouver in Pacific Division).

* The Jets skate into the matchup with four straight victories and can record their third winning streak of at least five games this season (8-0-0 from Dec. 30–Jan. 11 & 5-0-0 from Nov. 14-24) – that would mark the first such instance in team history and second in franchise history following 2006-07 (5 GP x3).

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