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NHL Morning Skate – March 12, 2024

Mika Zibanejad became one of just six Swedish-born players in NHL history with nine 20-goal seasons as the Rangers strengthened their grip on first place in the Metropolitan Division.

Connor Hellebuyck shut out the Capitals and set a Jets/Thrashers benchmark for fewest games to 30 wins in a season by a goaltender.

* The Wild, Kraken and Flames will all look to gain ground on the Golden Knights for the final Wild Card spot in the Western Conference during Tuesday’s 10-game slate.


RANGERS, JETS STRENGHTEN THEIR PLAYOFF POSITIONS
Two of the League’s top six teams earned wins Monday as the Rangers (42-18-4, 88 points) padded their cushion over the idle Hurricanes (39-19-6, 84 points) for first place in the Metropolitan Division and the Jets (41-18-5, 87 points) moved within two points of the idle Stars (40-17-9, 89 points) for the top spot in the Central Division:
 

* The Rangers defeated the Devils with the help of Mika Zibanejad, who scored one of his team’s three goals to record his seventh consecutive 20-goal season and the ninth overall of his career. He became the sixth Swedish-born player in NHL history with nine career 20-goal campaigns, joining Mats Sundin (17), Daniel Alfredsson (13), Markus Naslund (12), Daniel Sedin (11) and Gabriel Landeskog (9).



Connor Hellebuyck stopped all 23 shots he faced to help the Jets blank the Capitals and earn their first win in Washington in over a decade. The Winnipeg netminder improved to 30-14-3 on the season (47 GP) and established a Jets/Thrashers mark for fewest games to 30 wins in a campaign, eclipsing his previous best set in 2017-18 (48 GP).
 
* Hellebuyck became the sixth active goaltender to post at least five 30-win seasons. He joined Marc-Andre Fleury (9), Sergei Bobrovsky (7), Jonathan Quick (6), Andrei Vasilevskiy (6) and Frederik Andersen (5).

BLUES, KINGS SPOTLIGHTED IN #NHLSTATS: LIVE UPDATES

The latest edition of #NHLStats: Live Updates featured a number of notes, including the Blues (33-29-3, 69 points) potting five goals – their most on the road against Boston since March 7, 1991 (5) – to defeat the Bruins (38-14-15, 91 points) and Drew Doughty collecting an assist to move up a franchise list as the Kings (33-20-11, 77 points) snapped the Islanders’ (29-21-14, 72 points) six-game win streak with a shutout victory.

QUICK CLICKS

Nathan MacKinnon leads 3 Stars of the Week
Kevin Hayes gets visit from nephews before game in hometown Boston

Jordan Eberle relieved to still be with Kraken for 1,000th NHL game
Mitch Marner day to day for Maple Leafs with lower-body injury
Trophy Tracker: Rick Tocchet top choice for Adams as coach of year


WILD CARD RACES TAKE CENTER STAGE TUESDAY

A 10-game slate features a number of teams in pursuit of a playoff position in action. In the Eastern Conference, the Red Wings (33-25-6, 72 points) will look to gain ground on the Lightning (34-25-6, 74 points) for the first Wild Card spot when they face the Sabres (30-30-5, 65 points). In the Western Conference, a trio of teams will look to close-in on the Golden Knights (34-23-7, 75 points) for the last Wild Card spot, including the Kraken (28-24-11, 67 points) and the Flames (31-28-5, 67 points) who are hosting Vegas and Colorado (40-20-5, 85 points), respectively.


* The Red Wings, who are looking to make their first postseason appearance in over seven years (last: 2016 R1), enter Tuesday with a point in seven of their past 10 games against the Sabres (DET: 5-3-2, BUF: 5-2-3). Shayne Gostisbehere, who signed with Detroit in the offseason, has played a role in the club’s improvement in the standings this season – with his 10 goals, he is just one shy of Nicklas Lidstrom (11 in 1991-92) for the second most by a Red Wings defenseman in their first season with the club, behind only Brian Rafalski (13 in 2007-08).

* The Golden Knights have won eight of their 10 all-time meetings with the Kraken (SEA: 2-8-0), with Jonathan Marchessault (7-3—10 in 10 GP) and Chandler Stephenson (3-7—10 in 10 GP) leading Vegas in points through those games. Jordan Eberle, who is set to skate in his 1,000th career game Tuesday, is tied for the most points by a Kraken player against the club with 2-2—4 (10 GP).


 * The Avalanche have earned a point in all but one of their past 10 contests against the Flames (COL: 7-1-2, CGY: 3-7-0) and will be led into action Tuesday by Nathan MacKinnon (40-71—111 in 65 games), whose 12-game point streak – the longest active run in the NHL – and League-leading 11 points since March 1 have propelled him to the top of the Art Ross Trophy race. Across the ice, the Flames are guided by Yegor Sharangovich, whose six goals since the beginning of the month are the second most among all players behind only Timo Meier (7).

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