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NHL Morning Skate – March 14, 2024

Zach Hyman became the first Oilers skater to score four hat tricks in a season since Wayne Gretzky did so nearly 40 years ago and added $5,000 more to AstraZeneca’s donation to the Hockey Fights Cancer Fund of the V Foundation.

Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen both extended lengthy streaks as they helped Colorado earn its League-leading third three-goal comeback win.

* A handful of Eastern Conference clubs are set to battle for playoff positioning during a 12-game Thursday, highlighted by the Flyers hosting the Maple Leafs on Hulu and ESPN+.


RANTANEN, MacKINNON SPEARHEAD AVALANCHE’S THREE-GOAL COMEBACK WIN

The Avalanche were down three goals through nearly 40 minutes of action, but Mikko Rantanen (1-1—2) scored with three seconds left in the second period to spearhead Colorado’s rally which carried all the way into overtime where Nathan MacKinnon (1-1—2) factored on Valeri Nichushkin’s winner to seal the three-goal comeback victory. Colorado (42-20-5, 89 points) earned its League-leading third three-goal come-from-behind win and leapfrogged idle Dallas (40-18-9, 89) and Winnipeg (41-19-5, 87 points) for first in the Central Division – a spot it’s occupying for the first time since Feb. 7.

* Rantanen extended both his point and assist streak to 11 games, with the latter run being the third longest in Avalanche/Nordiques history behind Cale Makar (13 GP in 2021-22) and Joe Sakic (12 GP in 1991-92).

* MacKinnon, who has now recorded multiple points in five straight contests, extended his point streak to 14 games for third time this season (also 19 GP & 14 GP). The only other players in NHL history with three different runs of at least that length in a single campaign are Connor McDavid (17 GP, 16 GP & 15 GP in 2022-23), Marcel Dionne (18 GP, 15 GP & 14 GP in 1979-80) and Wayne Gretzky (28 GP, 16 GP & 14 GP in 1984-85; 19 GP, 16 GP & 14 GP in 1986-87). Each previous player went on to win the Art Ross Trophy that season.

HYMAN NETS FOURTH HAT TRICK AS OILERS SCORE SEVEN
Zach Hyman (3-0—3) scored three of seven Edmonton goals to record his fourth hat trick of 2023-24 and joined former teammate Auston Matthews (6) as the only other player with as many this season. The Oilers (40-21-3, 83 points) skated to their 40th win of the season in just 64 games – the club’s fastest pace since 1985-86 (59 GP).

* Hyman netted his fifth hat trick since joining the Oilers in 2021-22 – the only players with as many over that span are Matthews (10), David Pastrnak (6), Evander Kane (5) and Tage Thompson (5). His first goal of the game was set up by Connor McDavid (1-2—3), who reached the 80-assist mark earlier in the night and joined Nikita Kucherov as the second active skater to post multiple 80-assist seasons.

* Hyman also became the first Oilers skater to score four hat tricks in a campaign since Wayne Gretzky in 1986-87. Only two skaters have recorded more three-goal games in a season with Edmonton: Gretzky (3x; most: 10 in 1983-84 & 1981-82) and Jari Kurri (5 in 1984-85).



ICYMI: Connor Brown snapped a 72-game goalless drought with his first tally since March 24, 2022 courtesy of an assist from Kane, who spoke the goal into existence during a pre-game interview on TNT.

JOSI HITS 50 ASSISTS, PREDATORS EXTEND POINT STREAK TO 13 GAMES

Roman Josi (0-2—2) collected a primary assist on each of his team’s first two goals as the Predators extended their point streak to 13 games dating to Feb. 17 (11-0-2) and moved within two of the longest run in franchise history. Nashville (38-25-4, 80 points) moved three points clear of Vegas (35-23-7, 77 points) for the first Wild Card spot in the Western Conference.

* The Predators were four points back of the Kings (33-21-11, 77 points) and Blues (34-29-3, 71 points) in the Wild Card race before their 13-game point streak began on Feb. 17 but have since overtaken both teams in points. Nashville leads the NHL in both wins (11) and points (24) since the start of the run, with Florida (10) being the only other club with a double-digit win total over that span.

* Josi (15-50—65 in 67 GP) recorded his second career 50-assist season following a career-high 73 helpers and 96 points in 2021-22. The Predators captain became the second player in franchise history to post two 50-assist campaigns, following Paul Kariya (54 in 2005-06 & 52 in 2006-07).

QUICK CLICKS

Jordan Binnington makes 40 saves, Blues defeat Kings

Mark Messier says he’d build team around Sidney Crosby in Q&A with NHL.com

Trophy Tracker: Connor Hellebuyck top choice for Vezina as League’s best goalie

On Campus: Seamus CaseyRyan Ufko among NHL Draft picks aiming to make NCAA Tournament

Wednesday edition of #NHLStats: Live Updates
 

CRUCIAL POINTS ON THE LINE FOR HANDFUL OF EASTERN CONFERNCE CLUBS

In addition to a meeting between the Maple Leafs (37-19-8, 82 points) and Flyers (34-24-8, 76 points) broadcast nationally on Hulu and ESPN+, the five teams in the mix for a Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference will be in action when the Lightning (34-25-6, 74 points), Islanders (29-21-14, 72 points), Red Wings (33-26-6, 72 points), Capitals (30-25-9, 69 points) and Sabres (31-30-5, 67 points) take to the ice.

* The Lightning occupy the first Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference and will host the Metropolitan Division-leading Rangers in a potential clash between fellow countrymen and Vezina Trophy winners Igor Shesterkin and Andrei Vasilevskiy – both of who backstopped their clubs to shutout victories in their past outing. Thursday can be just the third regular-season game in the past 10 years to feature a matchup between goaltenders who each registered a shutout in their previous appearance, following April 24, 2021 (Ilya Samsonov vs. Ilya Sorokin) and Dec. 28, 2013 (Tuukka Rask vs. Craig Anderson).


Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen (21-16-3, 2.44 GAA, .914 SV%, 4 SO) leads the Sabres into a critical head-to-head meeting against the Islanders, a club currently occupying the second Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference. Luukkonen has been essential to Buffalo’s success since the turn of the calendar, with his 14 wins since Jan. 1 trailing only Thatcher Demko (17), Stuart Skinner (16) and Sergei Bobrovsky (15) for the most among all goaltenders. However, Luukkonen’s .930 save percentage (tied) and 1.95 goals-against average lead all netminders through that span (min. 10 GP).
 


Lucas Raymond is another skater who enters action Thursday with hopes of continuing his string of success and guiding the Red Wings into the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2015-16. The 21-year-old, with a team-leading 25 points since Jan. 1 (7-18—25 in 28 GP), sits three assists shy of 100 in his three-year NHL career (58-97—155 in 221 GP) and can join a pair of franchise icons by hitting the mark before age 22: Steve Yzerman (194 in 291 GP) and Gordie Howe (101 in 228 GP).

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