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NHL Morning Skate – March 18, 2024

* The Hurricanes, Jets and Rangers each picked up wins Sunday as the NHL’s top eight teams are now separated by five points or fewer in a jam-packed Presidents’ Trophy race.

Sidney Crosby continued his march to a 19th career point-per-game season and helped the Penguins stay in the hunt for a Wild Card spot.

* Monday’s two-game slate will kick off with Alex Ovechkin one away from his 19th consecutive 20-goal season when the Capitals partake in a national broadcast against the Flames on Sportsnet, TVA Sports and NHL Network.

HURRICANES, JETS, RANGERS PUSH THE PACE IN PRESIDENTS’ TROPHY RACE
Three of the NHL’s top eight teams either maintained or improved their positioning in a jam-packed Presidents’ Trophy race as the Hurricanes (42-20-6, 90 points), Jets (43-19-5, 91 points) and Rangers (45-19-4, 94 points) each earned wins Sunday:

Dmitry Orlov (2-2—4) and Sebastian Aho (0-3—3) led the Hurricanes to a seven-goal outburst as the club kept pace with the Rangers who sit atop the Metropolitan Division. Orlov finished the game one shy of the most points by a Hurricanes/Whalers defenseman in a single game, while Aho tied his head coach Rod Brind’Amour (54) for the third-most multi-assist outings in franchise history, a list that is topped by Ron Francis (163) and Eric Staal (79).



Tyler Toffoli (2-1—3) continued his hot start with the Jets as he posted his second consecutive multi-point outing to help Winnipeg overtake Colorado (43-20-5, 91 points) and Dallas (41-19-9, 91 points) for first place in the Central Division. Toffoli (4-1—5 in 4 GP) became the third player in Jets/Thrashers history score at least four goals in his first four games with the franchise following Patrik Laine (4-1—5 in 2016-17) and Shawn McEachern (4-1—5 in 2002-03).

Mika Zibanejad (1-0—1) scored one of his team’s five goals, and did so within the opening 30 seconds of a period for the seventh time in his career with New York, as the Rangers earned their third straight win against the Islanders dating to Dec. 22, 2022 – tied for the franchise’s longest win streak versus the club in the past decade (also 3 GP from Jan. 12, 2019 – Jan. 16, 2020 & March 7, 2013 – Oct. 29, 2013). The Rangers look to join the Red Wings (6x) and Bruins (4x) as the third franchise to win the Presidents’ Trophy at least four times.


CROSBY CONTINUES TO LEAD PENGUINS’ MARCH TOWARD A WILD CARD SPOT

Sidney Crosby (1-1—2) factored of two of his team’s six goals against the Red Wings and the Penguins (30-28-9, 69 points) also benefited from regulation losses by the Islanders (29-23-15, 73 points) and Devils (32-32-4, 68 points) to climb the Eastern Conference standings. Pittsburgh moved within five points of Detroit (34-28-6, 74 points) for the second Wild Card spot.

* Crosby (33-35—68 in 67 GP), who scored his 583rd career goal in the contest, continued his point-per-game rate in 2023-24. Should he continue at that pace to conclude this campaign, he would tie Wayne Gretzky (19) for the most career point-per-game seasons in NHL history.
 

POINTS IN BUNCHES FOR BUCHNEVICH IN #NHLSTATS: LIVE UPDATES
Pavel Buchnevich (0-3—3) factored on three of four Blues goals to record his team-leading seventh three-point game of the season and help St. Louis (36-29-3, 75 points) move within four points of Vegas (36-24-7, 79 points) for the second Wild Card position in the Western Conference. Find notes on all seven games from Sunday’s slate in the latest edition of #NHLStats: Live Updates.

QUICK CLICKS

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*Dmitry Kulikov to have Player Safety hearing for actions in Panthers game

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Erik ‘Eki’ Tammenpaa earns sixth European title at EA SPORTS NHL 24 European Championship

OVECHKIN EYES ANOTHER 20-GOAL SEASON TO START THE WEEK
Alex Ovechkin (19-31—50 in 63 GP) and the Capitals (32-25-9, 73 points) continue their chase toward a spot in the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs and will do so with two games in hand on the Red Wings (34-28-6, 74 points), who occupy the second Wild Card spot. 

* Should the Capitals captain find the back of the net for the second time in as many games, he would join Gordie Howe (22) and Brendan Shanahan (19) as just the third player in NHL history with at least 19 consecutive 20-goal campaigns. In fact, only five have had at least 19 such campaigns at any point in their career.

The Capitals also find themselves a part of a handful of upcoming national games this week, with key storylines to follow noted below:

Wednesday, March 20: Maple Leafs at Capitals (7:30 p.m. ET on TNT, Max, SN, TVAS)

Auston Matthews (8-12—20 in 16 GP) and Alex Ovechkin (9-8—17 in 16 GP) will be going head-to-head for the 17th time (TOR: 9-5-2; WSH: 7-8-1). Matthews leads the NHL in goals since entering the League in 2016-17, while Ovechkin ranks fourth in that span. Matthews has 354 goals in 546 games as he nears the end of his eighth NHL season (0.65 G/GP), a higher goals-per-game rate than Ovechkin had at the end of his eighth campaign (0.62 G/GP; 371 in 601 GP through 2012-13).
 
Wednesday, March 20: Wild at Kings (10 p.m. ET on TNT, Max, SN, TVAS)

The Wild (33-27-8, 74 points) trail the Kings (34-22-11, 79 points) and Golden Knights (36-24-7, 79 points) by five points in the standings – with the latter owning the second Wild Card spot. Kirill Kaprizov carries a four-game goal streak into the week and sits five tallies shy of his third straight 40-goal season (never achieved by a Wild player).

Saturday, March 23: Panthers at Rangers (8 p.m. ET on ABC, ESPN+)
Paul Maurice (862) needs two wins to tie Lindy Ruff (864) for fourth place in NHL history among head coaches, while Peter Laviolette (796) needs four to become the seventh in League history to win 800 in that role. Florida and New York are among a group of five teams that have occupied the League’s No. 1 seed since Jan. 1, along with Vancouver, Winnipeg and Boston (4 days).

Saturday, March 23: Oilers at Maple Leafs (7 p.m. ET on CBC, SN)

Connor McDavid (8-18—26 in 17 GP) and Auston Matthews (12-6—18 in 17 GP) will be going head-to-head for the 18th time. The Maple Leafs have a record of 11-4-2 in those contests, while the Oilers have gone 6-9-2.

World Elite Syndicate

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