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NHL Morning Skate – March 21, 2024

* The NHL entered the final 30 days of its regular season with Jason Robertson, Auston Matthews and Anze Kopitar leading their team to wins.

Wednesday’s edition of #NHLStats: Live Updates featured more notes from the three-game slate, including Alex Ovechkin now needing fewer than 50 goals to tie Wayne Gretzky for the most in League history.

* Closely-contested races for the Art Ross Trophy, Presidents’ Trophy and Wild Card spots will be front-and-center during Thursday’s 11-game slate, which is highlighted by Seattle visiting Vegas on ESPN and Florida hosting Nashville on ESPN+ and Hulu.

PLAYOFF HOPEFULS DALLAS, TORONTO, LOS ANGELES LOG WINS WEDNESDAY
Wednesday featured the Stars (42-19-9, 93 points) moving back into a three-way tie for the most points in the Central Division as well as the Maple Leafs (39-20-9, 87 points) and Kings (36-22-11, 83 points) also strengthening their grip on third place in their respective division:

Jason Robertson (24-46—70 in 70 GP) recorded 1-1—2 to reach the 70-point mark for a third straight season and help Dallas tie first-place Winnipeg (44-19-5, 93 points) and second-ranked Colorado (44-20-5, 93 points) for the most points among Central Division teams. Robertson, who helped spark the Stars’ comeback by assisting on the tying goal by Logan Stankoven, recorded the 88th multi-point game of his NHL career to pass J.P. Parise (87) and tie Danny Grant for 16th place on the franchise’s all-time list.



Auston Matthews tallied twice and added three assists to match his single-game NHL career high for points (also 3-2—5 on Feb. 17) and help Toronto defeat Washington. Matthews recorded his League-leading 16th multi-goal game of the season to establish a franchise record for most in a campaign – his 16 contests with at least two goals also mark the highest single-season total in NHL history by a U.S.-born player.



Anze Kopitar (1-1—2) eclipsed the 1,200-point milestone as Los Angeles blanked Minnesota and moved within three points of idle Edmonton (41-21-4, 86 points), which occupies second place in the Pacific Division. Kopitar was one of seven Kings players with multiple points (also Viktor ArvidssonPhillip DanaultDrew DoughtyKevin FialaAdrian Kempe & Trevor Moore).
 


NHL PART OF WOMEN’S HOCKEY CELEBRATION AT CANADIAN EMBASSY IN D.C.
The NHL was part of a celebration for the Professional Women’s Hockey League’s record-breaking inaugural season and girls/women’s hockey at the Embassy of Canada in Washington, D.C., on Wednesday. The NHL was represented by several executives at the event, which featured a watch party highlighting two live PWHL games as well as the contest between the Maple Leafs and Capitals. Click here to read more.


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THURSDAY HEADLINED BY SEATTLE-VEGAS ON ESPN, NASHVILLE-FLORIDA ON ESPN+

Thursday’s 11-game slate is highlighted by the Kraken (28-27-12, 68 points) visiting the Golden Knights (36-25-7, 79 points) on ESPN as well as the Panthers (45-19-4, 94 points) hosting the Predators (40-25-4, 84 points) on ESPN+ and Hulu.

Jack Eichel capped Vegas’ multi-goal third-period comeback victory by scoring the overtime winner during its last head-to-head game with Seattle on March 12, which also featured Jonathan Marchessault pulling the Golden Knights even with 16.3 seconds remaining in regulation. Vegas’ victory gave the Golden Knights a six-point lead on the Wild for the Western Conference’s final Wild Card spot, but the gap has shrunk to just three.

Sam Reinhart (48-31—79 in 68 GP), who has helped Florida build its 15-point lead on their 2023 Stanley Cup Final opponent, needs two tallies to become the second 50-goal scorer in franchise history following Pavel Bure (59 in 2000-01 & 58 in 1999-00). The Presidents’ Trophy hopefuls face the red-hot Predators, who are 13-0-2 in their last 15 games and can establish a club record for longest point streak.

SLATE HAS OTHER PIVOTAL GAMES AS ART ROSS, STANDINGS RACES REMAIN CLOSE
Thursday is set to feature several more impactful contests as races for the Art Ross Trophy, Presidents’ Trophy and Wild Card spots remain closely-contested entering the final 29 days of the regular season:

Nikita Kucherov (41-77—118 in 67 GP) can add to his lead on idle Avalanche forward Nathan MacKinnon (42-75—117 in 69 GP) in League scoring when the Lightning (37-25-6, 80 points) visit the Sharks (16-45-7, 39 points). Kucherov (5-19—24 in 11 GP) carries a franchise record-tying 11-game assist streak into Thursday, while MacKinnon (10-22—32 in 16 GP) has found the score sheet in each of Colorado’s last 16 contests headed into its matchup with Columbus on Friday.

David Pastrnak and the League-leading Bruins (41-14-15, 97 points) host Artemi Panarin and the Metropolitan Division-leading Rangers (45-20-4, 94 points) as Boston and New York search for its fifth and fourth Presidents’ Trophy win in franchise history, respectively. The Rangers hold a two-point lead on the Hurricanes (43-20-6, 92 points), who occupy second place in the Metropolitan Division and host the third-ranked Flyers (35-26-8, 78 points).



Quinn Hughes and the Western Conference-leading Canucks (43-18-8, 94 points) carry a one-point lead on the second-place Jets (44-19-5, 93 points) as Vancouver and Winnipeg face Montreal (25-31-12, 62 points) and New Jersey (33-32-4, 70 points), respectively. Tyler Toffoli is set to face his former team for the first time since being traded to the Jets by the Devils, who sit six points back of the “playoff line” in the Eastern Conference.

Patrick Kane and the Red Wings (35-28-6, 76 points) will look to build on their thrilling comeback win to take the Eastern Conference’s final Wild Card spot Tuesday when they host Mathew Barzal and the Islanders (29-24-15, 73 points), who trail Detroit by just three points. Rasmus Dahlin and the Sabres (33-32-5, 71 points) can gain ground on the Red Wings or Islanders when they visit Connor McDavid and the Oilers (41-21-4, 86 points).

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