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NHL Morning Skate – March 22, 2024

* The Art Ross Trophy race heated up as Nikita Kucherov and Connor McDavid notched their fourth and fifth four-assist outings of the season, respectively. The 2023-24 campaign became the first season to feature multiple players with at least four such performances since 1990-91.

Artemi Panarin reached the 40-goal mark for the first time in his career with his third hat trick of the season and helped the Rangers move within one point of the Bruins for first place in the League standings. His three-goal showing brought AstraZeneca’s contribution to the Hockey Fights Cancer Fund of the V Foundation up to $495,000 – one hat trick shy of their donation goal this season.
 

Alex Ovechkin will look to record multiple goals for a third straight game when the Capitals clash with the Hurricanes on Sportsnet, TVA Sports and NHL Network in the first of four contests scheduled for Friday.


ART ROSS TROPHY RACE STAYS HOT WITH BIG PERFORMANCES FROM LEAGUE’S STARS
The 2023-24 Art Ross Trophy race took center stage Thursday as Nikita Kucherov (41-81—122 in 68 GP) and Connor McDavid (26-86—112 in 65 GP) both added to their season totals by notching their fourth and fifth four-assist outings of the campaign, respectively:

* Kucherov (0-4—4) factored on all four Lightning goals to extend his assist streak to a franchise-record 12 games. The 2018-19 Art Ross Trophy winner, the only active skater with three career 80-assist seasons, joined Wayne Gretzky (14x), Mario Lemieux (6x), Bobby Orr (5x), Paul Coffey (4x), Adam Oates (3x) and Denis Savard (3x) as just the seventh player in NHL history with at least three such campaigns.


* Kucherov, who eclipsed the 120-point mark for the second time in his career and sits six points shy of matching his franchise record for points in a season (41-87—128 in 2018-19), joined McDavid (2022-23 & 2018-19) as the second active player to reach the mark in multiple seasons. Jaromir Jagr (3x; most: 149 in 1995-96) andLemieux(161 in 1995-96 & 122 in 1996-97) are the only other skaters to reach the 120-point milestone multiple times in the past 30 years.
 



* McDavid (0-4—4), who factored on four of his team’s eight goals to help the Oilers (42-21-4, 88 points) earn a comeback victory against the Sabres, collected at least four helpers in a game for the fifth time in 2023-24. He became the fourth player in NHL history to record at least five four-assist games in a single season, joining Gretzky (8x; most: 12 in 1985-86), Lemieux (2x; most: 7 in 1995-96) and Coffey (5 in 1988-89).

* McDavid is now on pace for 105 assists this season and can become the fourth player in NHL history to record 100 or more in a single campaign. He would join Gretzky (11x; most: 163 in 1985-86), Lemieux (114 in 1988-89) and Orr (102 in 1970-71).  


 

PANARIN SCORES HAT TRICK, SURPASSES 40 GOALS AS RANGERS EYE FIRST IN THE NHL
Artemi Panarin (3-0—3)scored twice in the second period to reach the 40-goal mark for the first time in his career and later added another for his third hat trick of the season to help the Rangers (46-20-4, 96 points) edge the Bruins (41-15-15, 97 points) in a battle of Original Six clubs vying for the Presidents’ Trophy.


* Panarin (41-56—97 in 70 GP), three points shy of the seventh 100-point campaign in Rangers history and first since 2005-06, joined Jason Blake (40 in 2006-07), Martin St. Louis (43 in 2006-07), Bob Kudelski (40 in 1993-94) and Steve Thomas (42 in 1993-94) as the fifth undrafted player in the past 30 years to score 40 goals in a season.
 

* Five of Panarin’s seven career hat tricks have come with the Rangers, including three in 2023-24. The undrafted forward is one of seven skaters with at least three such performances this season, joining Auston Matthews (6), Zach Hyman (4), Jonathan Marchessault (3), Brayden Point (3), Brock Boeser (3) and Kirill Kaprizov (3). The last season to feature at least seven players with three or more hat tricks was 1992-93 (9).



CANUCKS, HURRICANES GAIN GROUND IN PRESIDENTS’ TROPHY RACE
The Presidents’ Trophy race continued to heat up Thursday as the Canucks (44-18-8, 96 points) and Hurricanes (44-20-6, 94 points) also skated to victories, moving within one and three standings points of the Bruins (41-15-15, 97 points), respectively.

Nikita Zadorov (2-0—2) scored two of his team’s four goals as the Canucks captured their sixth win in eight contests. Vancouver, with its most wins in a single season since 2014-15 (48-29-9, 101 points), collected at least 44 victories through its first 70 games of a season for the second time in franchise history (45 in 2010-11).

* After Travis Konecny scored to pull the Flyers even in the third period, Seth Jarvis found the back of the net in overtime to extend his goal streak to five games – the longest run by a Carolina player this season – and help the Hurricanes keep pace with the Metropolitan Division-leading Rangers (46-20-6, 96 points). Jarvis became the second player in Hurricanes/Whalers history to score the winning goal in three consecutive games, joining Sebastian Aho (3 GP in 2018-19). 



EAGER EASTERN CONFERENCE CLUBS CONTINUE WILD CARD HUNT
With four teams in hot pursuit of a Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference, the Red Wings earned a crucial win to strengthen their grip over the final position while the Devils – one of the teams taking part in the chase – kept pace with a victory:

Dylan Larkin had 2-0—2 in his first game back in the lineup since March 2 to help the Red Wings (36-28-6, 78 points) earn an important win against the Islanders (29-25-15, 73 points) and build a three-point cushion over the Capitals (33-26-9, 75 points) for the second Wild Card spot; Detroit and Washington will face off next Tuesday in another crucial matchup. The performance marked Larkin’s fourth multi-goal outing of the season and matched his career high (also 4 in 2022-23, 2021-22 & 2018-19).


Jack Hughes (2-0—2) and Luke Hughes (0-3—3) were all over the score sheet and helped the Devils (34-32-4, 72 points) leapfrog the Sabres (33-33-5, 71 points) and keep pace with the Red Wings in the Eastern Conference Wild Card race. Luke (8-30—38 in 70 GP), who collected each of his three helpers on the power play, joined Will Butcher (39 in 2017-18), Barry Beck (38 in 1977-78), Eric Weinrich (34 in 1990-91) and Viacheslav Fetisov (34 in 1989-90) as the fifth rookie defenseman in franchise history with 30 assists in a single season.   
 


PREDATORS POINT STREAK SPOTLIGHTED IN #NHLSTATS: LIVE UPDATES
The latest edition of #NHLStats: Live Updates highlights the Predators, who defeated the Panthers to establish the longest point streak in franchise history (14-0-2 since Feb. 17) with the help of a three-point performance by Filip Forsberg (2-1—3) and a 33-save shutout by Kevin Lankinen. Nashville joined Edmonton (16-0-0 from Dec. 21, 2023 – Jan. 27) as the second team in 2023-24 to post a 16-game point streak; the last club to post a stretch longer than 16 consecutive contests was Carolina in 2022-23 (15-0-2 from Nov. 25, 2022 – Jan. 1, 2023).
 


QUICK CLICKS

Jonathan Quick ties Ryan Miller for the most wins among U.S.-born goaltenders in NHL history

Tom Wilson of Capitals offered in-person hearing with NHL Player Safety

Celine Dion reads Bruins starting lineup before game against Rangers
Blues superfan Laila Anderson wins youth hockey title 5 years after Cup

Juuse Saros runs campaign focused on helping animal rescues and foster organizations

OVECHKIN LOOKS TO CLIMB ALL-TIME POINTS LIST AS CAPITALS CHASE PLAYOFF SPOT
A four-game Friday that features a doubleheader on Sportsnet and TVA Sports begins with Alex Ovechkin and the Capitals (33-26-9, 75 points) continuing their chase of a Wild Card spot when they host Sebastian Aho and the Hurricanes (44-20-6, 94 points) – a contest also available on NHL Network – and concludes with the Kraken (28-28-12, 68 points) visiting the Coyotes (28-36-5, 61 points).


* Ovechkin, who scored twice against the Maple Leafs on Wednesday to pull within 49 goals of Wayne Gretzky for the most in NHL history, enters the contest with 845-694—1,539 (1,412 GP) and can surpass Joe Thornton (430-1,109—1,539 in 1,714 GP) for 13th place on the NHL’s all-time points list.

* The Capitals captain also looks to extend his multi-goal streak to three games for just the second time in his career (also 3 GP from Jan. 13-18, 2020). Ovechkin (38 years, 187 days) can also become the oldest player in League history to record a multi-goal streak of that length.

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