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NHL Morning Skate – March 23, 2024

* A high-scoring and back-and-forth contest between the Capitals and Hurricanes featured dueling hat tricks for the second time in just over a month, with the first one helping AstraZeneca to reach its donation goal of $500,000 towards the Hockey Fights Cancer Fund of the V Foundation.

* Two Central Division teams earned wins – the Avalanche and Stars – with Colorado retaking top spot. The top teams in the Central have been tied for standings points 34 days this season – by far the most among all divisions.

* An 11-game Saturday will feature Auston Matthews and the Maple Leafs welcoming Connor McDavid and the Oilers on Hockey Night in Canada as well as the Panthers visiting the Rangers on ABC and ESPN+.
 

HAT TRICKS APLENTY AS THE CAPITALS MOVE CLOSER TO A WILD CARD SEED
The Capitals came out victorious in a thrilling back-and-forth contest against the Hurricanes that featured six tying goals and dueling hat tricks, with Sonny Milano – who potted a highlight-reel goal –and Sebastian Aho netting the 100th and 101st hat tricks of the season. Washington (34-26-9, 77 points) moved within one point of Detroit (36-28-6, 78 points) for the final Wild Card position in the Eastern Conference with a game in hand.




* With the help of Milano – whose hat trick brought AstraZeneca to its donation goal of $500,000 to the Hockey Fights Cancer Fund of the V Foundation – and Aho, the 2023-24 campaign became the 12th in NHL history to feature 100-plus hat tricks and just the second since 1993-94 (also 2021-22: 102).

* Milano and Aho combined for the fifth dueling hat trick in five years and the third involving Washington over that span. The others: Feb. 19 (Kirill Kaprizov w/ MIN, Joel Eriksson Ek w/ MIN & J.T. Miller w/ VAN), Oct. 25, 2021 (Drake Batherson w/ OTT & T.J. Oshie w/ WSH), Jan. 14, 2020 (Auston Matthews w/ TOR & Blake Coleman w/ NJD) and Jan. 22, 2019 (Tomas Hertl w/ SJS & Alex Ovechkin w/ WSH).



ICYMI: The NHL piloted an alternative broadcast stream called NHL EDGE Unlocked on Monumental Sports Network’s mobile app during the Hurricanes-Capitals game. The alternative broadcast used stats and analytics, non-traditional camera angles and NHL EDGE positional data (NHL Puck and Player tracking) to further engage fans in new ways. New alternative content like this is available thanks to AWS cloud solutions.


* With a power-play goal, Alex Ovechkin recorded his 1,540th point and surpassed Joe Thornton (1,539) for 13th place on the NHL’s all-time points list. Click here to see how NHL EDGE was used to break down his goal.

TOP OF THE CENTRAL DIVISION STAYS TIGHT

The Avalanche (45-20-5, 95 points) took top spot in the Central Division from the idle Jets (44-20-5, 93 points), yet there is a tie in terms of standings points once again as the Stars (43-19-9, 95 points) also earned a win.

Nathan MacKinnon (1-1—2) factored on two of the Avalanche’s six goals to extend his home point streak to 33 games and help Colorado improve to 8-0-0 over its past eight contests – tied for their sixth-longest winning streak in franchise history. MacKinnon surpassed Guy Lafleur (32 GP in 1978-79) and tied Wayne Gretzky (33 GP in 1985-86) for the second-longest run in NHL history – Gretzky holds the record with a point in 40 consecutive home games in 1988-89. 

Joe Pavelski opened the scoring with his 25th goal of the season to help the Stars earn their third straight win against the Penguins. Pavelski reached the 25-goal mark for the 12th time in his career, the third most among U.S-born players behind only Keith Tkachuk and Mike Modano (both w/ 13). He also moved within one of becoming the first player since Jaromir Jagr in 2015-16 to reach the 60-point plateau at age 39 or older. Jagr achieved the feat as a 44-year-old member of the Panthers.

WEEKLY PODCAST ROUNDUP

NHL Fantasy on Ice (3/18): Fantasy waiver wire pickups: Week 23
NHL Fantasy on Ice (3/20): NHL | Action Network collaboration: Wild card races
NHL @TheRink (3/20): Cotsonika joins; GM Meetings recap, Preds rolling, Best in West?
La Tasse de Café LNH (3/20): L’arrivée de Reinbacher à Montréal et le futur des Penguins
NHL Fantasy on Ice (3/21): Fantasy mailbag: Week 23

QUICK CLICKS

#NHLStats: Live Updates from Friday
Capitals’ Tom Wilson suspended 6 games for high-sticking
Unasked: Ukko-Pekka Luukkonen finding footing in net with Sabres
*Zach Hyman reaching 50 goal-mark for Oilers at Maple Leafs ‘would be special’
First Episode of NHL Hat Trick Trivia presented by New Amsterdam Vodka

McDAVID VS. MATTHEWS, PRESIDENTS’ TROPHY RACE HEADLINE SATURDAY’S SLATE

More than 12 hours of hockey will air Saturday with a number of marquee matchups taking place, including Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews set for their 18th all-time meeting, two of the Eastern Conference’s best clubs – the Panthers and Rangers – battling on ABC and ESPN+ as well as Wild Card hopefuls looking to solidify their playoff positioning.

* McDavid and Matthews enter Saturday’s contest coming off four- and five-point performances, respectively. Matthews (57-32—89 in 67 GP) is a hat trick away from his second career 60-goal season as he looks for his third Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy, while McDavid (26-86—112 in 65 GP) currently sits third in the Art Ross Trophy race. The Oilers captain has posted 3-9—12 in his past five games, but still finds himself 10 points back of first-place Nikita Kucherov (41-81—122 in 68 GP), who is also in action Saturday and can become the first player since Steve Yzerman (3 GP in 1992-93) with three straight four-point games.
 

* The Panthers (45-20-4, 94 points) and Rangers (46-20-4, 96 points), both vying for the 2023-24 Presidents’ Trophy, are set to face off at Madison Square Garden on Saturday. New York can overtake Boston (41-15-15, 97 points), which faces Philadelphia in a matinee matchup on NHL Network and TVA Sports, for top spot in the League standings for the first time since Feb. 28 with a combination of a point and a Bruins loss. Elsewhere, the Canucks (44-18-8, 96 points) have a shot at moving into the top spot should they defeat the Flames on Sportsnet, TVA Sports and CBC.

* The Panthers-Rangers matchup on ABC and ESPN+ will feature Panthers captain Aleksander Barkov whohas an ongoing partnership with the Joe DiMaggio Children’s Hospital Foundation. Barkov donates $1,600 for each goal he scores and $800 for each assist during the regular season and playoffs as part of his #BarkovScores4JoeD initiative. Since 2019, he has contributed $313,600 to the children’s hospital foundation which supports kids and their families, as well as programs at the pediatric facility in Hollywood, Florida. Last season, his contributions helped fund an expansion of the hospital’s pediatric facility, allowing them to treat more complex and critical conditions. In addition to visiting the hospital, Barkov provides a suite at each Panthers home game for those connected to the hospital.

PIVOTAL MATCH UP BETWEEN TWO WILD CARD HOPEFULS
The Predators (41-25-4, 86 points), who sit in the West’s first Wild Card spot, will look to extend their franchise-record point streak to 17 games (14-0-2 since Feb. 17) when they face an Eastern Conference Wild Card hopeful in the Red Wings (36-28-6, 78 points). Detroit will look to make it three straight wins and strengthen its grip on a Wild Card spot in the East as it chases its first postseason berth since 2015-16.

Gustav Nyquist (19-43—62), who was on the last Red Wings team to make the playoffs, is one of three Nashville players with 20-plus points during its 16-game stretch and has played a key role in his team’s recent success. The forward leads all skaters who are on new clubs this season in points thanks in part to a 45.6 offensive zone time percentage, helping the Predators (43.6%) rank fourth as a team in that category League-wide.



Did You Know?

Saturday, March 23, 2024, will mark the 30th anniversary of Wayne Gretzky passing Gordie Howe for the most goals in NHL history. Gretzky tallied his 802nd regular-season goal on March 23, 1994, while playing for the Kings, netting a 2-2 tying goal in an eventual 6-3 defeat against the Canucks at the Great Western Forum in Los Angeles. The last goal that night was scored by Canucks forward Pavel Bure, who tallied his 50th goal of 1993-94 en route to his second career 60-goal season.

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