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NHL Morning Skate – March 24, 2024

* The Predators captured their fifth straight win and extended their franchise-record point streak to 17 games – a mark eight other teams have also accomplished in the past 15 years – and did so with another perfect performance from their goaltender.

* The Canucks and Rangers both edged out victories in tightly-contested affairs to continue their Presidents’ Trophy pursuit – a race that has featured a different team atop the standings seven times since NHL All-Star Weekend.

Nathan MacKinnon’s Avalancheand Sidney Crosby’s Penguins face off on TNT while Auston Matthews’ Maple Leafs visit Sebastian Aho’s Hurricanes on ESPN+ during a 10-game Sunday slate.

PREDATORS PICK UP MORE POINTS IN SHUTOUT VICTORY

Filip Forsberg (1-0—1) broke a scoreless tie with 5:14 remaining in regulation and Juuse Saros turned aside all 22 shots he faced as the Predators (42-25-4, 88 points) captured their fifth straight win. Nashville, 15-0-2 since Feb. 17 and sat 13 points behind Winnipeg for third place in the Central, now trails the club by just five points.



* Forsberg extended his goal streak to five games and sits one contest shy of tying the franchise record – a mark he matched in 2014-15 and shares with four others. His 14 goals throughout his team’s current point streak trail only Zach Hyman (17), Kirill Kaprizov (16) and Brayden Point (15) for the fourth most among all players.

* Nashville’s recent string of victories have also benefited from a shutout sequence of 154:14 dating to 5:46 of the second period on March 19 – the fifth-longest stretch in franchise history. In fact, the club has scored 11 consecutive team goals for the fourth time in franchise history (excluding shootout-deciding goals), following a pair of 12-goal runs (Feb. 26 – March 3, 2009 & Feb. 25 – March 1, 2003) and one other 11-tally stretch (Dec. 31, 2018 – Jan. 4, 2019).

CANUCKS, RANGERS CONTINUE PRESIDENTS’ TROPHY PURSUIT
The Canucks (45-18-8, 98 points) and Rangers (47-20-4, 98 points) each skated to victories on home ice to leapfrog the Bruins (41-16-15, 97 points) in the NHL’s overall standings. Vancouver holds top spot due to the regulation wins tiebreaker (VAN: 39, NYR: 38).

* There have been seven lead changes atop the standings since NHL All-Star Weekend. The 2023-24 campaign is one of four seasons since the League realigned in 2013-14 to feature as many changes following the All-Star/Olympic break in each respective season (also 2014-15: 19, 2017-18: 8 & 2013-14: 7).




Quinn Hughes (13-67—80 in 71 GP) collected an assist and became the first defenseman to hit the 80-point mark in 2023-24 as well as the fifth different U.S.-born blueliner in NHL history to post 80 points in a season, following Brian Leetch (3x; most: 22-80—102 in 1991-92), Phil Housley (3x; most: 18-79—97 in 1992-93), Gary Suter (2x; most: 21-70—91 in 1987-88) and Mark Howe (2x; most: 24-58—82 in 1985-86).

* Artemi Panarin (43-56—99 in 71 GP) scored one tying goal in the second period to help New York erase a two-goal deficit and netted another one with 3:25 remaining in regulation to move within one point of his first career 100-point campaign and the first by a Rangers player since 2005-06. In fact, only four other players in the past 30 years have had as many goals in a single season for the franchiseChris Kreider (52 in 2021-22), Jaromir Jagr (54 in 2005-06), Mark Messier (47 in 1995-96) and Adam Graves (52 in 1993-94).
 

TEAMS STRENGTHEN THEIR CASE IN SECURING PLAYOFF POSITIONING

Teams currently occupying playoff positioning put up pivotal performances as the Maple Leafs, Kings, Golden Knights and Flyers each picked up two points to benefit their chances of securing a position in the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs.


William Nylander (1-1—2) scored one of his team’s six goals as the Maple Leafs secured a third straight 40-win season for the third time in franchise history (5 from 2001-02 to 2006-07 & 3 from 2016-17 to 2018-19). Nylander, the first player to record three separate five-game goal streaks this season, joined Auston Matthews (3x in 2021-22 & 2020-21) and Babe Dye (3x in 1924-25) as just the third skater in Maple Leafs history to achieve the feat and boosted his team-leading total to 39-54—93 (69 GP) in the process.
 


* The Kings held a 3-1 lead in the third period before a pair of Steven Stamkos goals in the final five minutes of regulation – including his 210th career power-play goal and one tying tally with 46 seconds left – sent the game to overtime. It was Los Angeles defenseman, Vladislav Gavrikov,who found the back of the net for the second time in three games and lifted the Kings to their third straight victory thanks to a game-winning tally just 25 seconds into the extra frame.
 



Jack Eichel (2-0—2) eclipsed the 500-point mark and helped Vegas (38-25-7, 83 points) remain four points ahead of St. Louis (38-30-3, 79 points) as the second Wild Card in the Western Conference. Eichel (204-297—501 in 527 GP) became the fifth-fastest active U.S.-born player to reach the 500-point milestone – a list topped by Auston Matthews (445 GP).

Tyson Foerster (1-1—2) found the back of the net with 1:29 remaining in regulation as the Flyers (36-26-9, 81 points) beat the League-leading Bruins. Foerster ranks third among rookies with 18 goals this season for Philadelphia, which occupies third place in the Metropolitan Division and moved four points ahead of fourth-ranked Washington (34-26-9, 77 points).

QUICK CLICKS


Blackhawks rally from four goals down to stun Sharks in #NHLStats: Live Updates
An ode to Wayne Gretzky on the 30th anniversary of goal No. 802
Nick Leddy celebrates 1,000th NHL game with Blues in home state of Minnesota
Capitals’ Tom Wilson suspended 6 games for high-sticking
Evgeny Kuznetsov enjoys ‘special’ return to face Capitals with Hurricanes
 

SUNDAY HEADLINED BY PITTSBURGH-COLORADO ON TNT, TORONTO-CAROLINA ON ESPN+
Sunday is highlighted by Nathan MacKinnon and the Central Division-leading Avalanche (45-20-5, 95 points) hosting Sidney Crosby and the Penguins (30-30-9, 69 points) on TNT as well as Auston Matthews and the Maple Leafs (40-20-9, 89) visiting Sebastian Aho and the Hurricanes (44-20-7, 95 points) on ESPN+. Toronto is one of 10 teams contesting the second half of a back-to-back set Sunday, with that group also including Winnipeg (44-21-5, 93) which faces Washington (34-26-9, 77 points) on NHL Network as well as Calgary (33-31-5, 71) which battles Buffalo (33-33-5, 71 points) on Sportsnet.

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