Another weekend of action has come and gone in the NHL. The Boston Bruins recorded a huge win over their Atlantic Division rivals in the Toronto Maple Leafs, while the Seattle Kraken made history with yet another victory. We also saw Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin etch his name in the history books… again.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the biggest storylines from around the NHL from this past weekend.
Goal of the weekend: Artturi Lehkonen completes spinning score
Artturi Lehkonen had a knack for scoring big goals throughout the Colorado Avalanche’s Stanley Cup run last season. It appears that nothing has changed during the 2022-23 campaign.
In the third period of Saturday’s 7-0 win against the Ottawa Senators, Avalanche star Nathan MacKinnon was able to dig the puck out from along the boards and flipped it towards Lehkonen, who was cutting towards the Senators’ net. Lehkonen quickly received the puck on his stick, performed a beautiful spin move, and deposited a backhanded shot past Senators goalie Anton Forsberg for the power-play goal.
It was one of two goals for Lehkonen on the night in a game where the Avalanche flexed their offensive muscles.
Robbery of the weekend: Linus Ullmark sprawls across to deny Mark Giordano
It’s no secret that Boston Bruins goalie Linus Ullmark has been the best that the NHL has to offer throughout the first half of the season. Following a rare loss to the Seattle Kraken earlier in the week, Ullmark rose to the occasion in a big way against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Maple Leafs defenseman Mark Giordano attempted to deliver a pass to a teammate across the goal crease, but it was blocked. However, the puck ended up right on the stick of Giordano with a fairly wide-open net to shoot at. Giordano tried to quickly flip a backhanded shot into the net, but Ullmark was able to sprawl across and knock the puck away with his blocker hand.
Ullmark’s save proved to be a huge one as the Bruins earned a 4-3 win.
Kraken set franchise record with eight consecutive wins
The Seattle Kraken may be in just their second season, but they’re showing that they can hang with the league’s best. Fresh off their 2-0 win over the Boston Bruins, the Kraken had an offensive explosion in a 8-5 win over the Chicago Blackhawks on Saturday.
In doing so, the Kraken tallied their franchise record eighth consecutive win.
Seattle dominated the contest out of the gate with a mind-boggling six goals in the opening 20 minutes against the Blackhawks. The two teams traded goals over the first 4:40 of the game before the Kraken scored five unanswered goals over a four-minute stretch to take a convincing 6-1 lead.
Forward Jared McCann, who recorded his first career hat trick on Saturday, scored twice during the offensive barrage.
To the Blackhawks’ credit, they didn’t lay down. In fact, Chicago scored four of the final six goals of the game and made the Kraken sweat a little bit. It marked just the second time during the month of January in which Kraken goalie Martin Jones surrendered more than two goals in a game.
The Kraken’s record winning streak did come to an end on Monday when they fell 4-1 at the hands of the Tampa Bay Lightning. Still, the Kraken have shown in recent weeks that they’re more than capable of mixing it up with the NHL heavyweights. As the season progresses, it certainly won’t be a surprise to see the Kraken in the playoff race this spring.
Matt Grzelcyk’s late third-period goal lifts Bruins past Maple Leafs
The Boston Bruins haven’t dropped back-to-back games at any point during the 2022-23 season. They made sure that didn’t happen when facing their Atlantic Division rivals in the Toronto Maple Leafs.
On Saturday, defenseman Matt Grzelcyk scored the go-ahead goal with just 1:16 remaining to lift the Bruins past the Maple Leafs 4-3.
Grzelcyk ended up being at the right place at the right time to hammer a shot home from the blue line. Forward Taylor Hall had tried to force the puck in front of the Maple Leafs’ net, but it made its way off the boards and around to Grzelcyk, who didn’t miss his opportunity to light the lamp.
It was just Grzelcyk’s second goal of the season and his first since Oct. 28 against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
Saturday’s game was a closely-contested one due to the fact that Maple Leafs star Auston Matthews returned to the ice. Matthews had missed the previous two games due to an undisclosed injury. He scored 3:17 into the third period to tie the game up at 3-3.
The Bruins followed up Saturday’s heart-pounding performance with an emphatic 6-0 win over the Philadelphia Flyers on Monday.
Alex Ovechkin ties yet another record
Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin continues to make history. In Saturday’s 3-1 loss against the Philadelphia Flyers, Ovechkin scored his 30th goal of the 2022-23 season and, in doing so, tied Mike Gartner for the most 30-goal seasons in NHL history with 17.
At the 17:56 mark of the opening period, Ovechkin was able to get the rebound on his own shot and record the backhanded tally to tie the game at 1-1.
Ovechkin has now scored at least 30 goals in 17 of his 18 NHL seasons. The only campaign in which he fell short was the 2020-21 season, which was shortened due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Gartner and Ovechkin are the only players in NHL history to score at least 30 goals in each of their first 15 seasons. Ovechkin has been on fire as of late with 10 goals over his past 10 games. The Capitals star is currently on pace to score 54 goals this season.
Capitals erase three-goal deficit to defeat Islanders
Speaking of Ovechkin, his Capitals have been one of the feistier teams in the NHL. They proved that again on Monday by pulling off a three-goal comeback against their Metro Division opponent, the New York Islanders.
The Islanders controlled a majority of the first period and took a 2-0 lead into the locker room. Early in the second period, the Isles’ Hudson Fasching caught Washington netminder Darcy Kuemper napping on a soft goal, and it seemed like it just wasn’t the Capitals’ day.
However, a resilient Capitals team got to work and started down the comeback trail. Garnet Hathaway got the scoring started in the second period, and Tom Wilson pulled Washington within a goal when Nicklas Backstrom found him wide open in front of the net with a pass from Gretzky’s office.
Early in the third period, T.J. Oshie leveled the game with the kind of hand-eye coordination usually reserved for triple crown winners and hardcore gamers. Oshie was blowing through the slot when he put a perfect tip on a shot from the point to beat Ilya Sorokin.
That comeback was impressive enough, but Dmitry Orlov finished the job in overtime when he and Oshie executed the prettiest give-and-give-and-give-and-go you’ll ever see. They lulled the Islanders to sleep long enough for Orlov to slip behind them and beat Sorokin with a filthy deke.
Appointment viewing this week
Kraken at Oilers | Tuesday, Jan. 17: The Kraken recently completed a perfect seven-game road trip, and the Oilers are coming to town on Tuesday. Edmonton is just trying its best to keep pace with Seattle, and that makes this a big Pacific Division matchup.
Avalanche at Flames | Wednesday, Jan. 18: The Flames are barely hanging onto a playoff spot with the Avalanche hot on their trail, which is a little bit ironic. Neither of these teams is where they expected to be at this point, and both will be scrapping for a playoff spot the rest of the way.
Bruins at Rangers | Thursday, Jan. 19: Would anyone be surprised if this was an Eastern Conference Finals matchup? I would not. Both of these teams are loaded with high-end talent, and they are both getting excellent goaltending. This should be a great game between two Original Six franchises.
Devils at Kraken | Thursday, Jan. 19: Coming into the season, who would have thought the Kraken would be must-watch TV twice in the same week? Insert your Paul Rudd on “Hot Ones” meme here. The Devils have gotten back on track, and the Kraken are arguably the hottest team in the league.
Sharks at Blue Jackets | Saturday, Jan. 21: As the cinematic classic Batman & Robin taught us, some things can be so bad they’re good. That is the case with this game. Bad hockey can be fun hockey when the goaltending and defense disappears, and that could happen in this game between two teams gunning for the No. 1 overall pick.