Another week of the NHL season is officially in the books, and it was filled with an insane amount of action. We’ve been treated to some tremendous hockey in the early goings of 2023-24, and CBS Sports has you covered with our weekly NHL Rewind.
Over the past week, we saw the Anaheim Ducks continue their stellar start with another comeback victory against the Vegas Golden Knights. It turned out to be the first regulation loss on the season for Vegas.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the best highlights and storylines from the past week in the NHL.
Goal of the week: Kris Letang makes it look easy against Sharks
Chemistry is such an integral part of a goal-scoring connection, and we got to see that firsthand when the Pittsburgh Penguins took on the San Jose Sharks on Saturday.
During the second period, Penguins center Sidney Crosby had the puck going in all alone against Sharks netminder Mackenzie Blackwood. Instead of attempting to score a goal for himself, Crosby dropped the puck off for defenseman Kris Letang.
Letang was able to deke Blackwood on the backhand to give the Penguins a commanding 6-1 lead at the time.
It was everything about this play that made it so incredible. First of all, it was almost like Crosby had eyes in the back of his head to be able to dish the puck perfectly to Letang. In addition, Letang’s finish was impressive too as he went forehand to backhand to deposit the puck into the back of the net.
The goal was the first of the year for Letang, who now has a goal and five assists on the season.
Save of the week: Vitek Vanecek sprawls across to rob Tyler Johnson
There have been some pretty ridiculous saves in the opening month of the 2023-24 season. However, New Jersey Devils goaltender Vitek Vanecek may have made one that could rise to the top of the list.
During Sunday’s 4-2 win over the Chicago Blackhawks, it appeared as though the Blackhawks were going to have an easy goal against Vanecek. Blackhawks forward Jason Dickinson had a two-on-one with teammate Tyler Johnson and drew Vanecek over to his glove side. Dickinson then slid the puck across to Johnson, who had a wide-open net to shoot at.
Johnson then corralled the puck and flipped it toward the wide-open net. However, Vanecek somehow was able to slide over and knock the puck away in an unbelievable sequence.
Vanecek finished the game with 32 saves on 34 shots and helped the Devils record their fourth win over their last five games.
Ducks hand Golden Knights their first regulation loss
The Anaheim Ducks have enjoyed quite the start to the 2023-24 season. Last week, the Ducks became the first team to defeat the Boston Bruins this season.
If that wasn’t impressive enough, the Ducks handed the Vegas Golden Knights their first regulation loss of the season in a 4-2 comeback victory.
The Ducks were trailing 2-0 heading into the third period before ripping off four consecutive goals to earn the win. Center Mason McTavish scored what ended up being the game-winning goal with just 3:40 remaining in regulation. McTavish tapped home the puck after Frank Vatrano threw it in front from behind the net.
The Ducks made quite a bit of history with their comeback win over the Golden Knights.
Anaheim became the third team in NHL history to snap an opponent’s point streak of 12+ games by coming back from a multi-goal deficit in the third period. In addition, the Ducks have recorded five comeback victories during their current six-game winning streak, which also included their win over the Bruins.
The Ducks currently have a 7-4-0 record (14 points) and sit in fourth place in a very top-heavy Pacific Division.
Sharks give up 10 goals in two consecutive games
To say it’s been a rough stretch for the San Jose Sharks would be a massive understatement.
On Thursday, the Sharks surrendered 10 goals in a 10-1 loss at the hands of the Vancouver Canucks. In that contest, San Jose gave up 10 goals before Fabian Zetterlund was able to tally a power-play goal to avoid the shutout.
Sharks goalie Kaapo Kahkonen gave up the first six goals of the game and only was able to register 13 saves in the process. Mackenzie Blackwood didn’t fare a whole lot better as he surrendered four more goals before the dust settled.
Just two nights later, the Pittsburgh Penguins dominated the Sharks in a 10-2 win. The Penguins recorded eight goals over the final two periods to help defeat the Sharks in Erik Karlsson’s first game back in San Jose since being traded in the offseason.
This time around, Blackwood surrendered six goals and made just 12 saves before being pulled for Magnus Chrona. Chrona ended up giving up the final four goals and stopped 13 of the 17 shots he faced on the night.
With these two one-sided losses, the Sharks became the first team to surrender 10-plus goals in back-to-back games since the Boston Bruins did so in December 1965.
Auston Matthews, Brayden Point register hat tricks
Saturday turned out to be the day of the hat trick across the NHL. That’s because Toronto Maple Leafs star Auston Matthews and Tampa Bay Lightning standout Brayden Point each registered hat tricks for their respective teams.
Matthews registered three goals in a 6-4 loss to the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday. The Maple Leafs center completed the hat trick just 17 seconds into the third period and became the first NHL player to tally 10 goals this season in the process.
Point also had a spectacular evening on Saturday as he tallied three goals and an assist in a 6-4 win over the Ottawa Senators. The Lightning star finalized the hat trick with a goal at the 9:38 mark of the final period.
Point’s big night also came in the same game where teammate Nikita Kucherov compiled a goal and four assists.
O’Reilly racked up three goals plus an assist and completed his hat trick at the 8:22 mark of the third period. That gives O’Reilly five goals over his last four games.
Last but certainly not least, Niederreiter tallied three goals in a 5-3 Jets win over the Arizona Coyotes on Saturday.
It marked the third hat trick of Niederreiter’s career.
Maple Leafs engineer epic comeback
This is what people want, right? Even more coverage of the Maple Leafs and Lightning, two underserved small-market franchises. Well, guess what? They gave hockey fans plenty to talk about over the last week, and that includes Monday night’s see-saw battle.
In the first period, Matthew Knies got the Maple Leafs on the board first, but the good vibes lasted less than a minute. Victor Hedman tied the game almost immediately, and things spiraled quickly for the Leafs from there. With under five minutes left in the period, Brayden Point notched a power play goal to push Tampa’s lead to 4-1.
That first-period effort got the Maple Leafs some poor reviews from the home crowd in Toronto. The boos could be heard from Ottawa (or were those coming from the Canadian Tire Centre?) as the Leafs hit the locker room. It may seem harsh, but Toronto got the message at intermission.
When the second period began, so did the Maple Leafs’ comeback effort. Auston Matthews scored two goals in the span of about three minutes to pull Toronto within one, and on his second one, he made sure to fire up the Scotiabank Arena crowd.
Trailing by one to start the third, it took all of 1:55 for Calle Jarnkrok to level the game at 4-4.
Maple Leafs fans then had to wait a whole eight seconds for Mitch Marner to give their team the lead. Marner flew to a loose puck in the offensive zone, and he zipped a shot past Bolts goalie Jonas Johansson.
Of course, the Maple Leafs couldn’t make this comeback too easy. With under 2:30 left in the third period, Brandon Hagel found a loose puck behind Joseph Woll and poked it home to send the game to overtime.
In the overtime period, Morgan Rielly got the puck at the top of the circles and faked a shot before sliding a pass to Jarnkrok at the side of the net. The Lighting bit hard on the fake, and Jarnkrok deposited the puck into an empty net to get a huge win for Toronto.
This was an incredible way to start what should be a fun week of hockey. Plus, Maple Leafs fans learned a valuable lesson: booing works.
Appointment viewing this week
Devils at Avalanche | Tuesday, Nov. 7: Hockey does not get much better than this. The Devils and Avalanche are off to strong starts, and there will be star power as far as the eye can see. Nathan MacKinnon. Jack Hughes. Cale Makar. Dougie Hamilton. Mikko Rantanen. Jesper Bratt. The list goes on and on, and that makes this one of the best matchups of the whole season.
Oilers at Sharks | Thursday, Nov. 9: Let’s all just be honest. We’re going to watch this out of morbid curiosity. There’s a possibility that an angry Oilers team hangs a 10-spot on the Sharks. On the other hand, there’s a possibility Edmonton grips its sticks too tightly and San Jose gets its first win of the season. Either way, there is a lot of entertainment value here.
Hurricanes at Lightning | Saturday, Nov. 11: These two teams have been atop the Eastern Conference for several years now, and that will likely be the case again this season. Neither team has gotten off to a perfect start, but this would be a statement win for both sides.
Sabres at Penguins | Saturday, Nov. 11: This should just be a really fun hockey game. The Sabres and Penguins both have some of the best forwards in the game, and there is a chance that this score balloons in a hurry. On top of that, you get to see Pittsburgh’s veteran blue line duo of Kris Letang and Erik Karlsson go against the young tandem of Rasmus Dahlin and Owen Power in Buffalo.
Canucks at Maple Leafs | Saturday, Nov. 11: The Canucks have leaped off the starting block, and they are one of the hottest teams in the NHL. Can they sustain it? That’s the question. This will be an excellent chance for Vancouver to prove itself against a Toronto team already taking some heat.