Wednesday, February 28, 2024
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NHL Rewind: Oilers win 16th consecutive game, Patrik Laine enters NHL/NHLPA player assistance program

Another week has come and gone in the NHL, and there’s so much to get to. Luckily, we’ve got you covered with the weekly NHL Rewind.

The biggest story in the NHL ranks has been the Edmonton Oilers‘ historic winning streak. The Oilers won their 16th consecutive game with a 4-1 triumph against the Nashville Predators on Saturday. Now, the Oilers are off until after the All-Star break this coming weekend.

Additionally, Columbus Blue Jackets winger Patrik Laine entered the NHL/NHLPA player assistance program on Sunday. Laine will now be away from the team indefinitely as he deals with his mental health.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the biggest stories and highlights from the previous week in the NHL.

Goal of the week: Dmitry Orlov roofs sensational game-winner

Carolina Hurricanes defenseman Dmitry Orlov pulled one impressive tally in the late stages of Saturday’s game against the Arizona Coyotes.

After securing the loose puck, teammate Jack Drury dropped the puck off to Orlov around the face-off circle. Orlov then ripped a side-angle shot that glanced off the post before going into the back of the net.

Orlov’s goal broke a 1-1 tie with the Coyotes in the third period. The Hurricanes added another goal thanks to a Jesper Fast tally just 13 seconds later to secure a 3-1 victory.

Robbery of the week: Ilya Samsonov thwarts Jets‘ two-on-zero opportunity

Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender Ilya Samsonov may have delivered one of the top save sequences of the entire 2023-24 season.

During Satuday’s 4-2 win against the Winnipeg Jets, the Jets had a two-on-zero opportunity against Samsonov. Jets center Morgan Barron and captain Adam Lowry were all alone against Samsonov, and they engaged in some quick passing back-and-forth before each player fired the puck on net. However, Samsonov was able to stack the pads on both shots, and the Jets came away with nothing on the play.

It was astounding Samsonov was all by himself for several seconds and managed to make multiple saves on the play before the Maple Leafs got the puck out of the zone.

Oilers win 16th consecutive game

There is no team across the NHL hotter than the Edmonton Oilers, as they defeated the Nashville Predators 4-1 on Saturday to win their 16th consecutive game.

The Oilers are now off until after the All-Star break and are just one game away from tying the league record for most consecutive wins (17), which was set by the 1992-93 Pittsburgh Penguins. Edmonton is currently tied with the 2016-17 Columbus Blue Jackets for the second-longest winning streak in NHL history.

Star forward Connor McDavid paced the Oilers with a goal and three assists against the Predators. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Leon Draisaitl and McDavid scored the game’s opening three goals to allow the Oilers a comfortable advantage in this contest.

“It’s exciting, obviously it’s a great run, obviously the goalies have played great,” McDavid said following Saturday’s win. “This past week wasn’t our best hockey and we found a way to get three wins, which is a great sign. We’ve gotten great goaltending, the back end has been good, the kill has been amazing, those are all good things.”

Colton Sissons did get the Predators on the board at the 13:25 mark of the third period. Oilers goaltender Stuart Skinner has won 19 of his last 21 starts, and he has a 1.33 goals-against-average during the month of January.

The Oilers will attempt to tie the Penguins’ record when they face the Vegas Golden Knights on Feb. 6.

Patrik Laine enters NHL/NHLPA player assistance program

Columbus Blue Jackets forward Patrik Laine entered the NHL/NHLPA player assistance program over the weekend, per an announcement from the league. As a result, Laine will be away from the Blue Jackets indefinitely as he receives care from the program.

Laine can return to the Blue Jackets once he’s cleared by the program’s administrators.

“Patrik has our complete support, and our sole concern is his well-being,” Blue Jackets general manager and alternate governor Jarmo Kekalainen said in a statement. “Out of respect for Patrik, we will have no further comment.”

Following the announcement, Laine posted a statement on his Instagram story in which he thanked the team, league and fans for their “understanding and support.”

“After careful consideration and discussions with my support network and the team, I have recognized the importance of prioritizing my mental health and well-being,” Laine wrote in the statement. “Hockey has been my passion and my life, but I have come to realize that in order too perform at my best, I need to take this time to focus on myself.”

“I am grateful for the understanding and support of my team, the league, and our fans during this time,” he added.

Laine has been out of the lineup since he suffered a fractured clavicle last month. Laine has scored six goals and recorded three assists in just 18 games during the 2023-24 season.

Laine was originally selected with the No. 2 pick in the 2016 NHL Draft by the Winnipeg Jets. He is currently in his third season with the Blue Jackets after the Jets traded him back in 2021.

Laine became the third NHL player to utilize the player assistance program this season. Colorado Avalanche defenseman Samuel Girard was placed in the program in November after detailing his issues with alcohol abuse and depression, and he missed a month of action. Avalanche forward Valeri Nichushkin also joined the program earlier this month.

MacKinnon, Kucherov light up scoreboard as Art Ross Trophy race intensifies

Nathan MacKinnon and Nikita Kucherov are both firmly in the Hart Trophy discussion these days, but they are also in a two-player race for the Art Ross Trophy as the NHL’s leading scorer. Kucherov holds a narrow one-point lead, 85-84, at the All-Star break, but those two really cranked up the intensity last week.

On Tuesday, Kucherov netted a hat trick in the Tampa Bay Lightning’s win against the Philadelphia Flyers in a four-point effort for him. Lightning coach Jon Cooper made sure Kucherov was on the ice late in the game for the empty-net attempt, and Kucherov did not miss his chance.

The very next night, the Colorado Avalanche were hosting the Washington Capitals, and MacKinnon decided to one-up Kucherov. Before the game even hit the halfway point, MacKinnon had the hats flying in Denver.

Not satisfied with just three goals, MacKinnon notched his fourth in the third period. That put a feather on a five-point game for him against the Caps.

In the two games following his hat trick against the Flyers, Kucherov added five points to his total with a goal and four assists. In the Avs’ lone game after their win over the Capitals, MacKinnon notched a goal and an assist against the Kings. Once the regular season resumes in full next week, these two will be appointment television as they try to keep pace with one another every single night.

Appointment viewing this week

Kings at Predators | Wednesday, Jan. 31: With the Kings sliding backward lately, it looks like these two teams might be battling for wild card spots in the Western Conference throughout the second half of the season. There will be a huge two points up for grabs in Nashville on Wednesday night.

NHL All-Star Skills Competition | Friday, Feb. 2: The skills competition will be modified this season, with just 12 players competing. That should make things run more smoothly, and the players will be battling hard because the winner will get $1 million. This should be a fun new experiment in Toronto.

NHL All-Star Game | Saturday, Feb. 3: The NHL Player Draft is back, which means the divisional teams are out the window. The best players in the world will go head-to-head in a three-on-three tournament, and the celebrity co-captains will try to will their teams to victory.

Islanders at Maple Leafs | Monday, Feb. 5: The Maple Leafs are on much more solid playoff footing than the Islanders, but both teams are fighting for wild card spots. Toronto and New York will kick off the home stretch of the 2023-24 season with a key tilt.

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