Thursday, April 18, 2024
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NHL Rewind: Rangers complete epic Stadium Series comeback, Auston Matthews scores back-to-back hat tricks

Another week of NHL action is behind us, and it was hard to keep up with all the biggest stories. Luckily, the weekly NHL Rewind has you covered with a recap of all the key moments from the last week.

Over the weekend, the big story was the Stadium Series at MetLife Stadium, and it provided one of the best outdoor games in recent memory. The New York Rangers pulled off a furious third-period comeback against their crosstown rivals, the New York Islanders, in which Artemi Panarin played the role of hero.

Speaking of heroes, Auston Matthews just keeps scoring at a scorching pace. Last week, he became the fifth player in NHL history to record a hat trick in consecutive games twice in a single season.

Elsewhere, Connor Bedard made his return after missing six weeks with a fractured jaw, and the Penguins honored franchise legend Jaromir Jagr.

Let’s take a look back at the biggest stories and best highlights from the week that was in the NHL.

Goal of the week: Brandt Clarke dekes Linus Ullmark for dramatic first career goal

The Los Angeles Kings used the No. 8 overall pick in the 2021 draft on Brandt Clarke, hoping he could be the future of their blue line. If Saturday’s win over the Boston Bruins is any indication, the future is here.

With under a minute remaining in overtime, Clarke exited the penalty box and found himself on a breakaway. That’s when Clarke hit the reigning Vezina Trophy winner, Linus Ullmark, with a nasty move that sent him toppling backward.

All Clarke had to do was slide the puck into the cage, and he sent the Kings home with a win.

That was quite a way for Clarke to score his first career goal, and it had to provide him with a confidence boost in just his 18th career game. Not only that, but it gave Los Angeles a crucial two points in the Western Conference standings.

Robbery of the week: Jordan Binnington stonewalls the Oilers‘ power play

The Edmonton Oilers have been red-hot recently, and their power play is among the most lethal in the NHL. Don’t tell that to Jordan Binnington, who single-handedly shut them down in the St. Louis Blues‘ 6-3 win on Thursday night.

In the first period, with the game tied 1-1, Binnington made a series of jaw-dropping saves. First, he used the glove to snatch a goal from Zach Hyman. Just seconds later, Hyman tried a net-front deke, and Binnington slammed the door on that attempt too. All Hyman could do was skate away shaking his head.

Those saves have been commonplace for Binnington, who has really kept the Blues in the playoff race this year. His resurgence has been critical for a St. Louis team that struggles defensively and has been among the worst at controlling five-on-five play.

Rangers top Isles in miraculous Stadium Series comeback

The two-game Stadium Series at MetLife Stadium did not disappoint, especially when it came to Sunday night’s matchup between the New York Rangers and New York Islanders. Just when it looked like the Isles might cruise to a win, the Rangers threw a knockout punch.

In front of 79,690 fans, the Islanders were the better team for the first couple periods, and they took a two-goal lead early in the third period. Alexander Romanov punched home a rebound after Rangers defenseman Ryan Lindgren went down in the corner.

With each passing minute, the situation looked worse and worse for the Rangers, but then they got a power play with under six minutes remaining in regulation. Head coach Peter Laviolette chose to pull Igor Shesterkin for a 5-on-3 power play, and it paid off.

Chris Kreider tipped home a point shot from Artemi Panarin, and the Rangers had life.

Just a couple minutes after Kreider cut the deficit to one, Scott Mayfield tripped Alexis Lafreniere to give the Rangers another man advantage. Once again, they capitalized when Mika Zibanejad beat Ilya Sorokin with a one-timer.

That tying goal fired up MetLife Stadium and sent the game to overtime, but it didn’t take long for the Rangers to complete the comeback. Artemi Panarin forced a turnover just 10 seconds into overtime and scored the game-winner as Sorokin and Noah Dobson went tumbling into the goal.

That was the seventh win in a row for the Rangers, and they maintained their six-point lead over the Carolina Hurricanes in the Metro Division. Meanwhile, that was the 14th overtime loss of the season for the Isles as they lost a little ground in the playoff race.

Auston Matthews spikes hat sales in Toronto

The race for the Rocket Richard Trophy might be over already. Auston Matthews is scoring at a historic pace this season, and he just added a heap of goals to his total this past week.

Matthews’ big week really got started against the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday. With Toronto down 1-0 in the second period, Matthews went to work and quickly gave his team a two-goal cushion. He got on the board with a rocket of a shot off the rush that showed off his powerful release.

Just a few minutes later, Matthews ripped a one-time from the right circle on the power play, and the puck blew right past Samuel Ersson.

Less than five minutes after that second goal, Matthews wired a laser beam over Ersson’s shoulder from the high slot. That completed a natural hat trick in less than eight minutes of game time.

The Leafs went on to win that game in overtime, thanks to a game-winner from William Nylander.

Two nights later, Matthews continued his scoring bonanza against an Anaheim Ducks team that was ripe for the picking. Matthews got the scoring started in the first period, and he notched his second just 50 seconds into the second period to make it 5-1 in favor of Toronto.

Around five minutes after getting his second, Matthews punched home a rebound for his second consecutive hat trick. Once again, the hats hit the ice in Scotiabank Arena. Well, as long as fans had another hat to waste after Thursday night.

Matthews is now the fifth player in NHL history to score a hat trick in consecutive games twice in the same season, joining Reg Noble, Joe Malone, Mike Bossy and Wayne Gretzky. He is also on pace to score a whopping 75 goals in 2023-24, which would be the most since Alexander Mogilny and Teemu Selanne scored 76 in 1992-93.

Connor Bedard returns to action

After missing over a month with a fractured jaw, rookie sensation Connor Bedard returned to action against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Thursday. He immediately resumed his Calder Trophy campaign, and he assisted on a second-period goal by Philipp Kurashev.

Chicago lost that game, but Bedard came back and continued to put up numbers against the Ottawa Senators on Saturday. Bedard assisted on Nick Foligno’s goal that gave the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead in the first, and he scored his first goal since the injury when he powered one through the wickets of Joonas Korpisalo in the second frame.

Bedard’s absence not only made Chicao flat out unwatchable, but it also narrowed his lead in the Calder Trophy race. With three points in his first two games back, Bedard has picked up right where he left off, and he’s up to 36 points in 41 games.

Penguins retire Jaromir Jagr’s No. 68

Things have not been going well for the Pittsburgh Penguins lately, but they did get to have some fun before their game against the Los Angeles Kings on Sunday. The Penguins honored franchise legend Jaromir Jagr by retiring his No. 68 and letting him participate in warmups with the team.

Jagr took the ice with the Pens in their pregame warmup, and every member of the team wore No. 68 and a fake mullet. It was a special moment that allowed fans to see current legends like Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin alongside Crosby on the ice.

Right before puck drop, Pittsburgh honored Jagr with a jersey retirement ceremony. Jagr addressed the crowd with a speech of his own before watching his jersey make its way up to the rafters.

Once the game began, the Penguins got off to a good start when Crosby scored a rare power play goal to give his side the lead.

Unfortunately for Pittsburgh, the Kings spoiled the celebration from there. Los Angeles shut down the Pens the rest of the way, and a late short-handed goal from Adrian Kempe sealed the win.

Appointment viewing this week

Canucks at Avalanche | Tuesday, Feb. 20: This could definitely be a playoff preview in the Western Conference. The Canucks are well-positioned with the addition of Elias Lindholm last month, and look to be a real threat to make a Stanley Cup run. Meanwhile, the Avalanche have dropped five of their last seven games and are in need of a marquee win.

Bruins at Oilers | Wednesday, Feb. 21: The Oilers drug themselves into the playoff picture, and have been one of the more impressive stories across the league. On the other hand, the Bruins had a stranglehold on the Atlantic Division a short time ago, but have been overtaken by the Panthers. With four losses in their last five games, Boston needs a win in the worst way.

Panthers at Hurricanes | Thursday, Feb. 22: The Panthers are on fire as they’ve won five consecutive games and truly look capable of embarking on another Stanley Cup run. Meanwhile, the Hurricanes are attempting to catch the Rangers in the Metropolitan Division standings and are playing some of their best hockey of the season.

Bruins at Canucks | Saturday, Feb. 24: This truly could be a Stanley Cup Final preview. As was mentioned above, the Canucks are absolutely loaded, but the question will be: are they ready for the big moment? Facing off against the Bruins will be a great test as the playoffs approach.

Flyers at Penguins | Sunday, Feb. 25: Regardless of where the Flyers and Penguins ever are in the standings, the Battle of Pennsylvania is always must-see TV. The Penguins are fighting for their playoff lives, while the Flyers have been one of the biggest surprises. These division games are so important at this stage of the season.

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