Sunday, April 14, 2024
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NHL Rewind: Flyers’ John Tortorella blows up after ejection, Oilers’ Connor McDavid hits 100 points again

Another week of NHL action is in the rearview mirror, and there was almost too much hockey to keep up with. Luckily, the weekly NHL Rewind has you covered with all the can’t-miss moments of the last seven days.

Philadelphia Flyers coach John Tortorella was the talk of the hockey world Saturday when he had an epic blow-up, even by his standards. Tortorella got ejected after giving the officials an earful, but he refused to leave the bench. That earned Tortorella a suspension and created one of the more viral moments from this season.

Elsewhere, Minnesota Wild coach John Hynes took a calculated risk in overtime to keep his team in the playoff race, and it paid off. Plus, Connor McDavid joined some elite company by reaching 100 points for the fourth consecutive season.

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

Goal of the week: Kotkaniemi picks his spot from range

The NHL has some elite marksmen, but Jesperi Kotkaniemi may have outdone them all with his goal against the New Jersey Devils on Saturday. He picked his spot from distance and from a bad angle to score a key goal in the 4-2 win.

Early in the third period, with the score tied 1-1, Kotkaniemi got the puck in the left corner. Rather than turning and sliding a pass up to the blue line, Kotkaniemi decided to put a shot on goal, and it was one of the best shots of his career.

Kotkaniemi fired a shot right past the ear of Nico Daws with the puck hitting the far post, kicking off Daws’ back and into the net.

That goal was Kotkaniemi’s 11th of the season, and it helped keep the Hurricanes rolling. Kotkaniemi may not be known for his goal-scoring ability, but he just potted one of the best tallies of the 2023-24 campaign.

Robbery of the week: Fleury kicks out his toe to steal one from Sherwood

Marc-Andre Fleury hasn’t had the easiest season, but he still has some magic up his pads. That was on full display in the second period of the Minnesota Wild’s win over the Nashville Predators.

Nashville was leading 2-1 and looking for a two-goal lead when Mark Jankowski’s made a wraparound attempt across the slot to Kiefer Sherwood. Fleury’s head was turned the other way when Sherwood punched the puck toward the net.

Instinctively, Fleury kicked out his left leg and kept the puck out with his skate. It was a brilliant save that kept Minnesota within striking distance in a pivotal game.

That stop wound up being the difference for the Wild, who won in overtime. Fleury is a living legend, and he is doing everything in his power to keep his team in the playoff race.

John Tortorella ain’t leaving (the bench)

Flyers coach John Tortorella is known for being somewhat of a hot head, but he has shown fairly impressive restraint throughout the 2023-34 season. At least, he had shown excellent restraint until his epic blow-up on the officials during Saturday’s game against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

The Lightning scored four goals in the first 10:49 of the game, and two of them came on the power play. After the fourth goal, and second power-play tally, Tortorella lost it on the officials.

After giving the referees a piece of his mind, Tortorella earned an ejection from Wes McCauley, but that wasn’t the end of it. Tortorella continued to share a few choice words with the officials, and he refused to leave the bench after the ejection. Once Tortorella had gotten his money’s worth, and the Lightning alumni in the suite loved the show, he finally went back to the locker room.

The Flyers didn’t get much inspiration from Tortorella’s explosion. They went on to lose 7-0, but the news got even worse for Torts on Sunday: The NHL announced he had been suspended two games as a result of his antics.

Wild keep playoff hopes alive with bold move in OT

The Wild need every point they can get their hands on to make the playoffs, so head coach John Hynes rolled the dice in overtime. It was a huge gamble that could have easily backfired, but he may have started a trend we’ll see down the stretch as teams scratch and claw for a playoff spot.

Once the Wild got possession, they pulled goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury to make it 4-on-3 in the extra frame. Minnesota was able to successfully enter the Predators’ zone, and the quartet on the ice executed perfectly.

Mats Zuccarello waited for an opening, and he fired a pass across the slot to Matt Boldy, who didn’t miss his chance to win the game. Boldy ripped a one-timer past Juuse Saros to reward Hynes for his worthwhile risk.

Now, Minnesota is six points behind the Vegas Golden Knights for the second wild card spot, and the team still has an uphill battle to reach the postseason. If the Wild find themselves in more overtime situations down the stretch, we might see Hynes pull the goalie again.

Connor McDavid hits 100 points again

Hitting the century mark in the modern NHL is quite the accomplishment, but you wouldn’t realize that from looking at Connor McDavid’s career stats. On Thursday, McDavid tallied an assist in the Oilers‘ 4-2 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets, and that put him in the 100-point club yet again.

The play itself wasn’t the prettiest of McDavid’s career, but they all count the same on the scoresheet. Leon Draisaitl’s initial pass kicked off the skate of McDavid and onto the stick of Zach Hyman, who tapped home an easy goal.

This is now the seventh time in McDavid’s career he has reached 100 points. It’s also the fourth consecutive season in whih McDavid has eclipsed that mark, putting him in some elite company.

The last two players to score 100 points in at least four straight seasons were Brett Hull and Steve Yzerman. Those two accomplished the feat in 1992-93, and something tells me this is far from the last time McDavid will hit the century mark.

Appointment viewing this week

Rangers at Hurricanes | Tuesday, March 12: The Hurricanes don’t have the services of Jake Guentzel just yet, but he’s expected to make his Carolina debut in the very near future. Regardless, this is a matchup full of postseason implications with the Hurricanes just a few points behind the Rangers for first place in the Metropolitan Division.

Avalanche at Canucks | Wednesday, March 13: After adding substantial talent in Casey Mittelstadt and Sean Walker at the deadline, the Avalanche are ready for a potential Stanley Cup run. This certainly could be a potential playoff preview as both teams continue to try and get a leg up in the Stanley Cup Playoff race.

Panthers at Hurricanes | Thursday, March 14: The Panthers have been one of the league’s hottest teams since the All-Star break as they’ve only dropped three games since then. Florida looks primed for another deep playoff run, and facing off against the Hurricanes will be a nice regular-season test.

Wild at Blues | Saturday, March 16: It’s going to be an uphill battle, but the Wild and Blues are still in position to push for a wild card spot in the West. The Wild are just six points behind the Golden Knights for the final Western Conference playoff spot right now, so this is an extremely important contest.

Islanders at Rangers | Sunday, March 17: The wild card race in the East is highly contested right now. The Islanders recently overtook the Red Wings for the second spot, but four teams are currently separated by just five points. This is the type of game the Islanders are going to need to win if they want to reach the postseason in new head coach Patrick Roy’s first season behind the bench.

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