* Offseason acquisitions helped the Coyotes and Wild continue recent strings of success.
* A familiar face scored the game-winning goal in his return to Columbus, which also welcomed back its former president of hockey operations.
* Eight of nine games contested Thursday were decided by a one-goal margin, including four which required overtime.
COYOTES MOVE INTO FIRST PLACE IN PACIFIC DIVISION STANDINGS
Phil Kessel scored twice to help the Coyotes improve to 17-9-4 (38 points) this season and leapfrog the idle Oilers (17-10-3, 37 points) for first place in the Pacific Division standings. The 2019-20 season marked the second in which the Coyotes/Jets franchise occupied first place in their division through 30 games and first since 1991-92, when Winnipeg sat atop the Smythe Division (15-8-7, 37 points).
* Arizona improved to 10-3-3 (23 points) as visitors in 2019-20 and established a franchise record for fewest games to reach 10 road wins in a season, eclipsing the previous low of 17 set in 2011-12 (10-6-1, 21 points). Phoenix went on to conclude that campaign atop the Pacific Division standings.
ZUCCARELLO HELPS WILD EXTEND DOUBLE-DIGIT POINT STREAK
Mats Zuccarello (1-2—3) led all skaters in scoring to help the Wild extend their point streak to 11 contests (8-0-3), the second-longest in franchise history behind a 13-game run from Dec. 2-29, 2016 (12-0-1). Minnesota, which has earned wins in each of its last five games, improved to 14-11-4 (32 points) and moved into the final Wild Card spot in the Western Conference standings.
* Zuccarello (Oslo, Norway) is the NHL’s all-time leader in regular-season points among Norwegian players (120-251—371 in 536 GP). His 371 career points are the eighth-most among undrafted players born outside North America who debuted after the first NHL Amateur Draft, which took place on June 5, 1963.
* Three players born outside North America who debuted prior to 1963-64 accumulated at least 371 career regular-season points: Stan Mikita (541-926—1,467 in 1,396 GP), Sweeney Schriner (201-206—407 in 484 GP) and Johnny Gottselig (176-196—372 in 591 GP).
AROUND THE RINKS
More highlights from Thursday:
* Artemi Panarin, who played for the Blue Jackets from 2017-18 to 2018-19, scored the game-winning goal in his return to Columbus to help the Rangers improve to 5-1-1 in their last seven contests. The Blue Jackets also recognized former executive John Davidson, who was honored with a video tribute in his return to the Buckeye City for the first time since being named Rangers president.
* Gabriel Landeskog scored at 12:57 of the first period in his return to the lineup as the Avalanche extended their win streak to five games, matching their season high set in campaign-opening fashion from Oct. 3-14. Colorado improved to 18-8-2 (38 points) in 2019-20 and occupies second place in the Central Division standings behind St. Louis (18-6-6, 42 points), which was idle Thursday.
* The Bruins overcame a 3-0 deficit in the third period to keep their season-opening home point streak alive, but Jonathan Toews scored his franchise-record 14th career regular-season overtime goal to lift the Blackhawks past their Original Six rival. Toews became the fourth player in franchise history to score a regular-season overtime goal in Boston and first in over 77 years, when two Chicago skaters did so in the same game.
* Did You Know? A 10-minute overtime without the sudden-death provision was played in regular-season games tied after regulation time from 1928-29 until Nov. 21, 1942.
HEDMAN REACHES 100-GOAL MARK
Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman, the second overall pick in the 2009 NHL Draft, scored his 100th career regular-season goal (100-342—442 in 720 GP).
* Each of the first seven picks from the 2009 NHL Draft have reached the 100-goal mark (also John Tavares, Matt Duchene, Evander Kane, Brayden Schenn, Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Nazem Kadri). The 2009 draft class was the second to witness each of its first seven overall picks become 100-goal scorers, following 1993 (Jason Arnott, Paul Kariya, Chris Gratton, Viktor Kozlov, Rob Niedermayer, Chris Pronger and Alexandre Daigle).
PREVIEW OF TODAY’S ACTION
KESSEL IN PITTSBURGH PART OF “RETURN WEEK” ACROSS NHL
A week of returns across the NHL continues tonight as Coyotes forward Phil Kessel is expected to skate his first game in Pittsburgh since an offseason trade that sent Alex Galchenyuk to the Penguins. Kessel’s return is sandwiched between Artemi Panarin’s first game in Columbus last night and P.K. Subban’s anticipated appearance in Nashville tomorrow (along with the potential of Florida’s Sergei Bobrovsky facing his former club for the first time).
* Kessel scored nearly one-third of his career regular-season goals in a Penguins uniform (110 of 363) and compiled 20-36—56 in 65 postseason games with Pittsburgh to help them win the Stanley Cup in both 2016 and 2017.
* Galchenyuk and the Penguins will put their nine-game home point streak on the line (7-0-2 dating to Oct. 29). Pittsburgh has had 18 double-digit home point streaks in franchise history, with the last coming in 2017-18 (11-0-0 from Jan. 7-Feb. 17, 2018).