* Powered by a five-point effort from Mark Stone, Vegas erupted for a season-high seven goals to help Marc-Andre Fleury move into sole possession of fifth place on the NHL’s all-time regular-season wins list.
* Defensemen Cale Makar and Quinn Hughes became the first rookies to reach 40 points this season, while two-time Art Ross Trophy winner Connor McDavid joined teammate Leon Draisaitl in the 80-point club.
* The Predators and Jets earned key wins over higher-seeded clubs to move within one point of the final Wild Card spot in the Western Conference standings.
FLEURY PASSES LUNDQVIST FOR FIFTH PLACE ON NHL’S ALL-TIME WINS LIST
Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury made 23 saves to earn the 460th regular-season win of his NHL career and pass longtime rival Henrik Lundqvist (459) for sole possession of fifth place on the League’s all-time list. Prior to Thursday, the last time Fleury led Lundqvist in career victories was entering play on Oct. 27, 2005 when the former had four (4-15-3) and the latter had three (3-1-2).
* Four of the five winningest goaltenders in NHL history are now Quebec-born, with Fleury (Sorel, Que.) joining Martin Brodeur (Montreal, Que.), Patrick Roy (Quebec City, Que.) and Roberto Luongo (Montreal, Que.).
* Fleury denied Panthers forward Brett Connolly on a second-period penalty-shot attempt. It marked his 20th career penalty-shot save in the regular season, moving Fleury past Ryan Miller (19) for sole possession of the second-most in NHL history – trailing only Luongo (29).
* Mark Stone (2-3—5) factored on five of seven tallies to reach the 20-goal mark for a sixth straight season (20-33—53 in 56 GP). He matched a single-game career high for points, a mark set on Feb. 18, 2017 (1-4—5 at TOR) and equaled Nov. 6, 2018 (2-3—5 vs. NJD) as well as in Game 3 of the 2019 First Round (3-2—5 at SJS).
* Vegas improved to 28-21-7 (63 points) this season and leapfrogged Edmonton (28-20-6, 62 points) for second place in the tightly-contested Pacific Division standings, where positions Nos. 1-5 are separated by just five points.
MAKAR, HUGHES FIRST ROOKIES TO 40 POINTS THIS SEASON . . .
Avalanche defenseman Cale Makar (12-28—40 in 44 GP) and Canucks blueliner Quinn Hughes (8-32—40 in 54 GP) each found the score sheet at least once Thursday and became the first rookies to reach the 40-point mark this season.
* Makar and Hughes, who opened a five-point lead on the next-closest player in the 2019-20 rookie scoring race (Victor Olofsson: 16-19—35 in 42 GP), both played two seasons in the NCAA before reaching the NHL – with the former skating for UMass Amherst and the latter appearing with the University of Michigan.
* Only six skaters in the NHL’s expansion era (since 1967-68) have concluded a regular season leading all rookies in points after taking the NCAA route (outright or tied): Joe Nieuwendyk in 1987-88 (51-41—92 in 75 GP), Brian Leetch in 1988-89 (23-48—71 in 68 GP), Tony Amonte in 1991-92 (35-34—69 in 79 GP), Mike Johnson in 1997-98 (15-32—47 in 82 GP), Dany Heatley in 2001-02 (26-41—67 in 82 GP) and Johnny Gaudreau in 2014-15 (24-40—64 in 80 GP). Leetch, who played for Boston College in 1986-87, is the only defenseman among that cohort.
* The Avalanche (30-16-6, 66 points) improved to 5-1-0 in their last six games with just over a week until they face the Kings outdoors in the 2020 Navy Federal Credit Union NHL Stadium Series at the U.S. Air Force Academy’s Falcon Stadium in Colorado Springs, Colo. Colorado moved past Dallas (30-18-5, 65 points) for second place in the Central Division standings – trailing only Western Conference-leading St. Louis (32-15-8, 72 points) for first.
. . . WHILE McDAVID JOINS DRAISAITL IN 80-POINT CLUB
Oilers captain Connor McDavid scored and became the second player to reach the 80-point mark this season (30-50—80 in 54 GP), joining teammate Leon Draisaitl (29-54—83 in 54 GP). Edmonton features multiple players each with 80-plus points at this stage of a season (through 54 GP) for the fifth time in franchise history and first since 1985-86 (Wayne Gretzky, Paul Coffey and Jari Kurri).
VASILEVSKIY, LIGHTNING EXTEND STREAKS
Lightning goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy (29 saves) improved to 15-0-2 in his last 17 appearances dating to Dec. 17, 2019 (2.09 GAA, .930 SV%, 2 SO) and established a franchise record for longest point streak by a goaltender, eclipsing the mark of 16 games set by fellow countryman Nikolai Khabibulin from Feb. 15 – April 2, 2003 (12-0-4).
* Vasilevskiy became the ninth different goaltender on any team over the last 40 years (since 1979-80) to record at least one point in 17 or more consecutive appearances within a regular season.
* Vasilevskiy also owns the longest point streak in NHL history by a Russian goaltender, besting Khabibulin’s aforementioned run and Sergei Bobrovsky’s 16 straight appearances without a regulation loss with Columbus from Nov. 25, 2016 – Jan. 3, 2017 (15-0-1).
* Tampa Bay (34-15-5, 73 points), which occupies second place in the Atlantic Division standings, improved to 8-0-0 in its last eight games at AMALIE Arena dating to Dec. 23, 2019 – the second-longest active home win streak in the NHL behind Vancouver (9-0-0 dating to Dec. 19, 2019). The Lightning moved within two victories of matching their longest home win streak in franchise history, a mark set from Dec. 11, 2014 – Jan. 31, 2015 (10-0-0).
OTHER CENTRAL DIVISION TEAMS PICK UP KEY WINS
The Predators (26-20-7, 59 points) and Jets (27-23-5, 59 points) each picked up key wins to move within one point of the Flames (27-22-6, 60 points), who occupy the final Wild Card spot in the Western Conference standings.
* Roman Josi (0-2—2) eclipsed 400 career regular-season points (107-294—401 in 616 GP) as Nashville defeated Calgary at Scotiabank Saddledome. Josi, who paces all Predators players in scoring this season (14-39—53 in 53 GP), became the second defenseman to record as many points with the franchise – joining Shea Weber (166-277—443 in 763 GP).
* Patrik Laine scored to reach 20 tallies on the season (20-28—48 in 53 GP) and 130 regular-season goals in his NHL career (130-102—232 in 290 GP), the ninth-most in League history by a player before turning 22. Winnipeg (27-23-5, 59 points) snapped St. Louis’ home point streak at 11 games (10-0-1) and kept pace with Nashville, which it is set to face one more time this season (March 24 at NSH).
MORE HIGHLIGHTS FROM A 12-GAME THURSDAY
* Islanders forward Kieffer Bellows, who collected an assist in his NHL debut on Tuesday, scored the first two goals of his NHL career and became the first New York player to find the score sheet in each of his first two career regular-season games since Anders Lee from April 2-6, 2013 (1-1—2 in 2 GP). The Islanders (31-15-6, 68 points) occupy third in the Metropolitan Division standings and moved within three points of the second-place Penguins (33-15-5, 71 points).
* Andrei Svechnikov and Sebastian Aho each posted 2-1—3 to help the Hurricanes (31-20-3, 65 points) move into the final Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference standings. Svechnikov scored his 41st and 42nd career regular-season goals (42-45—87 in 136 GP) to move within five of matching Ron Francis (47-95—142 in 122 GP) for the third-most by a teenager in Hurricanes/Whalers franchise history.
* The Ducks erased deficits of 1-0 and 2-1, but Jeff Petry (1-1—2) scored 25 seconds into overtime as the Canadiens improved to 26-23-7 (59 points) and remained six points back of the Hurricanes. Petry scored his third career regular-season overtime goal with Montreal and moved into a tie with Sheldon Souray and Andrei Markov for the second-most in franchise history among defensemen – trailing only P.K. Subban (4).
* Mackenzie Blackwood turned aside all 46 shots he faced as the Devils blanked the Flyers – their fifth consecutive game with at least one point (2-0-3). Blackwood became the second goaltender in Devils/Rockies/Scouts history to record at least 46 saves in a shutout, joining franchise icon and NHL legend Martin Brodeur on Jan. 12, 2010 (51).
PREVIEW OF TODAY’S ACTION
STREAKING BLUE JACKETS, MERZLIKINS HOST RED WINGS AT NATIONWIDE ARENA
The Blue Jackets (29-16-9, 67 points), who are 8-0-1 in their last nine games dating to Jan. 11, look to extend their point streak and reclaim third place in the Metropolitan Division standings when they welcome the Red Wings (13-38-4, 30 points) to Nationwide Arena. Columbus can record its second double-digit point streak of the season, following a 12-game run from Dec. 9, 2019 – Jan. 2, 2020 (8-0-4).
* Elvis Merzlikins is 7-0-0 in his last seven appearances dating to Jan. 11 (1.14 GAA, .965 SV%, 4 SO), the longest win streak by a rookie goaltender in franchise history and tied for the lengthiest by any rookie netminder this season (w/ Ilya Samsonov). Two rookies posted win streaks of at least eight games in 2018-19: St. Louis’ Jordan Binnington from Jan. 23 – Feb. 10, 2019 (9-0-0) and Philadelphia’s Carter Hart from Jan. 14 – Feb. 9, 2019 (8-0-0).
* Binnington, a catalyst for the Blues’ historic turnaround last season, went 10-1-1 through his first 12 appearances since Jan. 1, 2019 (1.66 GAA, .934 SV%, 2 SO). Merzlikins has posted a nearly identical record since New Year’s Day this season, going 10-2-0 through 12 games while owning the upper hand on save percentage and shutouts (1.68 GAA, .949 SV%, 4 SO).
* The Blue Jackets have allowed a League-low 135 goals against this season, including just 11 during their nine-game point streak (1.22 GA/GP). Merzlikins can become the seventh rookie to capture the William M. Jennings Trophy since its inception in the early 1980s, joining Rick Wamsley in 1981-82 (w/ MTL), Darren Jensen in 1985-86 (w/ PHI), Ed Belfour in 1990-91 (w/ CHI), Mike Dunham in 1996-97 (w/ NJD), Cory Schneider in 2010-11 (w/ VAN) and John Gibson in 2015-16 (w/ ANA).