Canadiens legend Henri Richard, who won an NHL-record 11 Stanley Cup championships as a player throughout a 20-season career spent entirely with Montreal, passed away on Friday at age 84. Affectionately known as ‘Pocket Rocket’ and the younger brother of Maurice ‘Rocket’ Richard, he ranks third on the Canadiens all-time points list with 358-688—1,046 in 1,258 regular-season games.
THREE HARD LAPS
* Patrik Laine and Kyle Connor each scored as the Jets blanked the Golden Knights and moved past the idle Wild for the final Wild Card spot in the Western Conference.
* Vancouver scored six-plus goals in a game for a League-leading 10th time to withstand Nathan MacKinnon’s 90th point and halt Colorado’s nine-game road win streak.
* Roberto Luongo, the Panthers all-time leader among goaltenders in games played (572), wins (230) and shutouts (38), will become the first player to have his number retired by the franchise when his No. 1 is raised to the rafters of BB&T Center.
JETS SOAR AT BELL MTS PLACE AND CLIMB BACK INTO PLAYOFF PICTURE
Patrik Laine and Kyle Connor each scored, while Connor Hellebuyck (29 saves) registered his League-leading sixth shutout of the season as the Jets (35-28-6, 76 points) secured their fifth straight home win. Winnipeg moved past idle Minnesota (34-26-7, 75 points) for the final Wild Card position in the Western Conference.
* Laine (21 years, 322 days) found the back of the net for the first time since Feb. 22 (at PHI) and registered his third career season with at least 60 points (also 2016-17 and 2017-18). Only one active NHL player has recorded more 60-point seasons than Laine at the age of 21 or younger (age at time of 60th point).
* Connor (36-35—71 in 69 GP), on pace to become the fifth different Jets player to record 40 or more goals in a single season, extended the League’s longest active goal streak to five games. He trails only Patrick Kane (Nov. 7-17, 2019), Max Domi (Dec. 19-31, 2019) Sebastian Aho (Jan. 31 – Feb. 11) and Mika Zibanejad (Feb. 16-27) – all with six – for longest such run in 2019-20.
* Hellebuyck matched a single-season career high for shutouts after originally posting six such performances in 2017-18. Already the Jets/Thrashers leader in shutouts, Hellebuyck also stands atop the franchise lead in goals against average (2.64) and save percentage (.917) – among goaltenders to appear in at least 100 regular-season contests.
VANCOUVER WITHSTANDS MacKINNON, HALTS COLORADO’S ROAD STREAK
After J.T. Miller (1-1—2) helped Vancouver build an early lead and Nathan MacKinnon’s 90th point (0-2—2) helped Colorado rally, the Canucks (35-26-6, 76 points) scored three unanswered goals to halt the Avalanche’s nine-game road win streak and reclaim the first Wild Card spot in the Western Conference.
* The Canucks improved to 21-8-4 at Rogers Arena in 2019-20 and have scored six or more goals in seven home games – tied with the Penguins for the most among all teams this season. In fact, their 10 total contests with as many tallies pace the League (excluding shootout-deciding goals).
* Miller, acquired by Vancouver on June 22, leads the club with 27-44—71 this season and became the fourth player in Canucks history to record 70 or more points in his first season with the franchise, joining Alexander Mogilny (55-52—107 in 1995-96), Greg Adams (36-40—76 in 1987-88) and Barry Pederson (24-52—76 in 1986-87).
* Additionally, Miller – who collected his 20th multi-point game of the season and second in a span of three contests – is just one of two players to register at least 70 points in his first campaign with a club in 2019-20, joining Rangers forward Artemi Panarin (32-61—93 in 66 GP).
* Meanwhile, the 2019-20 campaign marked the third straight season MacKinnon reached the 90-point mark after registering a career-high 99 points in 2018-19 (41-58—99). He joined Michel Goulet (6), Peter Stastny (6) and Joe Sakic (5) as just the fourth player in Avalanche/Nordiques history to notch at least three consecutive seasons with 90-plus points.
FLAMES INCH CLOSER TO PACIFIC DIVISION LEAD
Matthew Tkachuk (0-3—3) factored on all three Calgary goals to boost his team-leading totals to 22-38—60 and propel the Flames (36-26-7, 79 points) to their third straight win. Calgary moved within three points of Vegas (37-24-8, 82 points) for the Pacific Division lead and one of idle Edmonton (36-24-8, 80 points) for second.
* Tkachuk, the sixth overall pick in the 2016 NHL Draft, recorded his 15th career game with three-plus points and sixth this season. Tkachuk trails only Auston Matthews (22) and Patrik Laine (17) for the most such outings among players selected from his draft class.
PREVIEW OF TODAY’S ACTION
PANTHERS TO RETIRE LUONGO’S NO. 1
Roberto Luongo, the Panthers all-time leader among goaltenders in games played (572), wins (230) and shutouts (38), will become the first player to have his number retired by the franchise when his No. 1 is raised to the rafters of BB&T Center prior to their game against the Canadiens. Florida has previously retired two numbers to recognize club executives – No. 37 for H. Wayne Huizenga (Owner: 1993-01) and No. 93 for William A. Torrey (President/Governor/Alternate Governor: 1993-18).
* Florida will become the seventh franchise to retire the No. 1 for a player, joining Chicago (Glenn Hall), Detroit (Terry Sawchuk), Montreal (Jacques Plante), NY Rangers (Ed Giacomin), Philadelphia (Bernie Parent) and Toronto (Turk Broda & Johnny Bower).
* A fan-favorite with multiple franchises, Luongo is the only goaltender in NHL history to hold the wins record for two clubs, with at least 100 victories for each – pacing the Canucks (252) and Panthers (230). Overall, Luongo is one of three goaltenders in League history to currently sit atop the all-time wins list for multiple franchises (regardless of win counts). The others are Marc-Andre Fleury (Penguins and Golden Knights) and Roy Worters, who set club records while playing with the now-defunct New York Americans/Brooklyn Americans (120) and Pittsburgh Pirates/Philadelphia Quakers (53) franchises (includes regular season and playoffs).
* Luongo, who was born in Montreal, Que., owned a 17-15-7 record in 40 career appearances against his hometown team with a 2.39 goals-against average, .924 save percentage and four shutouts. Overall, he ranks third on the NHL’s all-time wins list with 489, behind another pair of Quebec natives: Martin Brodeur (691) and Patrick Roy (551).
PASTRNAK, OVECHKIN CONTINUE TO CHASE 50TH GOAL
David Pastrnak (47-46—93) and Alex Ovechkin (47-18—65), tied atop the League’s Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy race, continue their chase for their 50th goals of the season as the Bruins (43-13-12, 98 points) and Capitals (40-20-7, 87 points) take to the ice.
* Pastrnak stands three goals shy of becoming the sixth different player in Bruins history to score 50 goals in a season and first since Cam Neely (50-24—74 in 1993-94) did so 26 years ago. In fact, Pastrnak (23 years, 287 days) would also become the youngest Bruins skater to accomplish the feat.
* Pastrnak, who looks to become the fifth different player in Bruins history to finish a season as the NHL’s goals leader and first since Phil Esposito in 1974-75, can join Ovechkin (3x: 2005-06, 2007-08 and 2008-09), Steven Stamkos (2x: 2011-12 and 2009-10), Leon Draisaitl (2018-19), Sidney Crosby (2009-10) and Ilya Kovalchuk (2005-06) as the sixth active player to register a 50-goal season at age 23 or younger.
* Ovechkin (47-18—65 in 66 GP), already with a League-leading four hat tricks this season (tied), sits three goals shy of recording his ninth career 50-goal season. Should he reach the mark in 2019-20, the Capitals captain would tie Mike Bossy and Wayne Gretzky for the most by any player in NHL history.
* Additionally, a 50-goal campaign would also continue to propel Ovechkin (705-571—1,276) up the League’s all-time goals list and into a tie with Mike Gartner (708) for seventh all time.
FLYERS, WILD AIM TO EXTEND STREAKS, CONTINUE PLAYOFF PUSHES
The Flyers (40-20-7, 87 points) and Wild (34-26-7, 75 points) put their respective win streaks on the line Saturday as the NHL’s push to the playoffs continues to intensify.
* Philadelphia, with wins in each of its last eight contests dating to Feb. 18, looks to capture nine consecutive victories for just the third time in the last 30 years after previously doing so in 2016-17 (10-0-0) and 1994-95 (9-0-0). The Flyers set their sights on finishing atop the division for the first time since the NHL realigned ahead of the 2013-14 campaign. Additionally, Philadelphia aims to finish first in their respective cohort for the first time since it led the Atlantic Division in 2010-11 (47-23-12, 106 points).
* Minnesota, in the hunt for its seventh playoff berth in eight seasons, aims to win seven consecutive road games for the fourth time in franchise history (also 12-0-0 in 2014-15, 7-0-0 in 2016-17 and 2011-12). The Wild sit one point behind the Jets for the Western Conference’s final Wild Card spot and are one of five teams separated by two points in a tightly-contested playoff picture.