The NHL issued a statement Wednesday night regarding the coronavirus:
“The National Hockey League is aware of the NBA’s decision [Wednesday] to indefinitely suspend its season due to a player testing positive for the coronavirus. The NHL is continuing to consult with medical experts and is evaluating the options. We expect to have a further update [Thursday, March 12].”
THREE HARD LAPS
* Cale Makar reached the 50-point mark to lead the Avalanche past surging Mika Zibanejad and the Rangers. This is the first season in NHL history in which defensemen are the first two rookies to reach the 50-point mark.
* Dominik Kubalik scored his 30th goal in Chicago’s six-goal outburst and became just the fifth rookie to reach the milestone with the franchise – with only two surpassing that mark.
* Blake Wheeler (WPG), Kyle Connor (WPG) and Gabriel Vilardi (LAK) each collected two points as the Jets and Kings extended their win streaks to four and seven games, respectively.
MAKAR, AVALANCHE EDGE ZIBANEJAD, RANGERS
Cale Makar (0-3—3) factored on all three Colorado (42-20-8, 92 points) goals after Mika Zibanejad opened the scoring for New York (37-28-5, 79 points) as the Avalanche secured their second win in three contests.
* Makar boosted his season totals to 12-38—50 (57 GP) to join fellow blueliner Quinn Hughes (8-45—53 in 68 GP) as the second rookie to reach the 50-point mark in 2019-20. This is the first season in NHL history in which defensemen are the first two rookies to reach the 50-point mark.
* This also is the second season in League history to feature multiple rookie defensemen with 50 or more points – Barry Beck, Reed Larson and Stefan Persson combined for the feat in 1977-78. Overall, only 17 rookie defensemen in NHL history have reached the 50-point mark in a season.
* Should Hughes and Makar maintain their ranks as the top two point-getters among rookies, it would mark the first time in the NHL’s modern era (since 1943-44) that defensemen have finished as the two highest-scoring rookies.
* The last time defensemen finished with the two highest rookie point totals was 88 years ago, one of two instances before the modern era. Moylan McDonnell and Billy Stuart shared the rookie scoring lead with three points apiece in 1920-21 (along with forward Rod Smylie), while the defensive trio of Doug Young, Earl Seibert and Alex Levinsky occupied the top three spots among rookies in 1931-32.
* Zibanejad joined Darren Turcotte (1992-93) as just the second player in Rangers history to record multiple goal streaks of six-plus games in a single season. He also became the NHL’s fifth player in the last 20 years to register multiple such streaks in a single season; the others: Steven Stamkos (2x in 2009-10 w/ TBL), Alex Ovechkin (2x in 2005-06 w/ WSH), Mike Modano (2x in 2001-02 w/ DAL) and Tony Amonte (2x in 1999-00 w/ CHI).
* Despite only playing 57 games this season, Zibanejad leads all players in points since March 1 (11-2—13), while his 0.72 goals per game played this season paces all players (min. 40 GP).
KUBALIK, KANE PACE BLACKHAWKS IN SIX-GOAL OUTING
Dominik Kubalik scored his 30th goal of the season and Patrick Kane boosted his team-leading totals (33-51—84) as the Blackhawks (32-30-8, 72 points) ignited for six goals.
* Kubalik (30-16—46 in 68 GP) joined Artemi Panarin as the second active player to score at least 30 goals as a rookie with the Blackhawks. He also became just the fifth rookie to reach the 30-goal milestone with the franchise – with only two surpassing that mark.
* Kane, on pace to conclude the campaign as the Blackhawks’ leading scorer for the fifth consecutive season and eighth time in his career since debuting with the club in 2007-08, can tie Stan Mikita for the most such instances in franchise history. Only three players have led an Original Six franchise in points in more than eight seasons: Gordie Howe (17 w/ DET), Mats Sundin (12 w/ TOR), and Steve Yzerman (11 w/ DET).
JETS, KINGS EXTEND WIN STREAKS
Blake Wheeler (1-1—2), Kyle Connor (2-0—2) and Gabriel Vilardi (1-1—2) each collected two points as the Jets (37-28-6, 80 points) and Kings (29-35-6, 64 points) extended their win streaks to four and seven games, respectively.
* Connor (105-96—201 in 249 GP) registered his 200th career regular-season point and required the second-fewest games in Jets/Thrashers franchise history to reach the mark, doing so in six fewer games than teammate Patrik Laine (255 GP). Ilya Kovalchuk (222 GP w/ ATL) required the fewest games by any player in franchise history to reach the benchmark.
* Vilardi found the score sheet for the third straight game (2-2—4) and has collected 2-3—5 over the course of the Kings’ seven-game run. Los Angeles, with wins over Pittsburgh, Vegas, Toronto, Minnesota and Colorado within its current streak, have secured at least seven consecutive victories for the first time since an eight-game run from Nov. 25 – Dec. 9, 2017.
PIETRANGELO CONTINUES ROAD PROWESS IN BLUES’ WIN OVER DUCKS
Blues captain Alex Pietrangelo scored two of his team’s four goals as St. Louis (42-19-10, 94 points) collected its 10th win in 12 contests. Pietrangelo has registered 16-36—52 in 70 games this season – including 12-20—32 (35 GP) on the road. Only one defenseman in franchise history has scored more road goals in a single season than Pietrangelo: Larry Sacharuk (14 in 1974-75).