* David Pastrnak scored his fourth career overtime goal to move back into a tie for first place in the tightly-contested 2019-20 Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy race.
* The Panthers reclaimed third place in the Atlantic Division standings as they look to clinch a berth in the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2016.
* Quinn Hughes maintained a two-point edge on fellow defenseman Cale Makar in the 2019-20 rookie points race, while Dominik Kubalik – who paces all rookies in goals – reached 25 on the season.
PASTRNAK SCORES OVERTIME WINNER FOR LEAGUE-LEADING BRUINS . . .
Boston forward David Pastrnak (1-1—2) scored the overtime winner – his 43rd goal of the season (43-41—84 in 61 GP) – to move back into a tie with Toronto forward Auston Matthews (43-29—72 in 61 GP) for first place in the 2019-20 Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy race.
* The League-leading Bruins improved to 38-11-12 (88 points) this season, moving three points ahead of the second-place Lightning (40-15-5, 85 points). Boston and Tampa Bay are set to meet two more times this season, squaring off at AMALIE Arena on March 3 and at TD Garden four days later on March 7.
. . . INTRADIVISION RIVAL FLORIDA ALSO PICKS UP KEY WIN, CLIMBS ATLANTIC
Aleksi Saarela scored the first goal of his NHL career to help the Panthers improve to 32-22-6 (70 points) this season and move past the idle Maple Leafs (31-22-8, 70 points) for third place in the Atlantic Division standings
* Saarela (Helsinki, Finland), a third-round pick (89th overall) by the Rangers in the 2015 NHL Draft, appeared in his fourth career game and first since Dec. 10, 2019. He was traded three times before making his League debut this season.
* Fellow countryman Aleksander Barkov (Tampere, Finland) scored the 153rd regular-season goal of his NHL career (153-250—403 in 470 GP) to pass Pavel Bure (152-99—251 in 223 GP) for sole possession of third place on the franchise’s all-time list.
STARS, AVALANCHE INCH CLOSER TO WESTERN CONFERENCE-LEADING BLUES
The Stars (35-19-6, 76 points) and Avalanche (34-18-7, 75 points) each earned wins to inch closer to the Western Conference-leading Blues (33-17-10, 76 points) for first place in the Central Division standings:
* Jamie Oleksiak scored the go-ahead goal with 8:22 remaining in regulation as Dallas extended its point streak to six games (5-0-1) and matched St. Louis for the most standings points among Western Conference teams; the Blues, however, own two more regulation wins than the Stars (STL: 26; DAL: 24).
* Dallas improved to 13-0-0 in its last 13 home games against Arizona dating to March 20, 2012 (ARI: 0-10-3). That’s their second-longest regular-season home win streak versus one opponent in franchise history, behind a 16-game run against the Wild from Oct. 19, 2003 – Feb. 24, 2012 (MIN: 0-11-5).
* Cale Makar collected his 32nd and 33rd assists of the season (12-33—45 in 51 GP) to help Colorado – which occupies third place in the Central Division standings – keep pace with Dallas. He established an Avalanche/Nordiques franchise record for most helpers in a season by a rookie defenseman, eclipsing the previous mark of 31 set by Quebec’s Bruce Bell in 1984-85 (6-31—37 in 75 GP).
* Nathan MacKinnon (0-2—2) eclipsed the 50-assist mark for a third consecutive season (33-51—84 in 59 GP) and remained tied with Bruins forward David Pastrnak (43-41—84 in 61 GP) for second place in the 2019-20 Art Ross Trophy race – trailing only Oilers forward Leon Draisaitl (34-61—95 in 60 GP), who was held off of the score sheet Wednesday.
PANARIN REACHES 30-GOAL MARK, RANGERS EXTEND ROAD WIN STREAK . . .
Artemi Panarin scored to reach the 30-goal mark for the third time in his NHL career (30-49—79 in 58 GP) and help the Rangers extend their road win streak to six games – one back of the franchise-record 7-0-0 runs from Jan. 12 – Feb. 12, 1935 and Oct. 28 – Nov. 29, 1978. New York (31-24-4, 66 points), which improved to 5-1-0 in its last six games overall, moved within six points of the final Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference standings.
* Panarin, who was signed by the Rangers on July 1, 2019, became the first player to score his first 30 regular-season goals with the franchise in 58 games or fewer (NHL debut or otherwise) since Marian Gaborik on Jan. 30, 2010 (30-32—62 in 53 GP). He sits one goal shy of matching his single-season career high, a mark set with Chicago in 2016-17 (31-43—74 in 82 GP).
* Igor Shesterkin (37 saves) improved to 7-1-0 through the first eight appearances of his NHL career (2.28 GAA, .939 SV%), including five straight wins. He became the fifth different rookie goaltender in franchise history to record a win in five or more consecutive appearances within a regular season – a feat last achieved by Dan Blackburn in 2001-02.
. . . AS KANE, KUBALIK CLIMB NHL, FRANCHISE LISTS
* After the Blackhawks honored Jack O’Callahan in a pre-game ceremony at United Center as part of the 40th anniversary celebrations for the “Miracle on Ice” team, another player who has donned the stars and stripes – Patrick Kane (0-1—1) – recorded the 1,013th regular-season point of his NHL career (383-630—1,013 in 963 GP) and tied Pat LaFontaine (468-545—1,013 in 865 GP) for eighth place on the NHL’s all-time list among U.S.-born players.
* Blackhawks forward Dominik Kubalik, meanwhile, tallied twice and leads all rookies with 25 goals this season (25-13—38 in 58 GP), six more than the next-closest player (Victor Olofsson: 19-21—40 in 45 GP). He became the eighth rookie in franchise history to score at least 25 goals in a season and third to do so over the last five years.
* Wild defeat Canucks as Tyler Toffoli makes debut for hosts
* Alec Martinez likely to make Golden Knights debut after trade by Kings
* Denis Malgin traded to Maple Leafs by Panthers for Mason Marchment
* Ryan Suter’s memories of Miracle on Ice extend beyond game against Soviets
* Alex Ovechkin back home with Capitals, continues quest for 700th goal
PREVIEW OF TODAY’S ACTION
OVECHKIN CONTINUES PURSUIT OF GOAL No. 700 AS CAPITALS RETURN HOME
Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin (698-570—1,268 in 1,142 GP), who is two regular-season goals shy of becoming the eighth player in NHL history to reach 700, looks to snap a season-high five-game scoring drought when Washington (37-17-5, 79 points) returns home to host Montreal (27-27-8, 62 points) at Capital One Arena.
* Ovechkin has scored 32 career regular-season goals against the Canadiens (32-22—54 in 49 GP), including 21 on Carey Price (21-8—29 in 26 GP). That’s his fourth-most versus any NHL goaltender behind Henrik Lundqvist (24-15—39 in 42 GP), Marc-Andre Fleury (24-13—37 in 42 GP) and Kari Lehtonen (22-15—37 in 27 GP).
* Ovechkin owns a share of the seventh-most career regular-season goals against Montreal among players to debut in the NHL’s expansion era (since 1967-68) – a list topped by Hockey Hall of Famer and longtime Quebec Nordiques forward Michel Goulet.
SURGING LIGHTNING LOOK TO EXTEND FRANCHISE-RECORD WIN STREAK
The surging Lightning (40-15-5, 85 points), who are 11-0-0 in their last 11 games dating to Jan. 29 and own the longest win streak by any team this season, look to extend their franchise-record run when they visit the Golden Knights (31-22-8, 70 points) at T-Mobile Arena. Tampa Bay is also 6-0-0 in its last six games as visitors and can match the club record for longest road win streak, a mark set from Jan. 7 – Feb. 1, 2007 (7-0-0).
* Andrei Vasilevskiy is 19-0-2 in his last 21 appearances dating to Dec. 17, 2019 (1.98 GAA, .934 SV%, 2 SO) – including eight straight wins – and can become the fourth goaltender in NHL history to record at least one point in 22 or more consecutive games played within a regular season. Brayden Point, meanwhile, enters Thursday with a career-high 11-game point streak (3-12—15) – the longest active run in the NHL.