* Skating his first home game since Nov. 15, 2019, Bobby Ryan scored a hat trick in an emotional return to Canadian Tire Centre.
* Mikael Granlund scored a buzzer-beating tying goal to send the game to overtime, where he proceeded to pot the winner for Nashville.
* Dominik Kubalik and Quinn Hughes, who pace all rookies in goals and points this season, respectively, padded their leads on Thursday.
RYAN SCORES HAT TRICK IN FIRST HOME GAME SINCE RETURNING TO LINEUP
What a night at Canadian Tire Centre! In his first home game since returning to the Senators lineup on Tuesday, Bobby Ryan scored a hat trick to help Ottawa defeat Vancouver by a three-goal margin.
* Ryan scored the fifth hat trick of his NHL career and second in a Senators uniform, with the first occurring over five years ago on Dec. 29, 2014 (3-0—3 vs. BUF). His three other career hat tricks were as a member of the Ducks, who selected Ryan with the second overall pick in the 2005 NHL Draft.
CENTRAL DIVISION TEAMS IN PURSUIT OF PLAYOFF BERTHS SECURE WINS
Four Central Division teams pursuing berths in the 2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs each secured wins:
* Vince Dunn tied the game with 1:44 remaining in regulation and Colton Parayko scored the overtime winner as the Blues (38-17-10, 86 points) extended their win streak to six games and opened a five-point lead atop the Western Conference standings. Parayko scored his second career regular-season overtime goal (also Nov. 30, 2018 at COL), moving him within one of the franchise record for most among defensemen shared by Erik Johnson and Alex Pietrangelo (both w/ 3).
* Mikael Granlund tied the game with 0.1 seconds remaining in regulation and scored the overtime winner as the Predators (32-23-8, 72 points) rallied to earn a pivotal win over the Flames, maintaining their hold on the final Wild Card spot in the Western Conference standings. Granlund became the fourth player in NHL history to score a game-tying goal in the final 10 seconds of regulation and the overtime winner (regular season and playoffs combined) – a feat last achieved by Los Angeles’ Marian Gaborik just over a month before the Kings won their second Stanley Cup in a three-year span.
* Connor Hellebuyck turned aside all 34 shots he faced as the Jets (33-27-6, 72 points) blanked the Capitals in the second half of their home-and-home set to snap a three-game slide (0-2-1) and keep pace with the Predators. Hellebuyck posted his fifth shutout of 2019-20 to move into a tie with Blue Jackets rookie Elvis Merzlikins and Golden Knights goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury for the most in the NHL this season.
* The Wild (31-25-7, 69 points) erupted for seven goals to defeat the Red Wings and extend their road win streak to four games. Minnesota scored seven or more goals in a game for the fourth time this season, two back of Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay (both 6x) for the highest such total in the NHL.
ROOKIES KUBALIK, HUGHES CLIMB FRANCHISE LISTS
Blackhawks forward Dominik Kubalik scored three goals in the third period to record the first hat trick of his NHL career and Canucks defenseman Quinn Hughes collected an assist as both rookies climbed franchise lists:
* Kubalik, who became the third rookie in franchise history to score a hat trick in a single period (also George Hay on Feb. 19, 1927 and Ryan Hartman on Jan. 8, 2017), boosted his 2019-20 goal total to 29 (29-14—43 in 62 GP). He sits one goal shy of becoming the fifth rookie in franchise history to score 30 or more in a season.
Photo via @NHLBlackhawks
* Hughes posted his 43rd assist of 2019-20 (8-43—51 in 62 GP) and established a franchise record for most in a season by a rookie, eclipsing the previous mark of 42 set by fellow defenseman Dale Tallon in 1970-71 (14-42—56 in 78 GP). Hughes now owns the ninth-highest single-season assist total by any rookie blueliner in NHL history.
RANGERS EXTEND ROAD WIN STREAK, MOVE CLOSER TO PLAYOFF SPOT
Mika Zibanejad scored one of New York’s five unanswered goals as the Rangers (35-24-4, 74 points) rallied past the Canadiens to extend their franchise-record road win streak to nine games, moving them within two points of the final Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference standings. New York, which last occupied a playoff position on Oct. 11, 2019 (2-0-0, 4 points), owns the longest road win streak by any team this season and is three victories shy of matching the lengthiest such runs in NHL history.
* Zibanejad has tallied at least once in each of the Rangers’ last six outings (6-5—11) and became the third New York player over the last 26 years (since 1993-94) to record a six-game goal streak, joining Petr Prucha from Dec. 3-13, 2005 (9-0—9 in 6 GP) and Jaromir Jagr from Feb. 2 – March 2, 2006 (9-6—15 in 6 GP).
* Zibanejad (30-32—62 in 50 GP), who reached the 30-goal mark for the first time in 2018-19 (30-44—74 in 82 GP), also became the first Rangers player to hit the plateau in consecutive seasons since Jagr from 2005-06 (54-69—123 in 82 GP) to 2006-07 (30-66—96 in 82 GP).
PASTRNAK, MATTHEWS EACH SCORE AS BRUINS, MAPLE LEAFS PICK UP WINS
Bruins forward David Pastrnak (1-1—2) and Maple Leafs forward Auston Matthews (1-1—2) each found the back of the net in wins on Thursday:
* Pastrnak scored the game winner – his League-leading 46th goal of the season (46-44—90 in 65 GP) – to reach the 90-point mark for the first time in his NHL career and help the League-leading Bruins (40-13-12, 92 points) get back in the win column.
* Pastrnak, whose 46 tallies are the most by a Boston player in a season since 1993-94 when Cam Neely scored 50 in 49 games (50-24—74), maintained his two-goal edge on Matthews in the 2019-20 Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy race.
* After the Maple Leafs and Panthers combined for six first-period goals, William Nylander scored his second straight winner as Toronto swept its two-game Florida road trip. The Maple Leafs (34-23-8, 76 points), who occupy third in the Atlantic Division standings, moved four points ahead of the fourth-place Panthers (33-25-6, 72 points).
* High-scoring games have defined the 2019-20 season series between Toronto and Florida, with the Maple Leafs improving to 1-2-0 versus the Panthers following an 8-4 loss at BB&T Center on Jan. 12 and a 5-3 setback at Scotiabank Arena on Feb. 3 (FLA: 2-1-0). Toronto and Florida are one of 11 sets of teams to combine for at least 28 goals in its 2019-20 season series (including shootout-deciding goals), with the Maple Leafs and Panthers owning the highest goals per game average among that cohort (9.33 G/GP).
PREVIEW OF TODAY’S ACTION
GOLDEN KNIGHTS LOOK TO EXTEND WIN STREAK, PAD LEAD ATOP PACIFIC DIVISION
The Golden Knights (35-22-8, 78 points) look to extend their win streak to eight games and pad their lead atop the Pacific Division standings when they welcome the Sabres (29-26-8, 66 points) to T-Mobile Arena, where the hosts are also 6-0-0 in their last six outings.
* Vegas owns the longest active win streak in the NHL and has posted an eight-game run on one prior occasion, doing so from Dec. 14, 2017 – Jan. 2, 2018 in the midst of its historic inaugural season.
* The Golden Knights can become the first franchise in League history to capture a division title multiple times within their first three NHL seasons (among clubs to debut when the NHL featured divisions from 1926-27 to 1937-38 and in each campaign since 1967-68). The fewest seasons required by a franchise to win its second division title is four, achieved by the Oilers in 1982-83 (47-21-12, 106 points).