Six things we learned Thursday in the NHL

Andrew Hammond celebrates with Bobby Ryan. (Adrian Wyld/CP)

The Flames and Jets just won’t go away in the West, Alex Ovechkin has a knack for scoring goals, the Maple Leafs stink and the Penguins are stuck in a rut.

These are things we already knew. Here are six things we learned Thursday.

Hammond’s streak ends, Sens keep rolling, Lazar eats dirty burger

Andrew Hammond couldn’t quite set a new NHL record Thursday, but he did enough to ensure a Senators victory over the Bruins. He also became the first goalie to earn at least one point in his first 13 NHL starts since Patrick Lalime did it in his rookie seasons with the Penguins in 1996-97. Ottawa is now 13-1-1 in the last 15 games (Hammond is 12-0-1 during that stretch) and they’ve pulled within two points of an Eastern Conference wild-card spot.

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While Hammond is the centre of attention in the nation’s capital at the moment, Curtis Lazar did something that warrants him some time in the spotlight. Lazar is a great sport – something hockey fans really found out during the world juniors – and wasting a burger is a tragedy. But an NHL ice surface isn’t the cleanest place in the world, so if this burger landed anywhere near the benches, Lazar should get a tetanus shot.

Curtis Lazar on Twitter

Thornton notches his 900th career assist

Jumbo Joe has been in the headlines plenty this season and not always for positive reasons – being stripped of his captaincy in the off-season, the Sharks struggling more than they have in a decade, his recent rift with GM Doug Wilson – so it’s nice to have an excuse to celebrate what a great player Thornton is on the ice. No. 19 became the 19th player in NHL history to hit this milestone as his two helpers contributed to the Sharks’ 4-1 win over the hapless Maple Leafs. Thornton was named the game’s first star. Among active players, only Jaromir Jagr has more points and assists.

And speak of the (former) Devil…

Jaromir Jagr leapfrogs Phil Esposito

Jagr scored his 718th career regular season goal to move into sole possession of fifth place on the NHL’s all-time list. The 43-year-old’s goal was assisted by Jonathan Huberdeau and Aleksander Barkov whose combined age is just 40. Mr. Jagr, we salute you the same way you saluted hockey fans after hundreds of your goals.

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The Canadiens are more than just Carey Price

Okay, saying the “Canadiens are more than just Carey Price” after the Vezina and Hart favourite picked up his eighth shutout of the season is a bit ironic. Still, Montreal doesn’t always rely on Price to stand on his head, which was the case against the Hurricanes. Two players that often excel are Max Pacioretty and Brendan Gallagher. Pacioretty, who scored his 35th of the season against Carolina, is just four goals, five assists and three points away from tying careers highs in those categories. He also leads the league in plus/minus with a plus-39 rating.

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Meanwhile, Gallagher earned his 20th goal of the season beating Anton Khudobin in the first period. It’s the first time Gallagher has reached the 20-goal plateau in his pro career. While players like Pacioretty and Gallagher get attention because they contribute with offence, fourth-liners like Brandon Prust chip in with the grittier aspects of the game.

It ain’t easy being a ref

Hockey players are praised for their collective toughness, but you’ve got to have certain mettle to be an NHL official. As we saw on multiple occasions in the Sens-Bruins game, life can be rough for a zebra.

Hockey world loses a pioneer

All the goals and saves we saw Thursday seemed inconsequential when news of the passing of CapGeek founder Matthew Wuest began to spread throughout the hockey world. His impact on the game and how we cover it is immeasurable. We at Sportsnet send Matthew’s family and friends our condolences.

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