With 22 teams hitting the ice, it was a busy night in the NHL.
The free-falling Bruins are in for a bumpy ride, the Ducks clinched a playoff spot, the Canucks finally scored, and more.
Here’s what we learned on a busy Thursday night in the NHL.
Bruins in a free fall
The Boston Bruins are in a free fall, and they’re getting into dangerous territory when it comes to making the playoffs. As in, they might not.
Boston’s loss to the surging Florida Panthers Thursday night is their fifth straight, and their seventh loss this month. That’ll happen when you face the Sharks, Ducks, Kings, Rangers and Panthers, with two sets of back-to-back games.
As it stands, the idle Bruins have 86 points for third place in the Atlantic. The Detroit Red Wings, after their win over the Montreal Canadiens (thanks in part to rookie Anthony Mantha’s first career goal), are now just one point back with 85.
And here’s the kicker: If the Bruins fall out of third, they may bypass the wild card spots altogether, as the Philadelphia Flyers (85 points) and New York Islanders (87) are in the mix for those.
Part of the reason for their loss to Florida can be found in the glove of Panthers goaltender Roberto Luongo. He had a solid game, which included an awesome glove save on former teammate Jimmy Hayes.
But the majority of frustration was aimed at the no-goal call on Patrice Bergeron in the third period that would’ve tied the game.
As you can hear, the fans made their feelings known about the review. The game’s colour commentator Andy Brickley did too.
“You got it wrong Toronto,” he said. “And not by a little. You got it wrong. I don’t know how much more conclusive you want.”
After the game, Bruins head coach Claude Julien voiced his opinion. (Watch his post-game chat at the top of this post.)
“I got another coach that texted me, and [it] was ‘WTF,’” he said (via WEEI.com). “How can that not be a goal?’ That’s coming from somebody who’s neutral.”
The Bruins’ next game is Saturday in Toronto as they take on the Maple Leafs.
Ducks clinch, but Leafs win the night
The Anaheim Ducks officially clinched a playoff berth for the fourth straight season on Thursday night. All they needed was a single point, and they got just that in their 6-5 overtime loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Believe it or not, the Ducks haven’t won a regulation hockey game in Toronto since November 1999. (Yes, really. You can thank our very own Luke Fox for that stat.)
And while the Ducks guaranteed we’ll be talking about them in a few weeks’ time, it’s the Maple Leafs who were the talk of the town Thursday night. And it’s not so much that they held off the powerful Ducks, but how they did it.
The high-scoring, back-and-forth game featured another wave of firsts for the young squad, plus a first-in-a-while — that’d be Tyler Bozak, who returned from his 21-game absence (concussion) to score two goals.
As for those firsts, GTA-native Frank Corrado netted his first goal as Maple Leaf. It’s the third of his career.
Then, another local kid, Connor Brown, went top shelf on Frederik Andersen to tie up the game late and send it to overtime.
Darcy Tucker tweeted out their shared number to mark the goal.
Nazem Kadri scored the overtime winner, which marked the team’s first 3-on-3 victory this year. (The Leafs did score an overtime goal earlier this year, but that came during 4-on-3 play.) The goal was Kadri’s second of the game and his fourth point on the night, matching his career high.
Now, for another the final “first”… that first-overall pick Leafs fans so desperately want. Head coach Mike Babcock talked to the media about balancing the Leafs’ lottery hopes with the young team’s will to win.
“You cheat the system, it cheats you,” he said. “It looks to me like we’re going in the right direction as a team.”
Parise nets a hat trick
The Minnesota Wild need all the points they can get these days as they continue to battle the Colorado Avalanche for the final wild card spot in the west. (Going into Thursday’s action, Minnesota is in with 81 points, with Colorado knocking at the door with 80 and one game in hand.)
Zach Parise got the memo Thursday night against the Calgary Flames. The Wild forward scored three goals in the first period alone for his fifth career hat trick and his third this season.
Even more impressive, seeing as he’d scored just twice in his previous 25 games.
He accomplished the feat in record time, too.
Watch all three:
In case you’re curious, his previous two hat tricks this season came on Oct. 8 (at Colorado) and Jan. 5 (at Columbus).
Here’s another fun fact about those goals: They were scored on longtime Wild netminder Niklas Backstrom, who made his second start with the Flames Thursday.
The Wild are now three points up on the Avalanche, who lost to the Flyers Thursday night. Next up: Oh, just Colorado.
Canucks finally score
The Vancouver Canucks‘ scoreless spree is over.
Going into Thursday’s game against the Nashville Predators, the Canucks had been shut out in three straight games for the first time since January 1984.
Bo Horvat’s first period goal capped the drought at just under 235 minutes — a franchise record, and the fourth longest skid the NHL has seen over the past 30 years.
Later that period, captain Henrik Sedin met a pretty cool milestone when his assist on brother Daniel Sedin’s power-play goal earned him his 966th career point. In doing so, he passes Maurice Richard for 88th place on the all-time points list.
It was also his 744th assist. Daniel isn’t too far behind his brother — he’s got 940 career points.
The Predators ended up tying the game in the third and forcing overtime, winning in an eventual shootout to get within two points of the Chicago Blackhawks in the the playoff race.
And while the event made for some pretty great GIFs, tweets and videos… it didn’t result in a win for the Sharks.
A win would’ve clinched the Sharks a playoff spot. Up 2-0 after the first period, it looked like they just might claim it after failing to get it Tuesday night against the St. Louis Blues.
Two sets of three straight goals from the Oilers changed all that, as Edmonton took the game 6-3. Patrick Maroon had three points on the night and Connor McDavid was, as tends to be, a force. (Pun intended.)
Next up for the Sharks are the Dallas Stars on Saturday afternoon.