And Auston Matthews‘ return makes the Maple Leafs even better.
Here are four things we learned in the NHL.
Coyotes string together a couple of wins
Here’s something we haven’t been able to say all season… the Arizona Coyotes are on a win streak.
Arizona followed up their first regulation win of the season on Thursday with a 3-2 overtime win over the Ottawa Senators on Saturday and now sit at 4-15-3 on the season. They’re still in the basement, but it’s an improvement for sure.
The star for Arizona was one of the many young players the team is hoping to build around, Anthony Duclair. His hat trick was all the offence the Coyotes needed.
The three goals actually doubled Duclair’s output on the season. He now has 10 points in 16 games.
Rookie Clayton Keller has been carrying the offence all season for the Coyotes so having Duclair break out could spark some others to do the same.
Christian Dvorak, Max Domi, Christian Fischer and Tobias Rieder are all young offensive weapons that the Coyotes are betting their future on. But until they get going, this win streak won’t last long.
Matthews return only makes Maple Leafs stronger
With the Maple Leafs winning four games while their best player was on the mend, some (emphasis some) people were starting to speculate whether Toronto really needed him.
Well as we saw Saturday, having Auston Matthews doesn’t hurt.
Toronto continued to role with a 6-0 win over the Montreal Canadiens and Matthews was right in the middle of it all. He may have missed the last four games, but he didn’t miss a step. The reigning Calder Trophy winner now has 12 goals and 21 points in 17 games this season.
And he may have found some new line mates too.
Late in the third, head coach Mike Babcock took out his blender and sent out Matthews with Mitch Marner and Matt Martin (the MMM line) and they were the unit that combined on Matthews’ two goals.
In a surprise twist, it was the first time Marner had ever assisted a goal by Matthews.
Who knows how long this line will stay together. But it’s safe to say Maple leafs fans will enjoy the show as long as they can.
Penguins have no answer for Blackhawks
Few things are more certain than a Chicago Blackhawks win over the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Chicago has won the last eight meetings between the two modern dynasties including a 2-1 win on Saturday night.
Chicago swept the season series for the fourth straight season and haven’t lost to the Penguins since March 2014.
Compared to earlier in the season, when the Blackhawks won 10-1 in the first week of the season, Saturday’s game was much closer. Pittsburgh even tied it late, only to have the goal overturned for goaltender interference.
The Blackhawks did get a scare when Evgeni Malkin collided with Corey Crawford. While Crawford did leave the game, he came back and looked fine, making 35 saves in the win including this one on Phil Kessel late in the game.
The loss continues a tough stretch for the Penguins which can’t seem to get more than a couple wins in a row all season. The defending champs have only won three games in a row once all season and Saturday’s loss snapped another two game win streak.
It’s clear from the post-game comments that the Penguins know they can be better. And now being clear of the Blackhawks for the season, they might have a chance.
Islanders continue to move mountains
Heading into the season, it looked like the New York Islanders would have another losing season and could even lose captain John Tavares to free agency.
So their current hot streak is definitely something worth watching.
By beating the first-place Tampa Bay Lightning 5-3, the Islanders have now won three in a row and six of their last nine games. With 24 points, they now trail the Penguins, Devils and Blue Jackets by one point for first in the crowded Metro Division.
The big reason for this surprise push by the Islanders has been depth scoring. During that three game winning streak, they’ve scored 16 goals.
The Islanders are showing that when the offence doesn’t just rely on one guy, good things can happen. And if they are going to make the playoffs, it’s going to have to continue.