An underappreciated hero reached a major milestone, the Blues blue line continued to pile up goals and the Matt Duchene sweepstakes are heating up again.
Here are five things we learned on a busy Saturday night in the NHL.
Blues defence bringing the offence
The St. Louis Blues have been flying offensively this season and a big part of that has been the production they’ve gotten from their defencemen.
With three more from their blue line on Saturday, the Blues defence now leads the NHL with 17 goals. That’s six more than the next-best teams (Columbus and Ottawa each have 11).
Captain Alex Pietrangelo continues to lead the way. He picked up two more goals on Saturday and leads all defencemen with six and 15 points.
The Blues sit atop the Western Conference standings with 23 points. Of course, a team doesn’t get there without contributions across the board.
Vladimir Tarasenko potted a goal and an assist to reach 300 points for his career. And Jaden Schwartz continued to roll on Saturday with three more assists to reach 20 points on the season.
The Blues are off to their best start in franchise history and their high-scoring offence is a big reason why.
Duchene still producing for Avalanche as trade talks continue
It’s been a difficult few months for Matt Duchene with his name being atop the trade rumours list since the draft in June. Those rumours picked up again on Friday with reports of a three-way trade involving the Avalanche, Ottawa Senators and Nashville Predators falling through.
So full credit to Duchene for still finding ways to contribute on the ice when off-ice distractions could have hurt his production.
On Saturday he buried a goal against the Philadelphia Flyers with only 1.6 seconds to go in the first period.
The best way to boost his trade value is to show other teams he can still be a valuable offensive contributor.
Duchene finished with a goal and an assist in Saturday’s shootout win over the Philadelphia Flyers. He now has four goals (tied for second on the team) and 10 points on the season. He scored 18 times last year and should easily surpass that total by the end of this season.
Which team will benefit from those goals though is still up in the air.
Max Pacioretty is closing in history
With his overtime winner on Saturday, Canadiens captain Max Pacioretty is now tied atop a special list.
The goal was the ninth OT winner of his career, which ties him with Howie Morenz and Aurel Joliat for most in team history.
Pacioretty has been criticized as one of the reasons for the Habs early struggles but that might be a bit misguided.
His goal against the Winnipeg Jets was his fifth of the season, an improvement from his slow start last season when he only had two by Nov. 4. He finished that year with 35 so Canadiens fans should remain patient with their captain. He’ll be just fine.
The goals will come for the Canadiens and with them, wins should follow.
Blue Jackets and Lightning preview a potential Eastern Conference Final
It’s early, obviously, but the Tampa Bay Lightning and Columbus Blue Jackets have been two of the best teams in the Eastern Conference. The powerhouses met on Saturday in FLorida and the result was epic.
The game featured a little bit of everything. The teams traded leads multiple times including three goals in a one-minute span early in the first period.
There were many highlight-reel moments too but the nicest goal of the night was one we’ve seen a lot of this season. Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov connected on another beautiful power-play goal, giving Stamkos a league-leading 24th point on the play.
Of course all epic games go to overtime and so did this one. In the end, Stamkos was the hero in the shootout, capping a great game with a great wrist shot.
The teams will meet again on New Years Eve in Columbus.
Andrew Cogliano plays his 800th consecutive game
The last time Andrew Cogliano missed a game… nothing happened. That’s because after making his NHL debut in October 2007, Cogliano has played in every game, not missing one in 10 years.
On Saturday he became the fourth player in NHL history to play in 800 consecutive games and only the second to do it from the start of his career.
Originally a first-round pick by the Edmonton Oilers in 2005, Cogliano played the first 328 games of his career in Alberta’s capital. The Anaheim Ducks then acquired him for a second-round pick in 2011 where he has played his next 472.
For his career, Cogliano entered Saturday’s game with 147 goals and 324 points. He also entered Saturday leading the Ducks with nine points on the season.
While he may not be a superstar, 800 straight games is an incredible feat for any athlete. And even though he’s now 30-years-old, Cogliano doesn’t appear to be slowing down.