5 things we learned in the NHL: Carter Hart joins rare company


Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Carter Hart. (Julio Cortez/AP)

Carter Hart has another strong performance for the Philadelphia Flyers, Henrik Lundqvist passes Terry Sawchuk and the Tampa Bay Lightning continue to establish their dominance.

Here are five things we learned in the NHL.

Hart continues to impress

There have been many great performances from young goalies this season but Carter Hart is starting to separate himself from the group for many reasons. Not only is he the youngest goalie in the league, but he is also handling a starting role much sooner than many were expecting.

Since the 1997-98 season, there haven’t been many goalies who have started as many games as the 20-year-old and only four have as many wins.

Making his fifth consecutive start for the Flyers, Hart had to fend off a tough first period where the Montreal Canadiens outshot Philadelphia 12-1. The Sherwood Park, Alta., native made 33 saves for his sixth win of the season.

The Flyers have used seven goalies this season and Hart is tied with Brian Elliott for the most wins among them.

A second-round pick by the Flyers in 2016, hart improved to 6-5-1 with a 2.66 goals-against average and a .918 save percentage in 12 starts. At this rate, Hart should be able to pass 19 starts this season and if he reaches 20 or more he would be the first goalie since Marc-Andre Fleury to do so before his 20th birthday.

Zibanejad helps Lundqvist move up the all-time wins list

After tying Terry Sawchuk for sixth place on the all-time wins list, Lundqvist moved past him with a 27-save performance against the Boston Bruins. With 446 career wins, the 36-year-old is second among active goalies behind only Roberto Luongo who leads the way with 480 victories.

Lundqvist is 15-12-7 this season with a 3.01 GAA and a .908 save percentage which is not exactly what we are used to seeing from the Rangers starter. In 840 career games, Lundqvist has a 2.39 GAA and a .919 save percentage but with New York in a rebuilding season, his numbers have predictably dipped.

The Rangers were outshot by the Bruins 29-20 which has been a theme this season for New York. They are fourth in the league with 33.3 shots against per game, and in 13 of their 21 wins they have been outshot by their opponent.

Luckily for Lundqvist, Mika Zibanejad scored his third consecutive game-winning goal, becoming the second player in franchise history to do so.

Lightning get back on track

After dropping a close game against the Toronto Maple Leafs, the Lightning made a statement against the San Jose Sharks with a 6-3 victory.

Tampa Bay leads the NHL with 76 points and has a 16-point lead on the Leafs and New York Islanders in the conference standings. If the season were to end that way, the Lightning would become the fourth team to win their conference by a margin of 16 or more points.

Of that group, only the 2001-02 Detroit Red Wings ended up winning the Stanley Cup, but at this point it’s hard to pick against the Lightning. Tampa Bay currently leads the league in goals (196), and power play percentage (29.5).

Nikita Kucherov had two assists to add to his league-leading 78 points while Andrei Vasilevskiy improved his record to 20-6-2 to go along with a 2.50 goals-against average and a .925 save percentage.

Kessel gets to 20 once again

With his first period goal against the Vegas Golden Knights, Phil Kessel reached the 20-goal mark for the 11th consecutive season. Only two other U.S.-born players have reached 20-goal campaigns in 11 or more seasons, Patrick Kane and Keith Tkachuk.

In 48 games this season for the Penguins, Kessel has 20 goals, 33 assists and 53 points. Since being traded to Pittsburgh, Kessel has 103 goals, 171 assists and 274 points in 294 games, as well as two Stanley Cups.

Kessel needs only two more goals to tie Zach Parise for 10th all-time among American-born players.

Ekblad makes Florida Panthers history

Aaron Ekblad scored his 62nd career goal and ninth on the season, giving him the most goals by a defenceman in franchise history.

It is one thing to set a new all-time franchise mark but to do it as a 22-year-old is an impressive accomplishment. This is only Ekblad’s fifth season with the Panthers since being drafted first overall in 2014 and if he scores another goal, that will give him double-digit goals in every season.

The Windsor, Ont., native has nine goals, 11 assists and 20 points this season and through 356 career games, Ekblad has 62 goals, 92 assists and 154 points.

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