5 things we learned in the NHL: Sabres keep winning streak alive

NHL-Sabres-celebrate-goal-against-Canadiens

Buffalo Sabres' Sam Reinhart, Jeff Skinner and Jack Eichel celebrate a goal. (Jeffrey T. Barnes/AP)

The Buffalo Sabres stayed red-hot, Brian Boyle scored a memorable goal on another special night, Travis Konecny completed the Gordie Howe hat-trick and Joe Thornton added another milestone to his Hall-of-Fame career.

Here are five things we learned from a jam-packed 15-game slate of Friday NHL action.

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Buffalo cannot be stopped

Not even a night full of gorging on turkey and stuffing could slow down the Buffalo Sabres’ sizzling play.

One day after American Thanksgiving the NHL’s hottest team kept on rolling, picking up their eighth-straight win courtesy of Jeff Skinner’s power-play goal in overtime against the Montreal Canadiens.

Buffalo’s eight-game streak is the team’s longest string of consecutive wins dating back to the 2006-07 season.

If you weren’t taking this team seriously heading into the season, you should be by now. The Sabres are a legitimate (albeit surprising) Atlantic Division threat.

Boyle creates another magical hockey moment

Just a few weeks ago, leukemia survivor Brian Boyle tallied the first hat-trick of his NHL career on Hockey Fights Cancer night in Pittsburgh.

It’s only fitting the Devils forward scored once again on Hockey Fights Cancer night, only this time with New Jersey hosting the event at Prudential Center.

Boyle may not have netted another hat-trick, and his team may not have come out victorious this time around, but the significance of another timely goal from the 33-year-old — which fittingly gave him 200 career points — still provided another inspiring, magical moment in the journeyman’s career.

If you haven’t watched the following video detailing Boyle’s battle overcoming cancer, it’s well worth your time:

Thornton climbs up the all-time assists list

San Jose Sharks centre Joe Thornton has accomplished quite a few milestones throughout his NHL career spanning two-plus decades. Just this season, he became the 19th player in NHL history to reach the 1500-game plateau, then followed that up with his 400th career goal a few weeks later.

With less than 10 seconds remaining in the first period of the Sharks’ win over the Vancouver Canucks, Thornton tacked on another milestone to his storied career with his 1034th career assist, passing Mario Lemieux for 11th all-time.

The No. 1 pick of the 1997 NHL draft just needs eight more to move past Marcel Dionne for 10th most assists in league history, and 17 away from passing Gordie Howe, who holds the No. 9 spot all-time with 1049 career assists.

Side note: The Sharks went on to defeat the Canucks, handing Vancouver its seventh loss in a row.

Konecny, Giroux have quite a day at the office

Team captain Claude Giroux made some history in the Philadelphia Flyers’ 4-0 shutout of the New York Rangers, moving into second-place on the Flyers’ all-time assist list with No. 481.

Giroux still trails Bobby Clarke’s franchise-best assist mark of 852. While that record is well out of reach and in all likelihood won’t be eclipsed by Giroux, ranking second all-time for an NHL franchise in that category is still something few ever accomplish.

Travis Konecny added to the fun for Philadelphia, treating the hometown fans to a Gordie Howe hat-trick.

For those wondering, the Gordie Howe hat-trick is when a player pulls off the trifecta of scoring a goal, recording an assist and dropping the gloves all in the same game. While not as productive from a statistical standpoint as a typical hat-trick, it certainly provides a unique type of entertainment that creates a similar level of excitement.

Flyers netminder Calvin Pickard provided the icing on the cake, making 31 saves for his first shutout of the season.

#HockeyTwitter is officially part of the hashtag family

In what’s sure to bring ample amounts of joy to hockey’s Twitter community, the social media giant has officially recognized #HockeyTwitter as an official hashtag.

Thanks for the validation, @TwitterSports! Hockey fans and Twitter users alike can finally breathe a sigh of relief.

Honourable mentions

Mike Hoffman had his 17-game point streak come to an end, with the Florida Panthers falling to the Carolina Hurricanes 4-1.
Cam Atkinson scored a goal in his sixth consecutive game, tying Rick Nash for the second-longest streak in franchise history. Geoff Sanderson set the franchise record during the 2002-03 season, scoring a goal in seven consecutive games.

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