5 things we learned in the NHL: Sabres’ win streak hits double-digits


Buffalo Sabres forward Jeff Skinner (53) celebrates his game-winning goal. (Jeffrey T. Barnes/AP)

Jeff Skinner produced another kodak moment, Colorado’s dynamic duo led the Avalanche once again, the Montreal Canadiens captain made his return and the Golden Knights set another record.

Here are five things we learned in the NHL on Tuesday night.

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Skinner cannot be stopped

A late third-period goal from San Jose Sharks forward Joe Pavelski almost ended the Buffalo Sabres‘ magical run that began on Nov. 8. Almost.

But if there’s one thing we’ve come to learn about Buffalo over the club’s magical 10-game stretch, it’s that this team is as resilient as any and has some serious mental resolve, especially when it comes down to crunch-time.

Pavelski’s goal brought San Jose into a 2-2 tie and forced overtime, sending the arena into a slight panic with the thought of a loss sneaking into their heads.

Luckily, though, the hometown fans’ anxieties were quickly eased, thanks to who else but Jeff Skinner.

Skinner’s 19th goal of the year brought him into a three-way tie for the league-lead, and more importantly, helped the Sabres tie their longest win streak in franchise history.

As the wins start to pile up, these Sabres are proving they mean serious business.

It’s worth noting Buffalo improved to 12-0-2 in games it scores first. If the hometown faithful knew that statistic, maybe they wouldn’t have been so worried after all.

Note: Evander Kane played his first game in Buffalo as a member of the Sharks, finishing the contest with a minus-1 rating.

Jeff Marek and Elliotte Friedman talk to a lot of people around the hockey world, and then they tell listeners all about what they’ve heard and what they think about it.

Colorado’s top line is something else

The Colorado Avalanche top line of Mikko Rantanen, Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog has taken the league by storm, with a member of the dynamic group registering at least one point in 21 of Colorado’s 24 games to open the season.

It’s no surprise, then, that the Rocky Mountain Line was back at it on Tuesday against the Nashville Predators, with MacKinnon wiring home a power-play goal off a feed from Rantanen to open the scoring in the first period.

MacKinnon would add another goal in beautiful fashion, and yes, Rantanen was of course involved on the play. In fact, Rantanen has been MacKinnon’s go-to setup man, assisting on all 17 of his goals this season.

While Landeskog has been tremendous (14 goals, 12 assists) it’s the play of Rantanen and MacKinnon that’s truly been special for Colorado, with the duo continuing to pace the league in scoring with 40 and 37 points, respectively. Rantanen and MacKinnon have also tallied 13 multi-point games apiece, which is also a league-best mark.

Rantanen also became the first player to reach the 40-point mark this season and the fastest to do so for Colorado since the team moved from Quebec in 1995, according to NHL Public Relations.

Every team with aspirations of being a serious contender has a transcendent top line leading the charge. Colorado’s success epitomizes that formula to a tee.

There’s a game of goaltender roulette underway in Philadelphia

Philadelphia Flyers head coach Dave Hakstol must be loving his team’s situation right now when it comes to stability between the pipes.

Brian Elliott started on opening night for the Flyers, but since then Philadelphia has turned to the likes of Calvin Pickard, Michal Neuvirth, Alex Lyon – who made a forgettable spot start in which he allowed four goals on 12 shots – and now Anthony Stolarz.

Stolarz became the fifth goaltender to start for the Flyers through their first 25 games, something that’s only occurred on two other occasions.

Elliott and Neuvirth are both on injured reserve with lower-body injuries, with the former out week-to-week, meaning Hakstol will have to continue his game of goaltender roulette for the foreseeable future. That is, unless one of the team’s backstops puts together some semblance of consistency at the position.

Oh, and to make matters worse, Matt Duchene put away the Flyers with this filthy game-winner.

Talk about a tough scenario for a coach to juggle…

Shea Weber makes his Canadiens season debut

It’s been a long time coming, but Shea Weber has finally returned for the Montreal Canadiens.

After missing his team’s first 24 outings recovering from knee surgery undergone back in July, the Montreal captain was finally in uniform. Weber was effective in his team’s 2-1 loss to the Carolina Hurricanes, collecting an assist in his return. Unfortunately his presence wasn’t enough to help his team squeeze out a win, thanks in large part to Canes netminder Curtis McElhinney’s stellar 48-save performance.

Nevertheless, it’s good to see Weber back on the ice after a five-month absence, although teammate Jesperi Kotkaniemi may not feel the same.

The rookie will have to get used to the captain’s wicked slapshot sooner or later.

The Golden Knights are waking up

Just one game after scoring the fastest goal in franchise history 14 seconds after puck drop, the Vegas Golden Knights returned to their history-making ways on Tuesday by scoring a franchise-record eight goals against the Chicago Blackhawks.

The Golden Knights’ previous game-high for goals scored was seven, an achievement they accomplished twice in their inaugural season.

Cody Eakin and Shea Theodore led the way with two goals apiece, while seven Golden Knights skaters finished with multi-point efforts.

The Knights have now potted 14 goals over their past two games, helping extend their win streak to four games.

After a slow start, Vegas seems to finally be hitting its stride, making the hockey world wonder whether another playoff berth could be in the cards.

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