With four Canadian teams in action Thursday and plenty to break down, here are five things we learned in the NHL.
1. Flames win despite encouraging fancy stats
The Calgary Flames entered the third period with a 2-0 lead on the Buffalo Sabres and a clear advantage in Corsi for, scoring chances, and high-danger scoring chances.
Fancy stats be damned, it almost got away.
Sabres defenceman Rasmus Ristolainen scored twice in the first five minutes of the third period to pull even before Sean Monahan’s second of the evening restored the Flames’ lead.
Ristolainen recorded the first hat trick of his career to tie it up once again, but that would be it for the Sabres. Johnny Gaudreau ensured the Flames would make it four straight wins and eight consecutive at home with his 10th of the season at 15:10.
The Flames’ near-collapse quelled optimism, but it was an otherwise encouraging night. Calgary has exited the NHL’s basement and pulled into a tie with the Edmonton Oilers for second-last in the Western Conference.
Monahan recorded three points in a single game for the second time in his career, Dougie Hamilton has notched a point in four straight, and Gaudreau has 11 points in his last nine games.
Jiri Hudler was a last-minute scratch and Jonas Hiller was named the starter just prior to puck drop as a flu bug struck the Flames.
2. Jagr reached a milestone
Jaromir Jagr deflected Dmitry Kulikov’s point shot early in the first period to notch goal No. 731 of his career.
Jagr moved into a tie with Marcel Dionne for fourth on the NHL’s all-time goals list.
The Panthers topped the Washington Capitals 4-1 in a game that was delayed 17 minutes due to emergency medical personnel responding to a car accident near the BB&T Center.
Next on the all-time goals list is Brett Hull, who ranks third with 741 goals. That seems like an attainable milestone for the 43-year-old Czech winger.
Jagr may have to play a few more years to reach Gordie Howe’s 801 mark. The seemingly ageless superstar may have to play well into his 50s to best Wayne Gretzky as the league’s all-time leader with 894 goals. Never say never when it comes to Jagr.
3. Canadiens have cause for concern
The Montreal Canadiens’ losing streak reached four games in Thursday’s 3-2 loss to the Detroit Red Wings.
We knew the Canadiens’ Eastern Conference dominance would be tested in Carey Price’s absence and they appear to be failing that test right now.
Montreal coughed up a third period lead when Justin Abdelkader tied the game with a power-play goal at 12:48. Darren Helm scored what would stand as the game winner just over a minute later.
The Washington Capitals trail the Canadiens by one point in the standings, with three games in hand, for first place in the conference. The New York Rangers sit two points back of the Canadiens with one game in hand.
Montreal hosts the Ottawa Senators Saturday. The two clubs have split the season series with a win apiece thus far in 2015-16.
4. Giroux has scored vs. everybody
Philadelphia Flyers captain Claude Giroux can finally say he’s scored against the other 29 teams in the NHL.
Giroux checked the St. Louis Blues off his personal list with an absolute beauty in a 4-2 win.
Coincidentally, Pittsburgh Penguins’ Sidney Crosby completed the feat of scoring versus every other team on November 25 when he found the back of the net versus the Blues for the first time in his career.
5. Kane extended his streak
James Neal paced the Nashville Predators with two goals in a 5-1 win over the Chicago Blackhawks Thursday. The Blackhawks’ lone goal was scored by none other than Patrick Kane, who extended his point-scoring streak to 24 games in somewhat controversial fashion.
Kane jumped on a loose puck as Pekka Rinne was stretched out in his crease with Blackhawks’ forward Marcus Kruger and Predators defenceman Mattias Ekholm crashing. After review it was ruled a good goal.
Rinne acknowledged that he did not have the puck covered, but noted that it was a goal of the garbage variety.
Kane’s streak is the NHL’s longest since Crosby hit the 25 game mark in 2010-11.