Mike Hoffman makes history, Patrick Marleau makes it 31, Mike Smith’s struggles continue, and more.
Here are six things we learned in the NHL on Thursday night.
Penguins at the bottom
Take a look at the NHL standings and you’ll see a pretty surprising team at the bottom of the Eastern Conference: the Pittsburgh Penguins.
We’re so used to Sid’s squad being at the top, it’s a weird sight to see the club struggle. Those struggles, sans Sid (he could miss a week with an upper-body injury) were exposed Thursday against the Lightning when the home team squandered an early lead to lose 4-3. Most of that was due to Brayden Point — more on him, below.
Thursday’s loss, their sixth in seven games this month, saw Pittsburgh sink to 28th in the league and has them at the very bottom of the conference.
The last time they were last in the East this late into a season was at the end of the 2005-06 campaign — Crosby’s rookie year.
Point scores three in a hurry
Tampa Bay Lightning forward Brayden Point established himself as a one-man power-play unit Thursday night against the Pittsburgh Penguins, scoring a natural hat trick in just 91 seconds — all with the man advantage.
Goal No. 1 came with just three seconds left in the first period. Evgeni Malkin had just been sent to the penalty box for tripping 20 seconds earlier while at the same time Phil Kessel was caught for slashing. One whistle later, Matt Cullen joined them in the bin for tripping.
It’s a penalty party for the Penguins.
Then, with the power play continuing to start the second, Point tallied his second goal of the night 41 seconds into the frame and topped it all off less than a minute later to complete the trio. (To give the in-house announcer a break, he was at least considerate enough to break up the hat trick with an intermission in between goals one and two.)
So, for those doing the math, that’s three power-play goals in just 91 seconds — the sixth fastest hat trick in NHL history and second fastest in the league’s modern era (1967-68). It’s the fastest hat trick the Lightning franchise has ever seen, and it also happened to be Point’s first career trio.
Natural hat tricks on the power play are, unsurprisingly, quite rare. Though it wasn’t so long ago that another Lightning player tallied three goals with the man advantage in the same game. Nikita Kucherov accomplished the feat in February 2017 in a game against the Ottawa Senators.
Hoffman makes history
The Florida Panthers had a bit of a rough outing Thursday night against the Columbus Blue Jackets, losing by a lop-sided score of 7-3. So, we’ll call this one a game of silver linings, then — at least, it was for Mike Hoffman. The forward has been thriving in Florida and has been on a real tear this year.
Hoffman’s assist on defenceman Aaron Ekblad’s power-play goal extended his point streak to 14 straight games, setting a new Panthers franchise record for longest point streak. (The previous record-holder was some guy named Pavel Bure.)
It’s the longest active point streak going in the league today, and extends almost the whole season so far. The only two games of 2018-19 that haven’t featured Hoffman’s name on the score sheet were the first two matchups of the year. He now has seven goals and nine assists for 16 points over the course of his 14-game streak. Let’s see if he can keep the streak alive this Saturday against the New York Rangers.
Drake Batherson makes an immediate impact
NHL, meet Drake Batherson. The newest piece of the rebuilding Ottawa Senators’ youth movement didn’t need much time to get acquainted with the pros, scoring his first NHL goal on his first shot during his first game.
The goal also happened to be the game-winner against the Detroit Red Wings to earn the Senators a 2-1 win. The 20-year-old is the sixth player in Senators franchise history to score in his NHL debut, and the second this season. Max Lajoie scored in his debut on Oct. 4, and Brady Tkachuk’s first goal came during his home ice debut in Ottawa. These kids sure know how to make a good first impression.
Now, on a serious note: There seems to be a budding trend of using the hashtag #BathTime when referencing this kid on Twitter. Surely we can do better, no?
Price gets his game back, Smith loses his
Last week, Carey Price let on that he was dealing with a few mental hurdles when it came to his struggles in the crease of late. It looks like his opponent on Thursday, Calgary Flames netminder Mike Smith, might be dealing with similar issues when it comes his confidence in the crease early this season — especially at home.
Despite outshooting the Canadiens 45-22, the Flames lost a heartbreaker by a score of 3-2. (Sidenote: Looks like Price has gotten his groove back.)
Calgary went into the third period with a one-goal lead, but lost after Smith let in a weak goal from Artturi Lehkonen to give the Canadiens the lead.
Smith was open with the media following the game, with some honest comments about his stats:
“It’s obviously disappointing. When you feel like you let your team down it’s probably the biggest frustration, disappointment that ever can happen in your career when you drop the ball,” he told reporters.
“Our team played such a great game tonight and deserved a lot better fate, and when something happens like that and it’s on you it’s disappointing. It feels like you let your whole team down.”
Chin up, Smith. It’ll get better.
Marleau makes it 31
Prior to Thursday’s matchup, it had been… a while since the Maple Leafs’ last victory in San Jose.
They broke that streak Thursday with a 5-3 win against Patrick Marleau’s longtime club, with the veteran registering a point against the Sharks for the first time in his career during his second trip to SAP Center as a visitor.
Marleau got an assist on Kasperi Kapanen’s first goal of the night, which means the 39-year-old has now registered a point against all 31 NHL franchises.
It was also a big night for goaltender Frederik Andersen, who had never won on the road against the Sharks. He didn’t just defeat them Thursday — he even scored a point against them, with this awesome assist on Mitch Marner’s third period goal to seal the victory.