Five things we learned in the NHL: Rookies on fire

Watch as Buffalo Sabres rookie Jack Eichel scored the overtime winner with a second left on the clock against the Carolina Hurricanes.

Between Jack Eichel and Shayne Gostisbehere, it was a heck of a day for freshmen across the NHL.

However, that’s not all that went down on a busy Saturday of hockey.

Here are five things we learned:

Eichel’s signature moment

Any discussion about rookies always revolves Connor McDavid, but Buffalo Sabres forward Jack Eichel has certainly been stepping up his game as of late.

The No. 2 overall pick of the 2015 NHL Draft had recorded five points in his last five games prior to Saturday’s effort against the Carolina Hurricanes that included two goals, one of which came in the final seconds of overtime on a gusty, individual effort.

He now has 22 goals on the season, which is second among all first-year players.

The goal call by local broadcaster Rick Jeanneret might have been the best part of it all.

Some rookies hit the wall at this time of year but Eichel — impressively — is getting better as the season goes on and his team is bumping up his ice time as a result.

Gostisbehere’s monster season continues

The Philadelphia Flyers weren’t able to pick up two points against the Florida Panthers, losing in a shootout to move within two points of a wild card spot.

One silver lining, however, was the play of rookie sensation Shayne Gostisbehere.

In front of a pile of his family and friends (he grew up not too far away from the Panthers’ home arena), Gostisbehere contributed with the game-tying goal late in the third period while racking up almost 23 minutes of ice time.

Speaking of the Gostisbehere family, here’s a gem from a couple of years ago. Fitting, on the night the Panthers honoured their 1996 team that reached the Stanley Cup Final.

Goals at the most opportune times appear to be a pattern for the Florida native. What more can this kid do?

Schiefele extends his streak

He isn’t a rookie, but there aren’t many more players more productive since March began than Winnipeg Jets forward Mark Scheifele.

He had a goal and an assist Saturday night in a victory over the Colorado Avalanche to pick up points in his seventh straight game.

Scheifele now has 18 points in his last 12 games, including seven goals and four assists during his career-best streak.

In an otherwise-lost season for Winnipeg, at least Jets fans have something to hold on to for the future.

An unlikely tilt

Some players aren’t cut out for the world of fighting, and we can now consider adding Filip Forsberg to the list.

After one of his teammates took a big hit from Jake Virtanen, Forsberg immediately came to his defence and dropped the gloves with the Vancouver Canucks forward.

The fight was completely one-sided and Virtanen got in a bunch of big shots before the refs broke it up.

Forsberg’s protection of his teammate was honourable for sure, but I’d imagine the Predators would rather their elite forward not take punches to the head.

Mike Smith records shutout in return

It’s been a long time since Mike Smith tended goal.

Having suffered a long-term injury earlier in the season, the Arizona Coyotes’ net has been minded by the likes of Louis Domingue and Anders Lindback.

Saturday, Smith reclaimed his crease in style by shutting out the Edmonton Oilers 4-0, making 44 (!) saves and earning first star honours.

Style points were added for this new mask that he rocked for the occasion:

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