We saw a goaltending victory, a team on the rise and a close call on defence. But Wednesday night belonged to Sam Bennett.
Here are four things we learned around the league:
Korpisalo stops the skid
It’s no secret that goaltending has been an issue for the Columbus Blue Jackets in the absence of starter Sergei Bobrovsky. As we pointed out after their loss to the New York Islanders Tuesday night, the Blue Jackets were on a bad stretch of allowing three or more goals against in each of their last nine games.
That streak ended Wednesday night, as did their four-game losing skid, with a 3-1 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs, thanks to Joonas Korpisalo. The 21-year-old Finnish netminder made an impressive 41 saves for his second career NHL win. (He made his pro debut on Dec. 14 and has gone 2-4-1 in seven starts.)
Korpisalo was just under three minutes away from earning his first-ever shutout, but Brad Boyes spoiled that in the Maple Leafs’ late rally.
Over in the home team’s crease, James Reimer is still looking for his first win since Nov. 20, just before he suffered the injury that sidelined him for all but two games in December.
Also noteworthy: Seth Jones got his first point as a member of the Blue Jackets when he assisted on Boone Jenner‘s first period goal. (Read Damien Cox’s feature on the 21-year-old blue-liner here.)
Don’t look now, but the Philadelphia Flyers might be turning things around at the halfway point of the season. Since losing their first game of the New Year, they’ve strung together four straight wins.
So, what’s changed? The return of veteran defenceman Mark Streit after missing a month and a half has certainly helped things. In fact, he scored the game-winner Wednesday against the Boston Bruins — his first goal since coming back from injury.
His injury back in mid-November saw the team call up rookie Shayne Gostisbehere, who has proved to be a solid addition, especially on the power play. Unfortunately for Philadelphia, the rookie was sidelined Wednesday for his second straight game.
But we can’t help but think that, with their recent play finding them just two points out of a wild card spot, the Flyers are trending in the right direction.
Bennett on fire
Sam Bennett got the monkey off his back Monday night when he scored his first goal after a 19-game drought.
Well, he made sure that monkey stayed far, far away when he scored a whopping four goals (!!!!) in the Calgary Flames‘ contest against the Florida Panthers Wednesday night. His earned his first career hat trick in the first period alone, adding the fourth goal with under a minute to go to put a cherry on top of the Flames’ blowout 6-0 victory.
At 19 years and six months old, Bennett is now the franchise’s youngest-ever player to earn a hat trick. He’s also the first to do so in the first period since Joe Nieuwendyk in 1993, and the first Flame to score four goals since some guy named Jarome Iginla did it in 2003.
The first multi-goal game of his career saw him just two goals shy of matching his career total (six) in a single game. Amazing.
This marked the Panthers’ second straight loss after the Vancouver Canucks capped the streaking team’s run at 12 straight wins Monday night. Florida was without head coach Gerard Gallant for the game.
Stoner vs. Ducks?
The Anaheim Ducks topped the Ottawa Senators Wednesday night, thanks in part to rookie defenceman Shea Theodore‘s first career NHL goal, which set off a mini barrage of goals to pad the Ducks’ 4-1 victory.
Blue-liner Clayton Stoner didn’t score for Anaheim — but he almost scored on Anaheim when a misguided clearing attempt almost went into his own net. Thankfully, Frederik Andersen was there to make an impressive save.
Just keeping his teammate on his toes, apparently.