With seven games on the schedule there was no shortage of action in the NHL on Sunday.
The Rangers continued to thrive while Henrik Lundqvist remains out with an injury, Vladimir Tarasenko showed off his skills, and Steve Downie is running away with the league lead in penalty minutes.
Here are five things we learned in the NHL Sunday.
It doesn’t matter who’s in net for the Rangers
Henrik Lundqvist is one of the best goaltenders in the world right now, but with the way the New York Rangers are playing it doesn’t seem to matter who is between the pipes.
Winners of 14 of their last 17 games, the league-leading Rangers penned a new chapter in franchise history Sunday night with a 2-1 win over the Florida Panthers.
Lundqvist has been out of action with a vascular injury since Feb. 2. This seven-game stretch of great goaltending has been all Cam Talbot and Mackenzie Skapski. Talbot made 38 saves versus the Panthers and was named the game’s first star.
Competition for first overall is fierce
The New York Rangers sat atop the NHL all alone for just hours following their win over the Florida Panthers. The St. Louis Blues moved within two points of the Rangers with a win versus the Dallas Stars. The Anaheim Ducks and Nashville Predators battled to move into a tie with the Rangers, with the Ducks prevailing.
What a night.
Backstrom is Capitals’ greatest helper of all-time
Washington Capitals centre Nicklas Backstrom is an outstanding hockey player in his own right, and a career of feeding the puck to Alexander Ovechkin has helped him etch his name in the franchise’s history books.
Backstrom picked up career assist 419 on a first period power-play goal by John Carlson, which allowed him to pass Michal Pivonka as the Capitals’ all-time assist leader.
Steve Downie is a league leader
Pittsburgh Penguins agitator Steve Downie padded his league lead in penalty minutes Sunday to the tune of two minutes for cross checking and a pair of 10-minute misconducts.
Downie may find himself in a sit-down with head coach Mike Johnston … oh, you don’t say.
Downie is up to 221 penalty minutes on the season. He’s drawing 1.1 penalties per 60 minutes, but taking 2.4 per 60 (per behindthenet.ca), which is hardly an effective trade-off.
Here’s the play that got him ejected from the Penguins’ embarrassing 5-1 loss to the Detroit Red Wings Sunday.
Vladimir Tarasenko is a filthy man
The St. Louis Blues cruised to a 3-0 win over the Dallas Stars Sunday night. Vladimir Tarasenko scored the go-ahead goal and it was a beauty.
It’s raining hamburgers in Ottawa
Andrew Hammond is “The Hamburglar” and he’s red-hot. Hammond was in goal for the Ottawa Senators Sunday night as they dropped the Philadelphia Flyers 2-1 in a shootout.
Hammond is now 10-0-1 in his first 11 NHL starts.
It was only a matter of time before fans started honouring him by tossing hamburgers on the ice.