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NHL Morning Skate for Monday, March 19, 2018: Tampa Bay becomes first Eastern Conference team to clinch playoff spot; Update on Art Ross and Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy candidates

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

SUNDAY’S RESULTS

Home Team in Caps

COLORADO 5, Detroit 1

VEGAS 4, Calgary 0

TAMPA BAY 3, Edmonton 1

Carolina 4, NY ISLANDERS 3

PHILADELPHIA 6, Washington 3

St. Louis 5, CHICAGO 4 (OT)

WINNIPEG 4, Dallas 2

ANAHEIM 4, New Jersey 2

 

KUCHEROV HELPS LIGHTNING CLINCH FIRST PLAYOFF SPOT IN EAST

Nikita Kucherov scored twice to extend his lead in the Art Ross Trophy race and help the Lightning (49-19-4, 102 points) become the first Eastern Conference team to clinch a berth in the 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs.

* The Lightning, who improved to 10-2-1 in their last 13 games, will make their fourth postseason appearance in the past five years and 10th in franchise history. Tampa Bay’s last playoff berth was in 2016 when they reached the Eastern Conference Final, falling in Game 7 to the eventual Stanley Cup-champion Penguins.

 

* Tampa Bay held first place in the NHL for more than 90% of the season before being surpassed by Nashville on March 13. The Lightning now sit two points back of the Predators in the race for the Presidents’ Trophy as they aim to become just the second team in the past 81 years to finish with the League’s best record after missing the playoffs the previous season (NYR in 1993-94).

 

* Kucherov boosted his League-leading point total to 36-57—93 to open a four-point lead in the scoring race. Only one Lightning player has ever won the Art Ross Trophy: Martin St. Louis in 2004 (38-56—94) and 2013 (17-43—60).

 

ANOTHER THREE-POINT GAME HELPS MacKINNON’S ART ROSS PUSH

Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon (2-1—3) registered his 13th three-point performance of the season – tops in the NHL – to power his club to victory and gain ground in the tightly-contested Art Ross Trophy race, where only four points separate the NHL’s top four producers.

* MacKinnon extended his point streak to 12 games (13-11—24) – one shy of his career high – as the Avalanche improved to 7-1-3 in their last 11 contests. Colorado opened a two-point lead for the first Wild Card spot in the Western Conference.

 

* The Avalanche forward paces all players with 1.39 points per game in 2017-18. The last Colorado player to finish with a higher points per game (min. 50 GP) was Peter Forsberg in 2002-03 (1.41 P/GP), when he won the Art Ross Trophy.

 

* MacKinnon’s 89 points are the most by an Avalanche player since 2006-07 (Joe Sakic: 36-64—100), while his 38 goals are the most since 2002-03 (Milan Hejduk: 50).

 

LAINE PULLS EVEN WITH OVI IN BATTLE FOR “ROCKET” RICHARD TROPHY

Winnipeg’s Patrik Laine scored his 42nd and 43rd tallies of the season to move into a share of the League lead in goals and help the Jets (43-19-10, 96 points) equal their franchise record for wins in a season. The club also recorded 43 wins as the Thrashers in 2006-07 and as the Jets in 2014-15. Winnipeg ranks second in the Central Division.

* Laine, who will celebrate his 20th birthday on April 19, extended his franchise-record point streak to 15 games (18-8—26) – the longest by a teenager in NHL history. He has 12 goals in March (9 GP), two shy of the club record for any calendar month (with six games remaining).

 

* Laine is tied with Washington’s Alex Ovechkin for the most goals in the League in 2017-18 and can become the first teenager in NHL history to conclude a season leading the League outright in goals. Overall, seven players have at least 38 goals in 2017-18.

 

* The last time at least seven players were within five goals of the League lead during the final three weeks of the season was 2003-04, when Rick NashJarome Iginla and Ilya Kovalchuk eventually finished with 41 goals apiece.

 

KARLSSON’S NATURAL HAT TRICK POWERS GOLDEN KNIGHTS

William Karlsson scored three consecutive goals in the second period to record his second hat trick of the season and power the Pacific Division-leading Golden Knights (46-21-5, 97 points) past the Flames (35-28-10, 80 points).

 

* Karlsson (39-26—65), who also scored three goals on Dec. 31 (3-1—4 vs. TOR), became the 11th player in the NHL’s expansion era (since 1967-68) to record multiple hat tricks while playing for a team in its inaugural season – and just the eighth with a natural hat trick. He ranks fourth in the League with 39 goals, one shy of becoming the eighth player in NHL history to score 40 goals for a team in its inaugural season.

Marc-Andre Fleury (42 saves) earned his 48th career shutout and 401st career victory, tied with Chris Osgood for 12th place on the NHL’s all-time wins list.

 

BLUES RALLY PAST BLACKHAWKS TO KEEP PLAYOFF HOPES ALIVE

Alex Pietrangelo (1-3—4) tied the game with 1:22 remaining in regulation and Patrik Berglund scored in overtime to power the Blues (39-28-5, 83 points) to a 4-1-0 record in their last five games. St. Louis moved within one point of Los Angeles (39-27-6, 84 points) for the final Wild Card spot in the Western Conference standings.

 

* Pietrangelo recorded at least three points for the second straight game (2-1—3 on March 17 vs. NYR) and became the second defenseman in franchise history to do so, joining Rob Ramage (1987-88).

* Meanwhile, Vince Dunn (1-3—4) became the fourth rookie defenseman in franchise history to record four points in a game and first since Rik Wilson on Jan. 16, 1982 (0-4—4 vs. CHI).

 

* Pietrangelo and Dunn became the first defensemen in franchise history to record at least four points apiece in a game. In fact, they were just the eighth pair in NHL history to do so and first since Kings defensemen Paul Coffey (0-5—5) and Rob Blake (2-2—4) on Jan. 26, 1993 vs. SJS.

 

VORACEK REACHES 60-ASSIST MARK IN FLYERS VICTORY

Jakub Voracek (1-1—2) collected his 60th assist of 2017-18 to help the Flyers (37-25-11, 85 points) defeat the Capitals (41-24-7, 89 points) and move within four points of them for first place in the Metropolitan Division.

 

* Voracek became just the third Flyers player in the past 20 years (since 1997-98) to reach the 60-assist mark in a season, joining Mark Recchi (63 in 1999-00) and Claude Giroux (65 in 2011-12). Only two Flyers have reached the 70-assist mark in a season: Bobby Clarke (89 in 1974-75 and 1975-76) and Recchi (70 in 1992-93).

 

MONTOUR SCORES ANOTHER GAME WINNER AS DUCKS CLIMB PACIFIC

Brandon Montour scored his fifth game-winning goal of the season to help the Ducks (37-24-12, 86 points) pick up their third straight win and leapfrog Los Angeles (39-27-6, 84 points) for third place in the Pacific Division.

 

* Montour moved into a tie with Tampa Bay’s Mikhail Sergachev and St. Louis’ Alex Pietrangelo for the most game-winning goals among defensemen this season. He also matched the franchise record for most in a season by a blueliner, a mark set Oleg Tverdovsky in 1999-00 and matched by Niclas Havelid in 2002-03.

 

DeBRINCAT SCORES THIRD HAT TRICK OF THE SEASON

Blackhawks forward Alex DeBrincat (3-0—3) scored his third hat trick of the season to boost his goal total to 25, trailing only Vancouver’s Brock Boeser (29) for the most among rookies in 2017-18.

 

* DeBrincat (Farmington Hills, Mich.) passed Steve Larmer (2) for the most hat tricks by a rookie in franchise history and became the second U.S.-born rookie in NHL history to score three in a season.

 

* There have been 67 total hat tricks in 2017-18. The last season to finish with more than 67 hat tricks was 2010-11, when there were 76 performances of at least three goals.

QUICK CLICKS

 

· NHL general managers to discuss coach’s challenge at meetings (via Dan Rosen)

· Phil Housley sees Predators as model for Sabres (via Mike Zeisberger)

· Facts and Figures: Keith Kinkaid excelling for Devils

 

PRESS RELEASE WRITTEN BY NHL PUBLIC RELATIONS; COURTESY NHLmedia.com