Saturday night’s busy schedule across the National Hockey League was full of great goaltending. We saw 13 different goalies allow two or fewer goals, including three shutouts.
Elvis Stars in Las Vegas
The name Elvis and the city of Las Vegas have gone hand-in-hand for decades and another Elvis had his name on the marquee on Saturday night. It wasn’t Presley, but rather Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Elvis Merzlikins.
Merzlikins made 27 saves in a 3-0 win over the Vegas Golden Knights to pick his first career NHL shutout.
“I dreamed about it. Why not? It would be a great feeling to get my first NHL shutout here in Vegas,” Merzlikins said after his memorable night. “I saw today people were pumping up, they did a picture of me, that I am in the building. It was pretty funny.
“I’m really, really happy and really thankful to my teammates.”
Merzlikins was definitely having fun as he showed off his air guitar skills right after the final horn sounded.
The Blue Jackets have earned at least one point in 15 of their 17 games and are now tied with the Philadelphia Flyers for the final wild-card spot in the Eastern Conference.
Vasilevskiy Keeps Lightning Rolling
The Tampa Bay Lightning have put the rest of the NHL on notice. After a very lackluster start to the season, the Bolts are starting to look more like the team who won the Presidents’ Trophy last season for having the most points in the league.
Andrei Vasilevskiy made 23 saves in 1-0 win over the Flyers for his second straight shutout. The victory pushed Tampa Bay’s winning streak to 10 games, tying a franchise record that was set last season.
“I’ve said this before, a shutout is something the whole team deserves,” Vasilevskiy said after the win. “Team played great defensively, all the defensemen and forwards. Tonight, one goal was enough for us to win because we played good defensively.”
Vasilevskiy has been a huge part of the team’s current hot streak. In his last eight starts, the 2019 Vezina Trophy winner is 8-0-0 with a 1.63 goals-against average (GAA) and a .946 save percentage (SV%).
The team defense has been a big help as they have limited opponents to 25 or fewer shots in three straight games. They have allowed 28.8 shots per game during the winning streak, which is quite the improvement over their average of 32 shots per game in their first 34 games.
Hurricanes Get Back-to-Back Shutouts
The Carolina Hurricanes busted out their Hartford Whalers throwback uniforms on Saturday night. Just two days after Petr Mrazek shutout the Arizona Coyotes, James Reimer made 41 saves in a 2-0 blanking of the Los Angeles Kings.
“[Reimer] was obviously the difference,” Hurricanes coach Rod Brind’Amour said. “It’s nice to have a couple games like that where our goalies have been that solid. We survived, no doubt, the last … almost two periods. We just took our foot off the gas a little. I give [the Kings] a lot of credit, they worked really hard. They had a game plan and they stuck to it, and they kind of dictated the play.”
This is just the second time in team history where the Hurricanes recorded shutouts in consecutive games. Reimer and Mrazek are also the first goaltenders in Hurricanes/Whalers franchise history to each have at least three shutouts in the same season.
Markstrom Keeps on Winning
If the Stanley Cup playoffs were to start today, the Vancouver Canucks would be the eighth seed in the Western Conference. The two biggest reasons they are right in the thick of the playoff race are the play of the offense and All-Star goaltender Jacob Markstrom.
Markstrom made 25 saves in a 6-3 victory at the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday night. The victory snapped a three-game losing streak that came immediately after the Canucks won seven games in a row.
Dating back to Dec. 19, Markstrom is 7-1-0 in his last eight appearances with a 3.15 GAA and .911 SV%. While the GAA is not as good as he’d like to see it, the Vancouver offense has been backing him up. The Canucks have scored 148 goals this season, tied for second-most among Western Conference teams with the Nashville Predators. They both trail the Colorado Avalanche who has scored 162 goals.