Saturday night’s National Hockey League schedule featured 24 of the league’s 31 teams in action. A handful of team and personal streaks were extended in Tampa Bay and Boston. There was a clutch overtime save to complete a crazy comeback in Las Vegas. Plus, we got an All-Star goalie race against two of the top women netminders in the game.
A Streak of Lightning in Tampa Bay
The Tampa Bay Lightning has been all about the streak of late. Both Nikita Kucherov and Steven Stamkos extended their personal point streaks to 10 games, tied for the longest active streak in the NHL.
Their 3-1 victory over the New Islanders pushed their overall winning streak to six games. They have now won nine straight games in the friendly confines of Amalie Arena. This is the second straight season in which the Lightning have had a nine-game winning streak on home ice.
And to top it all off, Andrei Vasilevskiy made 17 saves to improve to 16-0-2 over his last 18 games. You know your point streak is something extraordinary when the games in it are greater than the number of saves you made on a night.
“You have to play different ways to win. You have to adapt,” head coach Jon Cooper said of the grinding win. “I thought we played a simple game. We really didn’t turn the puck over, we didn’t give them much, I think we limited them to under 20 shots. … The boys cared about getting two points no matter how to do it even if it wasn’t going to be flashy, and that’s what happened.”
With the win, Vasilevskiy becomes just the second active goaltender to have a point streak of at least 18 games in his career. Tuukka Rask of the Boston Bruins had an 18-game personal point streak during the 2017-18 season.
Rask, Bruins Continue Dominance Over Coyotes
Speaking of Rask and the Bruins, he made 29 saves in a 4-2 win over the Arizona Coyotes. The win was also their sixth in a row to help maintain their five-point lead over the Lightning for first place of the Atlantic Division.
“I think we play like a good team at home and we battled back from some multigoal deficits in the third period,” Rask said after the win. “I think that just shows how resilient we are as a group. And you know I just try to give us a chance to win and just work to get a point at least.”
With the victory, Rask extended his personal point streak at the TD Garden to 18 games. He has yet to lose in regulation on home ice this season, going 12-0-6, and he has passed Giles Gilbert for the longest such streak to start a season in franchise history. It is the third-longest home point streak to start a season in NHL history, only trailing Bill Durnan (25 games for the 1943-44 Montreal Canadiens) and Tony Esposito (20 games for the 1970-71 Chicago Black Hawks).
“I thought he was tracking pucks well,” head coach Bruce Cassidy said of his All-Star goaltender. “I liked his puck-handling. He seems to be very dialed in to when he gets it, wants it, play it and move it and get it to the right spots and get us going on the breakouts so we can play fast. I like all those things about his game.”
The Bruins have also won 16 straight games against the Coyotes, dating back to 2010. It is the longest winning streak against a single opponent in the long and storied history of the Bruins.
Reimer Steps Up in OT
The Carolina Hurricanes and Vegas Golden Knights played one of the craziest games of the 2019-20 season on Saturday night. The Hurricanes made a furious third-period comeback with four of the six total goals scored in the final frame.
In the final seconds of the overtime session, James Reimer made this spectacular save on defenseman Shea Theodore, to get the game into a shootout.
Reimer, who made 33 saves in regulation and overtime, did not give up a goal in the three-round shootout. This was the second straight game where the Hurricanes have erased a two-goal deficit in order to win.
More Goalie Races, Please
The top players of the National Women’s Hockey League are in Boston this weekend for the 2020 NWHL All-Star Game. The Warrior Ice Arena hosted the All-Star Skills challenge of Saturday night where Team Packer beat Team Dempsey for the title.
One of the events in the skills competition is the Fastest Goalie showdown, which pitted to rival goaltenders in a footrace around the ice.
Mariah Fujimagari of the Buffalo Beauts had a time of 18.85 seconds, beating Minnesota Whitecaps netminder Amanda Leveille to the finish line by just a couple of strides.
Personally, I would love to see the NHL add this event to their All-Star skills competition. How much fun would it be to see Carey Price take on Marc-Andre Fleury in a one-on-one footrace?
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