Week 4 of the 2020-21 season is in the books! Despite several teams being on pause for COVID-19 protocols, there was no shortage of action as 29 of the 39 games played featured five goals or more. Let’s take a look at this week’s top performers.
Forwards: Kane, Ovechkin & Pastrnak
David Pastrnak missed the first seven games of the season after having a right hip arthroscopy and labral repair during the offseason. Despite his surgery, he has shown very few signs of rust in his return to the ice and has been all over the scoresheet. He made his return to the Boston Bruins’ top line last week but was especially dominant this week, scoring five goals and two assists in three games.
Pastrnak had his highest-scoring game on Wednesday in the Bruins’ comeback win over the Philadelphia Flyers. He found the back of the net early, scoring a goal just 12 seconds into the contest. The Flyers kept him off the scoresheet in the second period but he went on to score two goals in the third, completing his ninth career hat trick and sending the game to overtime. To conclude a four-point night, Pastrnak tallied an assist on Patrice Bergeron’s game-winning goal.
With eight points in just four games this season, Pastrnak is quickly climbing the leaderboards. He is sixth in points and fifth in shots on goal, 22, for the Bruins. The 24-year-old forward has been a welcome boost to the Bruins’ offense as they look to maintain their lead in the East Division.
Alexander Ovechkin continues to climb the NHL’s all-time goal-scoring list. With his goal in the Washington Capitals’ loss to the New York Rangers on Thursday, he surpassed Mike Gartner to become seventh in NHL history. When speaking about the accomplishment, Ovechkin said,
“Yeah, it’s great to move on. Not done yet… Just try to enjoy my time right now and try to enjoy this moment. The team, obviously it [stinks] we didn’t get the point, but, you know, beginning of the year, just trying to find our game.”
Although it wasn’t his first game on Super Bowl Sunday, Ovechkin enjoyed this one in particular. He recorded four points against the Flyers, two goals and two assists, bringing his tally to five for the week. With a total of 711 goals in his career, Ovechkin needs just six goals to tie Phil Esposito for sixth on the all-time goal-scoring list. Ovechkin has 12 points this season and will look to keep the momentum going against the Flyers on Tuesday.
Patrick Kane continues to lead the Chicago Blackhawks offense, scoring two goals and five assists this week. After scoring a goal against the Carolina Hurricanes on Tuesday, he found even more success against them on Thursday, recording a goal and three assists. Kane’s four-point performance led the Blackhawks to a 6-4 win over the Hurricanes. He also had an assist on both of the Blackhawks’ goals in their overtime win against the Dallas Stars on Sunday.
Kane is tied for sixth in the league with 17 points this season. He leads the Blackhawks in both points and shots on goal, 48. Furthermore, Kane now has sole possession of sixth on the NHL’s all-time scoring list among American-born players. He will look to keep his five-game scoring streak alive in Dallas on Tuesday.
Defensemen: Hughes & Petry
This is Jeff Petry’s second installment in this column this season and, quite frankly, it is not surprising. He has been dominant on the blue line for the Canadiens and in the offensive zone, leading the team in points. Petry scored six points this week, finding the back of the net four times and recording two helpers.
Among defensemen, Petry is second in the league in points with 14 to his name. He is also tied for first in the league with a plus-14 rating. The 33-year-old defenseman has tallied at least 40 points in his last three seasons and is on pace to meet that quota again despite the shortened season. Although it is early, if Petry can maintain his high-quality performances throughout the season, he might just work his way into the Norris Trophy conversation.
Quinn Hughes currently leads the league in points amongst defensemen with 16, one goal and 15 assists, on the season. The sophomore blueliner tallied five assists this week, including three against the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday. He also recorded an assist in back-to-back games against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Hughes has been great offensively, leading the Canucks in points and shots on goal. His defensive numbers have not been pretty, though. The Canucks have the most goals against in the league and Hughes carries a minus-12 rating on the season. He will look to shore up his work in his own zone moving forward.
Andrei Vasilevskiy recorded three wins for the Tampa Bay Lightning this week. In his first win of the week, he made 29 saves on 31 shots against the Nashville Predators. He also made 42 saves on 44 shots in two games against the Detroit Red Wings. In his career, Vasilevskiy is now 10-0-0 with a .941 save percentage (SV%) and 1.73 goals-against average (GAA) against the Red Wings.
Vasilevskiy has been solid in net for the Lightning and currently has a .931 SV% and 1.88 GAA on the season. He is tied for first amongst the league’s goaltenders with seven wins. The former Vezina Trophy winner will likely take the ice again on Tuesday, the second of the Lightning’s back-to-back games versus the Predators.
Week 5 of the season will feature several high-octane matchups, including games between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Canadiens, the Lightning and the Florida Panthers, and the Colorado Avalanche against the Vegas Golden Knights. Each of these teams will be battling for the top spot in their respective divisions. The Avalanche will be returning to action after their COVID-19 pause, but the New Jersey Devils, Buffalo Sabres, and Minnesota Wild will remain sidelined this week.
Andrew is a freelance writer who covers the Tampa Bay Lightning at The Hockey Writers. He is a passionate hockey fan who grew up near Tampa, Florida. He is a husband, father to a Golden Retriever, and is studying to be a Physician Assistant. Follow me on Twitter: @Andrew_Mulville