Week five of the 2020-21 season featured a multitude of high-scoring affairs, with five goals or more scored in 25 of the 39 games played. Through 212 games, the league has averaged 2.99 goals per game, just under last season’s average of 3.02. Let’s take a look at this week’s top performers.
Forwards: Atkinson, Point, & Rust
The Columbus Blue Jackets have had their share of ups and downs this season, but Cam Atkinson has certainly been one of their ups. He recorded three goals, including two on the penalty kill and four assists in three games this week. His second shorthanded goal of the week was also the 15th of his career, making him the Blue Jackets’ franchise leader in the category.
Atkinson has had great success on the penalty kill this season, as three of his five goals have been shorthanded. Leading the league in shorthanded goals and with 12 points in 16 games, he will look to keep the momentum going against the Carolina Hurricanes on Monday.
With Steven Stamkos and Anthony Cirelli battling injuries this week, Brayden Point led the Tampa Bay Lightning on offense with two goals and four assists. Point’s most productive matchup was against the Nashville Predators on Tuesday, a game in which he recorded three helpers.
Point has tallied 16 points through 13 games this season, more than any other member of the Lightning. He also has the most shots, 38, and is tied for the most game-winning goals on the team, two. Point and the Lightning take on the Florida Panthers on Monday to determine the winner of their three-game series, currently tied at one game apiece.
Although the Pittsburgh Penguins played just two games this week, Bryan Rust found a way to get on the scoresheet five times. On Thursday, he scored a goal and an assist against the New York Islanders. His strongest performance was against the Washington Capitals on Sunday, scoring two goals and an assist. His outstanding play didn’t go unnoticed by his teammates. They crowned him the MVP of the game.
Rust leads the Penguins in both shots, 51, and points, 13, this season. He will look to extend his three-game point streak against the Capitals on Tuesday.
Defensemen: Hedman & Doughty
In his 12th season, Victor Hedman continues to demonstrate why he is one of the best defensemen in the league. The 30-year-old blueliner tallied five assists in four games this week. He recorded two assists in back-to-back games before finishing the week with an assist against the Panthers.
Hedman is now tied for second in the league for points among defensemen with 15, made up of three goals and 12 assists. The Norris Trophy winner is also second in points on the Lightning, trailing only Point. Hedman and the Lightning will look to stay undefeated at home as they take on the Panthers at Amalie Arena on Monday.
Drew Doughty is another player who made the most of playing in just two games this week. He tallied four assists for the Los Angeles Kings, en route to splitting the two-game series against the San Jose Sharks. On Thursday, he recorded three assists and a plus-1 rating during his 25:40 of ice time.
Doughty has recorded 11 points this season, eight of which have come on the power play. The 31-year old veteran has played an average of 26:49 minutes per game this season, second only to Brent Burns in the league. The Kings take on the Minnesota Wild at the Staples Center on Tuesday.
After a dip in performance last season, Marc-Andre Fleury has come out of the gate red hot this season. He won three of his four starts this week, bringing him to a record of 7-1. His tremendous week was capped by a 30-save shutout against the Colorado Avalanche, the 63rd shutout of his career.
Fleury has posted an impressive .944 save percentage (SV%) and a 1.38 goals-against average (GAA) in his eight starts this season. He also has two shutouts and just 11 goals against. The 36-year-old backstop is fifth in wins amongst goaltenders all-time in the NHL, trailing Ed Belfour by just 11. Fleury will look to keep the momentum going this week as the trade rumors around him continue to swirl.
Week six will have it all: milestones, Stanley Cup rematches, and outdoor games! Barring any unforeseen circumstances, Sidney Crosby will play his 1000th game on Saturday against the Islanders. The Lightning and the Dallas Stars will play for the first time since their Stanley Cup Final series in September. They will play a total of eight times this season. Finally, the NHL will take to Lake Tahoe this weekend for this season’s outdoor games. The games will feature the Avalanche against the Golden Knights on Saturday and the Boston Bruins versus the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday.
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