In this edition of NHL Talk, here are the top storylines with quotes from players, coaches, managers, and more.
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Maple Leafs’ Kallgren Earns Shutout in First NHL Start
Toronto Maple Leafs’ goaltender Erik Kallgren earned a shutout in his first NHL start, a 4-0 win against the Dallas Stars on Tuesday. The 25-year-old stopped all 35 shots he faced in the game, becoming just the 39th goaltender in NHL history with a shutout in their first start. The victory puts an end to a two-game winless skid for the Maple Leafs, who rank third in the Atlantic Division with a 38-17-5 record.
“It feels good,” said Kallgren. “A lot of emotions but I’m really happy for the win. I just try to have fun and enjoy this moment. It’s obviously my first NHL start so I just try to have fun. It sounds clichéd but that’s how I tried to embrace this game.”
Capitals’ Ovechkin Takes Sole Possession of Third in All-Time NHL Goals
Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin made history with his goal in a 4-3 shootout win against the New York Islanders on Tuesday. He overtook Jaromir Jagr for sole possession of third in all-time NHL goals when he gave the Capitals a 3-2 lead at 15:02 of the third period after a faceoff win by Evgeny Kuznetsov, firing the puck past former teammate Semyon Varlamov. Ovechkin now has 767 career NHL goals, only trailing Wayne Gretzky (894) and Gordie Howe (801) for the most in NHL history.
“I just close my eyes and shoot. I [had] pretty good chances previous games,” Ovechkin said. “Finally, ‘Kuzy’ wins a good face-off right on my stick. To score on a very good friend, ‘Varly,’ it’s nice too.”
Golden Knights Drop Fifth Consecutive Game
The Vegas Golden Knights continue to struggle after dropping a fifth consecutive game, losing 7-3 at the Winnipeg Jets on Tuesday. The Golden Knights never held a lead in the game, trailing 2-0 after the first period, 5-1 after the second period, and matching the Jets with two goals each in the third period. Vegas is barely holding on to the final wild-card spot in the Western Conference, with the Dallas Stars, Vancouver Canucks, Winnipeg Jets, and Anaheim Ducks all within three points of tying the Golden Knights.
“Getting down early in games, it’s tough playing comeback hockey,” Pietrangelo said. “I think our special teams hasn’t been great. If we get those two things on the same page, I think we’ll have a little bit more success. … We need a little bit more emotion right now. I mean, it’s this time of year. Leading into the playoffs you need that emotion.”
Oilers Extend Winning Streak to Three Games
The Edmonton Oilers extended its three-game winning streak with a 7-5 victory against the Detroit Red Wings on Tuesday. In its first three games of a five-game homestead, the Oilers have now defeated the Washington Capitals, Tampa Bay Lightning, and Red Wings. Edmonton looks to keep the good times rolling against the Buffalo Sabres and New Jersey Devils before hitting the road again next week.
“Part of the game plan was to come out hard, and I think we’ve done that on this homestand (3-0-0), to assert our game plan on the other team immediately,” Oilers head coach Jay Woodcroft said. “We accomplished that, but then there was a little bit of a lull, and what was at the root of that lull was a lot of self-inflicted errors, passing through people, turnovers at the offensive blue line, just things that we didn’t demonstrate in the first five minutes.”
Avalanche’s Kuemper Records Second-Straight Shutout
Colorado Avalanche goaltender Darcy Kuemper recorded a second-straight shutout in a 3-0 win at the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday. He turned aside all 23 shots he faced in the game, which comes after making 46 saves in a 3-0 win against the Calgary Flames on Sunday. His latest shutout marks his fifth of the season and the 25th of his NHL career.
“I think we didn’t really give them anything off the rush, and once we got into the zone, we were closing quick, taking away their time and space,” Kuemper said. “And when they were getting shots, they were to the outside and I was able to see them, and the guys did an amazing job in front of me tonight.”
Sharks Welcome Panthers’ Thornton Back to San Jose
Florida Panthers forward Joe Thornton played his first game in San Jose since March 11, 2020, in a 3-2 overtime win at the San Jose Sharks on Tuesday. He played 15 seasons with the Sharks, before joining the Maple Leafs and later the Panthers, marking his first game as a visitor in San Jose since March 21, 2003, when he was a member of the Boston Bruins. As one of the greatest players to ever don the Sharks’ uniform, Thornton was welcomed back with cheers and a video tribute from the organization.
“I can’t say enough about him,” Sharks defenseman Brent Burns said. “I think he’s an incredible human. Obviously, an incredible hockey player, but I think it’s the off-ice stuff. He’s just special. I think he’s one of a kind. He’s an incredible, incredible guy. … The reception that he got and the video, it was great. You could ask Steven Spielberg to do a two-and-a-half-hour movie with him and nobody would get bored.”
Tom Pepper is an NHL columnist at The Hockey Writers. He lives in Toronto and is a diehard fan of the St. Louis Blues.