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In this edition of NHL Talk, the Toronto Maple Leafs, New York Rangers, Nashville Predators, Arizona Coyotes and Buffalo Sabres have the best quotes from around the League.
Marner Extends Goal Streak to Seven Games
Maple Leafs forward Mitch Marner extended his goal streak to seven games, scoring twice and adding a pair of assists in a 7-1 win at the New Jersey Devils on Tuesday. The 24-year-old had a game-high seven shots on net in a dominant effort by Toronto.
“I think from the drop of the puck tonight, we wanted to come out, clog up that neutral zone, make it hard to get through us,” said Marner. “When we got pucks in deep, we’re being hard on them, trying to find a shot, and I think we did a good job of that.”
Marner suited up alongside his regular linemates, Michael Bunting and Auston Matthews, in the game. Altogether, the line combined for eight points (four goals, four assists) and had 13 shots on goal.
“[Bunting, Matthews and Marner] are very much on the same page,” said Maple Leafs’ head coach Sheldon Keefe. “They’re moving well with and without the puck to find each other. Take all those things, and combine it with the elite skill they have, they’re a hard group to handle. New Jersey has had a real tough time with them the past two games.”
The Maple Leafs complete a sweep of the Devils in back-to-back nights, hosting New Jersey in Toronto the night prior, a 6-4 win. Although the Maple Leafs trailed by a two-goal deficit three times in the first game of the home-and-home series, it managed to pull out a pair of regulation wins. Toronto made sure to give the Devils no chance in the second game, going full-attack mode.
“We’ve been really good on the puck,” said Matthews, Marner’s linemate. “If we have to dump the puck or chip it in, we’ve been really good at hounding pucks, getting them back and attacking the net.
Kreider Scores Twice on Tuesday, Leads NHL in Goals
Rangers forward Chris Kreider helped lead his team to a 5-2 win versus the Florida Panthers on Tuesday, tallying a pair of goals and an assist. With 33 goals on the season, he now holds sole possession of most goals in the NHL. Both of his goals on Tuesday were scored on the power play, marking his 16th and 17th tallies with the man-advantage this season, also ranking him first in the league for power-play goals.
“Having a power play that can capitalize on them taking penalties, and potentially taking the kind of penalties that they’re trying to send a message that they’re not going to be bullied, it backs them off and makes them think twice about doing those things,” said Kreider.
While Kreider was key to the Rangers’ takedown of the Panthers, he also gives credit to his goaltender Igor Shesterkin for a 34-save performance that limited Florida to just two goals on the night. He also commented on Shesterkin’s unique puck-handling abilities.
“Igor is just an outlier in terms of playing the puck, having that element,” said Kreider. “I mean, I’ve never had that before. I think it’s easier on the defensemen. It certainly helps in a situation like that. He’s probably a better passer and has better hands than I do. It adds a ton of value to the team.”
Saros Picks up 100th NHL Win
Predators goaltender Juuse Saros picked up his 100th NHL win in a 4-2 victory against the Vancouver Canucks on Tuesday. The 26-year-old turned aside 32 shots to secure the win, improving his career record to an impressive 100-58-20. His head coach praised him following the game.
“Well, 100 wins is a great benchmark for him,” said Predators head coach John Hynes. “He’s a humble guy. He works hard. He’s tremendously talented. He plays very consistent. He’s very dependable.”
Saros is tied with Avalanche goaltender Pavel Francouz for fourth among NHL netminders with a .927 save percentage (SV%) this season. He is earning his job as the Predators’ starting goalie and appears to have a bright future ahead.
“It’s a great feather in his cap to get the 100 wins, and I think it’s great for the organization that you have a guy like him that’s your lead dog in net,” said Hynes.
Galchenyuk Helps Coyotes Upset Avalanche
Coyotes forward Alex Galchenyuk scored his first goal of the season and the shootout-clinching goal in a 3-2 shootout win at the Colorado Avalanche on Tuesday. Arizona was a heavy underdog in the game but managed to put an end to the Avalanche’s 18-game home winning streak. Galchenyuk had been waiting for his breakout game of the season, and he finally got it.
“I put in the work trying to find my game, put a lot of effort on my two-way game,” said Galchenyuk. “Over the last few games, my game’s really been building a lot better and better and I had a great opportunity tonight.”
“We mentioned many times this year that we have a group with a lot of pride, a lot of character and a lot of leadership,” said Coyotes head coach Andre Tourigny. “The boys take pride in the way they play, the way they bounce back. They know the [Avalanche] are a really good team; they were on a roll. They arrived here with a lot of pride, they played with a lot of passion, and they battled all the way through.”
Tuch Scores for Sabres in Return to Vegas
Sabres forward Alex Tuch made his return to T-Mobile Arena on Tuesday, scoring a goal in a 5-2 loss at the Vegas Golden Knights. The 25-year-old was traded to his hometown team in Buffalo on Nov. 5, 2021, along with Peyton Krebs, a top 10 protected first-round pick in the 2022 NHL Draft and a second-round pick in the 2023 NHL Draft, in exchange for Jack Eichel and a third-round pick in the 2023 NHL Draft. The Golden Knights had a video tribute for him upon his return.
“That was pretty special. Kind of rolled right into that tribute there, and it was nice,” said Tuch. “It was tough, but very fortunate, and it was very nice that they did that. Vegas gave me a lot, and that’s just another thing to add to the list.”
Tuch’s goal was the first of the night for the Sabres, who were already trailing, 4-0, at the time. While he was able to score in his return to Vegas, the goal was too little, too late.
“That was tough to score in that situation,” said Tuch. “Kind of got a little bit of energy from it, but obviously not a lot. We put ourselves in a big hole there. Felt good, but not great there.”
Tom Pepper is an NHL columnist at The Hockey Writers. He lives in Toronto and is a diehard fan of the St. Louis Blues.