In this edition of “NHL Talk,” these are the top hockey stories with quotes from players, coaches, managers, and more. Check Tom Pepper’s profile every day for a new edition of the “NHL Talk” column.
Wild’s Kaprizov Becomes First in Franchise History to Reach 100-Point Mark
Minnesota Wild forward Kirill Kaprizov tallied four points (one goal, three assists) in a 6-3 win against the Seattle Kraken on Friday, giving him 101 points (45 goals, 56 assists) in 77 games this season. He is the first player in Wild franchise history to reach the 100-point mark in a season. Kaprizov is helping Minnesota in its battle for home-ice advantage, two points ahead of the St. Louis Blues for second place in the Central Division with four games remaining.
“It’s a huge accomplishment,” Kaprizov said. “A huge thank you to the fans, my teammates, the organization. Obviously, it’s a huge accomplishment, I’m extremely thankful and happy. Obviously, getting the team win was super important and made everything that much more sweet.”
Oilers Clinch Berth in 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs With Valiant Victory
The Edmonton Oilers clinched a berth in the 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs with a 6-3 win against the Colorado Avalanche on Friday. Oilers forward Evander Kane tallied a hat trick and an assist to help Edmonton take down the Avalanche, who rank second place in the NHL and have already clinched first place in the Western Conference with a 55-17-6 record. The Oilers scored four goals in the second period (three from Kane) to run away with the game and secure their ticket to the postseason.
“It was a good team win, it’s great to clinch the playoffs here at home,” Kane said. “I thought in the first period we came in a little flat, we didn’t do what we talked about heading into the game, but we got off to a strong start in the second and carried the momentum all the way through.”
Avalanche Struggling on Uncharacteristic Three-Game Losing Streak
The Avalanche lost a third consecutive game in a 6-2 loss at the Oilers on Friday. Colorado’s poor stretch of games is uncharacteristic for the team, which ranks second in the NHL and has clinched first place in the Western Conference with a 55-17-6 record. After holding the first-place position in the NHL for an extended period of time, the Avalanche now trail the Florida Panthers by two points.
“Yeah, it’s definitely concerning, we’re shooting ourselves in the foot a lot of the time,” Avalanche forward Nathan MacKinnon said. “I feel like a lot of those goals are preventable — most of them — I can think of three. It doesn’t matter who’s in the lineup, we can be good with the puck, all of us are NHL-caliber players, we can make smart decisions. Regardless of the guys we’re missing and regardless of the standings, we’re trying to get better, and we need to definitely improve.”
Capitals’ Vanecek Records Fourth Shutout of the Season
Washington Capitals goaltender Vitek Vanecek stopped all 19 shots he faced in a 2-0 win at the Arizona Coyotes on Friday. It marked his fourth shutout of the season, and the sixth of his NHL career. It was a statement win for Vanecek, who had allowed 22 goals in his previous six starts.
“Actually, this game is really hard because there weren’t too many shots, and in the second period, the guys were buzzing all the time in the offensive zone, so it was really hard for me,” Vanecek said. “In the third period, I got some shots that got me back (in it).”
Tom Pepper is an NHL columnist at The Hockey Writers. He lives in Toronto and is a diehard fan of the St. Louis Blues.