NHL Talk: Wild, Jets, Maple Leafs, Penguins, Predators & More

In this edition of NHL Talk, these are the top hockey stories with quotes from players, coaches, managers, and more.

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Lightning Win Back-to-Back Games After Three-Game Skid

The Tampa Bay Lightning won its second consecutive game following a three-game skid, 4-1 at the New York Islanders on Sunday. The Lightning trailed 1-0 after the first period but proceeded to score four unanswered goals (two in the second period, two in the third period) to close out the game. With the win, Tampa Bay moved one point ahead of the Boston Bruins for second place in the Atlantic Division.

Jon Cooper Tampa Bay Lightning
Jon Cooper, Tampa Bay Lightning (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

“We could have been up a couple early,” Lightning head coach Jon Cooper said. “We weren’t, and then we fall behind. When things aren’t going as well as you think they can and confidence becomes an issue, that’s when you have to strap the boots on and go back to work, and they did that. … Nobody was hanging their heads. That was a big thing for us and (a) good result for us tonight.”

Rangers’ Vatrano Scores Two Goals in 18 Seconds

New York Rangers forward Frank Vatrano scored two goals in 18 seconds to help lead his team to a 5-4 win against the Buffalo Sabres on Sunday. He was acquired in a trade with the Florida Panthers on March 16 and has four goals in his first six games wearing a Rangers uniform. His two quick goals on Sunday came in the first period, giving New York a 1-0 lead at 3:59 and extending the lead to 2-0 just 18 seconds later at 4:17.

Frank Vatrano New York Rangers
Frank Vatrano, New York Rangers (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

“He’s fitting in well,” Rangers head coach Gerard Gallant said. “That line (Vatrano, Chris Kreider, Mika Zibanejad) had some chances. He scored two goals, great shots, making the right plays. They’re coming together.”

Penguins’ Malkin Tallies Hat Trick in Blowout Victory

Pittsburgh Penguins forward Evgeni Malkin scored three goals in his return from an illness, helping lead his team to a blowout 11-2 win against the Detroit Red Wings on Sunday. It marks the 13th hat trick of his NHL career and the first since Jan. 30, 2018. He was a game-time decision after missing a 5-1 loss to the Rangers on Friday, but ultimately played in the game and had a major impact.

Evgeni Malkin Pittsburgh Penguins
Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

“I think he’s getting better with each game he plays,” Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan said. “When he’s at his best, he’s one of the few players that can take a game over. We’re fortunate. We have a couple of them on our team. … He’s a generational talent.”

Predators Climb to Third Place in Central Division

The Nashville Predators climbed to third place in the Central Division with a 5-4 win against the Philadelphia Flyers on Sunday. The Predators now hold a 38-24-4 record on the season and sit one point ahead of the St. Louis Blues. Nashville rookie forward Tanner Jeannot sealed the team’s victory on Sunday with his game-winning goal with just 1:19 remaining in the third period.

Tanner Jeannot Nashville Predators
Tanner Jeannot, Nashville Predators (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)

“It wasn’t so much that this was a must-win game, but this was a must-get back to our identity game,” Jeannot said. “And we [had] to leave the rink tonight, regardless of the end result, feeling good about how we’re working, how we’re playing, how we’re contributing, what our identity is and getting our culture back on track. Tonight, I thought the guys played a real solid game. I thought we deserved to win the game, and it’s nice to see.”

Wild’s Talbot Wins Eighth Consecutive Start

Minnesota Wild goaltender Cam Talbot won his eighth consecutive start with a 3-2 overtime win against the Colorado Avalanche on Sunday. He saved 40 of the 42 shots he faced in the game for a .952 save percentage (SV%), leading the Wild to its sixth-straight victory. With the win, Minnesota remains second place in the Central Division, four points ahead of the Nashville Predators.

Cam Talbot Minnesota Wild
Cam Talbot, Minnesota Wild (Photo by Nick Wosika/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

“You look forward to these games. The way we’ve been playing and where [Colorado is] in the standings, you kind of had this one circled,” Talbot said. “It’s a good measuring stick, especially after we’ve been rolling here pretty well lately, and we need some points in our division. These are big games right now, and there’s no bigger game than against the No. 1 team in the league.”

Jets’ Scheifele Snipes With 9.7 Seconds Left in Overtime

Winnipeg Jets forward Mark Scheifele scored a goal with 9.7 seconds remaining in a 2-1 overtime win against the Arizona Coyotes on Sunday. He managed to beat Coyotes goaltender Karel Vejmelka’s blocker-side on a breakaway after a turnover by Arizona forward Lawson Crouse in the Jets’ zone. Scheifele is staying hot for Winnipeg, with nine points (three goals, six assists) in his last five games.

Mark Scheifele Winnipeg Jets
Mark Scheifele, Winnipeg Jets (Photo by Jonathan Kozub/NHLI via Getty Images)

“Vejmelka stood on his head all night, so [I] just tried to keep it simple,” Scheifele said. “It’s nice him being a right-handed goalie, usually that’s glove side, so it’s nice to feel having the blocker on that side, so I just tried to shoot it and hope it went in.”

Maple Leafs’ Mrazek Earning Trust With Second Win in a Row

Toronto Maple Leafs’ goaltender Petr Mrazek won a second consecutive game, 5-2 against the Florida Panthers on Sunday, since going unclaimed on waivers on March 20. He saved 34 of 36 shots he faced for a .944 SV%, his best performance since posting a .967 SV% in a 3-1 win against the Wild on Feb. 24. Mrazek, who has a subpar .890 SV% in 19 games (17 starts) this season, is earning the trust of his teammates after Maple Leafs’ general manager Kyle Dubas elected to pass on trading for a goaltender ahead of the 2022 NHL Trade Deadline.

Petr Mrazek, Toronto Maple Leafs
Petr Mrazek, Toronto Maple Leafs (Photo by Richard A. Whittaker/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

“It shows he’s a battler, he competes, he believes in himself,” Maple Leafs’ head coach Sheldon Keefe said. “He was outstanding again tonight. That’s two in a row now that he’s looked like the goalie that he is and has been throughout his career, so that’s great he’s bounced back and responded well to adversity here. That’s a terrific sign and a testament to his character.”

Devils’ Bratt Extends NHL Career-High Point Streak to Seven Games

New Jersey Devils forward Jesper Bratt extended his point streak to seven games in a 3-2 shootout win against the Montreal Canadiens on Sunday. He was credited with the primary assist on Jack Hughes’ second goal of the night at 14:16 of the second period, which gave the Devils a 2-0 lead. Bratt has scored 10 points (three goals, seven assists) during his NHL career-high point streak.

Jesper Bratt New Jersey Devils
Jesper Bratt, New Jersey Devils (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Related: NHL Talk: Panthers, Bruins, Stars, Flyers & Golden Knights

“We know he can create his own opportunities with his speed, but the lower-body strength he has and the ability to beat people off the walls, from behind the net and create some of his own opportunities, is something that he’s really getting good at,” Devils head coach Lindy Ruff said.

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