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.
“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.
“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.
“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.
“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.
“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.
“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.
“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.
“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.
Tom Pepper is a freelance content creator at The Hockey Writers since June 2020. He hosts The Hockey Writers Podcast on iHeartRadio and wherever you listen to podcasts, every weekday (Monday to Friday), and writes the daily “NHL Talk” column. He is a diehard Seattle Kraken fan and also writes the “Kraken Weekly” column, every Friday. For more Kraken content, subscribe to his YouTube channel.