It doesn't really matter what you think about Alex Ovechkin's defensive game or how low his plus/minus is. What matters is the guy has played in 54 games this season and has already scored 40 goals before the Olympic break.
No other player in the league has more than 30. That's pretty special, and worthy of some extra attention.
Ovechkin's goal on Thursday made him the first player in the league this season to hit the 40-goal mark and it also proved to be the game-winner for the Capitals in their 4-2 win over the Winnipeg Jets. The other noteworthy event to come out of that game was Martin Erat finally putting the puck into the net, even if it was for the wrong team.
The craziest stat line of the night, however, might belong to Montreal Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty. He not only recorded a hat trick in their 5-2 win over the Vancouver Canucks, he also received -- and missed! -- two penalty shots within two minutes of each other.
You can watch hockey for another 100 years and you will probably never see another night like that.
Elsewhere around the league, Patrick Roy was freaking out behind the bench again during the Colorado Avalanche's 3-1 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers, and Erik Karlsson destroyed a water bottle when he scored his 15th goal of the season in Ottawa's 3-2 win over the Buffalo Sabres. The Los Angeles Kings scored just enough to get a win, and you can thank Robyn Regehr, of all people, for scoring the game-winning goal in overtime against the Columbus Blue Jackets.
All the NHL Scores
Flames 4, Islanders 2
Flyers 3, Avalanche 1
Capitals 4, Jets 2
Canadiens 5, Canucks 2
Senators 3, Sabres 2
Maple Leafs 4, Lightning 1
Red Wings 3, Panthers 1
On Thursday we asked you five burning questions about the days games. These are your cool, soothing answers.
1. Who will get the win in their start on Thursday: Carey Price orRoberto Luongo?
Chalk it up for Carey Price. Luongo gave up four goals in the loss (Montreal's fifth goal was an empty-netter, which also completed Max Pacioretty's hat trick), but it's hard to hold much of that against him. The Canucks are a mess right now and in desperate need of some time off. It certainly can't hurt. It was so bad for Vancouver on Thursday that Luongo had to face two penalty shots against the same player just two minutes apart. Tough to win when the team in front of you is playing like that.
2. How will Martin St. Louis play after being named to the Canadian Olympic team?
He assisted on Tampa Bay's only goal of the night late in the third period when the game was already well in hand, but overall it was a pretty poor showing by the entire team in a 4-1 loss to the Toronto Maple Leafs. St. Louis played 20 minutes and did not record a single shot on goal.
3. Will Pavel Datsyuk do anything of note in his return?
No. The Red Wings eased him back into the lineup after he missed more than a month with a knee injury and limited him to just 13 minutes of ice time. He had one shot on goal and finished the night as a minus-one in Detroit's 3-1 win over the Florida Panthers.
4. Can the Capitals slow down Paul Maurice and the Winnipeg Jets?
Oh yes, and it was a huge win for a Capitals team that desperately needed the two points. Troy Brouwer scored a pair of goals while Alex Ovechkin and Tom Wilson also scored in the win. Braden Holtby stopped 34 of the 36 shots he faced, while only one of the two goals against actually went in off of a Jets player.
5. How will Ryan Callahan follow up his big performance from Tuesday?
He was very active in the sense that he hit a lot of people and blocked some shots, but the Rangers spent a little too much time chasing the puck at times and couldn't generate enough offense against an Edmonton that has really struggled defensively this season. Callahan did record a couple of shots on goal but was completely held off the score sheet in the Rangers' 2-1 loss to the Oilers.
The one play or moment from Thursday that will be making headlines over the next couple of days.
Thomas Vanek took a hard fall into the boards late in the second period of the Islanders' 4-2 loss to the Calgary Flames on Thursday night and appeared to be shaken up. He was able to return to the game, but that had to be a scary moment for general manager Garth Snow. We already know Vanek rejected the Islanders' long-term contract offer and because of that there is a pretty good chance that he will finish the regular season playing for another team -- provided he stays healthy. The Islanders aren't going to sit him, but an injury to their top trade chip would have been just another brutal break in a season where pretty much everything has gone wrong.
Stat of the Night
Alex Ovechkin scored another game-winning goal Thursday, and that is something that has happened in a large number of the Capitals' wins this season. Our stat of the night comes from our friend Ted Starkey.
Ovechkin now has 7 GWGs on the year. The Caps have 26 wins.— Ted Starkey (@TedStarkey) February 7, 2014
Post to Post
- The Blackhawks made a trade for some depth on Thursday night.
- Some reaction from the folks at Second City Hockey.
- Coincidence vs. Causation, Tyler Bozak, and defensive play.
- Martin St. Louis is headed to the Olympics.
- Unfortunately, Henrik Sedin and Marian Gaborik will not be.