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NHL scores 2017: Goaltending optional for many across the league on Saturday

Goals, goals, and more goals.

NHL: Minnesota Wild at Dallas Stars Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Congratulations, everyone! We’ve hit the approximate middle of the 2016-17 season. How time flies when one is having fun.

And if you count high-scoring, back-and-forth hockey games in that category, then Saturday was the day for you. Six of the NHL’s 12 games scheduled had seven or more goals scored on a fast and furious day of hockey.

For some, it was business as usual. Take the Stars, who for the life of them cannot find sustainable goaltending. Antti Niemi surrendered three goals on the first two — uh, three — shots he faced in the opening minutes against the Stars. Dallas made a four-goal comeback but was ultimately outdone thanks to a fluky goal that deflected off Kari Lehtonen’s stick and into Jason Zucker as he was sliding into the net:

In Montreal, Henrik Lundqvist had an uncharacteristic few moments in net that gave the Canadiens life late in the third period. The Rangers netminder allowed three goals in 1:02 as Montreal made a comeback then took the lead in a furious few minutes at the Bell Centre.

The Red Wings broke a three-game losing streak by putting six through Pittsburgh’s Marc-Andre Fleury, including four unanswered in the last 21 minutes. Boston had a field day with Michal Neuvirth and the non-existent Flyers defense, which at one point on Saturday allowed Zdeno Chara to set up shop with miles of open ice.

That Flyers loss combined with the Hurricanes putting up a seven spot on the Islanders has closed the gap in the Eastern Conference wild card race to just one point. Exciting times this weekend but not if your team was the one getting turned into Swiss cheese.

Scores

Bruins 6, Flyers 3
Predators 3, Avalanche 2
Canadiens 5, Rangers 4
Maple Leafs 4, Senators 2
Red Wings 6, Penguins 3
Panthers 4, Blue Jackets 3
Hurricanes 7, Islanders 4
Ducks 3, Coyotes 0
Wild 5, Stars 4
Kings 3, Jets 2 (OT)
Oilers 2, Flames 1 (SO)
Blues 4, Sharks 0

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Three Things We Learned

1. Curtis McElhinney won his first as a Maple Leaf

Toronto might just have something in its new backup. The Maple Leafs acquired Curtis McElhinney last week to back up Frederik Andersen, and the goaltender passed his first test with a 4-2 win over the Senators. McElhinney stopped 35 in the win, including 15 in the final frame. Thanks to the valiant performance, the Maple Leafs leapfrogged over the Senators to grab the third Atlantic playoff spot. And let the playoff race begin.

2. Cody McLeod had a warm welcome at his former home in Colorado

Coming into Friday, Cody McLeod was an Avalanche lifer for all 10 seasons of his career. Later that day, he was traded to Nashville in the start of what might be a fire sale for Colorado. Then on Saturday, McLeod played the Avalanche alongside the Predators and not only had a fight, he also scored a goal!

What a good send-off.

3. Patrick Maroon has blossomed in Edmonton

The Oilers aren’t just the Connor McDavid show. Since coming over from Anaheim, Patrick Maroon has been an effective offensive player for Edmonton. With his goal on Saturday, Maroon tied his production from Anaheim in a third of the time.

4. The spears were out in San Jose

Joe Thornton was given just his third-ever game misconduct after spearing Paul Stastny in the second period of the Sharks game:

Out of the ensuing ruckus, Thornton was given a spearing major and a game misconduct, which the Blues then turned into a Sharks 4-on-3 power play after St. Louis took a pair of penalties. Only in hockey.

5. Arizona’s goal-scoring woes continue

The Coyotes had a good two-game win streak going, but their Achilles’ heel caught up with them again. Arizona was unable to score against the Ducks, putting them just behind the Avalanche at the NHL’s second worst 2.05 goals-for average. Despite the Coyotes outshooting the Ducks 26-23, Arizona was blanked by Jonathan Bernier in his first shutout with Anaheim.

Impact Moment

Brian Elliott helped get the Flames to a shootout thanks to this obnoxious save at the end of overtime.

Stat of the night: