NHL Roundup: Evgeny Kuznetsov nets hat trick, Penguins dump Golden Knights, Isles Barry Trotz hits 900, and more
The NHL Roundup for Friday, March 11, 2022 features recaps for all four games on the docket.
In Columbus, defenseman Zach Werenski’s last minute marker tied the game against the Minnesota Wild leading to the eventual Blue Jackets shootout win. The NY Islanders are keeping their slim playoff hopes alive with another victory, this time over the Winnipeg Jets.
Meanwhile, Jack Eichel is having a devil of time trying to help his Golden Knights find wins as the Pittsburgh Penguins dumped them with three third period tallies. However, we begin in Vancouver where Evgeny Kuznetsov’s big game helped the Washington Capitals take down the Canucks.
Capitals 4, Canucks 3 (OT)
Lars Eller scored 42 seconds into overtime and the visiting Washington Capitals defeated the Vancouver Canucks 4-3 on Friday.
John Carlson entered the zone 2-on-1 and passed across to Eller, whose shot eluded Thatcher Demko.
Evgeny Kuznetsov had his second career hat trick for the Capitals, who went 2-0-1 on their Western Canada road swing. Vitek Vanecek made 23 saves.
“Nobody was panicking, nobody was reaching,” Kuznetsov said. “It was always positive. We always believe in each other.”
Alex Ovechkin had two assists but did not score and remains tied with Jaromir Jagr (766 goals) for third place on the NHL all-time list.
The Capitals took a 1-0 lead at 5:43 of the first period thanks to a strange bounce. Nick Jensen played the puck around the boards in the offensive zone. The puck apparently hit something, deflected out in front of the net, and bounced off Kuznetsov and into the net.
Kuznetsov struck again 44 seconds later on the power play. Ovechkin’s one-timer trickled past Demko and Kuznetsov outreached a defender to sweep it over the line and make it 2-0. The puck was not already over the line when Kuznetsov hit it, or the goal would have been Ovechkin’s.
Kuznetsov has seven points (four goals, three assists) in his past five games.
Vancouver trailed 2-0 entering the third period, but Hughes pulled the Canucks within 2-1 just 57 seconds in when his high wrist shot from the center point found its way through traffic and past Vanecek.
Horvat tied it 2-2 on power play at 3:19, scoring from the high slot off a pass from Miller, and then gave the Canucks a 3-2 lead when he back-handed home a rebound at 4:59 for his 20th goal of the season.
Horvat has eight points (three goals, five assists) during a five-game point streak.
Kuznetsov tied the score 3-3 when he tucked in a rebound at 15:07 of the third period on a power play.
Blue Jackets 3, Wild 2 (SO)
Zach Werenski scored the tying goal in the final minute of regulation, and Elvis Merzlikins stopped 36 shots, plus two of three in the shootout, as the Columbus Blue Jackets rallied for a 3-2 victory over the visiting Minnesota Wild.
“We had to dig deep to find a win tonight,” Werenski said. “For our young guys, even for older guys, a win like this is really important. For us to stick with it and come out with two points is huge.”
Yegor Chinakhov scored the night’s first goal and the only one in the shootout as the Blue Jackets rebounded from Thursday’s disheartening 6-0 loss to the host New York Islanders. They were 0-2-2 in their previous four games.
Columbus, which managed just 13 shots on goal over the final two periods after recording 14 in the first, pulled Merzlikins as it trailed 2-1. Werenski scored amid traffic in front of the net to tie things with 30.4 seconds remaining in regulation.
Chinakhov beat Minnesota’s Kaapo Kahkonen (26 saves) on Columbus’ second shootout attempt. Then Merzlikins stymied Kirill Kaprizov to secure the victory.
Penguins 5, Golden Knights 2
Mark Friedman, Bryan Rust and Evan Rodrigues scored third-period goals to lift Pittsburgh past visiting Vegas.
“I think it’s big for our confidence,” Rust said. “All we need to do is win the third period there. … Things aren’t going to come easy, especially with the teams we’re playing against.”
Rust and Jeff Carter each had a goal and an assist and Mike Matheson also scored for the Penguins, who were 0-1-1 in their previous two. Jack Eichel and Alex Pietrangelo scored and Jonathan Marchessault had two assists for the Golden Knights, who lost their third in a row.
The Golden Knights were without several injured players, including No. 1 goaltender Robin Lehner (lower-body injury), and winger Max Pacioretty did not play in the third period for an undisclosed reason.
Islanders 5, Jets 2
Josh Bailey scored twice as New York pieced together a long-awaited winning streak by beating Winnipeg in Elmont, N.Y.
For Islanders coach Barry Trotz, it was career win 900. After the game, he told the press he was unaware of the milestone until the final buzzer.
“It just means I’ve been around a long time,” Trotz said. “I’ve had some good players and we’ve been able to win some games.”
Brock Nelson scored in the first period and Bailey and Anders Lee scored 40 seconds apart early in the second for the Islanders, who have won back-to-back games for the first time since winning three in a row from Jan. 17-21.
Kyle Connor and Blake Wheeler scored for the Jets, who had a two-game winning streak snapped as they remained five points behind the Dallas Stars in the race for the final Western Conference wild-card spot.
–Field Level Media contributed to this report