NHL Scores: Mika Zibanejad explodes for 6 points in second period, Oilers douse Flames for Darryl Sutter’s first loss, and more

mika zibanejad contract
Mar 17, 2021; New York, New York, USA; New York Rangers center Mika Zibanejad (93) celebrates his power-play goal at 14:29 of the second period against Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Carter Hart (79) at Madison Square Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Bennett/POOL PHOTOS-USA TODAY Sports

Mika Zibanejad tied an NHL record for most points in one period set by the Islanders’ Bryan Trottier in 1978. In a second period the Flyers would love to forget, Zibanejad scored a natural hat trick while adding three assists for six points.

NHL Scores: Mika Zibanejad and Rangers torch the Flyers

This was a Garden party for the limited fans in attendance as the Rangers walloped the Flyers by a 9-0 final. Mika Zibanejad who was this season’s poster boy for slumping and being unlucky exploded to double his goal total to six on the season. It was long overdue for the center and his team.

“Everyone is going to go back to last season and the expectation is obviously higher, but if the puck doesn’t want to go in it doesn’t want to go in,” Zibanejad said. “I’ve been trying to get myself through this and it hasn’t been easy, but it is what it is. It’s one game, but I feel like the game just overall has been feeling a little bit better for the past little bit here. Production is a big part of it when you get the ice time I’ve been getting and the role that I have, but as long as we keep winning then I’m happy.”

NHL.com

Prior to the game the entire team was shocked to learn that head coach David Quinn tested positive and was placed on the COVID protocol list. That wasn’t all as the entire coaching staff was added to it and unavailable to coach the game. That forced their AHL affiliate’s head coach Kris Knoblauch into action as a fill in.

“It happens very quickly,” Knoblauch said. “Getting the call at 11:30 that you might be. I rush home and pack. Initially it was going to be one game, but then they’re like, ‘Well, you might be going on the road trip,’ so then you pack extra. Really, you didn’t have much time to think about it. Everything was laid out for us by the coaching staff and when the game started there are some nerves, definitely some excitement, but then you’ve got to get into game mode, coach mode. It’s certainly a night that I’ll never forget.”

NHL.com

When it was all over, 12 different Rangers appeared on the scoresheet and Alexandar Georgiev stopped all 26 shots for the shutout. The Rangers now move three points behind the Flyers and six behind the Bruins for fourth place.

NHL Scores: Oilers hand Darryl Sutter’s Flames first loss

The Oilers were once again powered by Connor McDavid (1G, 2A) and Leon Draisaitl (3A). They rained down hard on the Flames with a four goal third period leading to the eventual 7-3 final.

oilers vs flames
Mar 17, 2021; Calgary, Alberta, CAN; Edmonton Oilers center Connor McDavid (97) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal against the Calgary Flames during the third period at Scotiabank Saddledome. Mandatory Credit: Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

It was the first loss for new head coach Darryl Sutter who recently called McDavid by far the best player in the world.

“This team, this group of players have to learn, they don’t have the firepower to not put themselves in a position to be good defenders or to check or to play well in their zone,” Sutter said. “If they don’t play that way … look at the shots, they end up 33-30. I don’t think we’re going to score eight goals and beat Edmonton 8-7.”

NHL.com

In other North Division action, Nikolaj Ehlers scored his 15th of the season to lift the Jets over the Canadiens in OT 4-3. Meanwhile, Thatcher Demko propelled the Canucks to a big 3-2 shootout victory over the Senators. Vancouver is now just two points behind Montreal for the last playoff spot in the division.

NHL Scores: Golden Knights stay atop competitive West Division

The Golden Knights outlasted the Sharks 5-4 in Vegas on the strength of four third period goals to rally past San Jose. Alec Martinez notched the eventual game winner and keeps Vegas in first place by four points. Devan Dubnyk did his best to keep his team in the game but couldn’t stop the bleeding.

Finally, the Kings remain competitive and in the thick of things as they beat the Blues 4-1. Cal Petersen was the star in goal stopping 19 of 20 and Anze Kopitar led the offense with a goal and an assist. L.A. is now just 3 points behind St. Louis for the last playoff spot.