Another NHL weekend is in the books, and it was a fun one -- especially for the Boston Bruins.
With a win over the Red Wings, the Bruins became the fastest team to 50 wins in NHL history. It took them just 64 games to accomplish the feat, and they can make more history before the regular season is over.
Elsewhere around the league, the Winnipeg Jets picked up some big wins in the playoff race and the Buffalo Sabres kept their playoff hopes alive with a comeback against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
Here are the biggest headlines and best highlights from this past weekend in the NHL.
Goal of the weekend: Mitch Marner drops jaws in Toronto
Trailing the Edmonton Oilers 3-1 in the second period, the Toronto Maple Leafs needed a spark. They got one from Mitch Marner.
Oilers forward Ryan McLeod made an ill-advised pass in front of his own net, and Marner knocked it out of mid-air. Suddenly, he was staring face-to-face with goaltender Stuart Skinner, and Marner made the most of his opportunity. With so much time and space, Marner put on a stickhandling clinic that left Skinner at his mercy.
Marner flipped the puck into the net and sent a jolt of energy through the Air Canada Centre.
MITCHY REALLY DID THAT!! 🤮 pic.twitter.com/5vDgQyYYkt— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) March 12, 2023
That goal by Marner sparked a surge for the Maple Leafs, and they scored six of the next seven goals to win the game, 7-4.
Robbery of the weekend: Casey DeSmith uses the paddle
Casey DeSmith got the start in a very important game for the Pittsburgh Penguins' playoff hopes on Saturday, and he delivered in a major way. Not only did DeSmith hold the Philadelphia Flyers to just one goal on 32 shots, but he also made one of the saves of the year.
In the third period, the Penguins were protecting a 2-1 lead when the Flyers got a power play opportunity. Philadelphia was aiming to tie the game, and it nearly did, except DeSmith made a superhuman stop to deny a goal. Flyers defenseman Cam York blasted a shot from the point, and DeSmith kicked it away with his pad. The rebound popped right to Owen Tippett in the corner, and all he had to do was fire it into a vacant cage.
That's when DeSmith reached back with his paddle and got just enough of the puck to deflect it up and out of play.
Okay Casey, we see you! 🤯 pic.twitter.com/qgiodxi9I5— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) March 11, 2023
Pittsburgh went on to win the game, 5-1, and the team earned a very important two points in the standings. If the Penguins keep getting goaltending like that, they're playoff chances will be much more secure.
Boston Bruins keep making NHL history
The Boston Bruins have done a lot of winning this season -- a record-setting amount of winning, in fact. With their 3-2 win over the Detroit Red Wings on Saturday, the Bruins became the fastest team to 50 wins in NHL history.
After the first period, it looked like the Bruins would have to wait another game to hit 50 wins. Detroit had a 2-0 lead, but Boston came out with a purpose in the second frame. The Bruins finally broke through when Hampus Lindholm left a laser fly through traffic and into the net.
The 🔨 breaks through pic.twitter.com/1jmu4Rl5aT— x - Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) March 11, 2023
Just moments later, Jake DeBrusk found Patrice Begeron in the bumper position on the power play. He tipped the pass between the legs of Magnus Hellberg and into the back of the net. Then, late in the third period, Garnet Hathaway chose a good time to score his first goal as a Bruin. Hathaway crashed the next off the rush and potted a bad rebound coughed up by Hellberg.
It took the Bruins just 64 games to reach 50 wins, and, with 105 points, they are coming for at least two other big records:
- The 1976-77 Montreal Canadiens have the record for the most points in a single season with 132.
- The 1995-96 Detroit Red Wings and the 2018-19 Tampa Bay Lightning each won 62 games.
Jets hang on for big win over Panthers
The Winnipeg Jets have been heading in the wrong direction of late, but they were able to pick up a big road win over the Florida Panthers on Saturday night.
At first, it looked like the Jets were going to let another opportunity slip through their hands. They entered the third period with a 4-2 lead, and it didn't take long for that to evaporate. Marc Staal, with some help from his brother Eric, beat Connor Hellebuyck on an odd-man rush to pull the Panthers within one.
A Staal family affair pic.twitter.com/8nwlq5H3XS— Florida Panthers (@FlaPanthers) March 12, 2023
About five minutes later, the Panthers got a power play, and they made the Jets pay. Matthew Tkachuk fought his way to the front of the net and punched home a rebound to tie the game at 4-4.
After letting a multi-goal lead slip through their hands, the Jets were able to regain their composure and managed to get the game to overtime. That's when Kyle Connor found Mark Scheifele in front of the net for the game-winning goal.
Winner winner, chicken dinner!! 🍗 pic.twitter.com/EEudaaWixF— Winnipeg Jets (@NHLJets) March 12, 2023
That was a very important victory for the Jets, and they got another one against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Sunday. With those four points, Winnipeg was able to keep the Nashville Predators at arm's length in the Western Conference playoff race.
Pavel Dorofeyev uses his noodle for first NHL goal
Pavel Dorofeyev, a 2019 third-round pick, tallied his first NHL goal on Sunday. As great as that was for Dorofeyev, it wouldn't normally be headline news, but the way in which he scored was enough for him to be featured on every highlight package on Monday morning.
In the third period, the Golden Knights and St. Louis Blues were tied 3-3 when there was a scramble in front of the St. Louis net. Vegas forward William Karlsson found the loose puck in the slot and put a shot on goal, but Jordan Binnington made a big save.
The problem for Binnington was that the rebound popped into the air, hit Dorofeyev in the head, and went into the net.
That's using your head, Pavs!!!!!! 😃 pic.twitter.com/quAluTLgt1— Vegas Golden Knights (@GoldenKnights) March 13, 2023
It wasn't exactly the prettiest goal, but few players can say they channeled Doug Glatt on their first NHL tally, and Dorofeyev has an incredible story to tell for the rest of his life.
Sabres erase two-goal deficit to top Maple Leafs
For a team that had dropped six of its last seven games, the Buffalo Sabres were in dire need of a victory on Monday. Despite being down early, the Sabres rallied from a two-goal deficit to defeat the Toronto Maple Leafs 4-3.
Winger Alex Tuch, who was activated off of injured reserve prior to the game, scored a pair of goals to lead the charge in the Sabres' comeback.
THAT'S 3️⃣0️⃣ GOALS THIS SEASON FOR ALEX TUCH!— Buffalo Sabres (@BuffaloSabres) March 14, 2023
For the first time in his career, too 👏 pic.twitter.com/MjxD9F0oF4
Tuch's game-winning goal was also a milestone for the 26-year old as he registered his 30th goal of the 2022-23 season. It marked the first time in Tuch's career that he reached that plateau and he now has 64 points (30 goals & 34 assists) on the season.
With the win, the Sabres now have a 33-28-5 record (71 points) and moved to five points behind the New York Islanders for the second Wild Card spot in the Eastern Conference. The Sabres are also contending with the Florida Panthers, who have 73 points with a game in hand on Buffalo.
Appointment viewing this week
Islanders at Kings | Tuesday, Mar. 14: This should be an intense inter-conference matchup between two teams with a lot to play for in the playoff race. The Islanders are just trying to secure their playoff spot in the Eastern Conference, and the Kings are still within striking distance of first place in the Pacific Division.
Avalanche at Maple Leafs | Wednesday, Mar. 15: Both of these teams are on very solid footing in the NHL playoff race, but this will be a good measuring stick for both sides. The Avalanche are trying to hit their stride as the playoffs approach, and the Leafs can score a big win against the defending champs.
Penguins at Rangers | Thursday, Mar. 16: The Rangers have been a little inconsistent of late, and that has opened the door for the Penguins to climb into the third-place spot in the Metro Division. Playing the Devils or Hurricanes may not seem all that appealing, but it beats falling into a wild card spot and potentially playing the Bruins.
Hurricanes at Maple Leafs | Friday, Mar. 17: This is just a marquee matchup of Eastern Conference juggernauts. The Hurricanes are still fighting for the top spot in the Metro Division, and this will be another chance for Toronto to prove that it can turn the tides and make a deep postseason run this year.
Blackhawks at Coyotes | Saturday, Mar. 18: You might need to review the rosters of the two teams in this game, but it is just as important as a matchup of two teams in the playoff race. In fact, it might be even more important with draft lottery chances hanging in the balance.