As the postseason races heat up and the trade deadline approaches, the NHL is only getting more intense, and this past weekend was no exception.
The Toronto Maple Leafs were the latest team to make a big move on the trade market by acquiring Ryan O'Reilly and Noel Acciari from the Blues, and those two players made their debut on Saturday night.
Speaking of the trade deadline, Patrick Kane generated a lot of interest on Sunday with an excellent performance against those Maple Leafs. Plus, the Hurricanes gave the home fans a lot to cheer about at the 2023 Stadium Series game in Raleigh.
Let's take a look back at the biggest storylines and best highlights from the weekend that was in the NHL.
Goal of the weekend: Bergeron banks it in off the glass
Patrice Bergeron didn't become one of the best players in the NHL by simply coasting off his natural ability. Bergeron processes the game quicker than the other players on the ice, and he used his elite awareness to tally a goal over the weekend.
In the Boston Bruins' throttling of the New York Islanders on Saturday, Jake DeBrusk's shot deflected off the glass behind the goal and floated toward the crease. Bergeron choked up on his stick and laid down a bunt into the back of the net.
The Bruins just scored on a bank shot off the top of the glass, over the net 🤯 pic.twitter.com/JBewEObtFu— B/R Open Ice (@BR_OpenIce) February 18, 2023
That goal was Bergeron's 20th of the season, and he may crack 30 goals for the first time since the 2019-20 season.
Robbery of the weekend: Nino Niederreiter bails out Juuse Saros
Juuse Saros has been a candidate for robbery of the weekend on multiple occasions, but when he finally gets the nod it's because his teammate threw himself in front of a shot with no regard for his own life.
To be fair, the initial save by Saros on the play might have been worthy of the honor anyway, but Nino Niederreiter sealed the deal.
With the Predators on the power play Connor Dewar of the Minnesota Wild broke in for an excellent shorthanded chance. Saros was able to stay with him and stuck out his right pad to deny Dewar, but Nashville was not out of danger yet.
Dewar picked up the rebound and passed the puck to a wide open Mason Shaw in the slot. With Saros down and out, Niederreiter jumped in front of Shaw's one-timer to rob him of a glorious scoring opportunity.
Juuse Saros and Nino Niederreiter (@thelnino22) team up for just a WILD sequence of stops. 🤠 pic.twitter.com/OG35ncVL4g— NHL (@NHL) February 19, 2023
Technically, that will go down as a blocked shot and not a save for Niederreiter, but not all blocked shots are created equal.
Maple Leafs acquire Ryan O'Reilly from Blues
The Maple Leafs joined in on the Eastern Conference arms race by acquiring Ryan O'Reily and Noel Acciari from the St. Louis Blues on Friday night. In total, Toronto surrendered first-round, second-round, third-round, and fourth-round picks to get O'Reilly at 25% of is original salary cap hit, thanks to some retention help from the Blues and Minnesota Wild
The Leafs paid a steep price to get O'Reilly, but it's tough to blame a franchise that hasn't won a playoff round in nearly two decades. O'Reilly may not be what he once was, but he can still be extremely effective in Toronto, especially given the role he will be asked to play. The Maple Leafs can roll with a three-headed monster at center with O'Reilly behind Auston Matthews and John Tavares.
O'Reilly made his Maple Leafs debut in Saturday night's win over the Montreal Canadiens. Late in the second period, O'Reilly recorded his first point in Toronto with a nice secondary assist on a goal by Michael Bunting.
That was fowl!! 🦆 pic.twitter.com/EtDDBtIJIu— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) February 19, 2023
Ultimately, this trade will be judged by how the Maple Leafs perform in the postseason, but O'Reilly does make the lineup even more formidable than it already was.
Hurricanes dominate Caps at Carter-Finley Stadium
The first outdoor NHL game in North Carolina was a rousing success. Carter-Finley Stadium was rocking, and the Carolina Hurricanes clobbered the visiting Washington Capitals, 4-1.
Just over two minutes into the game, Jesperi Kotkaniemi got the scoring started by deflecting a shot-pass from Teuvo Teravainen behind Darcy Kuemper. That sent Raleigh into a frenzy, and the atmosphere never died down the rest of the night.
What a start!! pic.twitter.com/anlFzuUlcj— Carolina Hurricanes (@Canes) February 19, 2023
Early in the second period, Paul Stastny chipped home a rebound off a shot from Jalen Chatfield to double Carolina's lead.
Double up that lead!! pic.twitter.com/SUkXpc4t50— Carolina Hurricanes (@Canes) February 19, 2023
Just a few minutes later, Martin Necas ripped a one-timer by Darcy Kuemper for a power play goal that gave the Hurricanes a 3-0 lead.
Marty Necas UNLOADED on this pic.twitter.com/oYO63viyP2— Carolina Hurricanes (@Canes) February 19, 2023
As the Carolina barrage continued, goaltender Frederik Andersen got in on the offensive onslaught. After a dump-in by the Capitals, Andersen fired a pass up ice to Teravainen for a 2-on-1 with Martin Necas. Those two passed Kuemper into oblivion, and Teravianen finished the play, with Andersen getting an assist.
This was playing with your prey pic.twitter.com/QAJeeA5AV4— Carolina Hurricanes (@Canes) February 19, 2023
Once the Capitals were down 4-0, that is when the gloves came off... literally. Anthony Mathan and Jordan Martinook went toe-to-toe in an outdoor tussle that got the Caniacs going.
We got an outdoor tilt‼️— B/R Open Ice (@BR_OpenIce) February 19, 2023
Mantha and Martinook going at it 🥊 pic.twitter.com/UEO4uyNM2j
The Hurricanes are one of the favorites to win the 2023 Stanley Cup, and they played like it on Saturday night.
Patrick Kane pumps up his trade stock
If any teams had lingering concerns about Patrick Kane's hip injury, those might be gone now. In what might be one of his last games in a Blackhawks uniform, Kane scored a hat trick against the Toronto Maple Leafs at the United Center.
Kane got the Blackhawks on the board first with a perfect shot off the rush that simply caught Maple Leafs goaltender Ilya Samsonov off guard.
please enjoy this goal and not the following one 🙂 pic.twitter.com/eMNTl1dn7b— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) February 19, 2023
On his second goal, Kane got the puck wide open in the slot but had the patience to wait out both Toronto defenseman Morgan Rielly and Samsonov. Once he saw an opening, Kane slipped the puck through Samsonov's legs.
Four goals in two games. Is that good? pic.twitter.com/ZHtoOnH9Do— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) February 20, 2023
Kane completed the hat trick with some more creativity. Kane picked up a rebound and drifted below the goal line as he noticed that Samsonov was out of position. As the Toronto netminder was scrambling back into place, Kane banked a shot off his backside that just crossed the line.
That's HatTrick Kane to you 😌 pic.twitter.com/MLtv0Ktkyd— Chicago Blackhawks (@NHLBlackhawks) February 20, 2023
Trade rumors about Kane have been running rampant for months now, and that will only continue as the trade deadline approaches. Possible suitors have reportedly had concerns about forking over premium assets for an injured Kane, but the Blackhawks star looked perfectly fine against the Leafs.
Appointment viewing this week
Maple Leafs at Sabres | Tuesday, Feb. 21: The Maple Leafs made a huge splash by acquiring Ryan O'Reilly and are attempting to position themselves to finally make it out of the opening round of the playoffs. Meanwhile, the Sabres sit just four points out of a Wild Card spot. This could be a potential playoff preview.
Bruins at Kraken | Thursday, Feb. 23: The Bruins and Kraken represent two of the top teams in their respective conferences. After losing three of four, the Bruins look like their dominant selves yet again as they've ripped off a four-game winning streak. Boston will be looking for revenge as they were dominated by Seattle earlier this season when these two teams met.
Kings at Islanders | Friday, Feb. 24: When it rains, it pours on Long Island. Star center Mathew Barzal is out indefinitely with a lower-body injury while fellow forward Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Josh Bailey are also dealing with injuries. Can Bo Horvat continue to rally the troops as the Islanders chase a playoff spot?
Rangers at Capitals | Saturday, Feb. 25: The Rangers really have looked like one of the East's most formidable teams since acquiring Vladimir Tarasenko. However, New York has looked human for the first time since the big trade as they've dropped back-to-back games. On the other hand, the Capitals await the return of captain Alex Ovechkin following the death of his father.
Stars at Golden Knights | Saturday, Feb. 25: This could be a Western Conference Final preview. The Stars and Golden Knights are currently tied for the most points (72) in the Western Conference and both have a lofty ceiling. This one is definitely going to be worth your time.