NHL Top 10 Power Rankings for Week 14
10. Dallas Stars
On December 19th, the Stars trailed the Lightning 3-1 late in the second period before Radek Faksa halved the deficit. Jason Dickinson evened the score with just over four minutes left in NHL regulation on a backhand shot which pushed the game into overtime. Exactly three minutes elapsed when Tyler Seguin assured Dallas of two points.
They left Tampa for Sunrise but did not fare well on the second night of a back-to-back. Ben Bishop was lit up for six goals, including five in the middle frame. Noel Acciari scored thrice in a 7-4 Panthers win.
Dallas returned home on the 22nd, and Calgary punished the Stars on the power play on three occasions. The lone goal came from Denis Gurianov in a 5-1 defeat. Perhaps it was the right time for the Christmas break.
They had six days to get ready for the Colorado Avalanche. Seguin provided a lead for the NHL home team sixty-eight seconds into play. They could need to keep the lead into the intermission because twenty-four-year-old J.T. Compher scored his fourth of the year. Ian Cole gave the Avalanche the lead almost halfway through the middle frame. A key moment occurred right before the end of the second twenty minutes. Cale Makar struck the puck out of play for a delay of game penalty. The Dallas power-play time carried over into the third. Gurianov lit the lamp for his ninth of the season. The game required a shootout. Joe Pavelski and Alexander Radulov solved Philipp Grubauer to get the Stars back on track.
On this back-to-back, it was a more satisfying outcome, but for a while, they were on the back foot on tallies by Taylor Hall and Conor Garland in the opening period. Jamie Benn beat Antti Raanta 2:18 into the third. He later assisted Alexander Radulov on Dallas’ second goal with under ten minutes left. Tampere, Finland’s Roope Hintz scored what was the game-winning goal 4:09 from time. Mattias Janmark removed the lingering doubt more than two and a half minutes later with his empty netter.
Dallas gets their opportunity to host the NHL Winter Classic on the first day of the next decade as they play the Nashville Predators in the Cotton Bowl. After that, they host the Detroit Red Wings back at American Airlines Center for a Friday tilt.
9. Vegas Golden Knights
Two Thursdays ago, the Knights went into Vancouver. Marc-Andre Fleury gave up three goals in the first twenty minutes to Antoine Roussel, Tanner Pearson, and Elias Pettersson. Jonathan Marchessault did provide a lifeline for the visitors. Vegas showed great resiliency thanks to Ryan Smith and Nick Holden to get the game even after forty minutes. Mark Stone canceled out Pettersson in the closing minutes to force a five-minute extra session. It did not last long as Christopher Tanev ended the contest for the Canucks.
Things were better three nights later in San Jose. Malcolm Subban stopped thirty-seven shots on goal. Paul Stastny opened up the scoring prior to the second intermission. After Logan Couture pegged the Sharks level early in the final frame, William Karlsson set up goals by Shea Theodore and Marchessault and the Golden Knights gained two NHL points.
The team had a quick turnaround as they headed back to Nevada to host Colorado. Ryan Reaves got his team even on a wrist shot past the midway point of the first period. They found themselves on the chase after a concession of a short-handed goal by Matt Nieto. Down 3-1, Vegas pulled one back thanks to the sixteenth goal of the season by Max Pacioretty. The Avalanche struck twice more before William Carrier hit 2:06 into period three, but Fleury had another rough outing in a 7-3 defeat.
This past Friday, Marchessault continued his fine form in Anaheim and Vegas hit the front. Subban was in net and only faced eighteen shots but gave up three in a span of 1:37 which proved vital. The Ducks added one more but the Knights did not give up as Nate Schmidt scored twice in the closing minutes, but it was too little too late.
Saturday, the Knights were back home against the Coyotes. Stone made his presence felt, striking twice against Raanta for a 2-1 lead after one period. Fleury got some insurance from Chandler Stephenson and Stastny in period two, getting the team back in the winner’s circle.
Vegas got vengeance against Anaheim on home ice. Stone and Alex Tuch overturned the game’s opening goal by Korbinian Holzer. Both Knights’ goals were backhanded attempts. So was Reilly Smith’s, as he was the third player to beat John Gibson. Marchessault helped to salt away the game in a 5-2 decision to put a close to 2019.
The new year opens with games against Philadelphia, Saint Louis, and Pittsburgh in the desert.
8. Toronto Maple Leafs
On the 20th, the Maple Leafs faced fellow NHL Original Six member New York Rangers at Madison Square Garden. Toronto showcased their skills in a back and forth hockey game, twice allowing a lead to fritter away. William Nylander’s second goal of the game put the Canadian side ahead for good. Forty-seven seconds later, Mitchel Marner scored unassisted. Ilya Mikheyev of Omsk, Russia put a cap on an NHL game that saw nine goals which tickled the twine for a 6-3 Leafs win.
There were no signs of them slowing down the following night. Zach Hyman and Austin Matthews each posted two goals while Michael Hutchinson repelled twenty-nine shots in Toronto’s 4-1 win over the visiting Detroit Red Wings.
The game versus the Hurricanes on the 23rd was a wild ride, one that saw fourteen goals. Jason Spezza, Nylander, and John Tavares got the fans excited, but by the closing stages of period two, it was not very loud as Carolina scored five unanswered. Matthews and Eric Haula traded goals, but Marner proved to be the difference as he connected twice. The latter one put Toronto up for good eight minutes from time, good enough to be the game’s number one star. The Maple Leafs finished with an 8-6 victory prior to the Christmas break.
When they resumed play in New Jersey, they were involved in another high scoring see-saw NHL contest. Hyman and Mikheyev each responded to Nico Hischier’s tally for a 2-1 lead. Kasperi Kapanen answered Nikita Gusev to restore Toronto’s advantage. Hutchinson could not keep out snapshots from Kyle Palmieri and Jesper Bratt which meant the Maple Leafs were in need of more offense. John Tavares forced the game past sixty minutes. Nylander scored his fifteenth NHL goal in overtime, which completed 16:09 of on-ice time for him.
In their next game which came this past Saturday, they were not on the right side of the scoreboard in their rematch with the Rangers. Ryan Strome scored two for the visitors. Matthews scored his 25th and 26th to force a three-on-three skill competition. Tony DeAngelo decided the game on his eighth of the NHL campaign. Toronto had to settle for a point in a 5-4 loss.
Frederik Andersen got the start in net Tuesday and gave up only one goal which came with his Toronto side shorthanded. Alexander Kerfoot, Nylander, and Matthews provided one support. Tavares got the fourth Leafs goal on an empty net in the final seconds of a 4-1 win.
2020 begins with fixtures in Winnipeg, home against the Islanders and Oilers.
7. Vancouver Canucks
The Canucks started strong against Vegas two Thursdays ago, getting a pair of goals from Elias Pettersson. Still, the game needed overtime, and the winning goal came off the stick blade of defenseman Christopher Tanev on their thirty-fourth shot of the game, 5-4.
The momentum carried over to the 21st against Pittsburgh. Pettersson was assisted by J.T. Miller, who picked up his twentieth helper. Miller and Jake Virtanen helped set the tone for Vancouver. On the other end of the ice, Jacob Markstrom made twenty-eight stops in a 4-1 NHL Vancouver victory.
The 23rd saw Edmonton pay a visit. Tyler Motte fired in his maiden goal less than nine minutes before the first intermission, but the Oilers restored parity on Ryan Nugent-Hopkins’ seventh. Oscar Klefbom put the away side ahead on the power play on Leon Draisaitl’s thirty-ninth NHL assist. The Canucks showed their fight in the final twenty minutes. Bo Horvat was credited with a deflected shot to tie the score. Brock Boeser’s twenty-third NHL assist came on the power play and Quinn Hughes gave Vancouver a 3-2 lead. Gothenburg, Sweden’s Loui Eriksson found a vacant net to secure the win.
The Canucks were eager to get back on the NHL ice and it showed early on thanks to Virtanen and Motte. It did not last because Anze Kopitar scored a wrap-around goal for the visiting Los Angeles Kings past the middle stages of the second. Tyler Toffoli’s snapshot 6:46 into the third tied the game. Patterson, the twenty-one-year-old came up with the goods nineteen seconds later and the winning streak continued to mount.
They then went into the Saddledome and came away victorious against Calgary with two goals each by Tyler Myers and Tanner Pearson. Virtanen tickled the twine on the Canucks’ man advantage. Vancouver scored three times in the first period and did not look back in a 5-2 result.
Their next game is January 2nd in British Columbia versus Chicago. They host the Rangers Saturday before a very long flight to Tampa Bay on Tuesday.
6. Pittsburgh Penguins
On December 20th, the Penguins were able to solve Edmonton’s goaltender Mike Smith on four occasions. Chad Ruhwedel and Joseph Blandisi each lit the lamp exactly five minutes apart in the opening period. After Zack Kassian halved the Pittsburgh lead, Stratford, Ontario’s Jared McCann made the score 3-1. Though the Penguins power-play unit was caught with their tails between their legs after a Riley Sheahan shorthanded goal prior to the second intermission, they would respond coming out of the dressing room. Kris Letang’s slap shot on the same power play allowed them to relax. They picked up one more from Brandon Tanev to secure a 5-2 victory against the Oilers.
After getting time off to spend time with loved ones, Pittsburgh went back to Nashville where they clinched the second of their back-to-back Stanley Cups in 2017. The Penguins were fresh, and they had five different scorers in their three-goal win. Dominik Simon, Alex Galchenyuk, and Teddy Blueger helped get the visitors a 3-1 lead in the first period. Bryan Rust and Juuso Riikola scored in the second frame. All five goals came at even strength.
The scoring did not stop in the reverse fixture the following night. There were five different scorers for the Penguins, but the difference was that Rust scored twice. Letang, Galchenyuk, and Guentzel all took advantage of the power play. Jake’s 19th NHL goal was the goal that helped decide things in a 6-4 Pittsburgh win.
Against Ottawa on Monday, the complimentary scoring continued. Thirty-three year old Evgeni Malkin recorded NHL goal numbers ten and eleven, while Jake Guentzel picked up points forty-two and forty-three on the NHL season. It added up to a 5-2 decision.
The Penguins host the San Jose Sharks before a road game against the Montreal Canadiens. The Florida Panthers are the second game of a back-to-back on Sunday in western Pennsylvania. They will then fly out to Vegas to play the Golden Knights to start 2020.
5. New York Islanders
December 19th was a good night for the Islanders against one of the league’s best teams, the Boston Bruins. They trailed 1-0 in the second period when Johnny Boychuk scored just his second goal with almost three-and-a-half minutes elapsed. Matt Barzal gave them the lead fifteen minutes later. Boston did respond, and the better side blinked into the shootout. Jordan Eberle and Barzal took their chances and Semyon Varlamov stopped Brad Marchand in the third round to give the Isles a road victory.
They scored on the power play twice in their next match against Anaheim via Brock Nelson and Ryan Pulock, but though Anders Lee, Barzal, and Nick Keddy all scored, it still was not enough. John Gibson proved better against Varlamov. Jakob Silfverberg netted the winner in round three and New York went back to work for Columbus on the 23rd.
Once again, Barzal did score. Anders Lee had the first goal of the game. Both goals were set up by Eberle. Columbus got scoring from Kevin Stenlund, Nathan Gerbe, and Vladislav Gavrikov. Each of them had a combined four goals between the three of them prior to puck drop. The Blue Jackets got the road victory.
The winter break did not seem to help because after Ross Johnston’s goal to break the scoring seal in Chicago, the Islanders gave up five unanswered as Thomas Greiss was pulled for Varlamov following the third Blackhawks strike by Alex DeBrincat. Casey Cizikas scored a consolation goal in New York’s 5-2 loss.
They righted the ship in the third period in Saint Paul, Minnesota. Varlamov made twenty-five stops of twenty-six shots and the offense came from Pulock, Matt Martin and Tom Kuhnhackl to close the show.
The Islanders went into Washington and scored a 4-3 win in Washington. Cizikas and Nelson gave the team a lift, but the Capitals displayed their talent, replied with three straight. Cizikas added his second goal 4:27 into period two. Later in the frame, Kuhnhackl’s goal would stand as the decider. Varlamov was busier than Holtby, but the Isles got a big NHL win.
New Jersey is the next opponent for a national game on January 2nd. The Maple Leafs, Avalanche, Devils follow.
4. Colorado Avalanche
On December 18th, the Avalanche got scoring from Ian Cole, Nathan MacKinnon, Andre Burakovsky, and Mikko Rantanen, which was plenty in Chicago. Pavel Francouz held firm, stopping thirty-one attempts in a 4-1 decision.
The next night, netminders Philipp Grubauer and James Reimer did not blink in the first two periods. Colorado broke the deadlock thanks to Stockholm, Sweden’s Gabriel Landeskog who tipped in a shot on an Avs power play. Carolina pulled victory from the jaws of defeat on late goals by Andrei Svechnikov and Jaccob Slavin inside the final three minutes. Sebastian Aho sealed a Hurricanes NHL win on a vacated net, 3-1.
In a rematch with Chicago in Denver, Colorado had trouble finishing off a game for a second consecutive home game. Matt Calvert recorded a double and Ryan Graves scored to help the Avalanche lead by two entering the third period. Patrick Kane got ahold of his twentieth goal with 8:38 left. Kirby Dach scored less than a half-minute later, then Dominik Kubalik put the Blackhawks up for good with 3:17 left and Chicago went on to win 5-3.
In their next game, Colorado made sure they did not let another game slip in Las Vegas. Six different NHL players scored. Though MacKinnon did not score, he gained his thirty-fourth NHL assist. The Avalanche struck three times in the first from Pierre-Edouard Bellemare, Matt Nieto, and Nazem Kadri. Landeskog and Bellemare helped make the score 5-2. Rantanen and Valeri Nichushkin each tickled the twine in the period to third finish off a convincing 7-3 victory.
After falling behind 2-0 at home against the Wild, Calvert and Landeskog each scored to end the first period on a high. MacKinnon got goal number twenty-two late in the second period to get the team level at three going into the third. Calvert gave Colorado their first lead ninety-three seconds into the third period, but Francouz could not stop Mats Zuccarello nor Victor Rask which led to a 6-4 defeat.
In Dallas, they were locked into a tight contest against the Stars. J.T. Compher tied the game 1:02 from the end of the opening period. Cole’s third goal toward the middle states of the second gave them a 2-1 lead. Early in the third, the Avalanche conceded another third-period advantage by the stick of Denis Gurianov on the power play. Colorado was blanked in the shootout.
On New Year’s Eve in Denver, the team never led against Winnipeg, but they gave up four goals in the final frame in a 7-4 loss. MacKinnon did his part as he scored twice, but Kyle Connor recorded a hat trick for the Jets and was the player of the game.
Colorado has a nationally televised game against Saint Louis Thursday before a visit to the Tri-State region for games against New Jersey, the Islanders, and another showcase game versus the Rangers.
3. Washington Capitals
The Capitals went into New Jersey and pulled away late for a 6-3 victory five days before Christmas Day. Nicolas Backstrom scored a pair of goals while Alex Ovechkin recorded his twenty-second goal deep in the first period. John Carlson, Jonas Siegenthaler, and Richard Panik were asked to close the show and they delivered.
The depth of this Washington team was shown against Tampa Bay. Radko Gudas scored his first of the term 4:40 into the second period. Defenseman Dmitry Orlov tallied just his third of the season to un-tie a 1-1 score with just over six minutes left. Braden Holtby held his ground making twenty-six saves and the Caps went away 3-1 winners in front of their fans on the second of a back-to-back.
In a big game against the Bruins, Boston took advantage of Washington mistakes, scoring twice on the power play and getting a shorthanded goal. Ovechkin scored, but the game was already out of hand. Lars Eller and Garnet Hathaway showed some pride in the third, but they were second-best in Boston 7-3.
After an extended break after a humiliating loss against a Stanley Cup contender, Washington had some trouble, but it took time for them to get out of their funk. Jakob Lilja breached the Washington net close to mid-game with Ilya Samsonov in net. Carl Hagelin got his initial goal of the 2019-20 season 6:13 into period three to force overtime. T.J. Oshie was the hero in the extra session and the Capitals restored their confidence back in D.C.
Washington traveled to Raleigh but was on the wrong side of a 6-4 score. Evgeny Kuznetsov and Ovechkin each scored. Carlson did get his thirty-seventh assist. Andrei Svechnikov and Dougie Hamilton helped led the Hurricanes Saturday.
The Capitals fell behind at home against the New York Islanders, but Kuznetsov stepped to the forefront to get his side back and they led early in the second. They gave up two goals later that frame on a night where not too many shots were generated in the Washington end. The Capitals lost 4-3.
They will look to get back on track as they go right back to North Carolina on January 3rd, host the Sharks and Senators after that.
2. Saint Louis Blues
The Blues held serve at home against the Edmonton Oilers in a goaltender’s duel between Jake Allen and Mikko Koskinen. Brayden Schenn opened the scoring which was assisted by Vince Dunn and Jaden Schwartz almost twelve minutes into the second stanza. Mackenzie MacEachern doubled Saint Louis’s lead and only a James Neal tip-in shot with 1:50 left prevented a shutout win for Jake Allen, who was very busy defending thirty-five of thirty-six shots.
In their next game, the Blues outclassed the Sharks on the west coast to the tune of 5-2. David Perron was credited with assist number twenty on Saint Louis’s second goal which came on the man advantage in the early stages of the second period. Alex Pietrangelo knocked in goals eight and nine in the back half of the third period.
They did not drop the best in Los Angeles. It was Schenn’s turn to light the lamp. He did so twice in the first period. Perron recorded two assists in a 4-1 win. Jordan Binnington stopped twenty-nine in goal.
The Blues went back to the ice on the 27th in Winnipeg, needing five goals to get past the pesky Jets 5-4. Tyler Bozak found the net twice. Kevin Connor was one shy of a hat trick for Winnipeg. Justin Faulk opened the scoring seventy seconds into play for the Blues. Pietrangelo scored early in the second, but the stick of David Perron decided the game on his backhander 3:14 into overtime.
The two teams ran it back this past Sunday in Saint Louis, and the home side took care of business by the score of 4-1. Ryan O’Reilly’s goal was canceled out by Nicholas Shore, then Jaden Schwartz put the Blues ahead for good. He later scored the team’s fourth goal. Robert Thomas got a power play.
They saw their winning streak end in Glendale at the hands of the Coyotes. Antti Raanta stopped thirty-eight attempts. Bozak was the only player to get in his head. Conor Garland and Phil Kessel beat Jake Allen and Arizona added an empty-net goal late.
The Avalanche, Golden Knights, and Sharks are next.
1. Boston Bruins
Patrice Bergeron scored twice against Nashville in their next game but they fell to the Nashville Predators in overtime on Ryan Ellis’s sixth tally. Pekka Rinne made twenty-nine saves in Nashville’s win. the Bruins got things right in a big way against Washington. They scored four in the first period. Power play goals from Jake DeBrusk and Bergeron along with even strength strikes from Brad Marchand and Bjork gave them an insurmountable lead. Charlie Coyle, David Krejci, and an empty better from Bergeron got Boston to a 7-3 win. Tuukka Rask made thirty-nine stops on December 23rd.
Speaking of great goaltending, Jaroslav Halak shutout the Sabres in Buffalo. Bergeron added two more goals in the 3-0 victory this past Friday. The two teams faced each again. Jake DeBrusk put in two goals in the third period to help his side pull ahead. David Pastrnak scored his twenty-ninth goal and twenty-ninth assists and the Bruins took both games in this Christmas period against their rivals from upstate New York, winning 3-2 in Boston.
They fell short in New Jersey at the close of 2019 as they blew a 2-0 lead and lost in the sixth round of a shootout. Damon Severson scored the game-winner. Marchand racked up goal number twenty in the first period while twenty-seven-year-old Joakim Nordstrom got Boston’s second. Chris Wagner had the lone goal in the one-on-one skill competition. Bergeron could not extend the game as Mackenzie Blackwood turned him aside to snap the Bruins winning streak.
They will try to start a new one against Columbus on the second day of the year. After that, they face Edmonton and Nashville in the upcoming days.
Where would you place the top 10 teams in the NHL? Leave a comment below.
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