NHL Top 10 Power Rankings for the Week of 2/17/2020

10. Vegas Golden Knights

The Golden Knights showed their mettle in a game in which they took fifty-plus shots on the Saint Louis Blues net Thursday. Max Pacioretty of New Canaan, Connecticut gave Vegas a 2-1 lead, but the away team had three unanswered goals. The Knights went a man up after Jordan Kyrou held Cody Eakin. It set up center Jonathan Marchessault’s first of two goals in the game. Jonathan was then held by Carl Gunnarsson in the early minutes of the third period. Nate Schmidt capped off the sequence by getting his team tied. Less than four minutes after Zach Sanford gave the Blues a 5-4 lead, Syracuse, New York’s Alex Tuch made it a brand new game with 4:40 left. Marchessault put his name in lights in the overtime as Vegas converted a fourth power-play goal. He beat Binnington to polish off a 6-5 defeat of the 2019 NHL titleholders.

Saturday, goaltenders Semyon Varlamov and Marc-Andre Fleury put on a show. The former was the busier of the two, stopping forty-two attempts on frame. He could not stop Reilly Smith, who is playing for his fourth NHL team. The third-round pick from 2009 used a snapshot to beat the Islanders’ net-minder with thirty-five seconds left in period two. It was the difference in a Knights’ victory.

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Vegas continued to hold serve at home beating Washington but it turned out to be anything but straight forward by game’s end. The home team built a cushion thanks to two first period twine-ticklers by Nick Holden and Smith. Pacioretty made it three on his wrist shot towards the end of the second stanza. T.J. Oshie helped make it a game in the middle stages of the third period, two of nine shots by the Capitals. Fleury was called into action for twenty-five saves as the Golden Knights got the regulation NHL win.

They get a stiff test Thursday when Tampa visits town. Florida is a Saturday night game, then Vegas travels to Anaheim for a west coast national TV game Sunday. 

9. Carolina Hurricanes

On Friday, the Hurricanes were able to handle their business against the New Jersey Devils. Nino Niederreiter got things started not four minutes into play on a slap shot against Louis Domingue. Carolina, unfazed after Mirco Mueller restored parity, got back on the horse. Warren Foegele, in his third season with the Canes, struck on a wrist shot. The second period’s only goal came on a tip-in by the twig of Andrei Svechnikov. The final twenty minutes saw Martin Necas get his fifteenth of the year and Brandon, Manitoba’s Joel Edmundson widen the gap in Raleigh, North Carolina. New Jersey scored a consolation goal to make the result 5-2.

Sunday, they scored but were unable to shake the Edmonton Oilers after an overtime decision 4-3. Trevor Van Riemsdyk, the twenty-eight-year-old defenseman needed just twelve seconds after the puck drop to break the stalemate. After the resumption of play following the first intermission, Sebastian Aho came to the forefront the thirty-second-time thanks to Jaccob Slavin’s twenty-fifth assist. Carolina needed his services again with time working against them down 3-2. Teuvo Teravainen had his forty-fourth helper to feed Aho with 5:02 left. Josh Archibald of Edmonton almost four minutes into overtime dashed the Canes’ hopes for a win.

Tuesday in Nashville, Jordan Staal quieted the Nashville Predators supporters 3:23 into the contest. After Ryan Johansen squared the game at one, the familiar faces of Svechnikov, Niederreiter, and Aho took charge in Carolina’s 4-1 win. The game-winning goal came five seconds after Kyle Turris was called for a slash on Eric Haula. The Hurricanes outshot Nashville 13-5 in the second period.

The next time Carolina takes to the ice is Friday versus the New York Rangers on the NHL app free to view. The second night of a back-to-back concludes in Toronto. Seventy-two hours after the face-off Saturday, the Stars make a visit for an NHL out of conference matchup. 

8. Edmonton Oilers

Thursday, Edmonton was in the Sunshine State. NHL Goalie Mike Smith had a fine effort, but Tampa was just a little better. Leon Draisaitl added another point to reach his fifty-eighth assist. He fed Caleb Jones for the defenseman’s third goal this term. The Oilers gave up an empty-net goal to lose by two.

Things went better further down the coastline against the Florida Panthers. Adam Larsson gained his maiden goal of the 2019-20 NHL season and allowed Edmonton to skate around with a lead. Still, it was the only goal until the third period. Draisaitl came through for the thirty-third time on a clean sheet of ice. Jonathan Huberdeau trimmed the visitor’s lead to 2-1, but Darnell Nurse and Kailer Yamamoto each scored when Florida pressed with six attackers. Leon assisted on the latter goal as his team picked up two points.

In Raleigh, the Oilers goal-scoring continued. Draisaitl and Yamamoto in both cases tied the game. Josh Archibald, in his first season in Edmonton scored twice, including the game-clincher Sunday. After a good trip in the Southeast, the Pacific Division co-leaders return to Alberta for a Wednesday clash with the Bruins. The Wild pay a visit Friday, then Edmonton visit southern California to play the Kings and Ducks on the 23rd and 25th. 

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7. Colorado Avalanche

Thursday, the Avalanche looked good for stretches against the Capitals Thursday. Andre Burakovsky and Mikko Rantanen, both wing players, scored to make it two to nothing just after sixteen minutes of action. They could not close out the game, which has been an issue in some of their fixtures this season. Washington took advantage of Colorado penalties, particularly the high-sticking call on Tyson Jost and the same infraction by Burakovsky in the third. Because of it, the Capitals snatched away the victory 3-2.

The Avs had another game that was available for the taking. They were outdoors for a prime time NHL game at the home of the Air Force Academy’s football stadium Saturday against the Kings. Samuel Girard leveled the game at one just before the two teams went to the dressing room for the second intermission. Tyler Toffoli, who scored the game’s other goal lit the lamp twice in the game’s final minute to secure a hat trick. Anze Kopitar assisted on both occasions, and Los Angeles, currently at the bottom of the West standings came out with the victory.

Colorado welcomed Tampa Bay in their next contest. The home team went ahead on Andre Burakovsky’s power-play goal. Pavel Francouz who entered the game Saturday in the second period got the start Monday. He stopped all ten shots in the first period, but he got beat three times in the second. Nathan MacKinnon got the Avalanche within one late in the period. Valeri Nichushkin assured a regulation point, but the Lightning proved better in the three-on-three session to take the game.

The Islanders are in Denver Wednesday before Colorado goes to California to play the Ducks and Kings to finish three games in four nights before a couple of rest days. 

6. Saint Louis Blues

Saint Louis was in Nevada Thursday and came away on the short side of a 6-5 defeat. Though the Blues had a 4-2 lead, the NHL’s Vegas Golden Knights won the face-off circle and more than doubled their opponents in the shot total department. Individually, Zach Sanford scored four times with Mackenzie MacEachern scoring the other one for his team. Ultimately Jonathan Marchessault recorded the game’s final goal in overtime.

Saint Louis came back to familiar surroundings on Saturday to face their rivals from the NHL Central Division, the Nashville Predators. The Blues were better on the dots, winning fifty-three percent of the face-offs. They also tripled their opponents in hits, but once again found themselves on the wrong side of a high-scoring contest, 4-3. Seven different goal-scorers contributed to this result. For the Blues, Sanford was once again in the scoresheet while Jaden Schwartz and Alexander Steen got in the act.

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All three of Saint Louis’s goals took place during the middle twenty minutes. Jake Allen faced fewer than twenty shots but allowed one too many. The two teams turned around for Nashville Sunday. Both teams tidied things up defensively, the Blues generated many scoring chances, but the Predators won two-thirds of the face-offs and won the game. Tyler Bozak solves Pekka Rinne to offset Craig Smith’s ice-breaker. In the end, Kyle Turris got the puck past Jordan Binnington in the closing stages of the third period and Saint Louis lost yet another one-goal game. The Blues returned home and were able to dispatch New Jersey to the tune of 3-0. Binnington was flawless between the pipes, and Ivan Barbashev recorded a double and Schwartz notched his nineteenth to get Saint Louis back in the right direction. ​​​​​​​The Blues have the Coyotes and Stars next on Thursday and Friday. Sunday and Tuesday are nationally televised games at the Wild and versus Chicago. 

5. Washington Capitals

Washington showed great fight against the Avalanche after they trailed away by two well above sea level. The team was able to feast on the power play finished off by Nicklas Backstrom and Tom Wilson in the mid-stages of the second and third respectively. T.J. Oshie came up with the clutch goal with just over two minutes left for the game-winner past the paraphernalia of Philipp Grubauer. His twenty-second of the season gave the Capitals a 3-2 victory, one in which his team outshot Colorado 38-34 Thursday evening. ​​​​​​​

Washington also outshot their next opponent, the Arizona Coyotes, but Antti Raanta was more than equal to the task. He was able to lock things down whenever the Caps were on the man-advantage. Carl Hagelin prevented a shutout with his fifth goal as the forty-minute mark loomed. Braden Holtby gave up goals to Christian Dvorak and Phil Kessel while occupying the net. The Capitals gave up a late empty-net shot to Lawson Crouse with twenty-eight seconds left, which finished off a 3-1 Arizona win Saturday.

Holtby found the going tough Monday in Vegas as his team gave up goals to Nick Holden, Reilly Smith, and Max Pacioretty. Oshie did get Washington back in it for scores twenty-three and twenty-four, the latter of which came on the power play. The Capitals were very physical as they out-hit their counterparts 47-27, but could not complete the comeback on the scoreboard 3-2.

The Caps are back in town to host Montreal this Thursday before games on consecutive days on the weekend at New Jersey and home to Pittsburgh. Washington welcomes the Winnipeg Jets to town Tuesday. 

4. Dallas Stars

The Stars had to sweat out a 3-2 win in Toronto during their trip across the central portions of Canada. Denis Gurianov got things started as the right-winger in his third year with the organization broke the scoring seal. Radek Faksa made it two-nothing on his tenth of the regular season less than a half-minute into the second period. Against the Leafs, with the way they can put the biscuits in the basket, it was anything but an insurmountable lead. After Auston Matthews put the puck between the bar and posts for the forty-first time, the margin was one. Tyler Seguin helped Dallas’s special teams out. His wrist shot multiplied the road team’s advantage. With less than two minutes remaining in the game, Zach Hyman tossed Toronto a lifeline, but Ben Bishop locked the safe and turned aside twenty-nine attempts Thursday. Though they did not trail in that game, they have quite often fallen behind games but rescued them.

Saturday in Montreal was yet another example. Joel Armia, Jordan Weal, and Nick Cousins all got in on the act for the Habs within the first twenty-six and a half minutes. Mattias Janmark created a spark to get Dallas back into the fame. His wrist shot made it 3-1, then almost seven minutes later, Seguin worked his way past Carey Price on the power play. Coming out of the dressing room, the Stars applied more pressure, and made them pay again, this time by the stick of Blake Comeau, which tied it at three with more than a period left of regulation. Overtime came, and Seguin went back on the scoresheet on a backhanded effort.

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After a character win, Dallas did not have much time to celebrate. The Ottawa Senators awaited them Sunday. This time, the game went back and forth in the first twenty minutes of play. John Klingberg and Stephen Johns both came up roses while Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Brady Tkachuk got the Sens up and running. Dallas found themselves behind on an unassisted tally by long time Sabre Tyler Ennis. Joe Pavelski, who likewise had spent time with a previous team with San Jose, made it three-all in the final five minutes and change for period number three. Tkachuk passed the puck to Artem Anisimov during the three on three overtime for Ottawa, and he made no mistake, so the Stars took one point back to U.S. customs.

​​​​​​​After a successful road trip north of the border, Dallas will try to crank it up with a home-stand for three in four days against the Coyotes, Blues, and Blackhawks. Carolina is the next foe after those sets of games on the 25th. 

3. Pittsburgh Penguins

The Penguins continue to pile up the results. They took care of business at home against the Canadiens. The man-advantage unit was effective on Pittsburgh’s first goal. Sidney Crosby and Patric Hornqvist assisted Kris Letang, who struck his thirteenth goal of the season. Jason Zucker, the twenty-eight-year-old left-winger gave his team a multi-goal lead. His name was called upon in the closing seconds of period two after Tomas Tatar, the long time member of the Red Wings, halved the deficit. Zucker was able to give Pittsburgh a boost before the first intermission. Zach Aston-Reese made sure that that the two points were secure with his late third-period tally. Tristan Jarry, in his fourth year, stopped thirty-four efforts by Montreal skaters in his team’s 4-1 victory Friday.

The beat kept marching on Sunday afternoon as Detroit came into Pittsburgh’s barn. Four different Penguin players found the net, including a double by Hornqvist for goals thirteen and fourteen which came nine minutes apart in the middle period. Crosby added a goal and an assist, and his unit got into the heads of Jimmy Howard. Though the Pens yielded the first goal of the game, they were undeterred in a convincing 5-1 decision.

​​​​​​​More complimentary hockey was on display at the expense of the Maple Leafs Tuesday. Bryan Rust, Zucker, and Crosby punished Toronto for their lack of discipline on the ice. Anthony Angello got his first goal of the year, while Teddy Blueger was the fifth scorer for Pittsburgh. Sidney had a four-point night, and the Leafs, who have a great offense were virtually held in check. Jarry was busy, but completed the task, stopping thirty-four of thirty-six shots on goal.

Pittsburgh travels to Ontario to face-off against the Leafs Thursday. The Pens will be back in front of their supporters against the Buffalo Sabres Saturday afternoon. The second end of a back to back is another NHL matinee in D.C. versus the Capitals.  

2. Tampa Bay Lightning

Tampa Bay got back on the ice Thursday to host the Oilers. It was a good goaltender’s duel as Andrei Vasilevskiy and Mike Smith performed well. Former Blue Pat Maroon recorded the game’s first goal not five minutes into the second period. Edmonton responded just before the halfway point and it looked like they had momentum after Alexander Volkov went to the penalty box for too many men on the ice. Yanni Gourde give his side life with an unassisted goal during the Oilers power play and the Lightning recaptured the lead. In his seventh year in the NHL, Cedric Paquette put the game beyond reach as Edmonton sacrificed their goalie for another skater.

The win carried the team into Saturday as they hosted a Philadelphia Flyers unit trying to scratch and claw for a playoff position. Tampa Bay took the lead as Alex Killorn lit the lamp for the twenty-second time. The lead increased to two as Paquette got the better of Carter Hart. The Lightning made it three to nothing thanks to Carter Verhaeghe in period two. Vasilevskiy did concede one with just over eleven minutes left in the frame, but the three goal margin was restored as Nikita Kucherov assisted for a forty-fourth time to Brayden Point. The game got tight with two Flyers goals, but Kucherov shut the door for an empty net goal with twenty-two seconds remaining to make it 5-3 to the Bolts.

Monday, Tampa Bay picked up an impressive win at Colorado. Killorn and Cameron Gaunce scored sixteen seconds apart early in the second after the Avalanche struck first. Later in the frame, Steven Stamkos added goal number twenty-seven, but Colorado got back to even to force the game past sixty minutes. Kucherov stepped up to the plate, and he and his team are in hot pursuit of the NHL’s best record.

The Lightning will be in Las Vegas and Glendale Thursday and Saturday and return home for a game three nights later against the Maple Leafs. 

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1. Boston Bruins

Boston continued their impressive season with a hat trick by the stick of David Pastrnak in a span of almost twenty-nine minutes of game time in Wednesday’s clash versus the Montreal Canadiens. All of them were wrist shots, the last of which came on the power play. The Bruins were able to apply pressure on Carey Price forcing him into thirty-four stops. Patrice Bergeron’s goal came on an empty net. On the other side of the ice, only Nick Suzuki prevented Tuukka Rask from a clean sheet.

Following a respite Thursday and Friday, the Bruins got a chance to avenge a defeat at the hands of the Red Wings back on February 9th. They did not hit the front in the opening period as Darren Helm scored short-handed just over three minutes into proceedings despite tripling them in shot attempts. The breakthrough did come in the middle stanza at even strength courtesy of Charlie McAvoy for his second of the campaign. Later, Bergeron was able to score with the numerical disadvantage for his twenty-fifth which put Brad Marchand one shy of fifty helpers on the year. Coyle made it a two-goal lead for the home side to cap off a span of three goals in 4:29. Marchand indeed did get the assist milestone in the third period to feed Pastrnak for his forty-second. Rask repelled twenty-five Detroit attempts.

If there was any fatigue on Sunday, it was not shown as they were able to play in front and hold off the Rangers away from home 3-1. McAvoy made it two goals in his last two contests as he deflected a shot past goalie Alexandar Georgiev in the final minute of the first period. It was then Coyle’s turn to strike in the closing stages of the second. His short-handed tally made it two without reply. Mika Zibanejad restored some game pressure as the sixth pick of the 2011 draft got the better of net-minder Jaroslav Halak. The Boston defense regrouped and inside the last quarter-minute of the game, Bergeron scored on a vacant net.

The Bruins will be out west for their Canadian swing in Edmonton Wednesday, Calgary Friday, and Vancouver the next night. The Flames come to Boston Tuesday. 

How would you rank the top 10 NHL power teams for the week? Leave a comment below.

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Works cited: NBC, NBCSN, Fox Sports Southwest, CBS Sports Network and ESPN tickers, NHL YouTube Channel, NHL app/website

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