NHL Rink Wrap: Avalanche heat up; Jarry carries Penguins

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Top players from Monday in the NHL

Zach Sanford, Senators; Nazem Kadri and Cale Makar, Avalanche

The Avalanche and Senators both put up huge numbers on Monday, providing multiple NHL player of the night nominees. Truly, it’s difficult to decide between the three players listed above.

  • Zach Sanford generated a hat trick, yet the Senators lost. Sparingly played in his previous 15 games for the Senators, Sanford came into Monday’s NHL action with just three points (2G, 1A) on the season.

  • Nazem Kadri collected more points than Sanford, producing a goal and three assists.

  • Cale Makar arguably made the biggest impacts. The superstar defenseman scored two goals, and fired a whopping nine shots on goal (to go with two blocked shots and two hits).

Really, you could go with any of Kadri, Makar, or Sanford for Monday’s NHL player of the night. Either way, tough to top anything from that zany Avalanche – Senators game. More on that (at least the Avs) in a moment …

Highlights from the NHL on Monday

Watch the Avalanche squeak by the Senators in a wild 7-5 game (one of those goals being an empty-netter):

If you want a single goal from the Avalanche beating the Senators in their return from COVID hiatus, Alex Newhook’s game-winner was pretty:

In their last, goal-filled game, the Sabres suffered a last-second defeat to the Rangers. During Monday’s NHL action, the Sabres generated a last-second goal of their own. It wasn’t enough in a goal-filled loss to the Blue Jackets. Still, the Sabres seem scrappy and fun, if messy?

Earlier in Hurricanes – Sharks, Alexander Barabanov was shaken up by a Nino Niederreiter hit. Later on, he scored the overtime game-winner after a great setup by Tomas Hertl.

Monday’s NHL takeaways

Avalanche aren’t totally there yet, but they’re winning — and scoring

Look, if you’re a legitimate contender, you’re probably not patting yourself on the back too much for a 7-5 win over the Sens. (Particularly since it was essentially a late, one-goal win.)

Regardless, the Avalanche did prevail, and now they’re on a five-game winning streak. They’ve also won seven of their last nine games, earning at least a point (7-1-1) in eight of nine contests.

Now, it hasn’t always been pretty. And it’s worth noting that the Avalanche’s five-game winning streak comes against teams with low/mixed expectations: the Senators, Canucks (twice), Kraken, and Sharks.

Yet, with injuries and other hiccups, the Avalanche are not yet in a position to complain too much about a winning streak. With six of their next eight games on the road, the Avs likely appreciated building up some confidence.

They’re still not quite where many expected them to be just yet. That said, the Avalanche want to peak late, not early, right? Maybe?

Maybe people weighed a tough playoff too much for Penguins’ Jarry

No doubt about it, Tristan Jarry was really fighting it during the Penguins’ playoff loss to the Islanders. There were some downright dismal moments. For some, it was enough to call for the Penguins to bring in a different goalie or two.

Instead, the Penguins stuck with Jarry and Casey DeSmith, and Jarry is rewarding their patience.

In particular, Jarry’s been on a hot streak lately. After posting consecutive shutouts, Jarry only allowed one goal to help the Penguins outduel Connor Hellebuyck and the Jets.

After this run, Jarry improved to 8-4-3 on the season with a strong .930 save percentage. A sturdy defense has helped the Penguins weather the storm without Evgeni Malkin, and often without Sidney Crosby. But credit Jarry for also being a big reason why Pittsburgh’s avoided falling apart.

Blues getting back on track?

By winning their first five games, and starting 7-1-1, it seemed like the Blues were announcing that they’re back as more than just a playoff bubble team. Lately, they’ve been stumbling a bit, though. A four-game losing streak included a defeat to the lowly Coyotes. They were 2-5-1 in their last eight games before Monday’s NHL contests.

Beating the Golden Knights — even a Vegas team not at 100% — could help the Blues get it together. They’ve won two of three, although their loss wasn’t ideal (4-1 decision to the Stars).

So far, the Blues have shown more offensive punch than usual, scoring 61 goals in 18 games. Their +12 goal differential points to a level of explosiveness, too.

It should be interesting to follow the Blues, who ended the night with a 10-6-2 record.

Tuesday’s big story

Flyers try to get their footing vs. the Lightning

In late October, the Flyers showed promise, improving to 4-1-1. It looked like Chuck Fletcher‘s offseason gambits were mostly working out.

Now at 8-5-3, it’s difficult to get a read on Philly’s potential. With that in mind, the Lightning present the Flyers with an interesting test.

On one hand, Tampa Bay’s the defending repeat champs. They’re more than proven. On the other hand, the Lightning are banged up, giving the Flyers fairly even footing. If you want to start making steps forward, you need to win games like these every now and then.

Monday’s NHL scores

Blue Jackets 7, Sabres 4
Blues 5, Golden Knights 2
Predators 3, Ducks 2
Avalanche 7, Senators 5
Penguins 3, Jets 1
Sharks 2, Hurricanes 1 (OT)

More hockey news

NHL Power Rankings: Hurricanes find another impact player; Islanders struggling Calder Trophy Watch: Battle of Red Wings rookies early on Already without Kucherov, Lightning lose Point to injury

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.

NHL Rink Wrap: Avalanche heat up; Jarry carries Penguins originally appeared on NBCSports.com