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Around the NHL: Minnesota Wild pull the goaltender in overtime again, Auston Matthews scored his 60th goal, and more!

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Photo credit:Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports
Ryley Delaney
16 days ago
Saturday was a busy day in the National Hockey League.
Let’s take a look at the latest playoff picture with 30 teams in action, as well as an exciting Art Ross Race, and a weird rule.
This is the latest edition of Around the NHL, buckle up!

Playoff picture

There were some interesting games on tap on Saturday that featured teams in the Eastern Conference Wild Card race. For starters, the Detroit Red Wings faced off against the Florida Panthers in the early game. 
The Red Wings led 1-0 for quite awhile, before a handful of goals in the third period. In fact, the Panthers went up 2-1 with less than five minutes remaining, but the Wings fired back less than a minute later. However, the Panthers won in a shootout, meaning the Wings picked up a single point.
Another team in the Wild Card race is the Washington Capitals. Coming into Saturday, they occupied the final Wild Card spot and were in tough against the Boston Bruins. Like the Red Wings, the game ended in a shootout, with the Capitals picking up just one point and moving into the third spot in the Metropolitan Division.
The Capitals replaced the Philadelphia Flyers in that spot, as the Flyers lost 5-1 to the Chicago Blackhawks. Although the Blackhawks aren’t a great team, they certainly aren’t an easy opponent, and the Flyers learned that the hard way. The Flyers have an extra game played compared to the Wings, but also have 28 regulation wings to the Wings’ 25, the first tiebreaker.
Interestingly, there was only one playoff team facing off against another playoff team, as the Colorado Avalanche and the Nashville Predators faced off in a barn burner that ended in a 7-4 win for the Avalanche.
Elsewhere, the New York Rangers also played in a barn burner, defeating the Arizona Coyotes 8-5, while the Edmonton Oilers dominated the Anaheim Ducks, winning 6-1. The Vegas Golden Knights won 2-1 in overtime (we’ll get to that), the Toronto Maple Leafs shutout the Buffalo Sabres 3-0, as did the Carolina Hurricanes to the Montréal Canadiens. The Winnipeg Jets fell 3-2 to the Ottawa Senators, while the Calgary Flames defeated the Los Angeles Kings 4-2 in a fairly compelling game.

Art Ross race

The playoff race isn’t the only interesting race that’s ongoing, as the Art Ross race appears that it’ll come down to the wire.
In the Edmonton Oilers’ matinee game, captain Connor McDavid scored twice and also picked up an assist. This briefly moved him into the points lead with 125, before Nathan MacKinnon went off in the Colorado Avalanche’s win.
Coming into that game, MacKinnon had 123 points, but scored twice and also picked up two assists to move to 127 points for the season. In the Tampa Bay Lightning’s 4-1 win over the New York Islanders, Nikita Kucherov picked up two assists to move him to 126 points.
McDavid is the clear favourite, as he’s won the past three Art Ross trophies and has won five of the last seven scoring titles. One of the non-McDavid winners was his teammate Leon Draisaitl in 2019-20, as McDavid suffered an injury before the pandemic shut down the league. 
The other Art Ross winner in that span was Kucherov, who had 41 goals and 128 points in 2018-19. Nathan MacKinnon has never won the Art Ross.
In terms of games remaining, the Oilers have 10 games remaining, while the Lightning have nine games and the Avalanche have eight games. This will come down to the wire, but it wouldn’t be a shock if all three of these players finish the season with over 140 points.

Auston Matthews hit 60 goals

Speaking of great accomplishments,  Auston Matthews scored on Saturday to give him 60 goals for the second time in his career.
The 60-goal accomplishment in today’s day and age is rare, as only he, Connor McDavid, David Pastrňák, Steven Stamkos, and Alex Ovechkin have done it in the 21st century. However, there has now been a 60 goal scorer the past three seasons, with Matthews doing it in 2021-22 and 2023-24, while McDavid and Pastrňák both scored 60 in 2022-23.
Is 60 the new 50? It’s too soon to tell, but we’re truly witnessing one of the best scorers of our generation accomplish some amazing things. Last time Matthews hit 60 goals, McDavid went out and scored 64, so maybe, just maybe, McDavid or another one of the league’s superstars will look to outdo Matthews next season.

Minnesota Wild lose their OT point

In a previous Around the NHL, we looked at how the Minnesota Wild were bold and pulled their netminder in overtime, eventually picking up the win. In that article, it was speculated that teams probably wouldn’t start doing this because the risks outweigh the potential reward.
Well, wouldn’t you know, the Wild once again pulled their netminder in overtime and it… didn’t go so great. Within about half a minute, the Wild had lost the puck and it found its way into the back of the net, with Vegas picking up the 2-1 win.
Coming into this game, the Wild sat on 79 points, eight points behind the Los Angeles Kings and nine points behind the Vegas Golden Knights with 10 games remaining. The Golden Knights moved to 90 points with this win, but the Wild remained at 79 points as pulling the netminder in overtime and losing leads to that team missing out on the extra point.
It doesn’t help matters that they would have picked up a point on the Kings, as they lost 4-2 to the Calgary Flames. After this game, the pulling of the netminder in overtime will probably go away.
Thanks for reading! You can follow me on Twitter @Brennan_L_D.
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