Michael Del Zotto (1-1—2) pulled the Blue Jackets even at 17:19 of the third period and assisted on the go-ahead goal by Kevin Stenlund (1-1—2) with 1:14 remaining in regulation as Columbus accounted for four of the game’s six third-period goals to erase deficits of 4-2 and 5-4 and stun Chicago at United Center.
* Cam Atkinson (1-3—4) factored on Del Zotto’s goal to record his third assist of the third period and fourth point of the game overall, matching his career high last achieved Nov. 17, 2018. Atkinson’s goal was his League-leading third shorthanded goal of the season and 15th of his NHL career, moving him past Rick Nash (14) for the most in franchise history.
* Skating across from Atkinson were countrymen Patrick Kane and Alex DeBrincat, who had 1-2—3 apiece. Kane (396-646—1,042 in 988 GP) inched closer to the 400-goal milestone and recorded his 90th career three-point game during the regular season, while DeBrincat has scored five goals in the Blackhawks’ last four games (5-2—7) after recording two through his first seven appearances in 2020-21 (2-6—8).
… OTHER DISCOVER CENTRAL DIVISION TEAMS EARN WINS IN CLOSE CONTESTS
Three of four games in the Discover Central Division Thursday were decided by one goal or two following an empty-net tally. That brought the total in the Central to 41 such contests this season (41 of 52 GP), the most of any division in 2020-21.
* In a game that featured three tying goals, Brock McGinn (1-0—1) found the scoresheet and Nino Niederreiter (1-0—1) netted the game winner in the third period as the Hurricanes edged the Stars in the first half of a two-game set. McGinn extended his goal streak to a career-high four games (4-0—4), the longest active run in the NHL.
* Detroit tied the game in the final minute of each of the first two periods, but it was Dante Fabbro’s go-ahead goal in the last minute of regulation that was the difference as Nashville halted a three-game slide.
HUBERDEAU, GIBSON HELP CLUBS DEFEAT DIVISION LEADERS
Panthers forward Jonathan Huberdeau and Ducks goaltender John Gibson helped defeat division-leading clubs:
* Huberdeau recorded the 300th assist of his NHL career to help Florida earn a win in the first of three straight games versus Tampa Bay and improve to 8-1-2 (18 points) on the season. Huberdeau, the franchise’s all-time leader in regular-season scoring, became the first player to record 300 assists with the Panthers.
* Gibson made 21 saves as Anaheim blanked Vegas at T-Mobile Arena to end the hosts’ season-opening home point streak at eight games (7-0-1). Gibson recorded the 22nd shutout of his NHL career (and third of 2020-21) to surpass Jonas Hiller (21) for sole possession of third place on the franchise’s all-time list – he also tied Semyon Varlamov for the most in the NHL this season.
MORE MILESTONES REACHED THURSDAY
A number of NHL players (and executives) reached a milestone during Thursday’s 10-game slate:
* Evgeni Malkin tied the game at 19:42 of the third period and Sidney Crosby (0-1—1) scored the shootout winner as the Penguins edged the Islanders to earn their first win since naming Ron Hextall general manager and Brian Burke president of hockey operations, while simultaneously preventing Lou Lamoriello from reaching his 1,300th victory. Pittsburgh (6-5-1, 13 points) has earned each of its six wins in 2020-21 by a one-goal margin, matching the longest such run from the start of a season in franchise history (also 2003-04).
* Blackhawks defensemen Ian Mitchell and Nicolas Beaudin (1-1—2) each scored their first NHL goal 56 seconds apart and teammate Pius Suter recorded his sixth of the season (6-3—9 in 15 GP), tops among all rookies. Chicago rookies have combined for 12 goals and 23 points in 2020-21 (12-11—23 in 15 GP), the highest such totals in the NHL.
* Jaret Anderson-Dolan (1-1—2) registered his first career multi-point game and Tobias Bjornfot assisted on the game-winning goal by Austin Wagner to record his first NHL point as the Kings rebounded from a 4-3 shootout loss to the Sharks Tuesday with a 6-2 win.
* Mike Smith recorded his 40th career shutout – just the second ever by an Oilers goaltender in Montreal – to guide Edmonton to its third straight win. Darnell Nurse scored his sixth goal of the season to surpass his total from 2019-20 (5 in 71 GP) and tie Jeff Petry for the NHL lead among defensemen in 2020-21.
COYOTES SCHEDULED TO BEGIN LONGEST HOMESTAND IN FRANCHISE HISTORY
The Coyotes put their three-game winning streak on the line tonight against the Blues when they open a scheduled 11-game homestand, which would be the longest in franchise history.
* The current Coyotes/Jets benchmark for longest homestand is 10 games, registered in 2005-06 when the club posted a 3-5-2 record at Glendale Arena from Jan. 28 – March 4, 2006 (a 36-day stretch that spanned the Olympic break).
* Entering 2020-21, only two teams in NHL history had contested at least 11 consecutive games, all at home, within a regular season – the 2010-11 Lightning (7-3-2 from Jan. 23 – Feb. 25, 2011) and 1975-76 California Golden Seals (4-7-1 from Nov. 26 – Dec. 28, 1975) each had 12-game homestands.