* The Blues rallied to their seventh comeback win of the season after Brayden Schenn tied the game late in regulation and David Perron scored the overtime winner.
* Elvis Merzlikins posted his sixth career shutout since making his NHL debut in 2019-20 and backstopped the Blue Jackets to their 20th point of the season.
* The Panthers, who boast a League-best .786 points percentage, are one of four Discover Central Division clubs in action Friday.
PERRON CAPS BLUES’ COMEBACK WIN WITH OT GOAL. . .
With the Blues trailing 2-1 in the third period, Brayden Schenn (1-0—1) tied the game with 40 seconds remaining in regulation and set the stage for David Perron (1-2—3) to score in overtime as St. Louis (10-5-2, 22 points) earned its third win in four games.
* The Blues, whose seven comeback wins trail only the Panthers (8) for the most among all clubs this season, became the eighth team to win a game in 2020-21 after scoring a tying goal in the final minute of regulation. Four of the eight clubs to achieve the feat reside in the Honda West Division (MIN: Jan. 16, ARI: Feb. 8, SJS: Feb. 9 & STL: Feb. 18).
. . . WHILE KINGS HOLD OFF COYOTES TO COLLECT TWO POINTS
After Conor Garland and Phil Kessel helped the Coyotes erase a 2-0 deficit, Gabriel Vilardi scored the decisive goal in the shootout to help Los Angeles (6-6-3, 15 points) stall Arizona’s rally and earn its third consecutive win.
* Captain Anze Kopitar assisted on Dustin Brown’s first-period goal to extend his point streak to six games (3-4—7), four shy of his career high set in 2017-18 (10 GP from Oct. 26 – Nov. 16, 2017). Kopitar (4-15—19 in 15 GP) leads the Honda West Division in points, while Brown’s eight goals (8-6—14 in 15 GP) are tied with Vegas’ Max Pacioretty (8-5—13 in 14 GP) and St. Louis’ Brayden Schenn (8-6—14 in 17 GP) for the most in the division.
MERZLIKINS BACKSTOPS BLUE JACKETS TO VICTORY
Cam Atkinson (1-0—0) extended his goal streak to five games and Elvis Merzlikins (32 saves) recorded his sixth career shutout as the Blue Jackets (8-6-4, 20 points) snapped a three-game losing streak against the Predators.
* Merzlikins (2.51 GAA, .920 SV%, 1 SO in 2020-21), who posted five shutouts through an eight-game span from Jan. 11 – Feb. 7, 2020, moved into a tie with Ron Tugnutt (6) for the fifth most in Blue Jackets history. Since debuting on Oct. 5, 2019, Merzlikins trails only Golden Knights’ netminder Marc-Andre Fleury (7) for the most such performances by any goaltender over that span.
* Atkinson’s tally with 17 seconds remaining in the first period stood as the game winner and he has now factored on the game’s opening goal in each of Columbus’ last four outings (3-1—4 in 4 GP). He matched Antoine Vermette’s run from Feb. 6 – 14, 2010 (0-4—4 in 4 GP) for the longest in franchise history.
MATTHEWS, MARNER AND THORNTON SHINE FOR MAPLE LEAFS
The trio of Auston Matthews (2-2—4), Mitch Marner (1-3—4) and Joe Thornton (1-2—3) combined for 11 points as the Maple Leafs scored seven goals against the Senators for the first time in the history of the ‘Battle of Ontario’ (regular season and playoffs).
* Matthews extended his career-high point streak to 12 games (14-6—20 in 12 GP) and has recorded a point in each of his last 15 appearances overall (16-8—24 in 15 GP) – he missed the Jan. 22 contest vs. EDM. Matthews, who leads the NHL with 16 goals this season, has recorded a point in 16 of the 17 games he has dressed this season.
* Marner improved his season totals to a team-leading 8-19—27 in 18 games, trailing only the Oilers tandem of Connor McDavid (9-23—32 in 18 GP) and Leon Draisaitl (10-18—28 in 18 GP) in the scoring race. It marked his eight multi-point outing of 2020-21, tied with Draisaitl (8) for the second most League-wide behind McDavid (10).
* Thornton recorded his first three-point game since netting a hat trick exactly two years prior (3-0—3 vs. BOS on Feb. 18, 2019 w/ SJS). At 41 years, 231 days, Thornton became the oldest player in Maple Leafs history to record three or more points in a regular-season game. Carl Brewer (41 years, 78 days) had previously held the distinction.
MASSMUTUAL EAST DIVISION CLUBS SKATE TO VICTORIES
Four out of Thursday’s nine games pitted rivals from the MassMutual East Division against one another. Here are some of the highlights:
* Kyle Palmieri scored twice and Mackenzie Blackwood made 25 saves as New Jersey improved to 2-0-1 through its first three games against Boston this season. Blackwood (4-0-1) matched the Devils/Scouts/Rockies franchise mark for consecutive appearances with a point to open a season:
* Nicklas Backstrom (8-12—20 in 15 GP) scored and collected his team-leading 20th point of the season to help Washington improve to 4-0-1 against Buffalo in 2020-21. Backstrom became the NHL’s 10th player to reach the 20-point mark in 2020-21 and required 15 or fewer games to register 20 points in a season for the second time in his career (14 GP in 2011-12).
* Sidney Crosby scored the first of four Pittsburgh goals as the Penguins snapped the Islanders’ eight-game point streak. Crosby boosted his career totals against the Islanders to 37-79—116. He is the only active player to record 100 points against one franchise, having done so against two.
TOP TEAMS IN CENTRAL, ‘BATTLE OF ALBERTA’ SET FOR FRIDAY
Three of the top four teams in the Discover Central Division will hit the ice Friday, as well as a pair of games in the Scotia North Division including the second ‘Battle of Alberta’ showdown of the season.
FINAL PREPARATIONS UNDER WAY FOR NHL OUTDOORS AT LAKE TAHOE
The 18th fairway of Edgewood Tahoe Resort in Stateline, Nev., has been transformed into an NHL rink ahead of the 31st and 32nd regular-season outdoor games in League history.
* The NHL Outdoors at Lake Tahoe Information Guide is now available for registered users of the League’s media site ahead of Bridgestone NHL Outdoors Saturday between the Avalanche and Golden Knights (Feb. 20 at 3 p.m. ET on NBC, SN1, SN, TVAS) and Honda NHL Outdoors Sunday which pits the Bruins against the Flyers in their second outdoor meeting (Feb. 21 at 2 p.m. ET on NBC, SN1, SN, TVAS).
* Saturday is set to mark the first NHL game played atop a golf course. The previous 30 NHL regular-season outdoor games have been hosted by football venues (19 GP), baseball parks (10 GP) and a soccer stadium (1 GP).
* The two games in the NHL Outdoors at Lake Tahoe series will be played at 6,224 feet above sea level, second-highest for an NHL regular-season outdoor game behind the 2020 Navy Federal Credit Union NHL Stadium Series between the Avalanche and Kings at Falcon Stadium (6,621 feet). Colorado also competed in the outdoor game with the third-highest such figure (5,200 feet; 2016 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series at Coors Field vs. Detroit).
* Nine players who dressed in the 2010 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic – the first outdoor meeting between Boston and Philadelphia – remain in the NHL, including five still with the Bruins (Patrice Bergeron, David Krejci, Tuukka Rask) or Flyers (Claude Giroux, James van Riemsdyk). The others: Jeff Carter (LAK), Zdeno Chara (WSH), Braydon Coburn (OTT) and Blake Wheeler (WPG).
* A team participating in an NHL regular-season outdoor game has advanced to the Stanley Cup Final later that season in each of the past four years.