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Features

Flames' Bennett tops list of strong rookie showings

Thursday, 01.14.2016 / 11:50 AM / NHL Insider

NHL.com

Calgary Flames center Sam Bennett stole the spotlight Wednesday with a dominant performance in a 6-0 victory against the Florida Panthers at Scotiabank Saddledome, scoring a hat trick in the first period and finishing with four goals.

He is the fifth rookie with a hat trick this season and the third in the past four days. Max Domi of the Arizona Coyotes scored three goals against the Edmonton Oilers on Jan. 12 and Sam Reinhart of the Buffalo Sabres scored three against the Winnipeg Jets on Jan. 10. Coyotes forward Anthony Duclair (Oct. 14 against the Anaheim Ducks) and Boston Bruins forward Frank Vatrano (Dec. 18 against the Pittsburgh Penguins) are the other rookies with hat tricks.

But Bennett’s performance was impressive not only for its skill but the unusual nature of the feat.

Consider some of the history associated with Bennett's accomplishment, according to Elias Sports Bureau:

NHL All-Star Game entertainment lineup announced

Thursday, 01.14.2016 / 10:00 AM / 2016 NHL All-Star Weekend

NHL Public Relations

NEW YORK – Grammy-award winning artists Vince Gill and Jennifer Nettles, CMA and ACM winning artist Lee Brice, and Lennon & Maisy, music duo and real-life sisters from the television series, "Nashville," will lead the entertainment for the 2016 Honda NHL® All-Star Game at Bridgestone Arena in Nashville on Sunday, Jan. 31, the National Hockey League announced today. The 2016 Honda NHL® All-Star Game will broadcast live at 5 p.m. ET/ 4 p.m. CT on NBCSN, CBC and TVA Sports.

Gill, a country music legend and longtime Nashville Predators season-ticket holder, will perform the U.S. national anthem while Canadian-born duo, Lennon & Maisy, will perform the Canadian national anthem. Brice will give a pre-game performance, including during player introductions. Nettles will take the stage during the second intermission.

Kharlamov remembered following Ovechkin feats

Thursday, 01.14.2016 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Vassili Ossipov - NHL.com Staff Writer

Marker No. 74 on the highway between St. Petersburg and Moscow doesn't look any different from any other in Russia; the same abyss of vegetable fields, the same birch groves and the same line of dandelions on the side of the road.

The only thing that makes it stand out is a small monument in the shape of an oversized granite puck and a metal stick. It reads: "Valeri Kharlamov. Here fell the Star of the Russian hockey." It was at this spot on Aug. 27, 1981, that an automobile crash killed one of the best to ever play the game. Kharlamov was 33 years old.

Kharlamov would have turned 68 today, Jan. 14, and although he's been gone 34 years, his memory lives on in the minds of the bevy of Russian-born players who have gone on to do what was unthinkable in Kharlamov's time: play in the NHL.

On Sunday, Alex Ovechkin, the captain of the Washington Capitals, became the first Russian to score 500 goals in the League. He passed Sergei Fedorov for most NHL goals by a Russian-born player when he scored No. 484 on Nov. 19.

Alexander Nylander follows dad's, brother's footsteps

Thursday, 01.14.2016 / 3:00 AM / 2016 NHL Draft

Michael LoRe - NHL.com Staff Writer

Every Thursday, NHL.com will look ahead to the 2016 NHL Draft with an in-depth profile on one of its top prospects.

Alexander Nylander couldn't wait to play with his older brother William Nylander at the 2016 IIHF World Junior Championship in Helsinki, Finland.

"That would be an unbelievable experience," Alexander Nylander said in September, ahead of the winter tournament. "I don't think I've ever played with my brother on a team. … To be able to play with my brother would be just amazing. It's something I dream of, actually."

Unfortunately their time on the ice together was limited to less than one game after William sustained a head injury in Sweden's tournament-opening 8-3 win against Switzerland on Dec. 26 and had to miss the rest of the WJC.

"We got to play a couple of shifts together and we scored a goal together; that was a great moment," Alexander Nylander said.

Bure: Ovechkin enters new territory as 500-goal scorer

Thursday, 01.14.2016 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

NHL.com

Pavel Bure, one of the greatest Russian goal scorers of all time, is quite impressed with the latest accomplishment of countryman Alex Ovechkin, who became the first Russian to reach 500 goals in the NHL.

"Five hundred goals in the NHL is a very serious achievement," Bure said in his bi-weekly contribution to NHL.com/ru. "Only few players could say that they did it. Things like that are great in terms of promoting popularity of hockey."

Unmasked: Luongo defying age with stellar season

Thursday, 01.14.2016 / 3:00 AM / Unmasked

Kevin Woodley - NHL.com Correspondent

VANCOUVER -- Unlike so many Canadians heading south to Florida, goaltender Roberto Luongo was not looking for a more laid-back life when the Florida Panthers acquired him from the Vancouver Canucks prior to the 2014 NHL Trade Deadline.

"I didn't go there to just retire," Luongo said this week during his latest return to Vancouver. "We don't go there to enjoy the sun and all that other stuff. It's about winning hockey games."

Winning drives almost everything Luongo does. He entered 11 fantasy football pools this season and won six. He returned from the hospital to finish a game late last season with a broken bone in his shoulder because backup Al Montoya was hurt during the same game.

Luongo, the oldest goalie in the League at 36, has been winning a lot lately, including nine straight during a 12-game win streak by the Panthers that tied for 10th-longest in NHL history before a 3-2 overtime loss Monday to his former team, the Canucks. His 19 wins are tied for fourth in the League.

Sizzling power play has Bruins in playoff contention

Thursday, 01.14.2016 / 3:00 AM / Behind the Numbers

Rob Vollman - NHL.com Correspondent

If the Stanley Cup Playoffs began today, the Boston Bruins would qualify for the second wild card in the Eastern Conference, thanks to their surprisingly effective power play.

The Bruins have scored 33 goals in 116 power-play opportunities, an NHL-high 28.4 percent success rate. To put that into context, it's up from 17.8 percent last season, and it's higher than last year's Washington Capitals, who led the League with a 25.3 power-play percentage. It is also the highest in franchise history since this statistic was first recorded in 1987-88. Boston's previous high of 23.6 percent was set in the 1989-90 season, and tied in 2008-09.

The fact that four integral pieces of the power play from last season left the team in four separate summer trades makes Boston's power-play success even more surprising.

Williams' experience, Oshie's energy driving Capitals

Thursday, 01.14.2016 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

NEW YORK -- There are times during a game Washington Capitals coach Barry Trotz will hear right wing Justin Williams talking to his linemates on the bench, urging them on after good shifts or telling them they need to pick it up after bad shifts.

As Trotz is listening to Williams, he might also find himself watching right wing T.J. Oshie attack the game with boundless energy on a line with Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin, burrowing into corners, digging pucks out, playing the perfect complementary role.

This combination has a way of tickling Trotz's senses to the point where it's almost laughable because of the influence Oshie and Williams have had on the Capitals this season.

Williams' leadership and Oshie's energy combined with the skill and production each of them have brought to Washington's top-six forward group has been the coup Trotz and general manager Brian MacLellan were hoping it would be.

Capitals' Holtby on way to winning first Vezina Trophy

Thursday, 01.14.2016 / 3:00 AM / Trophy Tracker

Kevin Woodley - NHL.com Correspondent

If there's one thing Braden Holtby doesn't have to worry about hurting his chances of winning the Vezina Trophy as the best goaltender in the NHL, it's a lack of playing time.

The Washington Capitals realize their No.1 goalie thrives with a heavy workload. They actually are concerned about not keeping their athletic goalie busy enough.

"He doesn't like days off," Washington goaltending coach Mitch Korn said. "He likes rhythm and flow. So when we have too many days off he's not as comfortable as he'd like to be."

Holtby, who started 72 games last season, certainly has looked comfortable the past two months. He's 19-0-2 since a 1-0 loss against the Detroit Red Wings on Nov. 10. With a League-leading 27 wins in the Capitals' first 42 games, Holtby is on pace to become the first NHL goaltender with 50 wins in a season (Martin Brodeur had an NHL-record 48 wins in 2006-07).

O'Ree, Bettman attend premiere of 'Soul on Ice'

Thursday, 01.14.2016 / 12:58 AM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

WASHINGTON -- Willie O'Ree wasn't allowed an early screening of the film "Soul on Ice: Past, Present & Future."

His co-worker at the NHL, Ken Martin, the League's senior vice president of community and diversity programming, wanted him to have a visceral reaction to a movie that is as much about him and his legacy as a groundbreaker in hockey as anyone else.

O'Ree broke the color barrier in the NHL when he debuted for the Boston Bruins on Jan. 18, 1958. He is now a pioneer for diversity in hockey through the NHL's Hockey is for Everyone program as the League's director of cause marketing.

He found out Wednesday night that Martin was right, it was worth the wait.

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