The NHL action continues as we head into the second week of December. With a slew of rivalry matchups, win-streaks and point-streaks all on the line, we take a look at what storylines you're going to want to follow this week.
Alright, let's drop this puck already:
Howlin' Good Time
The Arizona Coyotes continue to stun in the Pacific division with record of 18-10-4. On Sunday, the Coyotes earned their 40th point of the season after scoring two goals to force overtime and eventually beating the Chicago Blackhawks in a shootout. This was the third multi-goal comeback of the season for Arizona, who currently sits second in the Pacific Division. The Yotes will look to overtake the Oilers for first in the Pacific this week with matchups against the Flames, Blackhawks and Devils.
The Minnesota Wild have been steadily climbing the standings, going 8-1-3 in their last 12 games. The Wild got off to a slow start to begin the 2019-20 campaign, going 6-11-1 over the first 18 games of the season. Now, they stand at 14-12-4 and sit just two points out of the second Wild Card spot in the West. They'll look to claw their way into that final spot with games against the Ducks, Oilers, Flyers and Blackhawks this week.
Buffalo Sabres Captain Jack Eichel extended the NHL's longest active point streak of the season to 13 games with an assist against the Oilers on Sunday night. Eichel has 10 goals and 13 assists over the course of those 13 games and will look to continue his point streak on Tuesday night as the Sabres take on the Blues in Buffalo. Eichel is also one of 10 players this season on pace to reach the 100-point mark. Other players on that list are Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid in Edmonton, Nathan MacKinnon in Colorado, Brad Marchand and Davis Pastrnak in Boston, John Carlson in Washington, Artmei Panarin with the Rangers and Jonathan Huberdeau and Aleksander Barkov with the Panthers.
Games to Circle This Week
Who doesn't love a good rivalry? This week features quite a few hot matchups for fans looking to get in on the action. Up first, the Florida Panthers square off against the Tampa Bay Lightning in a battle for the Sunshine State at 4pm PT on Tuesday. Boston and Washington, the two hottest team in the NHL, then faceoff for NBCSN's Wednesday Night Rivalry night beginning at 4pm PT on Wednesday. Next up we have a SoCal matchup as the Kings and Ducks battle it out on the ice at 7pm PT on Thursday. Saturday has two big rivalry matchups taking place beginning with a Winter Classic preview between the Stars and Preds at 4:30pm PT followed by a matchup between the Canucks and Sharks (two of our biggest soon-to-be rivals) at 7pm PT.
NHL All-Star Fan Vote
The 2020 NHL All-Star Weekend is less than two months away, which means that the League's best and brightest stars will soon convene to showcase their insane skills. The All-Star Weekend, which consists of a skills competition and a three-game, 3-on-3 formatted tournament is scheduled to take place from January 24 - 25 in St. Louis. So who will be there? Glad you asked. The NHL hasn't officially announced the rosters yet, but they're giving fans a chance to vote for their favorite players to earn a spot and the captain's title up to 10 times a day in the NHL All-Star Fan Vote. You can go ahead and cast your ballets HERE.
Week of Returns
The NHL had a week of returns last week with quite a few high-profile players facing their former clubs after off-season moves shuffled them into new cities. Artmei Panarin returned to Columbus for the first time since signing with the New York Rangers as a Free Agent this off-season. He scored the game-winning goal for his new club in a 3-2 victory. Sergei Bobrovsky also faced his former Blue Jacket squad for the first time since signing with the Florida Panthers as a Free Agent this past off-season. Bob stopped 33 of 34 shots to carry the Panthers to a 4-1 victory in Sunrise.
After spending 10 seasons with the Toronto Maple Leafs, forward Nazem Kadri made his return to The Six with his new Colorado Avalanche squad. The Avs beat the Leafs 3-1. Phil Kessel made his return to Pittsburgh after being traded to the Arizona Coyotes this past off-season. The Coyotes lost 2-0 in the matchup. PK Subban, who was traded from Nashville to New Jersey over the offseason, returned to Nashville after spending three seasons with the Predators, where his team lost 6-4.
Avalanche Alert in Boston
After going 12-0-5 at TD Garden to start the season, the Boston Bruins were handed their first regulation loss at home by Gabriel Landeskog and the Colorado Avalanche. The Avs' 4-1 victory was their second W of the season against the B's, which is no laughing matter when you consider that only two other teams (Montreal, Detroit) have beat the Bruins in regulation this season. The Avalanche have won 6 straight games and hold the second spot in the Central Division with 40 points in 29 games. Meanwhile. Boston continues to sit in first place in the Atlantic, and second in the NHL, with 46 points in 30 games this season.
Carolina Hurricanes star forward Sebastian Aho scored his third career hat trick on Saturday night to help his team end the Minnesota Wild's point-streak at 11 games with a 6-2 victory. But what made this feat remarkable was that each of Aho's goals were scored a different way. Aho's first of the evening was an even strength goal, his second was on the power-play and his final goal came short-handed. This is the second time that Aho has done this in his career. The first time happened on January 13, 2019 against the Nashville Predators. The young Finnish forward is now the only active player in the NHL to have multiple career hat tricks where all three goals have been scored in a different way.
The Hero Ottawa Deserves
Ottawa's Mark Boroweicki stopped a robbery last week when someone tried stealing a backpack out of a car. The defenseman, now affectionately being dubbed "Borocop," told a group of reporters that when he witnessed a man on a bike smash a car window and steal a backpack, he yelled at the perpetrator to stop. When the man didn't listen and tried to get away on a bike, Boroweicki ran after him, wrestled him to the ground and retrieved the backpack. You can read more from The Athletic's Hailey Salvian HERE.