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Flames' Bennett tops list of strong rookie showings

NHL.com @NHL

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.

FANTASY SPIN BLOG

Impact of Bennett's four-goal game

By Pete Jensen - NHL.com Fantasy Insider
Sam Bennett may have turned the tide on his season. The Calgary Flames rookie forward became the first player in the NHL this season to score four goals in a game. READ MORE ›

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

-- Bennett is the second rookie in the past 16 seasons to score four goals in a game. San Jose Sharks forward Tomas Hertl is the other, on Oct. 8, 2013 against the New York Rangers.

-- At 19 years, 207 days, Bennett is the youngest player to score four goals in a game since Bobby Carpenter (18 years, 227 days) did it for the Washington Capitals on Feb. 25, 1982 against the St. Louis Blues.

-- Bennett is the third Flames rookie to score four goals in a game, joining Joe Nieuwendyk, who did it twice, and Jiri Hrdina. Bennett also is the youngest player with a hat trick for the Flames, a mark previously held by Jim Peplinski (21 years, 24 days).

-- Bennett is the first player to score three goals in the first period of a game since Martin St. Louis of the Tampa Bay Lightning did it Jan. 18, 2014 against the San Jose Sharks. Three other Flames have scored three goals in the first period: Paul Reinhart on Nov. 24, 1986 against the Edmonton Oilers; Brian MacLellan on Jan. 14, 1990 at the Chicago Blackhawks; and Nieuwendyk on Dec. 14, 1993 against the Vancouver Canucks.

Bennett's accomplishment Wednesday arguably is the best performance by a rookie this season, but several other first-year players have turned in single-game or season-long accomplishments that have to be in the conversation.

Here is a look at some of the other candidates:

Artemi Panarin, LW, Chicago Blackhawks -- Panarin, the leading candidate for the Calder Trophy, has been a point-producer for the Stanley Cup champions. He had 10 points during a six-game point streak from Nov. 6 to Nov. 18. More recently, he scored four of the six goals scored by the Blackhawks in a home-and-home sweep of the Pittsburgh Penguins on Jan. 5-6, and had the game-winning goal in each game. He leads rookies with 15 goals and 39 points in 45 games, and is on pace for 70 points, which would be the most by rookie since Blackhawks teammate Patrick Kane had 72 in 2007-08.

Oscar Lindberg, C, New York Rangers -- Lindberg scored four goals in his first three games, the only Rangers rookie to accomplish that. He had 10 goals by Game No. 27, the first Rangers rookie since Tony Amonte in 1991-92 to reach 10 goals that quickly. He has slowed considerably since with one goal since Dec. 6.

Jack Eichel, C, Buffalo Sabres -- It took the No. 2 pick of the 2015 NHL Draft a while to find his footing, but Eichel had 13 points in a 10-game stretch from Dec. 17 to Jan. 10. He is the first Sabres rookie with at least 13 points in a 10-game stretch since Donald Audette during the 1990-91 season.

John Gibson, G, Anaheim Ducks -- Gibson, 22, has played 18 games this season and has four shutouts. The other 20 rookie goalies to play this season have combined for four. The last rookie to get more than four shutouts in a season was Tuukka Rask, who had five in 45 games in 2009-10 for the Boston Bruins.

Shayne Gostisbehere, D, Philadelphia Flyers -- He didn't get called up from the American Hockey League until Nov. 14 but has had a huge impact on the Flyers offense since his arrival. In 23 games, he has seven goals and 16 points. His three game-winning goals are tied for second among rookies, and all three have come in overtime. He's second in the League in overtime goals, and is one of three rookies to score three times in overtime since the 2005-06 season, joining Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2005-06 and Andrew Cogliano of the Edmonton Oilers in 2007-08.

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