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Facts and Figures: Saad coming up clutch for Blackhawks

Forward has four game-winning goals; Ovechkin, Neal off to fast starts

by John Kreiser @jkreiser7713 / Managing Editor

We're less than two full weeks into the NHL season, but numbers and trends are already emerging.

Here's a look at some of them:



The Chicago Blackhawks and Columbus Blue Jackets each have to be pleased about the offseason trade that sent forward Brandon Saad back to the Blackhawks for forward Artemi Panarin.

Saad leads the Blackhawks and is tied for second in the NHL with six goals, but he's No. 1 in game-winners with four - one in each of Chicago's wins this season. Rickard Rakell of the Anaheim Ducks led the League in game-winners last season with 10.

Panarin is also off to a good start with seven points (one goal, six assists) for Columbus, which is 4-1-0 after five games and has won three in a row.

Video: NSH@CHI: Saad taps in game-winning goal in OT


Ovechkin's start

Alex Ovechkin didn't score Saturday in the Washington Capitals' 8-2 loss at the Philadelphia Flyers, but he's still off to the best start of his career. With nine goals in six games, Ovechkin looks like a lock to surpass the 33 he scored in 2016-17 and is well ahead of his pace in 2007-08, when he scored a career high 65 goals - but had four in his first six games. 

Not to say that Ovechkin could make a run at Wayne Gretzky's single-season record of 92 goals, set in 1981-82, but Gretzky had four goals after six games and didn't score his ninth goal that season until his 12th game.

Ovechkin has 10 points (nine goals, one assist) and is third in the scoring race, one point behind teammates Nicklas Backstrom and Evgeny Kuznetsov. All 11 of Kuznetsov's points are assists, seven on goals by Ovechkin.

Video: Alex Ovechkin discusses his hot start to the season


Passing fancy

Kuznetsov isn't the only player getting his points by helping teammates score. Of the 18 players who had eight or more points entering Sunday, five have yet to score a goal. In addition to Kuznetsov, Philadelphia Flyers forward Jakub Voracek (nine assists) and defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere (eight assists), and defensemen Mike Green of the Detroit Red Wings and Will Butcher of the New Jersey Devils (eight assists) haven't scored.


Vegas, baby

The Vegas Golden Knights made plenty of history in their first 10 days in the NHL.

The Golden Knights set an NHL record by becoming the first expansion team to win each of its first three games. They also won the first and second games in their history on the road, something else that had never been done. 

One reason for the Golden Knights' success has been the scoring of forward James Neal, who has six goals and has scored in each of Vegas' four games, including the winning goal in each of the three victories. Neal, a nine-time 20-goal scorer, has scored his six goals on 14 shots, a shooting percentage of 42.9 that's the best in the NHL among players who've taken at least 10 shots on goal. Neal entered the season with a career shooting percentage of 12.0.

Video: DET@VGK: Neal extends goal-scoring streak, ties game


Firing blanks

The Montreal Canadiens are off to a slow start, going 1-3-1 in their first five games. No Montreal player has had it tougher than rookie forward Charlie Hudon, who leads the Canadiens with 20 shots on goal but has yet to score. That's the most shots by any player who hasn't scored a goal. 

Two players with much better-known credentials are tied for second on that list. Brent Burns of the San Jose Sharks, last season's Norris Trophy winner as the NHL's best defenseman, is 0-for-18. So is Chicago Blackhawks defenseman Duncan Keith, who has won the Norris twice and been part of three Stanley Cup winners.


Something special

One reason the Ottawa Senators (3-0-2) are one of two teams without a regulation loss (the Los Angeles Kings are 3-0-1) is their success killing penalties. Ottawa is the only team that hasn't allowed a power-play goal; the Senators are 15-for-15 on the penalty kill. The Kings are next at 94.4 percent (1-for-18).

The New York Islanders and Anaheim Ducks each were 2-2-1 after their first five games, but have stayed afloat despite a complete lack of power-play production. The Ducks are 0-for-17 with the extra man; the Islanders are 0-for-18 and have allowed two shorthanded goals. Not surprisingly, when the teams played on Wednesday, they combined to go 0-for-9.

There were no 3-on-5 goals scored in the NHL last season, but we've already had one in 2017-18. Brian Gibbons scored while the New Jersey Devils were two men down to the Toronto Maple Leafs in a 6-3 victory on Wednesday. It was the first 3-on-5 goal in the NHL since Dustin Byfuglien of the Winnipeg Jets scored one against the Arizona Coyotes on Jan. 26, 2016.

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