The St. Louis Blues became the second team in the NHL this season to reach 50 points when they defeated the Edmonton Oilers 2-1 at Enterprise Center on Wednesday. Goalie Jake Allen came within 1:50 of his second shutout in four appearances for the defending Stanley Cup champions (22-8-6).
In the past 35 years, four reigning Cup champions have reached the 50-point mark in fewer games than St. Louis (36): the Oilers (34 games in 1984-85; 32 in 1985-86), Detroit Red Wings (33 in 2008-09) and Chicago Blackhawks (34 in 2013-14).
The Blues reached 50 points in the third-fewest number of games since entering the NHL in 1967. The only times they did it faster were 2000-01 (31 games) and 2013-14 (34).
MacKinnon, Francouz help Avalanche keep rolling
Center Nathan MacKinnon scored the game-winning goal and goalie Pavel Francouz made 31 saves for the Colorado Avalanche in a 4-1 win against the Blackhawks at United Center. Colorado is 9-1-1 in its past 11 games and 5-0-2 in its past seven against Chicago.
Francouz, a 29-year-old rookie, improved to 8-0-1 in his past nine decisions. The last Avalanche goalie with a longer point streak was Semyon Varlamov, who went 11-0-5 in 2013-14. Francouz is 5-0-1 in December, tying him with Tristan Jarry of the Pittsburgh Penguins (5-1-0), Darcy Kuemper of the Arizona Coyotes (5-1-0) and Andrei Vasilevskiy of the Tampa Bay Lightning (5-2-0) for the most wins this month.
MacKinnon's game-winner extended his point streak to six games. It's his third point streak of at least six games this season; he had a 13-game run from Oct. 3-Nov. 1 and an eight-game streak from Nov. 16-Dec. 4. He has the third-longest active streak in the NHL behind Buffalo Sabres center Jack Eichel (17 games) and Winnipeg Jets center Mark Scheifele (seven games).
Vatanen helps Devils rally past former team
After Anaheim Ducks center Adam Henrique opened the scoring in the first period, New Jersey Devils defenseman Sami Vatanen scored the third of three unanswered goals early in the third period of a 3-1 win at Prudential Center.
Vatanen was traded to New Jersey for Henrique on Nov. 30, 2017.
It marked the fourth time this season two players who were traded for one another each scored in the same game. The others: forward Evander Kane of the San Jose Sharks (to Buffalo from Winnipeg) and forward Joel Armia of the Montreal Canadiens (from Winnipeg to Buffalo) each scored on Oct. 24; defenseman Brent Burns (to San Jose from the Minnesota Wild) and center Charlie Coyle of the Boston Bruins (from San Jose to Minnesota) did so on Oct. 29; and Coyotes forward Nick Schmaltz (from Chicago) and Blackhawks center Dylan Strome (from Arizona) each scored on Dec. 12.
NHL celebrates 102nd anniversary of first games
Twenty of the NHL's 31 teams will be in action Thursday, which marks the 102nd anniversary of the first games in NHL history. On Dec. 19, 1917, the NHL began play with two games: The Canadiens, led by five goals from Joe Malone, defeated the Ottawa Senators 7-4, and the Montreal Wanderers held off the Toronto Arenas 10-9, with Harry Hyland scoring five goals.
The Canadiens will celebrate the 102nd anniversary of their first NHL game when they visit the Calgary Flames at Scotiabank Saddledome (9 p.m. ET; SNW, TSN2, RDS, NHL.TV).
Two players enter play Thursday one shy of joining the 20-goal club this season.
Senators forward Anthony Duclair and Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane each has 19. Nine players have already scored 20 goals this season, led by Boston Bruins forward David Pastrnak with 28. Pastrnak's linemate Brad Marchand has 18 goals entering Boston's game against the New York Islanders at TD Garden (7 p.m.; NBCSN, SNE, SNO, SNP, TVAS, NESN, NHL.TV). Two goals would make him the fifth player in Bruins history to score 20 in at least nine seasons. He would join Johnny Bucyk (16 times) Rick Middleton (10), Patrice Bergeron (10) and Ray Bourque (nine).