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Top games of 2017-18 season discussed by NHL.com writers

NHL Network to unveil own list on 'Top Shelf' countdown

NHL.com @NHLdotcom

The 2017-18 NHL season had its share of incredible games. From the Vegas Golden Knights regular-season debut in Dallas to Washington Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin scoring his 600th career goal against the Winnipeg Jets.

NHL Network will take a look at many of them on "Top Shelf: Games of 2017-18," which premieres Thursday at 7 p.m. ET.

Before NHL Network unveils its list, NHL.com staff writers offer their picks for the top games of this season.

Video: Look back on the best games of the 2017-2018 season

 

Shawn P. Roarke, Director of Editorial
Dec. 19: Vegas Golden Knights 4, Tampa Bay Lightning 3

This is the night the Golden Knights arrived as a legitimate force to be reckoned with in my mind. The Lightning were riding high, having won seven games in a row, as they arrived at T-Mobile Arena. They took a 2-0 lead in the first period, but the Golden Knights rallied and won on a goal from defenseman Shea Theodore with 2.3 seconds remaining in regulation. Theodore finished with four points (one goal, three assists), but the stars also came out, as James Neal and Jonathan Marchessault scored for Vegas. Victor Hedman had a goal and two assists, Steven Stamkos had a goal and an assist, and Nikita Kucherov had two assists for Tampa Bay. Plus the game was played at a pace rarely seen during the regular season, looking more like a game in the Stanley Cup Playoffs than a non-conference game in the third month of the season. It was a magical night in the desert in a season filled with magical nights there.

Video: TBL@VGK: Theodore breaks tie in waning seconds of 3rd

 

Dan Rosen, senior writer
Feb. 27: Nashville Predators 6, Winnipeg Jets 5

This was the first game after the 2018 NHL Trade Deadline for the Jets and Predators. It was Paul Stastny's debut with Winnipeg and Ryan Hartman's debut with Nashville. I vividly remember watching this game from home, wishing I could at Bell MTS Place, jealous of the people covering it. It was the night when we started to dream of a series in the playoffs between the Predators and Jets. We got it in the Western Conference Second Round. It went seven games and didn't disappoint. Hartman, acquired a day earlier in a trade with the Chicago Blackhawks, scored the game-winning goal with 1:00 remaining in the third period. Predators defenseman Roman Josi had five assists, tying a team record for most points in a game. The Jets couldn't hold leads of 3-1 and 5-3. The Predators got goals from forwards Craig Smith and Ryan Johansen in a span of 3:02 to tie the game 5-5 with 6:03 remaining before Hartman provided the winner on a redirection of Josi's shot. Two of the 11 goals came on the power play. It was a game of balanced scoring. Nine players had a goal, with Smith and Jets center Mark Scheifele each scoring twice. Other than Josi, no other player had more than two points.

Video: NSH@WPG: Hartman breaks tie with his first Preds goal

 

Tom Gulitti, staff writer
March 12: Washington Capitals 3, Winnipeg Jets 2 (OT)

Alex Ovechkin's pursuit of the 600-goal milestone had stalled, going scoreless during the Capitals' three-game California road trip, leaving him with 598 career goals heading into this game against the Jets and Patrik Laine at Capital One Arena. Laine entered the game on a five-game goal streak, scoring nine goals during that span to tie Ovechkin for the NHL lead with 40 on the season. But Ovechkin moved back ahead of Laine with a power-play goal, the 599th goal of his career, 4:35 into the first period to give the Capitals a 1-0 lead. At 3:53 of the second period, he became the 20th player in NHL history to reach 600 by scoring on his own rebound to give the Capitals a 2-1 lead. Laine tied it at 2-2 with a goal 5:02 into the third period before Evgeny Kuznetsov won it for Washington on a breakaway goal with 48.6 seconds remaining in overtime.

Video: WPG@WSH: Ovi buries rebound for 600th NHL goal

 

Nick Cotsonika, columnist
Oct. 6: Vegas Golden Knights 2, Dallas Stars 1

This game gets lost because of everything that happened afterward, from the emotional home opener Oct. 10 to the 2018 Stanley Cup Final. But it was the first game in Golden Knights history, the first win in Golden Knights history and dramatic. Vegas trailed 1-0 in the third period before forward James Neal scored the first goal in Golden Knights history at 10:27 and the first winning goal in their history with 2:44 remaining in regulation, finishing a pass from center Cody Eakin, who had been claimed from the Stars in the 2017 NHL Expansion Draft. Goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury made 45 saves. Afterward, the players wore "VEGAS STRONG" T-shirts in honor of the mass shooting on the Las Vegas Strip on Oct. 1. On the team bus, defenseman Deryk Engelland read aloud a text message from a firefighter who told him how the team had lifted spirits at the fire department. The players stood and cheered.

Video: VGK@DAL: Neal nets his second goal of the game

 

Tracey Myers, staff writer
April 7: Colorado Avalanche 5, St. Louis Blues 2

The final game of the regular season for each team with the winner clinching the second wild card spot in the Western Conference. What could be better? Defensemen Samuel Girard scored late in the first period and Tyson Barrie gave Colorado a 2-0 lead at 6:11 of the second period before St. Louis forward Jaden Schwartz's power-play goal cut the lead to 2-1 at 12:28. But when Nathan MacKinnon scored what would be the game-winning goal at 16:58, the Pepsi Center erupted, and MacKinnon was mobbed along the boards as the Avalanche closed in on their first postseason berth since 2014. Avalanche goaltender Jonathan Bernier made 32 saves. It was a game with everything riding on it, and it didn't disappoint.

Video: STL@COL: MacKinnon picks the corner on Allen

 

Amalie Benjamin, staff writer
Oct. 5: Boston Bruins 4, Nashville Predators 3

This was the beginning, in so many ways. The Boston Bruins weren't exactly expected to be a force in the Eastern Conference, especially not with the injuries that had already started to come their way in training camp, with forwards Patrice Bergeron and David Backes each sidelined. So when the Bruins came out and defeated the defending Western Conference champion Predators in the season opener, it said something. It said more the way they did it, with rookies Jake DeBrusk, Anders Bjork and Charlie McAvoy combining for five points (two goals, three assists), and causing the tears to flow in the stands. (Those came from former NHL player Louie DeBrusk, who was caught on camera getting emotional as Jake scored his first career goal at 5:48 of the second period to give the Bruins a 2-1 lead.) The rookies, who would bolster the Bruins all season, were making a statement, one that wouldn't stop until the team, which finished second in the Atlantic Division, fell to the Tampa Bay Lightning in the second round of the playoffs. The future gleamed in Boston on this night, a predictor of a bright future for the team and those rookies.

Video: NSH@BOS: DeBrusk scores in NHL debut, dad tears up

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