2023 NHL Year in review part 1

A new year is nearly upon us with just one week and 45 regular-season games left in 2023.

But before we turn the page to 2024, it's time to look back at the past year in the NHL.

From outdoor games to big names and major events at home and abroad, 2023 had a lot for the hockey fan. One generational talent got his career started while the one that came before him did something he never had done before.

There were records set and playoff upsets, Patrick Kane and Matthew Tkachuk, and, of course, the Golden Knights.

Here are 23 events and moments that highlighted 2023 in the NHL, featuring some of the most impactful individuals of the year.

(Part 1 of 2; read Part 2 here)

1. In the shadows of the Green Monster

Fenway Park hosted the marquee regular-season NHL game for the second time when the Boston Bruins and Pittsburgh Penguins played in the 2023 Discover NHL Winter Classic in the famous old ballpark that is home to the Boston Red Sox on New Year's Day. Bruins forward Jake DeBrusk scored two goals in the third period to lift the home team to a 2-1 win in front of a sellout crowd of 39,243. Evgeni Malkin had a potential last-second goal waived off because time expired. Fenway Park also hosted the Winter Classic in 2010, when the Bruins also came back to win 2-1, but in overtime against the Philadelphia Flyers.

Ice Time recaps the 2023 Winter Classic

2. Tkachuk the big star at All-Star Weekend

Matthew Tkachuk's big year kicked in off in a big way at 2023 Honda NHL All-Star Weekend in South Florida. Tkachuk, the Florida Panthers forward, played the role of host and was happy to show off his new NHL city. Tkachuk, who the Panthers acquired in a blockbuster trade with the Calgary Flames on July 22, 2022, was omnipresent during All-Star Weekend on Feb. 3-4, mingling with fans, doing media interview after interview, and capping it by winning MVP honors with seven points (four goals, three assists) to help the Atlantic Division come out as All-Star Game champion in the 3-on-3 tournament. Later in the season, Tkachuk played a leading role in helping the Panthers reach the Stanley Cup Final. He became the face of the Panthers, a crossover star in South Florida who had no problem promoting the Elbo Room, a famed Fort Lauderdale beach-front bar. He wore an Elbo Room T-shirt while on the TNT set with Shaquille O'Neal, Charles Barkley, Kenny Smith and Ernie Johnson before Game 6 of the NBA Eastern Conference Final in Miami.

Go behind the scenes of the 2023 All-Star Skills

3. Outdoor hockey comes to Raleigh

The North Carolina State University marching band rocked, the sellout crowd partied, and the Carolina Hurricanes had an unforgettable experience in their first outdoor game, winning 4-1 against the Washington Capitals in the 2023 Navy Federal Credit Union NHL Stadium Series game at Carter-Finley Stadium on Feb. 19. Martin Necas had a three-point night (one goal, two assists) in front of a sellout crowd of 56,961. The Hurricanes became the 28th NHL team to play in an outdoor game. The Seattle Kraken will become the 29th when they host the Vegas Golden Knights in the 2024 Discover NHL Winter Classic at T-Mobile Park on Jan. 1 (3 p.m. ET; MAX, TNT, SN, TVAS). The Florida Panthers, Columbus Blue Jackets and Arizona Coyotes have not played in an outdoor game.

Sights and Sounds of the Stadium Series

4. A Chicago icon moves on

Patrick Kane was traded from the Chicago Blackhawks to the New York Rangers on Feb. 28, ending one of the most legendary careers for any player ever to play for an "Original Six" franchise. Kane played 16 seasons in Chicago (2007-23). He left the Blackhawks as their second all-time leading scorer with 1,225 points (446 goals, 779 assists) in 1,161 games, behind Bobby Hull's 1,467 points. He is third in goals, second in assists and third in games played. Kane won the Stanley Cup three times with Chicago (2010, 2013, 2015) and is third in team history in points in the Stanley Cup Playoffs with 132 (52 goals, 80 assists) in 136 games. Kane had 12 points (five goals, seven assists) in 19 games with the Rangers and six points (one goal, five assists) in seven playoff games. But he was playing with an ailing right hip that led to hip resurfacing surgery June 1. He signed a one-year, $2.75 million contract with the Detroit Red Wings on Nov. 28 and made his season debut Dec. 7.

NHL Tonight on Patrick Kane heading to the Rangers

5. McDavid becomes a 60-goal scorer

Connor McDavidConnor McDavid became the fastest player in 27 years to score 60 goals in a season when the Edmonton Oilers center reached it in his 72nd game, scoring two, including one in overtime, in a 4-3 win against the Arizona Coyotes on March 22. McDavid became the 22nd NHL player and fourth active to score at least 60 goals in a season, joining Auston Matthews (60 in 2021-22), Steven Stamkos (60 in 2011-12) and Alex Ovechkin (65 in 2007-08). No one had scored 60 goals faster since Mario Lemieux did in 62 games in 1995-96. McDavid also became the third player in Oilers history to score at least 60 in a season, joining Wayne Gretzky (five times) and Jari Kurri (twice). He finished the season with 64 goals and won the Hart Trophy as the League's most valuable player for the third time in nine seasons.

ARI@EDM: McDavid scores in OT

6. Kraken clinch playoff berth

The Kraken became a Stanley Cup Playoff team in just their second season when they clinched a berth with a 4-2 win against the Coyotes at Climate Pledge on April 6. The Kraken finished the season with 46 wins and 100 points. They were the first wild-card into the playoffs from the Western Conference. They had 27 wins and 60 points as a first-year expansion team in 2021-22.

How far will the Kraken go?

7. A special night for the Bruins

A lot happened for the Bruins on April 9 in Philadelphia. David Pastrnak had a hat trick, the 15th of his career, including scoring his 300th goal and 60th of the season. It all helped the Bruins to a 5-3 win against the Philadelphia Flyers, their 63rd win of the season, which set an NHL record for most wins in a single season. Pastrnak's hat trick moved him into second place on the Bruins' all-time list. He became the second Bruins player to score 60 goals in a season, with Phil Esposito being the other, the Hall of Famer having done it four times. The Bruins finished the regular season with 65 wins and 135 points, each an NHL record.

The guys discuss the Bruins record setting season

8. Maple Leafs advance for first time in 19 years

The Toronto Maple Leafs won a playoff round for the first time since 2004 when they defeated the Tampa Bay Lightning 2-1 in overtime in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference First Round at Amalie Arena on April 29. Stamkos scored to tie the game 1-1 at 4:11 of the third period, but John Tavares won it for the Maple Leafs with a goal 4:36 into overtime. Toronto lost 7-3 in Game 1, but responded with a 7-2 win in Game 2. They needed overtime to win Games 3 and 4 before losing Game 5 and responding with another overtime win in Game 6 to advance.

Toronto finally snaps the first round curse

9. Panthers pull the upset, knock out the Bruins

The Bruins' historic season came to a crashing halt when Carter Verhaeghe scored for the Florida Panthers 8:35 into overtime of Game 7 of the Eastern Conference First Round on April 30, to give the Panthers a 4-3 win at TD Garden. Panthers defenseman Brandon Montour tied the game 3-3 with one minute remaining in the third period and goalie Sergei Bobrovsky pulled for the extra skater. Boston had a 3-1 lead in the series after four games, but the Panthers won three straight, including Game 5 on Matthew Tkachuk's overtime goal and 7-5 in Game 6, when they twice came back from down one goal in the third period.

Breaking down Carter Verhaeghe's overtime goal

10. Kraken eliminate the defending champs

The Kraken's magical season continued with a 2-1 win in Game 7 at Ball Arena to eliminate the defending Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche on April 30. Colorado forced Game 7 with a 4-1 win in Game 6 on April 28. But Oliver Bjorkstrand scored two goals, Yanni Gourde had assists on both, and Philipp Grubauer made 33 saves in Game 7 to help the Kraken become the first expansion team to defeat the reigning Stanley Cup champions in its first playoff series.

Relive Kraken vs. Avalanche Game 7 mic'd up moments

11. Revival of the Hudson River Rivalry

The New Jersey Devils and New York Rangers met in the playoffs for the seventh time but first in 11 years in the Eastern Conference First Round. The Rangers went up 2-0 after back-to-back 5-1 wins in the first two games at Prudential Center, but the Devils responded and won the series in seven games to advance to the second round. They won 4-0 in Game 7 on May 1 after the Rangers won 5-2 in Game 6 two nights earlier. The rivals previously met in the playoffs in 1992 (Rangers in seven, Patrick Division semifinals), 1994 (Rangers in seven, Eastern Conference Final), 1997 (Rangers in five, Eastern Conference Semifinals), 2006 (Devils in four, Eastern Conference Quarterfinals), 2008 (Rangers in five, Eastern Conference Quarterfinals) and 2012 (Devils in six, Eastern Conference Final).

Relive Rangers vs. Devils Game 7 mic'd up moments

12. Blackhawks win the draft lottery

The Chicago Blackhawks potentially had one of the biggest moments in their storied history when NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly flipped over the card with their logo on it May 8. It signified that the Blackhawks won the 2023 NHL Draft Lottery and would get the No. 1 pick in the 2023 NHL Draft. With that, the Blackhawks gained the right to select the player who many people is the next generational NHL talent, center Connor Bedard of Regina of the Western Hockey League. The Blackhawks had the third-best chance of winning the lottery at 11.5 percent, but Daly turned over their logo and Bedard-mania started to ignite in Chicago. The Anaheim Ducks got the No. 2 pick followed by the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Connor Bedard expected to land in Chicago

13. Panthers and Hurricanes go four overtimes

It was the game that felt like it was never going to end. It was the game that you really never wanted to end. The Hurricanes and Panthers played almost four full overtimes, nearly seven full periods, in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Final on May 18 (and May 19) at PNC Arena. Tkachuk scored with 13 seconds left in the fourth overtime to give the Panthers a 3-2 win and a 1-0 lead in the best-of-7 series. It was the sixth-longest game in Stanley Cup Playoffs history (79:47 of OT length), and the longest game in franchise history for each team. Sergei Bobrovsky made 63 saves for the Panthers; Frederik Andersen made 57 saves for the Hurricanes. The Panthers went on to sweep the Hurricanes in four games, winning each game by one goal, including on another Tkachuk overtime goal in Game 2.

NHL Tonight on Matthew Tkachuk's game-winning goal

14. Golden Knights win the Stanley Cup

The Vegas Golden Knights won the Stanley Cup for the first time with a 9-3 win against the Panthers in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup Final on June 13, kicking off a wild celebration in and around T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas. The Cup championship came in the Golden Knights' sixth season, making good on owner Bill Foley's prediction of "Cup in six," on the day the expansion franchise received its name. Vegas became the second fastest team in the NHL expansion era (since 1967-68) to win the Stanley Cup. The Oilers, who joined the League from the World Hockey Association in 1979-80, won the Stanley Cup in 1983-84, their fifth NHL season. Vegas forward Jonathan Marchessault won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the most valuable player of the playoffs.

Watch Golden Knights celebrate in QFTSC clip

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