Four things we learned in the NHL: Stamkos the enforcer?

Ryan McDonagh and J.T. Miller were welcomed back to Madison Square Garden as their new team, the Lightning, embarrassed the Rangers in New York’s home finale; Rangers’ 18-year-old Filip Chytil scored his first NHL goal; the Metropolitan-leading Capitals were upset by the Hurricanes; Colorado’s win over Chicago means San Jose still has some work to do before clinching a playoff berth, and the Ducks beat the Kings in OT to move back into a playoff spot.

Here are four things we learned Friday in the NHL.

Stamkos drops the mitts

Steven Stamkos is in the midst of an 11-game goalless drought but he’s finding other ways to contribute. Most nights it’s by setting up his teammates—he still has nine assists in those 11 games—but on Friday he made an impact with his fists.

The Tampa Bay Lightning captain got into the fourth fight of his NHL career after dropping the gloves with Rangers forward Pavel Buchnevich seconds after Buchnevich took a run at Nikita Kucherov.

Stamkos had just finished serving a two-minute boarding penalty before Friday’s dust-up. Buchnevich did get a tripping minor in addition to the fighting major but Stamkos was assessed the five plus two for instigating and a 10-minute misconduct. All told he finished the game with an uncharacteristic 19 penalty minutes.

Prior to Friday, Stamkos’s single-game high for PIMs was the 16 (three minors plus a misconduct) he received in a game against the Hurricanes back on Jan. 15, 2011.

Stamkos fought Nikolai Zherdev as a rookie in 2008 then waited until 2015 for his next scrap, which was against Brad Marchand. He fought Karl Alzner this past February as well.

Leafs players continue various hot streaks

The Toronto Maple Leafs don’t have much to play for in terms of playoff positioning but it seems like each game the team or one of its players sets or ties some type of club record. Friday’s 5-4 win over the Islanders was no different.

Mitch Marner extended career-best point streak to 11 games, earning a power-play assist on his team’s first goal of the night then burying his 22nd of the season later in the game.

Marner now has a team-leading 69 points, 16 of which have come during his current 11-game streak. Marner joins teammate William Nylander and Leafs legend Mats Sundin as the only players donning the blue and white in the past 20 years to have a point streak of at least 11 games.

While Marner had another strong outing, Auston Matthews was the game’s first star, registering the game-winner on his 31st goal of the season. The Leafs have won the past nine games in which Matthews scores.

Frederik Andersen was in net for the Maple Leafs and he tied a single-season franchise record by earning his 37th victory of the campaign. If he can earn one more win in the regular season he’ll surpass current record holders Ed Belfour and Andrew Raycroft.

Golden Knights’ Karlsson continues storybook season

William Karlsson is in the midst of one of the most improbable 40-goal campaigns in recent memory and he extended his point streak Friday against the Blues. The 25-year-old Vegas Golden Knights forward had two points in the opening 14 minutes of the game, including his 41st goal of the season, which tied Connor McDavid for fourth in the league.

His 41st was his third short-handed goal in 2017-18. Karlsson became the 12th player this season to register at least three short-handed goals.

Karlsson’s previous career high for goals was the nine he scored in 81 games in 2015-16 when he was with the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Varlamov, Bernier team up to make Avalanche/Nordiques history

The Colorado Avalanche picked up a massive two points in the standings thanks to a 5-0 drubbing of the Blackhawks and it was a total team effort—including between the pipes.

Semyon Varlamov had stopped all 30 shots he faced before he was forced to exit the game with 6:25 remaining in the third period. Backup Jonathan Bernier entered the game and stopped the three shots he saw to preserve the shutout and in doing so contribute some franchise history.

It was Colorado’s 27th home win of the season, which puts it one back of tying a franchise record set back in 2000-01.

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