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NHL Rewind: Coyotes drop pair of games at new home, Oilers get revenge in ‘Battle of Alberta’

Another weekend of NHL action has come and gone. With it, we saw some very intriguing storylines, including some of the league’s elite teams flexing their muscles.

Let’s take a gander at some of the biggest highlights from this past week around the NHL.

Goal of the weekend: Jack Eichel skates around entire Jets defense, nets overtime winner

It’s been no secret that the Vegas Golden Knights have had an electric start to the season. One of the biggest reasons for that has been star forward Jack Eichel. He showed why on Sunday.

With the game tied 1-1 in the final seconds of overtime, Eichel had the puck on his stick and skated around the entire Winnipeg Jets defense. IHe nearly brought the puck out of the offensive zone before heading back towards the net and beating Jets goaltender Connor Hellebuyck on a gorgeous forehand shot to win the game for Vegas.

Robbery of the weekend: John Gibson slides to rob John Tavares

The Anaheim Ducks have had their fair share of struggles, but that didn’t stop goalie John Gibson from making a highlight reel stop over the weekend.

The Toronto Maple Leafs thought that they had manufactured a picture-perfect scoring chance in the opening period of Saturday’s game against the Ducks. Alexander Kerfoot whipped a cross-ice pass over to captain John Tavares for a one-timer. Tavares got the shot off with precision, but Gibson was able to slide over and deflect the shot away with his glove.

Oilers exact revenge in Battle of Alberta

Through two contests, the Battle of Alberta hasn’t disappointed. After the Flames took the first battle between these two teams earlier this month, the Oilers were motivated to come out victorious at the Saddledome on Saturday. Despite trailing 2-1 entering the third period, the Oilers came away with a 3-2 win over their rivals thanks to a pair of goals from winger Zach Hyman.

Connor McDavid ended up tying the game at 2-2 with 10:58 remaining in the third period thanks to a careless error from Flames goalie Jacob Markstrom. Markstrom went to play the puck from behind the net, but it whizzed right by him. McDavid was waiting on the boards and fired it right on net before Markstrom even settled back in the crease.

Just three minutes later, the Oilers’ aggressive forecheck got the job done. McDavid was able to free the puck and get it over to Hyman, who was right around the net. The puck ended up going off of Hyman’s skate and into the net for the game-winning goal.

After dropping three of their first five games to start off the season, the Oilers are now riding a four-game winning streak and sit in second place in the Pacific Division.

Coyotes debut new home on Arizona State’s campus

The Arizona Coyotes’ arena troubles have been well-documented. Glendale basically kicked the Coyotes out of Gila River Arena and that left the team out on the street after the city opted out of their joint lease agreement. The city even threatened to lock the Coyotes out of Gila River Arena due to unpaid bills and a $1.3 million delinquent tax bill.

The Coyotes were forced to quickly scramble and were able to strike a deal with the city of Tempe and Arizona State to play at their new arena. This will be the Coyotes’ home for at least the next three seasons while they attempt to get a new arena built in Temple.

On Friday, the Coyotes hosted the Winnipeg Jets at Mullett Arena for the first time. Yes, it’s called Mullett Arena and fans in attendance for Friday’s game received their very own mullet wig in order to embrace the hysteria.

While playing in a 5,000-seat college arena is a bit of a joke for an NHL franchise, the Coyotes embraced it and so did the fans. The Coyotes did suffer a pair to 3-2 losses to the Jets on Friday and the New York Rangers on Sunday. However, it looked like a much more competitive hockey team than the hockey world has seen through the opening month of the season from the Yotes.

Golden Knights continue to thrive

As we mentioned above, Eichel has paced the Vegas Golden Knights’ hot start that has the team tied with the Boston Bruins for an NHL-leading 16 points. It’s a big deal.

After all, the team was dealt a brutal slow back in August when it was learned that goaltender Robin Lehner would miss the entire 2022-23 season due to hip surgery. What Vegas would do in net would be the biggest the question mark. The Golden Knights ended up staying the course with their current roster and starter Logan Thompson has proved that the gamble has paid off in the early going.

In six starts, Thompson has accumulated a 4-2-0 record in addition to a 1.69 goals-against-average (fifth in the NHL) and a .943 save percentage (fifth in the NHL). The 25-year old also has two shutouts, which lead the NHL in that particular category.  On the offensive end, Eichel has been terrific with 10 points (four goals & six assists) on the season thus far. The star center also has recorded three points over Vegas’ last two games, which have been victories over the Anaheim Ducks and Winnipeg Jets.

The Golden Knights are currently riding a four-game winning streak and Eichel appears to be back to his normal self for the first time in nearly two years. If the team can continue to get sensational play from Thompson in between the pipes, there’s no limit for how far they can go.

Drama in Toronto

On Sunday, the Maple Leafs blew a 3-1 third-period lead to the Anaheim Ducks and lost in 4-3 in overtime. It was a brutal collapse for the Leafs, and head coach Sheldon Keefe benched star winger Mitch Marner after a turnover led to a Trevor Zegras goal that let the Ducks back into the game.

Marner took out his frustrations by smashing a stick in the visitor’s tunnel of the Honda Center. After the game, Marner said the Leafs still have a lot of confidence, based on the way they recovered from a slow start last season.

“I still think it’s very high,” Marner said. “We started off worse last year, and everyone tried to put shambles in our brain. It’s not gonna happen with us. We get to go back home now. It’s time to regroup, rethink, and make sure we get some practices in here and make sure we’re ready to go for the next one.”

Despite that confidence, there is no denying the heat is on the team already. Toronto is 4-4-2 and currently sit in seventh place in the Atlantic Division. The Maple Leafs have the roster to contend for a Stanley Cup, but they have not been in sync through the first 10 games of the season. Now, Keefe and the players are feeling the pressure of high expectations.

Appointment viewings this week

Bruins at Penguins | Tuesday, Nov. 1: After a hot start to the season, the Penguins have cooled off a bit, but this is still a marquee matchup. The Bruins have been the NHL’s best team in the early going, but they will put their near perfect record to the test with a trip to Pittsburgh to face a talented Penguins squad.

Hurricanes at Lightning I Thursday, Nov 3: This could very well wind up being a matchup at some point in the 2023 NHL Playoffs. The Hurricanes sit atop the Metropolitan Division, and the Lightning are still the Lightning. There should be some high-level hockey played on both sides.

Bruins at Rangers I Thursday, Nov. 3: Boston has a busy week, and they will absolutely be pushed. On Thursday, the Bruins have to go to Madison Square Garden to take on a Rangers team capable of beating you in multiple different ways. It will be fun to see Patrice Bergeron up against the firepower at the top of the Rangers’ lineup.

Devils at Flames | Saturday, Nov. 5: Don’t look now, but the Devils are getting decent goaltending and have played as well as any team in the NHL. That sets up what should be an entertaining clash with one of the elite teams in the Western Conference. This will be a solid challenge for New Jersey, which has been dominating teams at five-on-five to this point.

Maple Leafs at Hurricanes | Sunday, Nov. 6: If the Maple Leafs want to relieve some of the pressure that’s mounting already, going on the road and beating this Hurricanes team would be a good start. However, if Toronto continues to get mediocre goaltending and be careless with the puck, Carolina should eat in this matchup.

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