The weekend following the NHL trade deadline was a busy one, and there was no shortage of entertaining moments.
The Boston Bruins extended their winning streak to 10 games with a win over the New York Rangers. The Bruins are now 49-8-5 and are on pace to set a new record for points in a single season with 132.
Elsewhere around the league, the Lightning have hit a rough patch, new acquisitions scored their first goal with new teams and Tyler Toffoli kept the Calgary Flames' playoff hopes alive. Let's take a look back at the biggest storylines and best highlights of this past weekend in the NHL.
Goal of the weekend: Gabe Vilardi stick handles in a phone booth
There's not a lot of room to operate in front of the net. The grown man with pillows strapped to his legs and the other grown men intent on hitting anything that moves make sure of that.
Those occupational hazards didn't mean much to Los Angeles Kings forward Gabe Vilardi on Saturday.
With the Kings on the power play, Vilardi got the puck down low in front of St. Louis Blues goaltender Jordan Binnington. In the blink of an eye, Vilardi spun, faked a move to his forehand, went to his backhand and lifted a shot over Binnington's pad.
Gabe Vilardi with DISGUSTING hands in front of the net 🤮 pic.twitter.com/HRvKpN70pQ— B/R Open Ice (@BR_OpenIce) March 5, 2023
With two Blues collapsing on him, Vilardi displayed some impressive poise and some silky smooth hands.
Robbery of the weekend: Andrei Kuzmenko gets victimized twice
Andrei Kuzmeko is about to have some very long conversations with his insurance company because he was robbed twice over the weekend.
The first time it happened was on Saturday night, when the Vancouver Canucks beat the Toronto Maple Leafs, 4-1. In the second period, Kuzmenko and Conor Garland got loose for a 2-on-0, and the puck wound up on Kuzmenko's stick. The Vancouver forward couldn't elevate his shot, and Murray made him pay. Murray stretched from side to side to deny Kuzmenko with the pad.
😳😳😳 pic.twitter.com/7pYjEmNIkO— Toronto Maple Leafs (@MapleLeafs) March 5, 2023
Then, in Monday night's shootout win over the Nashville Predators, Anthony Beauvillier picked up a rebound in the slot and kicked it to a wide open Kuzmenko. Once again, Kuzmenko failed to elevate the shot, and this time it was Juuse Saros sliding across to deny him with the skate.
🧃😵😵😵😵 @PredsNHL l #Smashville pic.twitter.com/P7VkhqqcVg— Bally Sports: Preds (@PredsOnBally) March 7, 2023
It was a long weekend for the young Canucks forward, but perhaps he has learned to put a little more air under his shots in the future.
Bruins win 10th straight game
The Bruins have been able to avoid peaking too early by simply peaking all season. After Saturday's 4-2 win over the New York Rangers, the Bruins have now won 10 games in a row. It helps that they added Dmitry Orlov and Garnet Hathaway from the Washington Capitals and Tyler Bertuzzi from Detroit at the deadline.
In his first game with the Bruins, Bertuzzi made an instant impact. Late in the first period, Bertuzzi found Charlie Coyle with a beautiful feed to put Boston up, 1-0.
Bert, did you know CC's from Weymouth? pic.twitter.com/XB8Bz5cMj5— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) March 4, 2023
In the second period, a tremendous solo effort from Tomas Nosek doubled the Bruins' lead.
👃 👀 🖐 pic.twitter.com/se6A9Auv3c— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) March 4, 2023
After the Rangers cut the Bruins' lead in half, Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron went to work. After carrying the puck into the zone, Marchand circled the net and found Bergeron all alone in front for the goal.
💯 strikes. pic.twitter.com/RLlb42DtAc— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) March 4, 2023
David Pastrnak sealed the win with a rocket off a one-timer to finish off a perfect feed from Charlie McAvoy.
Had some zip on that ziti. pic.twitter.com/8P6q3753p4— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) March 4, 2023
Boston has now won 49 games while losing just 13. The team is getting contributions all throughout a lineup that was recently made deeper thanks to the trade deadline. I'm done wondering when the Bruins will run out of steam (or if they actually ever will).
Bolts show signs of slowing down
One team that might actually be running out of steam is the Tampa Bay Lightning. In the last three weeks, the Bolts have gone 3-5-3, which is the 25th best record in that span.
In Saturday's 5-3 loss to the Buffalo Sabres, head coach Jon Cooper benched Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stamkos and Brayden Point for the entirety of the third period. In his postgame press conference, Cooper said those players just weren't performing up to the standard that they set for the team.
Here’s Jon Cooper’s full response on Kucherov, Point and Stamkos not playing in the third period. pic.twitter.com/F42uCOArxG— Chris Krenn (@Chris_Krenn) March 4, 2023
It would have been fair to expect a better effort from Tampa against the Carolina Hurricanes on Sunday, but the team got blown out, 6-0.
Yes, it's a mistake to doubt this Lightning team heading into the playoffs. Any team that has been to the Stanley Cup Final three years in a row may lose interest in playing out the home stretch of the regular season... but this is as mortal as the Bolts have looked in a long time.
At least the Lightning still have about five weeks to get back on track.
Meier, Chychrun get their first goals in their new uniforms
If you hadn't heard, there were a couple of trades made ahead of the 2023 NHL trade deadline. Two of the biggest names on the move were Timo Meier and Jakob Chychrun. Over the weekend, both of those players scored their first goal in a new sweater.
On Saturday, Chychrun cranked a seed past Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Elvis Merzlikins. He was clearly fired up to get on the board for the first time in Ottawa.
🐥🏃♂️☝️🚨#GoSensGo pic.twitter.com/SiuEupO9If— Ottawa Senators (@Senators) March 5, 2023
Chychrun's grandfather was in attendance as well, and he celebrated with some Tim Horton's in hand. After the game, Chychrun got emotional upon seeing the video of his grandfather celebrating the special moment.
Wholesome Jakob Chychrun content ❤️— B/R Open Ice (@BR_OpenIce) March 5, 2023
Chychrun was shown his grandfather's reaction in the crowd to his first goal with the Senators. pic.twitter.com/0ADDaToNQQ
On Sunday afternoon, Meier scored his first goal as a member of the Devils about halfway through the first period. He simply scooped up a loose rebound and shoveled through the legs of Arizona Coyotes netminder Connor Ingram.
⛽️— New Jersey Devils (@NJDevils) March 6, 2023
Meier's first game in New Jersey had a thrilling end with his fellow Swiss native, Nico Hischier, delivering the win in overtime.
Nico delivers the dub. pic.twitter.com/AgKGY3hGE1— New Jersey Devils (@NJDevils) March 6, 2023
If this past weekend is any indication, it will be a blast to watch both of these players with their new clubs.
Tyler Toffoli keeps Flames' playoff hopes alive
The Western Conference playoff race is starting to look more straightforward, but the Calgary Flames are one of the teams that could make things interesting. On Monday night, it looked like their playoff hopes were about to take a massive blow. Up 4-2 in the third period, Calgary was cruising toward a big win over the Dallas Stars, but the wheels began to come off.
Roope Hintz scored on a shorthanded breakaway to bring the Stars within one goal with just over 10 minutes left.
ROOPE HINTZ JOINS THE 30 GOAL CLUB ON A SHORTY!— Dallas Stars (@DallasStars) March 7, 2023
📺 @BallySportsSW | #TexasHockey pic.twitter.com/94wbD7NSho
With under six minutes remaining in the third period, Jamie Benn deflected a point shot home to tie the game.
BENNAISSANCE!— Dallas Stars (@DallasStars) March 7, 2023
📺 @BallySportsSW | #TexasHockey pic.twitter.com/IXgDRojezx
The Flames had blown a multi-goal lead in the third period, and they were staring down the barrel of a devastating loss. That is, until Tyler Toffoli got sprung on a breakaway in the dying seconds of regulation.
HOLY MOLY TYLER TOFFOLI!! 🫖 pic.twitter.com/9CST9ImWEZ— Sportsnet (@Sportsnet) March 7, 2023
With less than seven seconds left, Toffoli beat Jake Oetting to earn a massive two points for Calgary.
Appointment viewing this week
Golden Knights at Panthers | Tuesday, Mar. 7: The Panthers are still hanging around in the Eastern Conference playoff race, and this tilt against the Golden Knights will go a long way toward determining their fate.
Islanders at Penguins | Thursday, Mar. 9: It feels like these two teams have been fighting for their playoff lives for the last two months, and that will continue on Thursday night. As things currently stand, the Isles and Pens occupy the two wild card spots in the Eastern Conference.
Oilers at Maple Leafs | Saturday, Mar. 9: Auston Matthews vs. Connor McDavid. That's all that needs to be said. Enjoy it now because we won't get it in the Stanley Cup Final.
Hurricanes at Devils | Sunday, Mar. 12: Watching these teams separately is good enough, but putting them on the same sheet of ice makes for tremendous hockey. The top two teams in the Metro Division will duke it out on Sunday afternoon.
Jets at Lightning | Sunday, Mar. 12: Both of these playoff teams have been backsliding lately, and both need a big win. The good news for the Jets and Lightning is that someone has to win this matchup. This should be an intense game between two desperate clubs.