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Metropolitan Division Weekly Roundup: Pittsburgh Penguins Get Hot

The Penguins have won 11 of their last 13 and the New Jersey Devils lost three straight for the first time this season

Carolina Hurricanes v Detroit Red Wings Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

1. New Jersey Devils: 44 Points (21-6-2)

The New Jersey Devils had their road winning streak snapped at 11 games on Monday at the hands of the New York Rangers at MSG, just one game shy of tying their all-time road game win streak.

With their losses on Monday and last night against the Dallas Stars this is the first time that the Stars have lost three straight games this season. This is also the first time they have lost consecutive games since their first two games of the season. The Devils had the easiest schedule in October and November, and now they will see that difficulty ramp up. We will soon see whether or not the Devils can keep up the performance level against better teams.

With no points last night, Jack Hughes's point streak also came to an end at eight games. Over those last eight games, he had eight goals and five assists. He now has 15 goals and 19 assists for 34 total points in 29 games. He is on pace to score over 100 points. He is one of three players that is scoring over a point per game pace along with Jesper Bratt and Nico Hischier.

2. Carolina Hurricanes: 38 Points (16-6-6)

The Carolina Hurricanes were not dealt an easy hand when they had 19 of their first 28 games on the road. The Canes have a lot to be happy about, earning 11 of 12 possible points in a six-game road trip. What is even more impressive is that they were able to pull this off without having Sebastian Aho for the last few games. It's a smart plan to keep him and Jesper Fast out to make sure they can be fully healthy for the doldrums of the season. The Canes now only have one more game on the road for the rest of the month and they will only have one month where they have more away games than home games, that being April.

A big highlight for the Canes has been Pytor Kochetkov. With a 1-0 shutout last night Kochetkov is now tied for the most shutouts in the NHL with three despite only starting 12 games so far this season. He is the first Canes goaltender to have two straight shutouts since Kevin Weekes in 2003 and the first this season to accomplish the feat. His 2.02 GAA is now third in the NHL for goalies who have played 10 or more games.

3. Pittsburgh Penguins: 38 Points (17-8-4)

The Pittsburgh Penguins have rocketed up the standings due to their 11-1-1 record in their last 13 games. During this time goaltender, Tristan Jarry has a record of 9–0-2, with the 11-game point streak being the longest of his career. This is also the longest point streak since Marc-Andre Fleury had a 12-game point streak back in 2012. Since November 12, Jarry has a .934 save percentage which ranks third in the league in that span. Over the full season, he has a 7.54 GSAA which ranks fifth. For context, the Cane's best goalie for GSAA is Pytor Kochetkov with 3.03.

On Monday, Evgeni Malkin scored his 79th career game-winning goal in a 2-1 win over the Dallas Stars. The goal came with just :35 left in the third period. He has now passed Jaromir Jagr for the second-most game-winning goals in Penguins history. Only Sidney Crosby has more game-winning goals with 83. Malkin is now on a six-game point streak and has 29 points in 29 games this season.

4. New York Islanders: 35 Points (17-12-1)

Last week, defenseman Adam Pelech was sent into the boards head-first by Robert Bortuzzo. Pelech has now missed three straight games and is set to be re-evaluated today to see if he can join the team on their current five-game road trip before they head west. Pelech is a huge loss for the New York Islanders who have had to promote Robin Salo to the top pairing alongside Ryan Pulock. Pelech ranks second on the Islanders in goals, with three, and third for total points with 11 in 27 games. He also ranks second on the Isles' defense in possession with a 50.34% Corsi.

More than just the stats Pelech is a reliable player who can always soak up minutes against the opposition’s best players, but also run the play in the offensive zone. Heading into last night’s game, his 233 scoring chances still led the team despite playing two fewer games than Mathew Barzal who was second with 232. His 20:49 time on ice per game leads all Isles and his 2:56 short-handed time per game ranks only behind fellow defenseman Scott Mayfield.

5. New York Rangers: 35 Points (15-10-5)

Looking online at what fans are saying about the New York Rangers, it would be expected that they are in the throws of a massive losing streak and head coach Gerard Gallant is burning up on the hot seat due to his lack of lineup changes and scratching of Vitali Kravtsov. However, it has been the exact opposite for the Rangers who have now won four straight, including wins over the New Jersey Devils, Vegas Golden Knights, and the Colorado Avalanche. The Rangers may have had a slow start against the Devils but were powered to an overtime win by quick goals.

One of the goals was scored by Kaapo Kakko, who the Rangers desperately needed to get going. Kakko now has two goals in his last three games to bring his season total up to five. He has been elevated to the first line playing with Alexis Lafreniere and Mika Zibenejad. The young wingers had previously been playing on the third line as a young guns line. The most recent switch-up saw the two young players move up and a shuffled the second line of Barclay Goodrow, Artemi Panarin, and Filip Chytil. That also shuffled Vincent Trocheck down to the third line.

6. Washington Capitals: 34 Points (15-12-4)

The big news out of Washington Capitals HQ is that owner Ted Leonsis has committed to Alex Ovechkin that the team will not rebuild with him on the roster. Ovechkin is hunting down Wayne Gretzky’s NHL goal record and is signed through the 2025-26 season with a $9.5 million cap hit. The Caps are having a rough year, but it was expected with their season-opening injuries. The Caps could have a much better roster next season if fully healthy.

Ovi also stormed his way further into the record books last night, as he scored a hat trick against the Chicago Blackhawks to record his 800th NHL goal, becoming the third player to ever reach that milestone and placing him just one behind Gordie Howe and 94 behind Wayne Gretzky.

The Caps will be in a bit of a contract situation after this season though. They have 13 upcoming UFAs and three upcoming RFAs. The only top-six defenseman signed for next year is John Carlson meaning they would have to re-sign players like Dmitry Orlov and Nick Jensen. They will return their entire top six of forwards and should be able to use their large group of young players to fill out their forward group. They will be an interesting team to watch at the deadline and in the offseason with $21 million of cap space this offseason and plenty of LTIR if Backstrom is unable to return this season.

7. Philadelphia Flyers: 25 Points (9-14-7)

The Philadelphia Flyers are now just 2-11-5 since the start of November and are 0-1-2 three games into their current four-game road trip. The Flyers lost to the Arizona Coyotes on Sunday but in that game, Morgan Frost scored one goal and earned three assists.

It is the first time that he had recorded three or more points in a game. That one game now equates for 40% of his 10 total points scored this season. Frost also logged over 20:00 of ice time for the second time this season. Frost is the most important winger for the Flyers for the remainder of the season. They need him to hit the next level in his development to have any hope in the future.

The Sunday overtime loss was also set up by a Rasmus Ristolainen turnover. Ristolainen has still been held without a point this season in 23 games played. In his last six games, he also has a -6 rating. This is all in spite of playing on the top pairing with Ivan Provorov averaging over 20:00 per game in this time frame.

8. Columbus Blue Jackets: 22 Points (10-16-2)

The Columbus Blue Jackets have been riding a real rollercoaster over the last week. Last Wednesday the Jackets lost 9-4 to the Buffalo Sabres, a game that saw Tage Thompson score a natural hat trick in the first period en route to a five-goal game. On Sunday they beat the Los Angeles Kings in overtime 6-5, where struggling center Jack Roslovic popped off with a two-goal, two-assist game and both Patrick Laine and Johnny Gaudreau scored goals. But then they were shutout 4-0 by the Florida Panthers last night.

Starting goaltender, Elvis Merzlikins, also returned to action after being injured in mid-November. He earned his first back-to-back wins this past weekend which included his first win since October 20th. Merzlikins has struggled this season. Friday also marked the first time that Merzlikins had a save percentage over .900 when he stopped 19 of 20 shots faced.