Gerry Thomas - USA TODAY Sports

NHL 3 Stars: Max Pacioretty has a golden night

26 of the NHL's 31 teams were in action tonight, and the slate of games certainly didn’t disappoint. 

There were impressive comebacks, end-to-end overtime, and dominant periods. All but one of the 13 games was competitive. 

The Arizona Coyotes out-shot, out-chanced, and out-everything’d the Anaheim Ducks but failed to solve John Gibson

While the Colorado Avalanche steamrolled San Jose Sharks, the Columbus Blue Jackets scored three goals on just 12 shots, almost eking out a victory despite the stagnant offence. 

First star 

Max Pacioretty, LW, Vegas Golden Knights  

Vegas didn’t get the win, but shootouts are ridiculous anyway, especially when they follow such action-packed 3-on-3 overtime. 

Without Pacioretty, Vegas wouldn’t have sniffed overtime. He scored an early goal in the second period to keep the game in reach, before scoring two goals just six minutes apart to tie the game. The fourth goal was one of the best passing plays you’ll see.

Second star  

Andrew Copp, C, Winnipeg Jets  

After his first career four-point game, Andrew Copp sits top-10 in the NHL in scoring – just as we all expected. Wait, what? Driving his sudden offensive outburst is the most productive five-game stretch of his six-season career (nine points). Tonight, he did a bit of everything: stretching the ice as a breakout passer, cleaning up rebounds, and icing the game with the empty-netter. 

Copp’s production’s bound to cool, but he’s one of the more interesting stories in the NHL. Undrafted in 2012, the defensively oriented Copp became a valuable piece of the Michigan Wolverines. The Jets nabbed him as a re-entry, and within three seasons, he was a key part of Winnipeg’s forward core.

Third star  

The entire Colorado Avalanche  

The Avs weren’t just supposed to be good; they were supposed to be Cup Contenders. After two losses in three games – and an overtime victory – against two teams expected to bottom-dwell, they didn't seem that good after all. Actually, scratch that. They dominated shot share in all three of those games, and finally, the goals came tonight. 

Through 40, the Avs had seven goals to the Sharks’ two. By the final horn, the controlled 62.2 percent of the games’ shots, via NaturalStatTrick. Most impressive, 14 of 18 skaters recorded a point., highlighting the Avs’ depth and balance.

Honourable Mention: 

Johnny Gaudreau, LW, Calgary Flames

It’s no secret last year was a tough one for Johnny Gaudreau and the Calgary Flames. Just look at the stat-line: Gaudreau’s point totals drop from 99 points in 82 games to 58 in 70. That’s a steep drop. People wondered: is Gaudreau washed? 

Spoiler alert: no, he’s not. Very much not. 

Gaudreau added another pair of goals, bringing his point totals to seven in five games. And he tortured the Leafs’ defence in transition all game long.  

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NHL Anaheim Ducks Boston Bruins Calgary Flames Dallas Stars Pittsburgh Penguins St. Louis Blues Toronto Maple Leafs Vegas Golden Knights Washington Capitals Winnipeg Jets Winnipeg Jets NHL Andrew Copp Johnny Gaudreau John Gibson John Gibson John Gibson John Gibson John Gibson Nathan MacKinnon Max Pacioretty
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