Durant and Westbrook rise to the occasion
Kevin Durant returned to play in Oklahoma City this weekend for the first time since joining the Warriors. Durant scored 39 and 40 points, respectively, in wins by Golden State at Oracle Arena in each of his first two games against his former team, and then scored 34 points in the Warriors’ victory on Saturday night. Two other players scored 30+ points in each of their first three games against a former team - Kareem Abdul-Jabbar against the Bucks (1975-1976) and Allen Iverson versus 76ers (2007-2008) - but Abdul-Jabbar and Iverson did not win all three of those games.
Russell Westbrook scored 47 points for the Thunder. In Durant’s NBA career, that is the second-highest point total for an opposing player in a regulation-length (non-overtime) regular-season game. Monta Ellis scored 48 points for the Warriors versus Durant and the Thunder in February 2012.
Clippers win with big assist from Griffin
Blake Griffin scored 20 points in the Clippers’ win over the Hornets, but it was his team-high eight assists––a statistic that reflects a recent trend of his passes leading to baskets––that caught our attention. Griffin has 24 assists over his last three games, the second-highest three-game total of his NBA career. He handed out 25 assists over three games in December 2014.
Matthews ignites Dallas from downtown
Wesley Matthews scored 12 first-quarter points, all from beyond the arc, igniting the Mavericks’ easy win over the Magic. Those four three-point field goals were the most by a Dallas player in any quarter of one game this season. The only other Mavericks player in the last 13 seasons to make four three-pointers in the first quarter of a game was Jose Calderon on December 14, 2013 against Milwaukee.
Another 40-point game for Harden
James Harden scored 40 points in the Rockets’ victory over the Suns on Saturday night, the fourth time in his last eight games that Harden has scored at least 40 points. Two other players in Rockets history had four 40-point performances over an eight-game span: Moses Malone in February/March 1982 and Hakeem Olajuwon in December/January of the 1994-95 season.
76ers snap two streaks
The 76ers defeated the Heat to end Miami’s streak of 13 wins. That ties the longest winning streak snapped by Philadelphia in the last 25 seasons. In January 2004, the 76ers upset the Spurs in San Antonio, ending a run of 13 wins in a row by Gregg Popovich’s team.
Saturday night’s triumph improved Philadelphia’s record this season to 20–34 (.370) and ended the franchise’s streak of three straight seasons with fewer than 20 wins. The only other NBA team that failed to win at least 20 games in each of three consecutive full-length seasons was the Grizzlies in the 1990s, in their first three seasons in the NBA.
Cavaliers’ win sparked by 18–0 run to start second half
The Cavaliers led the Nuggets at the half, 59–55, but Cleveland went on an 18–0 run to start the third period. It was the longest scoring streak by one NBA team to begin the second half in more than a year - since the Rockets put up 18 in a row at New Orleans on January 25, 2016.
Bucks are road warriors
The Bucks defeated the Pacers in Indianapolis, 116–100, for their sixth road win by more than 15 points this season. That ties Milwaukee’s highest total of visiting victories by 16 or more points in any of the previous 30 seasons. The Bucks also had six wins of that kind in 1986-87 and 2009-10.
Milestone for King Henrik
Henrik Lundqvist became the 12th goaltender in NHL history to win 400 games when he beat the Avalanche at Madison Square Garden on Saturday night. Lundqvist reached the 400-win mark in his 727th NHL game, faster than any other goaltender, breaking the standard of 735 games set by Martin Brodeur.
But that’s a very misleading comparison, since 55 of Lundqvist’s victories were gained via shootouts, while Brodeur got to the 400-win plateau in March 2004, a year-and-a-half before the NHL implemented the controversial tiebreaking format. In fact, the goaltender who deserves special mention is Jacques Plante, who notched his 400th NHL victory in his 753rd game. Plante played in an era when all NHL games were 60 minutes long, so all of his wins were achieved without the benefit of overtime or shootouts. Only 311 of Lundqvist’s 400 regular-season NHL wins have been regulation victories (He’s won 34 games in overtime). Brodeur had 362 60-minute wins among his first 400 victories.
Jagr’s 23rd season with at least 10 goals
Jaromir Jagr reached the 10-goal mark for the 23rd time in his 23 seasons in the NHL when he scored the first goal in the Panthers’ win over the Predators. Only three other players in NHL history have recorded at least as many seasons with a double-digit goal total as Jagr: Gordie Howe (25), Mark Messier (24) and Ron Francis (23). Jagr, who will turn 45 years old on Wednesday, is the second-oldest NHL player to score at least 10 goals in one season. Howe scored 15 goals for Hartford in 1979–80, his final season in the NHL, and he turned 52 years old shortly before the season ended.
Pastrnak breaks Bourque’s record
David Pastrnak’s goal with two minutes remaining in the third period snapped a 3–3 tie and earned the Bruins a 4–3 win against the Canucks. Pastrnak’s game-winner was the 50th goal and 100th point in the NHL for the player who was Boston’s first-round pick in the 2014 Entry Draft. At age 20 years, 262 days, he’s the youngest player ever at the time he scored his 50th goal for the Bruins. Until Saturday, that distinction belonged to Hall of Fame defenseman Ray Bourque, who was 20 years, 360 days old when he hit the 50-goal mark in December 1981. Pastrnak is the fifth-youngest player to score 100 points for the Bruins, behind Bourque (age 20 years, 46 days), Steve Kasper (20–166), Patrice Bergeron (20–240) and Joe Thornton (20–258).
Simmonds scores first OT goal of his NHL career
Wayne Simmonds scored the first overtime goal of his NHL career to give the Flyers a 2–1 victory over the Sharks on Saturday afternoon. Before he scored that game-winning goal, Simmonds had the second-highest career goal total (193) among current NHL players who had never scored an overtime goal in a regular-season game, behind the Penguins’ Chris Kunitz (249 goals).
Eaves: 20-goal seasons 11 years apart
Patrick Eaves reached the 20-goal mark for the second time in his NHL career when he scored the first of his two goals for the Stars in their 5–2 win against the Hurricanes. Eaves’ only other 20-goal season was his first season in the NHL, 2005–06, when he scored 20 goals in 58 games for Ottawa. He’s the third player in NHL history to produce 20-goal seasons at least 11 years apart with no 20-seasons between them. The others were Tom Williams, whose only two 20-seasons were 12 years apart (for Boston in 1962–63 and Washington in 1974–75), and defenseman Mathieu Schneider, who also had only two 20-goals seasons (for Montreal in 1993–94 and Detroit in 2005–06), separated by 12 years.
Howe about that?
Vincent Trocheck scored two goals and assisted on one for the Panthers in their 7–4 win at Nashville. Trocheck also completed a “Gordie Howe hat trick” by picking up a fighting major for a third-period scrap with the Predators’ P.K. Subban. Trocheck is the first player in Panthers history to produce a multiple-goal “Gordie Howe hat trick,” and he’s the first NHL player on any team to register one since the Red Wings’ Justin Abdelkader did so on Dec. 1, 2015 against Buffalo.
Berglund’s first hat trick
Patrik Berglund notched the first hat trick of his NHL career by scoring three goals to lead the Blues to a 4–2 win against the Canadiens in Montreal. The only other player to produce a hat trick for the Blues against the Canadiens is Brett Hull, who did so twice: in a 6–5 overtime loss at Montreal on Feb. 25, 1990 and a 6–6 tie in St. Louis on Jan. 16, 1992.
Stone reaches 20-goal mark for third straight season
Mark Stone reached the 20-goal mark for the third consecutive season when he scored the first goal in the Senators’ 3–0 win against the Islanders. Stone, who tallied 26 goals as a rookie for Ottawa in 2014–15 and 23 goals last season, is the first player to score at least 20 goals for the Senators in each of three consecutive seasons since Jason Spezza had a six-season streak from 2006–07 through 2011–12. Stone is the first player ever to score 20 or more goals in one season for the Senators as a rookie and also in each of the next two seasons.
Bobrovsky has Detroit seeing red
Sergei Bobrovsky is a 30-game winner for the third time in his NHL career after making 35 saves in a 2–1 victory for the Blue Jackets over the Red Wings. Bobrovsky, who posted 32 wins for Columbus in 2013–14 and 30 wins in 2014–15, is 9–3–1 with a 1.76 GAA in 14 games against Detroit during his five seasons with the Blue Jackets. Bobrovsky’s nine wins versus the Red Wings are the most he’s recorded against any team for Columbus and the second-most by any NHL goaltender over the last five seasons. Ben Bishop has beaten the Red Wings 11 times since the start of the 2012–13 season.
Lehner makes 43 saves
Sabres goaltender Robin Lehner made 43 saves in his 3–1 win against the Maple Leafs in Toronto. This was the 23rd time that Lehner faced 40 or more shots on goal in a game in his NHL career, but it was the first time he allowed no more than one goal in one of those games. Excluding games decided by a shootout, Lehner is the first Buffalo goaltender to make 40 or more saves while allowing no more than one goal in a road win since Nov. 22, 2014, when Jhonas Enroth stopped 43 shots in a 2–1 victory at Washington.
Rookie is on point
Rookie Brayden Point tallied a goal and an assist for the Lightning in their 4–1 victory at Winnipeg. Point, who made his NHL debut in Tampa Bay’s season-opening win against the Red Wings on October 13, had scored only three goals in 36 games for the Lightning when he suffered an injury in a game against the Canadiens on December 28. Point was sidelined for a month by that injury, but in the six games since he returned to the Tampa Bay lineup on January 31, he’s scored a team-high total of four goals.
Backstrom: 700 points in 708 games
Nicklas Backstrom tallied one goal and two assists for the Capitals in their 6–4 victory against the Ducks. Backstrom’s first point in the game, an assist on the goal by T.J. Oshie which gave Washington an early 1–0 lead, was the 700th point of his NHL career. Backstrom reached the 700-point mark in his 708th game, eighth-fastest among active NHL players. It’s interesting to note that the eight current players who needed the fewest games to amass 700 points were all selected among the top five selections during their draft year. Four were No. 1 overall picks (Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin, Patrick Kane, Joe Thornton), two were second in their draft class (Evgeni Malkin, Jason Spezza), one was picked fourth (Backstrom) and one went fifth (Jaromir Jagr).
Murphy scores in OT
Defenseman Connor Murphy’s first goal of the season was the overtime winner for the Coyotes against the Penguins on Saturday. It was also the first overtime goal that Murphy has scored during his four seasons in the NHL, all with the Coyotes. Murphy is the first defenseman other than Oliver Ekman-Larsson to score an overtime goal for the Coyotes since New Year’s Eve 2013, when Keith Yandle scored in OT versus Edmonton. Ekman-Larsson scored six overtime goals for Arizona in the interim between the goals by Yandle and Murphy.