It’s now that time of the season when teams need their best players to perform like it. That was certainly the case last week after the NHL returned from the All-Star break and prepared for the stretch run.
A step up
Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins: The Pens' captain extended his point streak to 10 games, with 10 goals and eight assists in that span. He also reached a milestone last week, becoming the 13th active player to reach 900 career points, and the 10th-fastest player to accomplish that feat. Crosby had a goal and two assists to help the Penguins to a 3-2 overtime win over the Florida Panthers on Saturday.
Brad Marchand, Boston Bruins: Marchand lands in this category for the second consecutive week. The crafty forward has nine goals in his past nine games and leads the team with 24 overall. He’s been the Bruins’ best player of late and capitalized on a penalty shot in overtime to help them to a 2-1 win over the Buffalo Sabres on Saturday at TD Garden.
Erik Karlsson, Ottawa Senators: The reigning Norris Trophy winner registered four assists to help the Senators snap a three-game losing skid with a 6-1 win over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday. He matched a career high for assists and points in a game. The captain has 11 goals and 48 assists in 53 games this season. He leads the league in assists and is four ahead of Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane in that category. Karlsson now has three more assists than he recorded in 82 games last season.
Shayne Gostisbehere, Philadelphia Flyers: The rookie extended his points streak to eight games with an assist during Sunday’s 3-2 loss to the Washington Capitals. He leads rookie defensemen with nine goals and 18 assists.
Kyle Okposo, New York Islanders: The big forward scored a hat trick in Sunday’s 8-1 thrashing of the Edmonton Oilers. He now has four points in the past two game as the Islanders moved into third place in the Metropolitan Division, one point ahead of the Penguins and New Jersey Devils.
A step back
Loui Eriksson, Boston Bruins: He did score in the win over the Sabres, but the veteran forward seems a bit distracted by his name bouncing around the rumor mill ahead of the Feb. 29 trade deadline. Before his goal on Saturday, Eriksson had gone four games without a point.
Shawn Matthias, Toronto Maple Leafs: He’s registered only a goal and one assist in the past eight games. Last week against the Senators, Matthias was a minus-4 in only 8:38 of ice time. He won't be joining the Leafs on their current road trip, reportedly dealing with whiplash suffered in Saturday's game.
David Desharnais, Montreal Canadiens: The Canadiens showed a bit of life in a 2-1 win over the Senators on Sunday, but Desharnais continues to struggle. He was a plus-1 against the Senators, but was a minus-2 in Wednesday’s 4-2 loss to the Sabres and has scored only twice since Nov. 25.
A step up
Artem Anisimov, Chicago Blackhawks: The forward posted his second career four-point game to help the Blackhawks to a 5-1 win over the Dallas Stars on Saturday. Since the Blackhawks acquired Anisimov from the Columbus Blue Jackets during the offseason, he’s made significant contribution, especially of late. The line of Anisimov, Patrick Kane and Artemi Panarin has been stellar.
Nikolaj Ehlers, Winnipeg Jets: The Jets posted a 4-2 win over the Colorado Avalanche on Saturday, and while he didn't record a point in that victory, Ehlers does have four goals and four assists in the past seven games.
Dustin Byfuglien, Winnipeg Jets: The veteran defenseman has four goals and three assists in the past four games. And the timing of the recent surge is interesting, with Byfuglien's name being involved in trade rumors.
Sam Bennett, Calgary Flames: The forward scored a goal and added an assist to help the Flames to a 4-1 win over the Vancouver Canucks on Saturday. He has nine goals and one assist in his past 11 games. That's a big change from the five goals and 10 assists he registered in the first 40 games of his career.
A step back
Mike Ribeiro, Nashville Predators: The veteran forward played in his 1,000th game Saturday and registered two assists in the team’s 6-2 victory over the San Jose Sharks. Before that win, though, Ribeiro had struggled and finished with a minus-3 in a 6-3 loss to the Flyers last week.
Thomas Vanek, Minnesota Wild: With the Wild struggling (1-8-1 in their past 10 games), the veteran forward was a healthy scratch for a 4-1 loss to the St. Louis Blues on Saturday. Before his night spent watching from press level, Vanek had only one assist in the previous eight games.