NHL

The Best Highlight so Far from the NHL's Top 10 Point Producers

Steve SilvermanFeatured ColumnistNovember 24, 2013

The Best Highlight so Far from the NHL's Top 10 Point Producers

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    Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

    This is sure to be a memorable NHL season.

    In addition to playing the full 82 games this year, NHL teams will suspend operations in February so the league's best players can compete in the Sochi Winter Olympics in February.

    When players have a chance to compete for their respective countries, it often brings out the best in these players before the teams are finally selected. Players are competing to make their country's Olympic team, and the result is stellar play filled with eye-catching highlights.

    In this piece we look at the best highlights from the NHL's top 10 scorers. 

10. Nicklas Backstrom, Washington Capitals

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    Nicklas Backstrom may not be "the show" in Washington, but he is doing his part to help Alex Ovechkin lead the Capitals in the Metropolitan Division of the Eastern Conference.

    Backstrom, the 10th-leading scorer in the NHL, has had some outstanding performances this year, but the goal he scored Nov. 2 vs. Florida was one of the best examples of his talent.

    With the game scoreless in the first period, Backstrom won a center-ice faceoff and led a charge up ice. Backstrom took a a quick pass from Eric Fehr and broke in on Florida goalie Scott Clemmensen. Backstrom wasted no time in firing a shot between the goalie's legs for the opening goal of the game.

9. Henrik Sedin, Vancouver Canucks

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    Henrik Sedin is once again one of the leading scorers in the NHL. The Canucks have had several hot-and-cold spurts under new head coach John Tortorella, but Sedin and his brother Daniel remain key offensive threats for the Canucks.

    Henrik Sedin scored his first goal of the season in an Oct. 12 home game against the Montreal Canadiens. After the Canadiens broke on top 1-0, the Canucks put heavy pressure on Montreal goalie Carey Price. The Montreal backstop managed to keep Vancouver off the scoreboard until Daniel picked up the rebound of a Jason Garrison shot and fed a slick behind-the-back pass to Henrik, who wristed a perfect shot past Price and into the back of the net.

    While the Canucks would lose the game 4-1, that goal was a work of hockey art.

8. Patrick Kane, Chicago Blackhawks

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    It's nearly impossible to pick out one highlight-film play for Chicago superstar Patrick Kane, since so many of his goals and assists are memorable plays.

    However, Kane's goal against the Dallas Stars Nov. 9 should be at the top of the list. With the score tied 2-2 late in the second period, Andrew Shaw, Patrick Sharp and Kane worked a perfect passing sequence as they broke into the Dallas zone.

    The puck settled on Kane's stick and he wristed a one-timer past Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen to give the Blackhawks a 3-2 lead. 

    The Blackhawks would add two more goals and win 5-2, but it was Kane's goal that was one of the best of the season.

7. Corey Perry, Anaheim Ducks

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    Corey Perry scored two goals for the Anaheim Ducks when they hosted and defeated the Ottawa Senators 4-1 on Oct. 13.

    Both goals were memorable, but the second one was a spectacular collaboration with rookie defenseman Hampus Lindholm. With the Ducks leading 2-1 in the second period, Lindholm sped into the the Ottawa zone and fired a deft pass to Perry.

    The brilliant forward saw Lindholm's backhand pass all the way; he got down knee and put all of his momentum into a vicious wrist shot. The puck exploded by Ottawa goalie Robin Lehner and gave Anaheim control of the game.

    The Ducks would dominate the rest of the way.

6. John Tavares, New York Islanders

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    John Tavares is one of the top players in the league, and he proves it nearly every night.

    When the Islanders hosted the Boston Bruins Nov. 2, Tavares was not intimidated by the defending Eastern Conference champions. 

    He scored the opening goal of a 3-1 Islanders victory when he batted in a Thomas Vanek shot-pass that crawled over the shoulder of Boston goalie Chad Johnson and seemed to hang in mid-air.

    Tavares did not dazzle the Bruins with his skating, passing or hard shot. Instead, he merely was in the right place at the right time and demonstrated excellent hand-eye coordination to tilt the game in the Islanders' favor.

    Once his teammates saw Tavares get on the board, they were not about to let this game get taken away from them.

5. Henrik Zetterberg, Detroit Red Wings

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    Henrik Zetterberg victimized the Bruins for the first goal in a 3-2 Detroit victory at Boston on Oct. 14.

    Pavel Datsyuk, who is also enjoying a stellar season, took the puck in the neutral zone and broke in hard through the Boston defense. He challenged huge defenseman Zdeno Chara and then feathered a perfect pass to Zetterberg, who whistled a quick shot from a bad angle past Tuukka Rask and into the net.

    It was the kind of play that few passers or shooters could make. Both Datsyuk and Zetterberg deserved equal credit for an impressive goal that set the Bruins on their heels. They could not recover the rest of the game.

4. Ryan Getzlaf, Anaheim Ducks

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    The Ducks and Tampa Bay Lightning played a stellar game Nov. 22 in Anaheim that saw both teams go up and down the ice and get a number of scoring opportunities. 

    However, Ben Bishop kept frustrating the Anaheim shooters, while Jonas Hiller did the same to Tampa Bay's offense.

    The game was scoreless through three periods, and it appeared that a shootout would be needed to decide the game since neither team had scored through the first four-plus minutes of overtime. However, Ryan Getzlaf decided he would have no part of a shootout. He broke in on the left side against two Tampa Bay defenders and fired a hard shot on Bishop.

    The Tampa Bay goalie stopped it, but he could not control the rebound. Getzlaf picked it up and willed it into the net with 5.2 seconds remaining in overtime for a decisive and memorable goal.

3. Alex Steen, St. Louis Blues

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    Alex Steen is one of the top scorers in the league this year, and that's a shocker.

    While he has been a solid player throughout his career, this season he has been playing like a star, as his 17 goals and 26 points indicate.

    Steen showed he was a different player in the third game of the season when he fired home the game-winning goal in the final minute of the third period when the Blues hosted the Chicago Blackhawks Oct. 9.

    Steen came steaming down the left wing and the Blackhawks defense did not challenge him. He wound up for a slap shot when he reached the circle and blasted the puck by Chicago goalie Corey Crawford for the game-winning goal.

    It was a stellar play that helped light a fuse for the Blues, who have gotten off to the best start in their history.

2. Alex Ovechkin, Washington Capitals

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    Alex Ovechkin has lit the lamp 19 times for the Washington Capitals and could finish the season with 60 goals or more.

    Ovechkin, who hopes to be in top form when he leads the Russian Olympic hockey team in Sochi, was on fire against the St. Louis Blues in the first period on Nov. 17.

    Midway through the first period, Ovechkin took a hard shot off a faceoff win by Nicklas Backstrom that went wide of goalie Jaroslav Halak.

    The puck eventually went out of the St. Louis zone, but Ovechkin was relentless. He took a pass as he reached center ice and he steamed back into the attack zone. He fired a vicious slap shot that Halak could do nothing about.

    It ripped into the back of the net, and the Caps would go on to record a 4-1 victory over the Blues.

1. Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins

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    All Sidney Crosby needs is a few inches of daylight to cause heartbreak for the Pittsburgh Penguins' opponents.

    He proved it yet again Nov. 22 when the Pens hosted the feisty New York Islanders. 

    Pittsburgh rolled early and built a 3-1 lead. However, the Islanders came back and tied the score, and it appeared that overtime would be needed to decide the game.

    However, Crosby led a foray in the final two minutes. He sent the puck behind the net where Chris Kunitz won a puck battle and sent it to Pascal Dupuis on the right side of Islanders goalie Kevin Poulin. Dupuis spotted Crosby on the opposite side and sent a touch pass to the league's leading scorer.

    Crosby quickly whipped the puck into the top corner; the Penguins had a 4-3 victory and Crosby had a stellar goal.

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