One Timers

O’Donnell’s top five NHL Goals of the Week

Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire

The NHL regular season is starting to come to a close, and playoff races are starting to heat up. The eight Western Conference teams are essentially determined at this point, but the Wild Card sports in the Eastern Conference are wide open.

Teams currently in the playoffs are also fighting for home-ice advantage, with the playoff matchups between teams not set in stone just year.

With the competition heating up, the highlight reel has been full. Some excellent goals were scored during the past week of NHL action; here are the top 5.

Honorable Mention: Gostisbehere’s assist keeps Flyers in playoff contention

The Philadelphia Flyers have been on quite the run lately, and are 10-3-2 in their past 15 games. Their strong run in the month of March has put them in the second Wild Card spot in the East, and the Flyers have a real chance to make the playoffs this season, in what was really supposed to be a transition year for the franchise.

One of the biggest reasons for the team’s excellent play is the emergence of rookie defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere. His assist on Claude Giroux’s overtime game winner wasn’t only an amazing play; it earned the Flyers a key point in the standings. If the Flyers do end up making the postseason, plays like this will be a big reason why.

5. Riley Sheahan’s coast-to-coast beauty

Riley Sheahan has been on fire lately, scoring four goals and adding two assists for a total of six points in his past six games. One of those goals was a video-game style coast-to-coast beauty, where Sheahan essentially took on the entire Sabres roster by himself, and won.

The goal helped propel the Red Wings to a key victory over the Buffalo Sabres; with the Philadelphia Flyers hot on their tails, the win kept the Red Wings in playoff position.

4. Brad Marchand splits the defense 

The Boston Bruins are currently out of a playoff spot, despite having the 6th best goal differential in the Eastern Conference. The good news is that they’ve got a game in hand over the Detroit Red Wings, and if they win out the rest of their season, they’ll still qualify for the 2016 NHL playoffs.

One player who has helped the Bruins get where they are this year is Brad Marchand, the 27-year-old pest who has had a career year with Boston, scoring 35 goals in 73 games. His 35th of the year came against the New Jersey Devils, where the speedy winger split two defenders, and deked around the net minder.

Marchand’s quick hands are on full display here; he deftly fakes out Cory Schneider, then roofs the puck on his backhand.

3. Sidney Crosby’s refusal to give up sets up Conor Sheary’s finish

The Pittsburgh Penguins have been one of the best teams in the NHL ever since Mike Sullivan took over behind the bench, going 30-15-5 in their past 50 games. Under Sullivan, team captain Sidney Crosby has thrived, putting up 62 points in 49 games.

Under Sullivan, Crosby is making ridiculous plays. Against the Buffalo Sabres, he made one such play, getting knocked down while entering the zone, stealing the puck from defensemen twice while still on the ice, and then getting the puck to Conor Sheary, who would bury the goal.

Sheary’s role in the goal can’t be overlooked, either. The 23-year-old rookie picked up his sixth goal of the season by smartly pulling the puck out of traffic, and deftly opening up space behind the net minder before snapping the puck home.

2. Jason Spezza’s unreal dangle

The Dallas Stars are currently atop the Central Division, and have a four point lead over the rest of their division. They’ve been on fire lately, going 7-1-0 in their past eight games, and beating key opponents; in the eight game span, they’ve beaten six other playoff teams.

One of those teams was the Nashville Predators. Jason Spezza scored the eventual game winning goal in dramatic fashion, toe-dragging around Roman Josi and rifling the puck past Pekka Rinne. The goal was Spezza’s 30th of the year; he’s been an excellent second line center for the Stars.

1. The Legend still has it

Jaromir Jagr is 44-years-old. He’s one of the oldest players to ever play in the National Hockey League, and he’ll be a first ballot Hall of Famer when he retires.

Most players who are over the age of 35 are on their last leg; they play third or fourth line roles, and are secondary contributors on the ice, while providing a veteran presence in the locker room.

Jagr, on the other hand, leads the Panthers with 62 points and is tied for the team lead with 26 goals. He’s been one of the team’s best forwards, and still makes amazing plays look easy.

He secured his team’s 3-2 victory over the New Jersey Devils with this incredible assist; after stripping the defenseman of the puck, Jagr skates all the way down the ice, fakes a slapshot, and then makes a pass directly to Aleksander Barkov’s stick. Barkov makes no mistake, and buries the feed from his veteran teammate.

The Florida Panthers are likely going to win the Atlantic Division this year; plays like this from Jagr are a big reason why.

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