With the NHL season on an indefinite hiatus due to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak, let's take a look back at some of the best moments the 2019-20 campaign has offered fans so far.
New York Rangers forward Mika Zibanejad quietly found himself on pace for a career-best season entering March with 30 goals and 32 assists. However, he took things to another level when the Washington Capitals visited Madison Square Garden on March 5.
Zibanejad got the Rangers on the board in the first period and was determined to find twine many more times. He added another tally in the second and two goals in the third - including what appeared to be the game-winner with less than two minutes remaining. After Alex Ovechkin tied it up with 43 seconds left, Zibanejad had no choice but to secure the win in overtime with his fifth of the contest.
In a single game, Zibanejad vaulted himself into the conversation for the Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy. Not regularly acknowledged for his goal-scoring abilities, Zibanejad absolutely torching one of the league's top teams was a treat for all hockey fans.
The 2019-20 season has breathed new life into the Battle of Alberta. Calgary Flames forward Matthew Tkachuk and Edmonton Oilers forward Zack Kassian were involved in several altercations in a Jan. 11 contest. Kassian ultimately decided he had seen enough of Tkachuk's antics late in the second period and proceeded to grab and pummel his adversary, which resulted in a two-game suspension.
With high-octane offenses on display and bad blood brewing, the Albertan rivals were once again battling it out for provincial bragging rights.
Calgary and Edmonton met in the playoffs five times between 1983 and 1991 but haven't matched up in the postseason since. The Oilers currently sit in second place and the Flames in third in the Pacific Division. It puts them on course for a first playoff meeting in nearly 30 years, though the status of the this season's playoffs is unknown.
In his first home game since returning, he pulled off a feat straight out of a movie. Despite scoring just once in 17 games leading up to a Feb. 27 matchup against the Vancouver Canucks, Ryan recorded an inspirational hat trick. He became visibly emotional as the crowd showered him with cheers after he completed his three-goal night with an empty-netter.
After struggling on and off the ice, Ryan provided one of the season's most feel-good moments.
Alex Ovechkin reminded everyone that he can still score with ease, potting 14 goals in seven contests between January and February. But he endured something of a cold streak as he approached a big milestone. Sitting just two markers shy of No. 700, Ovechkin went five straight games without recording a goal. But Ovi never goes long without his scoring touch.
With the 700th tally of his illustrious career against the New Jersey Devils on Feb. 22, Ovechkin earned his spot in yet another record book. He still celebrates each goal like it's his first.
It began as a regular Saturday night in Toronto on Feb. 22, with the Maple Leafs taking on the Carolina Hurricanes. But after Canes goalies James Reimer and Petr Mrazek both left the game with injuries, the team was forced to call in the emergency goaltender midway through the second period. Intrigue sparked throughout the league as David Ayres put his uniform on - and then the unimaginable happened.
The 42-year-old Zamboni driver for the AHL's Toronto Marlies stepped onto the ice and took the Hurricanes' crease. With Carolina up 3-1, Ayres, visibly uncomfortable, let in a pair of goals on the first two shots he faced. It seemed the Leafs were about to pour it on, but the Hurricanes had other plans.
Ayres settled down, stopping the next eight shots he faced. Assisted by the Hurricanes' resolute defensive work, Ayres led his new team to victory and earned himself a spot in the record books as the first emergency goaltender to win an NHL game.
The story of David Ayres reached far beyond the sport, as he found himself making an appearance on "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert." He single-handedly sent the hockey world into a frenzy and left Maple Leafs fans reeling in one of the most bizarre, heartwarming, and coolest moments we've seen for quite a while in the NHL.