Patrik Laine’s favorite player during his youth was Washington Capitals sniper Alex Ovechkin. And if there has ever been a moment during the youngster’s rookie season where one could see the Ovechkin influence in Laine’s game, it came Thursday night against the Edmonton Oilers.
During a two-man advantage early in the third period, Laine found himself manning the back end on the five-man unit alongside Dustin Byfuglien. As the Jets worked the puck around the zone, Blake Wheeler found Laine on the back end, who moved the puck to Byfuglien, which subsequently led to the puck being served up on a platter for Laine. The 18-year-old rookie made no mistake.
It’s a literal blink-and-you’ll-miss-it goal, and it was Laine’s 15th of the season. Watch and listen for the sweet ping of the post as Laine powers this one home:
Say what you will for the Oilers’ coverage on the 5-on-3, but it appeared near perfect. Simply put, there’s nothing that could have been done to stop that Laine blast, short of the puck hitting a bump in the ice and giving the Jets rookie sensation a wobbling puck to work with.
Through 26 games, Laine is now far and away the rookie leader in goals with 15 — five more than the second-place Auston Matthews — and his 19 points put him two ahead of Mitch Marner for the rookie scoring lead. Laine’s goal scoring and point totals aren’t just impressive for a rookie, though.
The only player in the entire league right now who has scored more than Laine is Sidney Crosby, who has an unthinkable 16 goals in 18 games, and Laine is tied for 14th in scoring. If none of that is impressive enough, consider that Laine’s currently on pace to register 40-plus goals as a rookie.
The last rookie to manage such a feat? Alex Ovechkin.
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