There’s nothing like posting a five-goal game to climb the standings in the NHL’s overall goal-scoring race. That was the case for right-winger Patrik Laine of the Winnipeg Jets on November 24th when he found the back of the net a handful of times in an 8-4 victory over the Blues in St. Louis. The scoring feat propelled the native of Tampere, Finland to first place on the scoring chart and as of November 26th he was leading the league with 19 goals in his 22 games.
Laine becomes the 57th player to score five times in an NHL game, but the first since Johan Franzen of the Detroit Red Wings achieved the feat in February of 2011. The only other player to do it in the last 21 years was the Minnesota Wild’s Marian Gaborik when he pumped five past the New York Rangers in December, 2007. But while you may think Laine is the first 20-year-old NHL’er to reel off a five-goal contest he isn’t. Wayne Gretzky pulled the same rabbit out of his hat not once but twice back in 1981 at the same age. Don Murdoch of the Rangers was the only other 20-year-old to do it, which he did in October of 1976.
In fact, Gretzky managed to record a dozen games of at least three goals (hat tricks) by the time he was 21 years old. Laine ranks second in NHL history in this category as he now has seven hat tricks in his young career of just 177 games. His scoring outburst in St. Louis enabled him to leapfrog both Dale Hawerchuk and Jimmy Carson as they both registered six hat tricks by the time they were 21. Laine’s next goal will also be a milestone as it will be the 100th regular-season marker in the league. When he scores it he’ll become the seventh player to bang in 100 goals before reaching 21.
Gretzky had the most goals at that age with 167 while Carson had 141 and Hawerchuk 122. Steven Stamkos was next at 114 followed by Ilya Kovalchuk with 108 and Brian Bellows with 102. Laine has notched three of his hat tricks this season and all of them have come since November 1st. He scored three times against the Florida Panthers in a 4-2 triumph on the 1st and another three against the Vancouver Canucks in a 6-3 win in Vancouver on November 19th. The three goals against Florida were special for Laine as they came in his homeland with the game being held in Helsinki.
This has definitely been Laine’s month as he’s netted 16 of his 19 goals in November. This sets a new franchise record for Winnipeg and he still had two games remaining in the month. The last time somebody scored that many times in a single month was back in November of 1996 when Pittsburgh Penguins’ legend Mario Lemieux slipped 17 past the goalie in 15 games. His teammate Jaromir Jagr wasn’t far behind him as he scored 16 times in 13 contests the same month. Laine has managed to score his 16 goals in just 10 games this month.
Scoring goals comes naturally to Laine though. He was drafted second overall by the Jets in 2016 behind Auston Matthews of the Toronto Maple Leafs. He scored 36 goals and 28 assists in 73 games as a rookie and followed it up last season with 44 goals and 26 assists in 82 contests with 20 of them coming on the power-play. If you’re interested in comparing Laine’s numbers to the somewhat injury-prone Matthews here goes. As of Nov. 26th Laine had 99 goals and 57 assists for 156 points in 177 games. Matthews had 84 goals and 64 assists for 148 points in 155 games. Laine has five goals and 12 assists in 17 playoff games while Matthews has five goals and two assists in 13 postseason outings.