The National Hockey League had a total of 10 games on the Saturday slate, which was way more than last week, but still short of a full slate. In fact, we had three games (Washington-Buffalo, New Jersey-Philadelphia and Minnesota-Los Angeles) postponed due to COVID-19. Such is life in 2020-21, and we have another game (Philadelphia-N.Y. Rangers) sacked for Sunday. While that might be a bit disappointing, fantasy managers and DFS players had plenty of options to choose from Saturday, and there were a lot of outstanding performances and good games. And, there were many underdogs barking on Saturday, as the upsets were plentiful. Let’s get started!
Ottawa Senators 2, Winnipeg Jets 1
The matinee action between the Senators and Jets got off to a very slow start, and the offense never really seemed to heat up, much to the dismay of fantasy managers everywhere.
Marcus Hogberg and Connor Hellebuyck exchanged donuts in the first 20 minutes, and we didn’t get the first goal of the game until Mark Scheifele notched his sixth of the season at 5:43 of the second period to give the Jets a lead. It was short-lived, as Evgenii Dadonov leveled the game 1-1 at 7:29 of the second with a little help from friends Nick Paul and Colin White.
After the team’s emerged from the room, the third period was another defensive slog. The donuts were flying again for Hogberg and Hellebuyck, but with just 8.2 seconds remaining in regulation, Brady Tkachuk flew in and deflected Mike Reilly’s blast from the point to give the Senators a surprising road upset and two points.
Vegas Golden Knights 3, San Jose Sharks 1
Marc-Andre Fleury appears to have turned back the clock, and the Golden Knights are the beneficiaries as they improved to 9-2-1 in this one over their rivals.
Fleury turned aside 24 of the 25 shots he faced as he moved to 6-1-0 with a minuscule 1.58 goals-against average and .934 save percentage in his seven starts. He has allowed two or fewer goals in all but one of his outings to date.
The Golden Knights power play has been much maligned, entering the day 23rd in the NHL at just 14.3 percent. That’s rather surprising for a contender which has been humming along pretty much in every other facet of the game. VGK struck for power-play goals on all three markers in this one.
Jonathan Marchessault opened the scoring at 13:13 of the first period, and captain Mark Stone added his fourth on the man advantage midway through the second. Chandler Stephenson added his fifth with help from Alex Tuch and Alec Martinez.
The lone marker for the toothless Sharks attack came off the blade of Tomas Hertl, who netted his sixth with assists to Rudolf Balcers and Marc-Edouard Vlasic.
Martin Jones was a little better, stopping 23 of 26 shots, and his team did his no favors with the plethora of penalties leading to the power-play goals. He slipped to 5-4-0 with a 3.96 GAA and .867 save percentage.
New York Islanders 4, Boston Bruins 2
It wasn’t all bad for the Bruins. Brad Marchand opened the scoring just 8:41 into the game, beating Semyon Varlamov, and it appears the red-hot Bruins were going to keep on rolling.
Jean-Gabriel Pageau had a little something to say about that, however, as he scored his third of the season with help from Leo Komarov and Ryan Pulock, tying the game 1-1. Jordan Eberle then gave the Isles their first lead a few minutes later.
Patrice Bergeron accounted for the only goal of the second period, pulling the B’s back even at 2-2. David Pastrnak chipped in with his second helper of the game, and Marchand had secondary assist for his second point of the day. In fact, Bergeron, Marchand and Pasta combined for two goals and six points, while the rest of the roster was blanked.
Mathew Barzal had the difference maker on the power play at 5:30 of the third, and Pageau had a shorthanded goal for insurance. Tuukka Rask deserved better, allowing four goals on 42 shots, but two were on special teams in the third, as he was hung out to dry.
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Tampa Bay Lightning 6, Florida Panthers 1
Sergei Bobrovsky and Andrei Vasilevskiy were locked in a goaltender’s duel in the first 24 minutes or so. Then, Tampa’s offense showed up, and Florida’s didn’t.
Ondrej Palat notched his sixth of the season on the power play, while Mathieu Joseph scored his fifth, and it stood up as the game-winning goal. Tyler Johnson also notched two goals in the second period, his first two-goal game since Dec. 7, 2019. As far as Palat is concerned, he has two goals and five points during his current three-game point streak, including two goals and four points on the man advantage.
Bob coughed up six goals on 28 shots in the end, dropping a game in regulation for the first time this season. He is now 5-1-1 with a 3.33 GAA and .884 SV%, but his good record is mostly due to great offensive support. The Panthers posted 4.0 goals of support in six outings, but that didn’t happen tonight.
Montreal Canadiens 2, Toronto Maple Leafs 1
Like the Senators-Jets game, the road team and underdog won 2-1. And like the Senators, the Habs scored a late goal to sink the home side.
Mitch Marner scored his seventh of the season at 3:36 into the first period, and things looked like they were going to go swimmingly for the Leafs. They never scored again. The remainder of the first period, and the entire second, was a defensive battle. Carey Price and Frederik Andersen were on point. At least until the third, as far as Andersen is concerned.
Tyler Toffoli scored the game-leveling goal, his 10th of the season, set up from Phillip Danault and Brendan Gallagher. Toffoli was back later with just 3:07 to go in regulation, picking up primary assist on the game-winning tally by Brendan Gallagher. Jeff Petry also added his ninth assist on the winner.
Andersen stopped 23 of the 25 shots he faced in a losing effort, while Price allowed just the one goal on his 22 shots.
Chicago Blackhawks 3, Columbus Blue Jackets 2 (OT)
Patrik Laine opened the scoring at 6:39 of the first period, and even John Tortorella had to like that. Nicolas Beaudin leveled the game 1-1, but Cam Atkinson made it 2-1 with his fifth of the season from Zach Werenski and Seth Jones.
The Blackhawks fought back, as Carl Soderberg fired one past Joonas Korpisalo for his first of the season tie it up 2-2. That helped force overtime, and Alex DeBrincat must have had dinner plans. He scored the winner just 35 seconds into the extra session to beat Korpisalo.
Patrick Kane ended up with a pair of assists, too, helping to make a winner out of Kevin Lankinen. How good has this guy been? The Blackhawks were expected to be one of the worst teams in the league, but Lankinen has come out of nowhere to post a 6-2-3 record, 2.49 GAA and .925 SV%. His play has the Blackhawks, surprisingly, right in the middle of the chase in the Central Division.
Carolina Hurricanes 4, Dallas Stars 3 (SO)
The Hurricanes have played four games against the defending Western Conference champs. And the Hurricanes have four wins.
It was a battle of backup goaltenders, as Alex Nedeljkovic and Joel Oettinger squared off. The two goalies did a good job blanking the opposition through 20 games.
In the second period, Jason Dickinson gave the Stars their only lead early in the second period, but Jordan Martinook and Teuvo Teravainen scored two goals late in the second to give Carolina a 2-1 lead.
Jordan Staal struck on the power play to make it 3-1, but Jason Robertson and Joe Pavelski struck for goals to tie it up and force overtime. Pavelski has goals in two straight, and that’s nine goals and 17 points through just 12 games.
No one was able to score in overtime, and no one for the home side could solve Nedeljkovic in the extra session, either. Jason Robertson, Pavelski and Denis Gurianov were each turned back, while Vincent Trocheck notched the winner in the shootout.
Detroit Red Wings 4, Nashville Predators 2
The Red Wings were moderate underdogs, but that didn’t bother Jonathan Bernier and the visitors. They were able to double up Pekka Rinne and the home side.
In fact, Rinne was yanked after two periods. Robby Fabbri, Adam Erne and Luke Glendening scored goals to chase him. Juuse Saros finished up, allowing one goal on six shots.
Glendening ended up with a goal and three points, which is impressive enough. But it was all the more surprising since he hadn’t scored in 39 consecutive NHL games dating back to Jan. 5, 2020 in Chicago. He hasn’t had a multi-point showing since Oct. 5, 2019.
Jonathan Bernier was more than happy with the surprising offensive performance. He stopped 21 of the 23 shots he faced, improving to 3-1-0 with a 3.22 GAA and .886 SV%, and he didn’t show any ill-effects of the upper-body injury which kept him sidelined since Jan. 28.
St. Louis Blues 5, Arizona Coyotes 4 (OT)
Conor Garland struck just 21 seconds into the game, and that set the tone for the evening for both sides. We had some firewagon hockey, and plenty of high-danger scoring chances.
Kyle Clifford and Zach Sanford erased Arizona’s short-lived lead to take a 2-1 lead to intermission. Barrett Hayton tied it up again, before Ivan Barbashev untied it to head to the room up one goal yet again.
It wouldn’t last. Nick Schmaltz and Dryden Hunt score two goals to give the home side, in front of a smattering of fans, the 4-3 lead. But Jordan Kyrou wouldn’t accept that, and he scored at 14:23 of the third period to tie it 4-4 and force overtime.
For Hunt, it was his first goal for the ‘Yotes, and just his third NHL goal. He hadn’t scored in the NHL since March 28, 2019 since he was a member of the Florida Panthers.
Vancouver Canucks 3, Calgary Flames 1
Jacob Markstrom got another crack at his former team, but his ex-understudy Thatcher Demko had a little something for him in this one, as the short ‘dogs at home came up with a victory.
Markstrom probably deserved a better outcome, as he stopped 43 of the 45 shots he faced, as he put on a show against his former employer. Both he and Demko fired donuts in the first period, and no one scored until midway through the second period.
Quinn Hughes had an unassisted goal at 9:27 of the second period, but Sam Bennett struck just 75 seconds later to level the game with help from Rasmus Andersson and Johnny Gaudreau.
In the third, Tyler Myers posted an unassisted goal against Markstrom to take the lead at 2-1, and his goal stood up as the game winner. Brandon Sutter added the insurance goal into the empty net, making a winner of Demko. He allowed just one goal on 19 shots to best Markstrom.