Saturday was March Madness on the ice

The National Hockey League had 14 total games on the slate, and 13 games were played, with the Boston Bruins and Buffalo Sabres postponed. It was an amazing day for fantasy goaltenders, as we had four shutouts, with five goaltenders allowing just one goal. We did have a hat trick in one of the later games. As far as the attendance, which we have been tracking as we slowly, slowly, slowly get back to normal, the NHL had a total of 14,282 fans at five separate venues. Hopefully you didn’t spend your entire day watching college basketball, as there was plenty of great March Madness on the ice. Let’s get started!

Pittsburgh Penguins 3, New Jersey Devils 1

The Penguins were tripped up by the Devils in the front end of their back-to-back Thursday. And they didn’t get off to a very good start in this one, either.

Kyle Palmieri beat Casey DeSmith for his fifth goal of the season at 7:19 of the first period, assisted by Jesper Bratt and Sami Vatanen, and it looked like the Devils were going to fire out of the chute and have another home win.

The Penguins tightened up, however, and DeSmith didn’t allow anything the rest of the way. Zach Aston-Reese leveled the score at 4:59 of the second period, while Bryan Rust scored the power-play goal just 96 seconds later with help from Sidney Crosby and Jake Guentzel. That Rust marker stood up as the game-winning tally, too.

Guentzel beat Scott Wedgewood again late in the third period, as Crosby and Rust grabbed assists for their second points of the night, and that’s how it ended.

DeSmith ended with 24 saves and just the one goal allowed, moving to 7-3-0 with a 2.11 goals-against average and .919 save percentage. While he still has Tristan Jarry to contend with, he is a decent fantasy option for those in leagues using daily lineup changes, and DeSmith has emerged as a solid DFS option more often than not.

Florida Panthers 2, Nashville Predators 0

While DeSmith was impressive for the Pens, he had nothing on Chris Driedger and Juuse Saros in Sunrise. Those two netminders put on a show in South Florida.

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The two backstops exchanged donuts in the first period before Aleksander Barkov broke the ice at 9:15 of the second period for his 13th goal of the season with help from MacKenzie Weegar and Anthony Duclair. That was the only goal to get by one of the backstops. Duclair notched an empty-net goal at 19:45 of the third period to put a bow on the scoring.

Saros deserved a better fate, as he stopped 47 of the 48 shots he faced. The 47 saves tied a career high, as he also stopped 47 shots Jan. 23, 2019 in Vegas. Saros had 87 total saves in the two-game stop in Florida, too.

Driedger stopped all 21 shots he faced to post the second shutout of his career. His first NHL shutout came Nov. 30, 2019, and oddly enough, was also against the Predators.

Colorado Avalanche 6, Minnesota Wild 0

Kaapo Kahkonen allowed an avalanche of goals in Saturday’s ugly appearance. While he made 36 saves on 42 shots, he never had a chance, and he did not receive any offensive support, either.

The Avalanche got off on the right foot when Cale Makar notched a power-play goal at 4:13 of the first period, helped out by Gabriel Landeskog and Nathan MacKinnon on what would stand up as the game-winning tally. Landeskog scored at 11:05 of the first, helped out by MacKinnon and Makar, as that trio really started off nicely.

Mikko Rantanen opened the scoring in the second period on an extra-strength goal from, yep, Landeskog. That was no surprise, but the secondary assist went to goaltender Philipp Grubauer, and that was. Tyson Jost added his second goal just 67 seconds later, and Devon Toews put a cap on the second-period scoring with his fifth from MacKinnon, who ended up with three points, and Brandon Saad.

Valeri Nichushkin posted his sixth from Joonas Donskoi and Ryan Graves, ending the assault on Kahkonen. In addition to the assist, Grubauer picked up his fifth shutout of the season to move to 18-7-0 with a sparkling 1.74 GAA and .929 SV%.

Tampa Bay Lightning 4, Chicago Blackhawks 1

Andrei Vasilevskiy allowed just one goal on 31 shots to pick up his 11th consecutive victory.

The Lightning opened the scoring with Brayden Point lighting the lamp at 6:21 of the first period with helpers to Steven Stamkos and Alex Killorn, and that’s all they could muster in the first 20 minutes against Malcolm Subban.

Tampa really turned on the jets in the second period, as Anthony Cirelli scored his ninth at 1:53, with helpers to Mikhail Sergachev and Victor Hedman. That goal stood up as the game-winning tally, too.

Hedman was back with primary assists on Yanni Gourde’s goal, and the power-play goal to Steven Stamkos, giving him a three-point night. The potential Norris Trophy winner has registered 26 assists so far this season. Killorn also picked up his 13th helper on the Stammer goal.

Alex DeBrincat spoiled the shutout for Vasilevskiy, but that’s about all that went wrong for the goalie. Vasilevskiy is now an insane 20-3-1 with a 1.86 GAA and .933 SV%.

New York Islanders 6, Philadelphia Flyers 1

It was a one-sided game, as the Islanders continue to steam on despite an ultra-competitive division.

Jean-Gabriel Pageau kicked off the scoring with a power-play marker, with help from Josh Bailey and Oliver Wahlstrom just 6:11 into the game. Jordan Eberle added another goal just 1:50 later, and Casey Cizikas made it 3-0 on an unassisted goal at 10:03. How Carter Hart survived is a mystery, but head coach Alain Vigneault stuck with him even after another Cizikas goal at 15:25 from Thomas Hickey and Wahlstrom.

Joel Farabee stopped the bleeding at 17:52, albeit temporarily, to close the lead to 4-1. It was all the support Ilya Sorokin would ever need, as he won for the seventh consecutive start.

Anthony Beauvillier and Bailey got on the board in the third, capping off the blowout. Hickey played his first game of the season after being on the taxi squad, and he made the most of his opportunity with a pair of helpers.

Columbus Blue Jackets 3, Carolina Hurricanes 2 (SO)

It was a rough finish for the Hurricanes. James Reimer was sharp, allowing just one goal in the first 59:29. After Warren Foegele scored the go-ahead goal at 15:47 from Dougie Hamilton and Jordan Martinook, it looked like the Canes would grab a nice win.

However, Seth Jones had other ideas, scoring with the extra attacker at 19:31 to force overtime, helped out by former Jets Jack Roslovic and Patrik Laine.

No one scored in the overtime session, and Hamilton led off the shutout by beating Elvis Merzlikins. However, after a couple of misses, Laine needed to score to extend the game, and he did just that. Nino Niederreiter misfired in Round 4, and Oliver Bjorkstrand, who scored earlier in the regulation, put the nail in the coffin the home side.

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Dallas Stars 3, Detroit Red Wings 0

Anton Khudobin joined some elite company in Saturday’s shutout road victory.

Khudobin stopped all 21 shots he faced, posting the third shutout of the season, and the 11th of his career. He is the first Dallas goaltender since Ed Belfour on Nov. 17, 2000 to record a shutout on the road against the Red Wings. He joins Eddie the Eagle, Jon Casey and Cesar Maniago in the elite group in Stars/North Stars history.

The scorers for the Stars weren’t exactly a who’s who of the NHL. Tanner Kero, Andrej Sekera and Ty Dellandrea scored to provide Khudobin with support. Kero’s game-winning tally was his first NHL goal since Nov. 12, 2017.

Montreal Canadiens 5, Vancouver Canucks 4 (SO)

It was a wild game in Montreal. Nick Suzuki scored a power-play goal for the only goal in the first period. It got much crazier as we went along.

Jake Virtanen evened the score, and Brock Boeser scored on the power play to give Vancouver a lead. Braden Holtby couldn’t hold it. Tomas Tatar and Joel Edmundson scored to give the home side the lead back after 40.

Bo Horvat and Tyler Motte pushed the Canucks back into the lead, but Brendan Gallagher scored at 5:29 of the third period to level the game back at 4-4. Then, someone turned off the offensive spigot. No more goals, and the game went to overtime, then a shootout.

In the first round of the shootout, Corey Perry beat Holtby, and Boeser beat Carey Price. Then we had four straight misses for each side. Tatar struck for a goal in the sixth round, and Nils Hoglander missed for the visitors, as Price held on for the win.

Toronto Maple Leafs 2, Calgary Flames 0

Frederik Andersen was out, dealing with a lower-body ailment, so Jack Campbell was called upon to make just his second start since Jan. 24, as he has been dealing with an LBI himself. He now has stopped 71 consecutive shots, posting shutouts in two of his four outings. Campbell posted the fourth shutout of his career, too.

David Rittich deserved a better fate, as he turned aside 31 of the 33 shots he faced. Jason Spezza scored late in the first, and Zach Hyman scored late in the second, and that was all of the offense for the homestanding Leafs.

New York Rangers 3, Washington Capitals 1

Keith Kinkaid vs. Ilya Samsonov doesn’t sound like a must-see goaltender battle, but both of these goalies were on-point Saturday.

Kinkaid was staked to an early 1-0 lead, as Pavel Buchnevich managed his 11th goal from Adam Fox and Mika Zibanejad late in the first period. Then, both goalies locked it down.

John Carlson struck for his seventh goal of the season at 5:55 of the third period, beating Kinkaid, and it looked like we might be heading for overtime. Zibanejad returned for his second point of the evening, scoring an unassisted goal at 17:28. Brett Howden tacked on an empty-net goal to put a bow on the scoring.

Kinkaid allowed one goal on 29 shots to move to 2-1-1 with a sparkling 2.07 GAA and .918 SV% across his six appearances.

Arizona Coyotes 5, Anaheim Ducks 1

The Coyotes weren’t fooling around on offense, firing out of the chute for quick start.

Derick Brassard scored his fifth goal at 2:53 of the first period with a helper to Jakob Chychrun, making it 1-0. The latter scored a goal of his own, unassisted, then Brassard scored on the power play at 15:22. Ryan Miller will be seeing Brassard and Chychrun in his sleep. He was pulled after just 20 minutes in favor of Anthony Stolarz.

Brassard didn’t waste any time 36 seconds into the second period, notching his third goal. It was his first-career NHL regular-season hat trick. Oddly enough, he had a trick in the playoffs back in Game 6 of the 2015 Eastern Conference Finals when he was a member of the New York Rangers.

Phil Kessel picked up his 500th regular-season assist on Brassard’s second goal, and he is fourth on the active list among U.S.-born players. Ryan Suter (507), Blake Wheeler (515) and Patrick Kane (663) are the only players ahead of him.

St. Louis Blues 5, San Jose Sharks 2

Fantasy owners were very pleased with several Blues skaters, particularly the triumvirate of Jordan Kyrou, Ryan O’Reilly and David Perron. Kyron scored two goals with an assist and a plus-3 rating. O’Reilly and Perron each had a goal and three assists with a plus-4 rating apiece.

Ville Husso was certainly thankful for all of the offensive outbursts. After falling behind on a goal to Dylan Gambrell early, Vince Dunn and Kyrou erased that deficit by 6:45 of the first. Tomas Hertl again knotted it up 2-2 midway through the second, and that’s how the score stayed until the third.

O’Reilly scored on the power play, helped out by Dunn and Perron, while Kyrou made it 4-2 with Torey Krug and Perron lending a hand. Then Perron got his goal, with O’Reilly and Jaden Schwartz getting in on the action.

Husso moved to 6-3-1 with a 3.40 GAA and .885 SV%. The day wasn’t as good for Devan Dubnyk, who was drummed for four goals on just 20 shots as he tumbled to 3-8-2 with a 3.19 GAA and .899 SV%.

Edmonton Oilers 4, Winnipeg Jets 2

Things started really well for the Jets. Andrew Copp scored his sixth goal on the power play midway through the first period, and Pierre-Luc Dubois made it 2-0 against Mike Smith a little later. Connor McDavid scored his 21st goal, unassisted, to cut the lead to 2-1. That’s how it would stand until the third period.

Darnell Nurse scored his 10th to tie it up 2-2, before Leon Draisaitl struck for No. 18 at 9:36 of the third period. McDavid helped out with his 39th assist, giving him a ridiculous 60 points in Edmonton’s 34th game. Nurse also had his second point with the secondary apple.

Published: 2021-03-21 09:24:56

Tags: #Saturday #March #Madness #ice

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