It was the first Saturday night slate in the National Hockey League, and we had 20 of the league’s 31 teams on the ice. While the atmosphere does not look the same without the fans due to the COVID-19 global pandemic, the beautiful game on the ice still looks great.
There were a handful of goaltenders showing out, too, including one guy facing down against his former employer. The Calgary Flames made a big splash this offseason landing Jacob Markstrom in free agency after he helped the Vancouver Canucks go deep in last season’s playoffs. Markstrom had the opportunity to show his old team what they were missing, and it wasn’t pretty for the visitors.
In New York City, we had the Islanders and Rangers renewing their rivalry, and it didn’t go so hot for one of the sides. A couple of teams who lost in the first game of a doubleheader, exacted a little revenge in the second outing of the double dip. That will be an interesting story to watch all season. If you’ve ever bet Major League Baseball, you know teams generally sweep a doubleheader approximately 24 percent of the time. Yes, they play the same day, not in back-to-back days or twice in three days, but the story is fairly similar. We’ll keep an eye on that and track it throughout the season.
After a full day of action, there were a lot of old fantasy faces and some new ones making noise, too. Let’s get started!
NEW JERSEY DEVILS 2, BOSTON BRUINS 1 OT
The Bruins and Devils each leaned upon their goaltenders in a tight, defensive showdown. Boston’s Jaroslav Halak allowed two goals on 31 shots, and New Jersey’s Mackenzie Blackwood allowed just one goal on 28 shots to do him one better. The latter is off to a good start, just like last season, and there’s no telling where the Devils would be without him.
Miles Wood opened the scoring with helpers to Jack Hughes and Ty Smith late in the first period. Hughes is already up to three assists on the season, and after a bit of a disappointing campaign for the No. 1 overall pick in the 2019 NHL Entry Draft last season, he looks like he is ready to take a big step forward.
Patrice Bergeron provided the only offense for Boston, a shorthanded marker with help from Brad Marchand. Plenty of fantasy owners have stock in those two. It’s likely not many people have Egor Sharangovich rostered. He beat Halak in the extra session to send the cardboard cutouts home in a good mood.
ARIZONA COYOTES 5, SAN JOSE SHARKS 3
It was a seesaw battle in the desert, with the home side bouncing back from a 4-3 shootout loss on Thursday.
This game featured two guys with three-point afternoons, as Timo Meier posted a goal with two assists and a plus-1 rating while taking four shots, and Oliver Ekman-Larsson picked up three assists and a plus-2 rating in his 17:11 of ice time across 22 shifts.
They weren’t the only fantasy stars, though, as Phil Kessel picked up two goals, as he looks to atone for last season’s injury-marred, disappointing campaign. He logged 70 games, but was limited to 14 goals and 38 points, his worst point total over an entire season since 2007-08 when he had just 37 points.
Antti Raanta allowed three goals on 34 shots to pick up the win. Fantasy owners of Martin Jones weren’t as fortunate, as he conceded five goals on 24 shots before getting pulled midway through the third for Devan Dubnyk.
NEW YORK RANGERS 5, NEW YORK ISLANDERS 0
The Islanders received bad news, and the game hadn’t even started yet. Semyon Varlamov was set to start, and was taking warm-up shots, but he was hit under the mask by a puck to the face which incensed bench boss Barry Trotz. The injury thrust rookie Ilya Sorokin into a tough spot, and he never got untracked.
Sorokin allowed five goals on 32 shots, as he put into a difficult situation. Pavel Buchnevich beat him first, then Artemi Panarin bagged his first goal at 13:46 of the first. Buchnevich was back for more in the second, and Panarin put a bow on the scoring with a power-play goal in the third. Kaapo Kakko also got on the board with his first. Buchnevich had a three-point game, his first three-point showing since Feb. 5 against the Toronto Maple Leafs.
It was a bad day to have any Islanders for fantasy purposes. Mathew Barzal, Anthony Beauvillier, Jordan Eberle and Anders Lee were among those scoreless with a minus-2. Ross Johnston also had a minus-2 with four hits and 16 PIM.
It was more than enough for Alexandar Georgiev, who posted his fifth-career shutout, and second ever against the Islanders. He is also 6-2-0 in his career vs. NYI.
DETROIT RED WINGS 4, CAROLINA HURRICANES 2
Veteran Bobby Ryan played his first game after missing the opener due to an undisclosed injury. He made his presence felt, opening the scoring early in the second. But both Petr Mrazek and Jonathan Bernier were looking good until the offense showed up in the third.
Vincent Trocheck posted a power-play goal 28 seconds into the third, but captain Dylan Larkin bounced back with a goal 18 seconds later. Andrei Svechnikov posted a goal midway through the period to level things again, but Robby Fabbri snuck one past Mrazek for the winner. After a shutout in the opener, Mrazek couldn’t get a second win against his former organization. Larkin returned with an empty-net goal to cap the scoring.
TORONTO MAPLE LEAFS 3, OTTAWA SENATORS 2
The underdog Senators stunned the Leafs Friday with a 5-3 win, but Toronto rebounded with Jack Campbell in the blue ice.
The Leafs got goals from Mitch Marner and Auston Matthews, which is always a good thing, but the highlight might have been Joe Thornton‘s first, with fellow newcomer T.J. Brodie picking up the primary assist. Jumbo also had a helper on the power-play goal by Matthews in third. Matthews ended up with a goal and two points, while Marner factored in on all three goals.
Fantasy owners have been keeping a close eye on Tim Stutzle, and the No. 3 overall pick from 2020 bagged the first of what Ottawa fans hope are many goals.
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MONTREAL CANADIENS 5, EDMONTON OILERS 1
The Canadiens have fired out of the box, going for five goals in this one, and they’re averaging 4.5 goals per game on the young season.
Jeff Petry and Tomas Tatar each scored two goals apiece for the winners, while Jake Evans also joined in on the scoring parade with a shorthanded marker. Phillip Danault and Brendan Gallagher managed a pair of assists and a plus-2 rating each.
Carey Price received plenty of offensive support, and he stopped 34 of the 35 shots he faced. Unfortunately for his fantasy owners, he coughed up a goal to Slater Koekkoek with 7:01 to go, spoiling the shutout. That’s about all that went wrong for Price, who was, yes, mostly right.
NASHVILLE PREDATORS 5, COLUMBUS JACKETS 2
It was a fun, seesaw battle in this one, too, but eventually the boys from C-Bus ran out of steam. Nick Foligno and Rocco Grimaldi exchanged goals in the first, and Filip Forsberg and Alexandre Texier also exchanged goals early in the third, and it remained tied until the 11:00 mark.
Elvis Merzlikins was making his first start of the season, and it fell apart in the end. That’s good for Juuse Saros and his fantasy owners, as he treated them to 42 saves and a win. He improved to 2-0-0 with a 1.50 GAA and .959 save percentage, stopping 71 of the 74 shots he has faced so far.
MINNESOTA WILD 4, LOS ANGELES KINGS 3 OT
The Kings are going to be happy to see the Wild go, as they were terrible guests over the weekend.
Minnesota opened the season with a 4-3 overtime win Thursday, as Kirill Kaprizov bagged the OT winner. On Saturday, it was Marcus Johansson providing the heroics in the extra session, much to the chagrin of Jonathan Quick. Kaprizov did pick up the assist on Johansson’s goal, so there is something he enjoys about the extra session.
Quick made 40 saves, and has gotten off to a better start than last season, but he has no wins to show for his efforts. Cam Talbot was the beneficiary of the OT goals in the first two games, and he now sits 2-0 with a 2.85 GAA and .910 save percentage through his first two in the Twin Cities.
Mathew Dumba, Joel Eriksson Ek and Ryan Suter scored in regulation, while Gabriel Vilardi, Blake Lizotte and Andreas Athanasiou were the scorers for the Kings. Athanasiou has two goals in two games for his new team, which will endear him to fans once they’re allowed back into the barn.
CALGARY FLAMES 3, VANCOUVER CANUCKS 0
The Canucks went deep into the playoffs in the Edmonton bubble, and Jacob Markstrom was a big part of that. Thatcher Demko did a good job in the postseason, too, showing out in his final three games against the Vegas Golden Knights in the playoffs. It was a tough decision to let him walk, but he left and joined forces with the rival Calgary Flames. In his first revenge game, advantage Markstrom.
The 31-year-old completely shut down his former mates, stopping all 32 shots he faced for his first shutout as a member of the Flames.
Braden Holtby, his replacement, and bridge goaltender to Demko, wasn’t bad. He also made 32 saves, but allowed three goals after winning his initial appearance. All three of the goals Holtby allowed came on the power play, as Sean Monahan, Dillon Dube and Matthew Tkachuk lit the lamp.
Tkachuk was involved in an incident late. He was cross-checked in the back by Alexander Edler, and went crashing to the ice. He inadvertently caught Edler in the leg with his skate, and a trail of blood was seen on the ice as he departed for the locker room. He actually returned to the bench in the final minute, which might be a good sign going forward.
VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 2, ANAHEIM DUCKS 1 OT
In another tight, low-scoring game, Vegas edged Anaheim in overtime. John Gibson was solid, allowing just two goals on 33 shots in the road game, but he was bested by Marc-Andre Fleury, making his first start of the season. Fleury coughed up just one goal on 22 shots.
The two backstops stopped everything they saw in the first period, and the first goal didn’t come until 7:45 of the second when Maxime Comtois got the first goal of the game for the visitors. Sam Steel had his second helper in as many games, too.
William Karlsson saved the day with a late goal with an extra attacker, helped out by Jonathan Marchessault and new captain Mark Stone. The latter also helped out on Max Pacioretty‘s goal in overtime, his second marker of the season, as VGK remained perfect in the early going.
Source: Yahoo Sports