It was a busy night on the National Hockey League ice, as 20 of 31 teams were in action. It was also a high-scoring night, and fantasy owners love that for their skaters. We had a hat trick from one of the league's brightest stars, his linemate was able to post four assists, and despite the big offense we also had a few strong goaltender performances sprinkled in, too. There are plenty of players going streaking, too, and how about that Colorado Avalanche and their cash line? Let's get started!
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Tuesday's Fantasy Five
Mikko Rantanen posted a goal with three assists, including one on the power play, while finishing with a plus-2 rating across 23:36 of ice time over 22 shifts. The top line was on fire for 10 points, and we'll tell you about the others down below in the Fantasy Game of the Night section. As far as Rantanen is concerned, he is the first NHL player to reach 50 points this season through just 31 games. He is also in the midst of an impressive 12-game point streak, and he has managed eight goals and 27 points over the past 15 contests. He is on pace to finish with an insane 33 goals and 131 points, so obviously he'll slow down some. But it looks like he'll finish in triple digits for points barring a major slow down or major injury. Last season only three players reached the century mark in points.
Alex Ovechkin recorded his 21st career hat trick in Tuesday's 6-2 victory against the Detroit Red Wings, goals No. 23, 24 and 25. He is halfway to his eighth-career 50-goal season, too. He is working on a four-game goal-scoring streak, lighting the lamp six times during the span. He also has 13 goals and 19 points across the past 12 outings. He and Nicklas Backstrom were the offensive stars in this one, as the Swedish pivot was able to chip in with four assists and a plus-3 rating. He now has an impressive four goals and 13 points with a plus-9 rating across the past seven outings. Much to the dismay of the rest of the league, the defending Stanley Cup champions are starting to ratchet up the offense and are looking like the team to beat in the Eastern Conference yet again.
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Frederik Andersen allowed just one goal on 30 shots in Tuesday's 4-1 road victory against the Carolina Hurricanes, avenging a loss in Raleigh back on Nov. 21. It was his best performance since Nov. 13 when he allowed just one goal in a road win at Los Angeles. Since then he had allowed at least two goals in each of his past nine starts, posting a 2.96 goals-against average across the past nine appearances. Perhaps this will be the kick in the hockey pants that the Danish netminder needs to snap him back on track, not that he hasn't been winning. He has victories in 11 of his past 14 appearances.
David Krejci was playing in his 800th career NHL game against the Arizona Coyotes and he decided to make it a memorable affair. He picked up three assists with a plus-3 rating, a blocked shot and a hit over his 19:44 of ice time in the win. He also won 13 of his 18 faceoff chances (72.2 percent), as he wasn't fooling around in any aspect of this game. He is working on a four-game point streak, posting two goals with five assists and a plus-8 rating. While he hasn't picked up a power-play point in the past eight outings, he remains a must-start fantasy option across the board.
Elias Pettersson continues to produce at a high level with no signs of slowing down. The rookie picked up a goal with an assist and a plus-1 rating, giving him three goals and 10 points with a plus-7 rating during his current four-game point streak. He has performed at better than a point-per-game clip so far this season, emerging as the most reliable fantasy option among first-year players. The Swedish pivot has scored in three consecutive games for the first time in his fledgling career, and he has been timely, too. Pettersson has three game-winning goals over the past eight contests.
Fantasy Game of the Night
The visiting Edmonton Oilers stayed hot with another victory on the road against the Colorado Avalanche. Mikko Koskinen continues to maintain a firm grip on the No. 1 backstop job for the Oil, posting four goals on 43 shots in another victory. While his goals-against average slid up to 2.20 after the outing, he improved to 10-3-1 while managing a .927 save percentage. He has emerged as a solid low-end No. 1 fantasy backstop or a legit No. 2 must-start option. Ryan Nugent-Hopkins went for two goals and three points in the win, including a power-play tally. He is on pace for 71 points which would easily be his career best. Darnell Nurse did something he had never done in his previous 227 NHL games - he lit the lamp on the power play. The rearguard also added an assist with three blocked shots and a hit. Leon Draisaitl was playing in his 300th NHL game, picking up a goal with two assists. He now has three goals and four assists with a plus-5 rating during his current three-game point streak. Kyle Brodziak also got into the act with a goal, an assist and a plus-2 rating with five blocked shots, but he needs to do a little more on a regular basis before re-emerging as a useful option outside of the deepest pools.
Colorado continues to have some issues in the crease. Semyon Varlamov was pulled for the second straight game, but Philipp Grubauer provided no relief. He allowed three goals on eight shots, so Varlamov was actually brought back in. He has yielded 11 goals over the past two outings with an 0-2-0 record and 7.70 GAA. Ouch. As mentioned above, the cash line was making that money yet again. Nathan MacKinnon chipped in with two assists and a plus-1 rating, as he and his first-line teammates Rantanen and Gabriel Landeskog combined for 10 points. The latter, Landeskog, managed two goals and four points with a plus-1 rating, five shots on goal and a blocked shot. Colin Wilson also found the back of the net for his fantasy owners, while Tyson Barrie got on the board with an assist, a blocked shot and a hit.
Quick Hits: Nick Schmaltz picked up a power-play goal in a loss at Boston, giving him four goals and seven points in seven games since being acquired from the Chicago Blackhawks. At a point-per-game clip he is worth scooping up in most fantasy pools until he starts to cool. … Brad Marchand went for two goals with an assist and a plus-3 rating in the win. … David Pastrnak also had a three-point game, posting two helpers with a plus-3 rating, a blocked shot and a hit. … David Backes was forced out briefly after having his face inadvertently cut by a skate. He missed very little time, skating back to the bench, walking to the locker room and getting stitches. It looks like he'll be just fine. … Jake Muzzin posted a goal, an assist and a plus-1 rating with seven hits. … Jack Eichel led all players with 10 SOG, ending up with a goal, an assist and two blocked shots with a hit. He continues to look like a fantasy superstar in the making. … Rasmus Ristolainen went for two assists with six shots on net, a blocked shot and three hits in an impressive 31:08 of ice time. … William Nylander posted his first two points of the season, both assists, in a 4-1 win at Carolina. … Josh Leivo, a former Maple Leaf, posted a goal with an assist, a plus-1 rating and a blocked shot with a minor penalty. He has two goals and three points in four games since coming over from Toronto. … Gustav Nyquist picked up a goal, an assist and a plus-1 rating. He has five goals and 11 points with a plus-8 rating in seven games during the month of December. … Braden Holtby is starting to round into form after a tough start. He allowed two goals on 37 shots in a victory against Detroit. … Jonathan Huberdeau posted two more assists with a plus-1 rating. He has four goals and 21 points over the past 11 games, including eight assists on the power play. … David Perron went for two goals with a plus-2 rating, giving him five goals and two assists over the past seven outings. … Pekka Rinne allowed just one goal on 26 shots to pick up a victory against the Ottawa Senators. … Michael Bunting made his NHL debut for the Coyotes and he wasted no time etching his name onto the scoresheet. … Antti Niemi coughed up seven goals on 24 shots in a loss.