Sunday usually isn’t a busy night in the NHL, but the holiday season is a great time for home sellouts thanks to vacations and ticket packages as presents. Beyond making up for the whole “desperately needed holiday break,” that’s my theory regarding a nine-game slate.
There were a lot of fights (by 2015-16 standards) last night, with five games featuring at least one bout. I'm wondering if some players just wanted to work off a few extra calories from all those family dinners? I know I want to.*
Anyway, let’s get crackin.
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SENATORS 3, BRUINS 1
-- Mark Stone scored twice to lead the Senators to victory. He carries over a goal streak to two games, with three in that span, and now has 31 points in 34 contests. Remarkable that he was a sixth-rounder (178th overall) in 2010.
-- Craig Anderson made 38 saves for the win to help Ottawa snap a two-game losing streak. Anderson is himself on a run in which he's won three of four games, all with at least a standings point (3-0-1).
-- With Montreal flailing, this seemed like a great opportunity for the Bruins to seize control of the Atlantic. Instead, Boston has now lost three in a row.
PANTHERS 3, BLUE JACKETS 2
-- Speaking of the Atlantic, this victory - Florida’s sixth consecutive win - gives the Panthers stole possession of first place in the division. Granted, it’s a flimsy edge, but Florida will take it. I can’t really say for sure which team has the advantage, as you could probably make an argument for every squad in the top 5-6.
-- Aleksander Barkov scored twice for the Panthers, giving him four points in his past four games. His 20 points on the season are better than they seem since he's been limited by injuries (26 GP).
-- Jonathan Huberdeau added two assists of his own. His per-game work hasn’t been as impressive as Barkov’s (23 points, but in 36 games), yet he does have five assists in his has four games.
-- Nick Foligno remained out of the lineup for the league-worst Blue Jackets with a lower-body injury.
-- You’re not going to believe this, but John Tortorella threw people under the bus before this game. His latest targets were the team’s veteran players.
MAPLE LEAFS 3, ISLANDERS 1
-- Jonathan Bernier picked up another win for the Maple Leafs. After going 0-8-3 to start this terrible season, Bernier is now 3-1-0. Not sure how much of this is coincidental, but even if a trip to the AHL provided only a minimal boost, it’s still a reasonable method for teams who have the option.
-- Michael Grabner scored a goal against his former team, giving the Maple Leafs a 2-0 lead in the second period. The goal marked the 100th tally of his NHL career.
-- Nazem Kadri remains red-hot. His two assists on Sunday, giving him a five-game point streak (one goal, six assists). That stretch represents one-third of his 18 points this season.
STARS 3, BLUES 0
-- Kari Lehtonen picked up his 33rd career shutout to improve his record this season to 12-2-0. So far, remarkably, both Dallas goalies have been worthy roster members in fantasy.
-- Brian Elliott made 35 saves in the loss for the Blues, including at least one spectacular one. Cody Eakin’s long-distance empty-net goal inflated the score. There were multiple times when Elliott seemed to keep St. Louis in the game.
HURRICANES 2, BLACKHAWKS 1
-- Eddie Lack made 35 saves for the win. He almost picked up a shutout, but Brent Seabrook scored with three seconds left in the third period for the Blackhawks. Chicago poured it on in the third in particular, as Lack faced 19 shots in the final frame alone. Good effort, give this man a Lacko Taco.
-- Is this another hot streak in the making for Jeff Skinner? He collected two assists on Sunday after a four-game slump. Before that slump, Skinner generated eight points during a blistering four-game span (and 11 points in eight contests).
-- Justin Faulk's first 12 goals all came on the power play. His last two goals (one on Sunday, one on Saturday) have come at even strength. He also had an assist on Saturday.
Faulk now has an amazing 30 points in 36 games. He's the fourth-leading defenseman in the NHL right now.
JETS 1, PENGUINS 0
-- Connor Hellebuyck picked up his first career shutout with a 30 save win over the Penguins. The win also marks the first shutout of the season for the Jets. Hellebuyck generated two wins in his last three games, improving his overall record to 6-3-0.
Tyler Myers made some amazing unofficial saves of his own to help Hellebuyck retain that goose egg.
-- Bryan Little scored on a penalty shot in the first period, the lone tally of that contest. Little now has 14 goals and 29 points in 35 games this season, giving him five points in four contests.
-- Jeff Zatkoff made 27 saves in the loss. The Penguins had won six consecutive games against the Jets going into Sunday night's contest.
-- Mark Scheifele did not play for the Jets. He got a concussion after a collision with a teammate at practice on Saturday.
COYOTES 2, AVALANCHE 1 (OT)
-- Jarome Iginla scored his 599th career goal on Sunday night, which marks his 10th of the 2015-16 season. He has generated three points in three games.
-- Anders Lindback made 38 saves for the win, while Mikkel Boedker scored in overtime for the Coyotes. Boedker also picked up an assist on a Michael Stone third period goal. It makes sense that the speedy Boedker would be a nightmare to deal with in 3-on-3 situations.
DUCKS 4, FLYERS 2
-- Ryan Getzlaf scored his second goal of the season. His first goal was an empty-net tally. His second goal? It was the result of a 5-on-3 power play for Anaheim. Hey, a goal is a goal, though … and at least this one came with a goalie in the net.
-- The Ducks have now won five consecutive games against the Flyers.
-- It was a rough night for Claude Giroux in the faceoff circle (12 percent won), and he also suffered a -2 rating. He had plenty of opportunities, too, with 6:02 TOI on the PP and 23:04 TOI overall.
FLAMES 5, OILERS 3
-- The Oilers had a quick two-goal lead in this one with the Pouliot-Nugent Hopkins-Eberle line connecting to score two goals just over two minutes apart in the first period, both by Benoit Pouliot. Pouliot even scored the second tally without a helmet.
-- The Flames had a massive second period, scoring four goals to take a 4-3 lead entering the final frame. Johnny Gaudreau scored two of those goals.
-- The Flames have now won 11 in a row at home. Their next two contests take place in Calgary.
* - Picks fight with neighborhood kids.