Pinch-hitting for James O'Brien today ... and boy, did he leave me a treat as five of the nine games were decided by a goal and two more were decided by two goals. Four games went past regulation, too.
A quick note before we get to the recaps. Best wishes to Pascal Dupuis, who called it a career Tuesday because of his blood clot condition. He won't play hockey anymore, but that's secondary to his life.
ISLANDERS 4, FLYERS 3 (shootout)
— Uhhh … Islanders, did you know there was a game tonight? The Islanders were outshot 46-26. Score-adjusted numbers show the Flyers held a 65-41 advantage. Another example that there’s value in reading beyond the box score.
— Of course, the Islanders ended up with the win, so all ended well. They are 6-2-2 in their past 10 games.
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— Frans Nielsen scored twice, so he now has 11 goals and 21 points. The goals were his first since Nov. 25. He’s always been a very useful real-life player with marginal fantasy upside. This season, though, he is setting himself up to at least match his career-best season from 2013-14 when he scored 25 and had 58 points. Well worth owning.
— Another Islander broke a scoring slump. Brock Nelson scored his first goal in nine games. He has nine goals and 16 points. Not worth owning aside from depth; he only has 54 shots on goal.
— Jaroslav Halak (43 saves) was one of the few Islanders to show up. He has not lost since Nov. 12, though he gave up three goals on 11 shots in Montreal on Nov. 20. He’s a strong option in net (.925 SV%).
— Claude Giroux (goal, assist, seven shots) is putting up numbers that are not quite elite but good enough that a big breakout will return him to a top-tier option. He has 10 goals and 24 points this season.
STARS 6, HURRICANES 5
— The Stars have no fear. They don’t care if you outshoot them, take a lead or ruin their own big one. They will find a way to win because their top offensive players are impossible to stop.
— Should they have won this game? Absolutely not. Carolina had 56 shot attempts (score adjusted), compared to the Stars’ 34. According to war-on-ice, Carolina tallied 34 scoring chances. The Stars had 18.
— So, no. It wasn’t a surprise to see the Stars’ four-goal, first-period lead disappear. Yes, four goals. On eight shots against Cam Ward, who was pulled at the start of the second period. And has no business being a starter right now.
— The Hurricanes tied up the contest at five apiece, at 13:17 of the third period. Justin Faulk, their best fantasy player, scored twice on five shots. Jeff Skinner also got a goal, and he has three goals in three games. Progress.
— But the headlines, again, go to their top line, which accounted for three goals and 10 points. Jamie Benn scored and had three assists. The same for Tyler Seguin. Valeri Nichushkin picked up a goal and two helpers. As Corey Abbott mentioned Sunday, Nichushkin’s value is on the rise, especially playing on this top line. Even I could look good there!
— It’s pretty ridiculous how good Benn and Seguin are. Benn leads the league with 19 goals. His 39 points are second. Tyler Seguin has 15 goals and also 39 points. And then you have John Klingberg, who tallied three assists. He’s sixth with 30 points.
— And don’t you forget Patrick Sharp. His goal (on four shots) was the game winner and it came with 19 seconds left, on the power play. Shot rate (78 in 28 games) is down a little bit, but he’s been plenty productive with 10 goals and 22 points.
— Antti Niemi got a win despite not facing a shot on goal. He replaced Kari Lehtonen with 6:43 remaining. Per Adam Gretz of CBS Sports, four goalies since 1987 have won without making a save, the last of whom was Richard Bachman, who replaced Lehtonen, in 2013.
KINGS 3, BLUE JACKETS 2 (overtime)
— Their 37 points might not quite show it, but the Kings are at least a top-two team in the NHL. Constantly controlling the flow of the game and now winning early in the season.
— The only reason they didn’t win by a bigger margin was Sergei Bobrovsky (33 saves). Unfortunately for CBJ and fantasy owners, Bobrovsky left with an undisclosed injury at 5:35 at a time when CBJ was leading 2-1. He’s performed at an elite level since October. It’d be ashame if he missed significant time.
— Alec Martinez (goal, assist) scored the game winner in OT. He also assisted on Jeff Carter’s tying goal with 1:27 remaining. Martinez also had seven shots on goal. He has five game-winning goals (out of 32) in his career. Even with this performance, it’s tough to call a four-goal, nine-point defenseman fantasy-relevant.
— Carter, on the other hand, has been streaking, with points in seven games in a row. He won’t help you with penalty minutes, but 11 goals, 15 assists, a plus-16 rating and 83 shots on goal is great production.
— Jonathan Quick (21 saves) should not really be praised as a major part of the Kings’ early surge. Sure, he’s won five games in a row and hasn’t lost since Nov. But he still only has a .917 SV%.
— Sit Scott Hartnell and he will respond. Ever since he was a healthy scratch, he has two goals and four points. He scored his 11th in this one.
CAPITALS 3, RED WINGS 2 (shootout)
— Even though the Red Wings lost, they are proving they are a legitimate threat in the East. Don’t let the 40-23 shot disadvantage fool you. Five Caps power plays to one for Detroit swayed that.
— Alex Ovechkin scored his 13th, a power-play goal that tied up the game midway through the third period. He had eight shots on goal, too. He leads the league with 132 shots … yeah, an outburst could be on the horizon.
— Justin Williams, Corsi darling and pretty good fantasy player, too. He has eight goals and 18 points. Not star-worthy but you could definitely do worse. He’ll get you at least 20 and 50 points.
— Not Braden Holtby’s (21 saves) finest nights. But he earns his league-leading 17th win, regardless. He has been a stud this year: 1.95 GAA, .928 SV%.
— Keep an eye on Tomas Jurco. One goal and one assist in seven games doesn’t excite, I know. But he had five goals in five AHL games during a demotion and the Red Wings believe in him. Don’t go crazy yet, though.
— Jimmy Howard deserved better. Thirty-eight saves and you don’t get a win? He continues to have a tough time in the skills competition. That the Red Wings keep flipping between he and Petr Mrazek diminishes their value. Howard is on a five-game streak in which he hasn’t lost in regulation.
MAPLE LEAFS 3, DEVILS 2 (shootout)
— These Maple Leafs are no joke. They are a competitive group under Mike Babcock and they pretty much dominated the Devils (37-25 score-adjusted possession numbers).
— When you have Cory Schneider (35 saves), though, you can mask the lack of offense and stay in close games. Schneider should be the Team USA goalie in the World Cup. He is clearly their best option.
— James van Riemsdyk only has eight goals, which seems pretty low for him. He scored for the first time in nine games. He appears more engaged lately, with 11 shots in his past two contests. No reason he can’t get into the mid-20-goal range.
SENATORS 4, PANTHERS 2
— The Senators might not be an above average possession team, but they have the ability to make up for that with talented offensive players and a goalie in Craig Anderson (25 saves) who is criminally underrated.
— Kyle Turris scored and assisted. It seems that every night we’re mentioning his name. He has 12 goals and 24 points. Turris is a low-key top center option. He is a really good player.
— If you thought Mike Hoffman’s 27-goal rookie season was a fluke, think again. Hoffman has 15 goals and 11 of those have come over the past 11 games. He won’t continue scoring at a 20% clip but he has such a jump on a 40-goal season it would be hard to not think that big.
— Mark Stone chipped in with three assists. His 19 assists are seventh-most in the league, and he has 26 points. This team is fun to watch.
— Roberto Luongo, not your best night. He stopped 19 shots and has now allowed seven goals over his past two games. He’s been so good this year he’s built himself a cushion; he has a .923 SV%.
— Logan Shaw scored his first career NHL goal in his seventh game. Shaw had 13 in 69 AHL games last year and seven through 13 AHL games this year. Don’t think he’s going to be a major factor there, so I wouldn’t leap to add him.
BLUES 4, COYOTES 1
— The Blues have been an erratic team lately, with a 4-3-3 record over their past 10 games. Even with this mini slump, they still have 36 points, the second-most in the Central Division. The talent is there for them to contend as one of the best in the West.
— Alexander Steen and Kevin Shattenkirk each recorded goal-assist nights. Steen has become one of the more reliable wingers in the game. He has 10 goals and 24 points, so he could crack 30 goals for the second time in his career.
— Shattenkirk started his career as a half-a-point-per-game player; the past two seasons he’s reached 2.2 points per 60 minutes in all situations. He’s got four goals and 14 points in 18 games.
— That’s what the doctor ordered for Jake Allen (22 saves). He had allowed seven goals in his past two games, both losses.
— Perhaps one of the biggest surprises of tonight’s Dose is that Steve Downie has *only* 32 penalty minutes in 18 games. He has 1,036 in 426 games for his career. Downie scored his second in this one.
BLACKHAWKS 4, PREDATORS 1
— Turned off this game early in the third period after Teuvo Teravainen made it 3-1 thinking Patrick Kane’s point streak was over? Think again. Kane was on the ice with the Predators’ net empty, and he cashed in for his 17th goal and 23rd game in a row with a point. He has 600 points in 604 games. Kane has a chance to extend his streak tomorrow, against these same Predators.
— Teravainen has scored in two consecutive games. He has six goals and 12 points, so he hasn’t exactly lit the world on fire like many expected. No reason it can’t come in time, though. He’s only 21.
— Dennis Rasmussen, welcome to the NHL, kid. He potted his first career goal in his first game on his first (and only) shot! He logged 8:33 on 15 shifts.
— Something is wrong with Pekka Rinne (20 saves). His struggles (.904 SV%) are so bad right now it might be worth it to sit him until he shakes the funk. Rinne followed up a .925 SV% in October with a .898 mark in November. He has an .867 SV% in December.
— The Predators need goal-scoring help. But Eric Nystrom isn’t the type of player who should be doing it. He has four goals.
FLAMES 4, SHARKS 2
— The Flames have won three in a row, this one on the heels of strong goaltending from Karri Ramo (31 saves). I wouldn’t recommend picking him up unless he does this for several weeks in a row. The Flames depend on their goalies too much and no option has proven all that good.
— Sean Monahan ended a five-game goal skid. Even with eight goals and 19 points, there’s no reason he can’t get hot and match last year’s 31-goal, 31- assist campaign.
— Joe Thornton is still an exceptional center. Very hard to rely on an assist-only guy. He hurts you in the goal/shot department (four on 36). Still think he can put together a really good year, though his name might carry more weigh than his production.