The holiday schedule is a little odd, as there were just nine games on the National Hockey League slate Saturday, light compared to the usual lineup. The teams on the ice made up for the lack of teams with some added offensive totals, as five of the nine games saw a total of nine or more goals. That's the kind of thing fantasy owners love to hear. Well, fantasy owners of skaters. If you were using the goaltenders in those games, hopefully you at least had the winner. Let's get started!
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New York Rangers 5, Toronto Maple Leafs 4 (OT)
Brett Howden and Ryan Strome had the Blueshirts off to a hot start, as they opened up a 2-1 lead in the first period. Strome also factored in on Howden's goal, while Jacob Trouba and Artemi Panarin also got onto the board with helpers. William Nylander picked up the power-play goal, as he continues to shine.
Strome wasn't done, as he increased the lead to 3-1 in the second period with his 10th goal of the season, and he finished with two goals and four points in the impressive performance. Auston Matthews answered midway through the second, and he was also in the two-goal club. Mika Zibanejad added a goal to make it 4-2, as he has four goals and six points over the past four, and nine goals and 16 points in 13 outings in the month of December.
Panarin ended the night with three assists, and Nylander was also in the multi-point club with a goal and a helper. Tyson Barrie was also involved at the offensive end, posting two assists with seven shots on net. In fact, 24 of the team's 48 shots came from three defensemen, as Morgan Rielly had 10 SOG, Barrie had seven and Justin Holl had seven.
Alexandar Georgiev allowed four goals on 48 shots, avenging a loss last time out against the Leafs when he coughed up six on Dec. 20 at MSG. The Leafs fell in overtime in this one, as Frederik Andersen didn't have the good fortune of an opposing player tipping one into his own net on this night.
Tampa Bay Lightning 5, Montreal Canadiens 4
Steven Stamkos opened the scoring on the night, and he finished up with a goal and an assist with a plus-4 rating, helping him reach the 800-point plateau, all in a Lightning sweater.
Carey Price coughed up five goals on 30 shots, as he took the loss despite some solid offensive support. Max Domi and Ben Chiarot also chipped in with markers, while Brendan Gallagher was the only Habs member in the multi-point club.
Florida Panthers 5, Detroit Red Wings 4
Evgenii Dadonov picked up the power-play goal to get the Panthers on the right path out of the gate, but Darren Helm and Dylan Larkin scored for the Red Wings to give the cellar-dwelling Wings a surprising 2-1 lead heading to the room after 20.
Frans Nielsen chipped in with a shorthanded goal, his first of the season, just 46 seconds into the second. That seemed to be the wake-up call the Panthers needed. They posted three straight goals from Brett Connolly, Mike Hoffman and Dominic Toninato, with the latter coming unassisted.
It wasn't pretty, but Chris Driedger improved to 3-1-0 with the win, allowing four goals on 39 shots.
Pittsburgh Penguins 6, Nashville Predators 4
The Pens and Preds were playing in the second end of a home-and-home, and this one ended like the first one - a Pittsburgh win.
Matt Murray was tested frequently, and he logged 44 saves despite allowed four goals in the win. He received plenty of support early, as Bryan Rust, Dominik Kahun and Kris Letang scored three in the first to stake Murray to a nice lead.
Viktor Arvidsson struck on the man advantage, and Alex Galchenyuk responded for the power-play goal, restoring Pittsburgh's three-goal lead. Craig Smith, Mikael Granlund and then Granlund again, made things super interesting. The Predators were knotted up 4-4 with the Pens deep into the third.
However, Jake Guentzel broke through for the winner on the power play, and Rust added an empty-netter, as the Pens were mightier than the Predators on this day.
Juuse Saros allowed the first three goals on eight shots, as he was chased in the first. Peter Laviolette was forced to yank his starter for the second straight day. Pekka Rinne came on and allowed two goals on 27 shots, and he actually took a tough loss to his ledger.
Carolina Hurricanes 6, Washington Capitals 4
The Caps and Canes are a nice little budding rivalry in the Metropolitan Division, starting in last season's seven-game playoff series. They had another fun game on Saturday.
Lucas Wallmark posted a power-play goal, pushing his career-high point streak to six games (4 G, 4 A). Dougie Hamilton also had a goal, giving him 13 goals and 36 points across 39 games. His 36 points through 39 games are the second-most by a defenseman in franchise history since relocation from Hartford.
Alex Ovechkin had a power-play goal in this one, but he also had a minus-4 rating to join T.J. Oshie in that unfortunate club. Nic Dowd, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Radko Gudas were the other scorers for the visitors.
The offense was nice for Petr Mrazek, who allowed four goals on 29 shots for the victory.
Dallas Stars 3, Colorado Avalanche 2 (SO)
Tyler Seguin got the team into it quickly with a goal 68 seconds into action with helpers from Alexander Radulov and John Klingberg. The latter actually factored in on both goals in regulation as he tries to snap out of his season-long funk.
J.T. Compher and Ian Cole were the goal scorers for the Avs, but Ben Bishop had the last laugh. He made a season-high 41 saves, and he was a stone wall in overtime and the shootout to pick up the victory. Philipp Grubauer wasn't equal to the task, allowing goals to Joe Pavelski and Radulov in the shootout to make the home folks happy.
Denis Gurianov scored for the home side, notching a goal in his third straight while pushing his point streak to four games, both career bests.
Vancouver Canucks 3, Los Angeles Kings 2
Just 19 seconds after Toffoli splashed cold water on the Vancouver folks, Elias Pettersson fired them up with the eventual game-winning tally, making a winner of Jacob Markstrom. The netminder made 49 saves to send the Kings away unhappy. Jonathan Quick allowed three goals on 26 shots to take the L.
Vegas Golden Knights 4, Arizona Coyotes 1
Mark Stone got the T-Mobile Arena into a frenzy at 9:05 of the first period, with help from Alex Tuch and Max Pacioretty on the power play. The excitement was short-lived, however, as Michael Grabner buried one a little over four minutes later to even the score. Oliver Ekman-Larsson and Conor Garland were in on the helpers, the only points of the nights for the Coyotes.
Stone struck again to close out the first period, while Chandler Stephenson scored a power-play goal 12 seconds into the second. Paul Stastny scored just 1:42 later, and it looked like the rout was on. However, someone turned off the offensive spigot after that, and both Adin Hill, who replaced Antti Raanta after the fourth goal, and Marc-Andre Fleury, were stone walls. The latter made 27 saves, allowing just that one Grabner marker.
San Jose Sharks 6, Philadelphia Flyers 1
It was an ugly night for Carter Hart. He allowed six goals on 29 shots, as the Sharks offense came alive and showed its teeth.
Meier wasn't done, however. After Ivan Provorov scored on the power play to spoil the shutout for Jones, Meier added his 13th and 14th of the season for his first-career hat trick. Patrick Marleau added one for good measure, as the Sharks buried the visitors. Barclay Goodrow ended up with three assists and a plus-4, while Evander Kane also had a plus-4 while chipping in with two helpers. Meanwhile, Meier ended up with a plus-5 rating.