For a Tuesday it was a rather light night of action in the National Hockey League, as we had a total of eight games, with 15 teams sitting out. Just because the schedule was a little lighter doesn't mean we had less action. We had some big-time performances, including several multi-point showings from some big names, as well as a hat trick from an unlikely source, and a shutout from one of the game's best goaltenders. One playoff hopeful team also got its netminder back from injury. Let's get started!
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Toronto Maple Leafs 2, Tampa Bay Lightning 1
We had a potential playoff preview at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto, and the Maple Leafs were able to scratch out a home win, snapping a five-game win streak for the road team in this series.
William Nylander opened the scoring midway through the first period on a power-play goal, assisted by John Tavares and Mitch Marner. In the second period, Ondrej Palat picked up his 17th goal of the season at 15:22 of the second period to level the game 1-1. That was the only goal the Lightning would get by Frederik Andersen, who beat the Lightning for a second straight time.
Andersen allowed just one goal on 33 shots, moving to 29-13-7 with a 2.85 goals-against average and .909 save percentage. He gets a crack at the Nashville Predators, a team he beat in the Music City on Jan. 27 when he allowed just two goals on 36 shots.
Andrei Vasilevskiy was pretty sharp, stopping two goals on 36 shots. The second goal, which was the game-winning tally, also came on the power play from Auston Matthews, who climbed to within one goal of league leaders David Pastrnak of Boston and Alex Ovechkin of Washington. Matthews will look to add to his 47 goals on Thursday against the Preds. He had a goal in the first meeting.
Nashville Predators 4, Montreal Canadiens 2
Carey Price has been ice-cold lately, but he did not allow any goals in the first or third periods in Tuesday's start. Unfortunately for Price and his fantasy, he was a sieve in the second. He coughed up goals to Ryan Johansen, Calle Jarnkrok and Filip Forsberg for a pair, as the Preds quieted the building with a 4-0 lead.
The bright spot of the night came off the stock of Lukas Vejdemo, who notched his first NHL point with a goal at 8:40 of the third with help from Dale Weise and Jake Evans. Vejdemo was assigned to the Laval Rocket of the AHL after the game for his trouble, too. Ouch.
Juuse Saros was making a bid for his third consecutive shutout, and he made it through two periods without anyone lighting the lamp. Artturi Lehkonen notched lucky No. 13 at 2:45 of the third to break up the shutout, and then Vejdemo joined him on the scoresheet.
Pittsburgh Penguins 5, New Jersey Devils 2
The Penguins have been stumbling lately, and the Devils have actually been playing a lot better hockey since the All-Star break. In fact, Mackenzie Blackwood entered 8-1-2 in 11 starts since the All-Star break, but Matt Murray and the Pens weren't fazed.
Evan Rodrigues opened the scoring with his sixth of the season, his first point in seven games since coming over from the Buffalo Sabres. Nikita Gusev struck just over four minutes later on the power play, leveling the game 1-1. Justin Schultz bagged his third goal of the season with help from Evgeni Malkin and Bryan Rust to restore the lead, and the Pens wouldn't trial again.
Matt Murray allowed two goals on just 22 shots, and one of them was on the power play. Evgeni Malkin was the big offensive star, posting two goals and an assist, giving him two goals and eight points in four outings in the month of March, and he has two power-play goals and two assists on the man advantage during the span.
Kris Letang had a goal and an assist with a plus-2 rating. He had managed no goals and just two helpers with a minus-9 rating across his past 10, so fantasy owners have to be quite relieved, unless they benched him.
Boston Bruins 2, Philadelphia Flyers 0
Tuukka Rask was celebrating his 33rd birthday in the City of Brotherly Love. After he was celebrating his 50th-career shutout, and his team being the first to reach 100 points.
Carter Hart entered on a seven-game winning streak, but he coughed up goals to Matt Grzelcyk on the power play late in the second and an even-strength goal to Patrice Bergeron late in the third to win it 2-0.
Carolina Hurricanes 5, Detroit Red Wings 2
The Hurricanes welcome back Petr Mrazek (concussion) from multi-week absence, and he was able to take care of his former team in Detroit. Mrazek allowed goals to Tyler Bertuzzi and Christoffer Ehn, as the teams exchanged goals in the first two periods.
Morgan Geekie had a stick bender from just between the faceoff circles, snapping one over Jonathan Bernier's left shoulder to open the scoring. He has three goals in two games since being recalled from Charlotte of the AHL. At this rate, the 'Geek Squad' is likely to be the newest fan club at PNC Arena when the team returns home.
Nino Niederreiter joined him on the scoresheet with a power-play goal midway through the second with help from Jake Gardiner and Vincent Trocheck. In the third, Justin Williams registered the power-play goal and eventual game-winning tally. He nearly had a second goal, but it was wiped out due to a coaches' challenge for offside. Still, Williams has goals in five straight (six goals total), and he is the oldest player in franchise history to record goals in at least five in a row.
Gardiner ended up with three assists, and Sebastian Aho joined him in the three-point club. Aho had a shorthanded goal, a power-play goal and a power-play assist. He has eight shorthanded goals since the start of the 2018-19 season, most in the NHL during the span. He is also fourth on the all-time franchise list in shorties with nine.
New York Rangers 4, Dallas Stars 2
Kakko scored two goals in the second period, including the go-ahead goal, and he finished with just his second two-goal game. Zibanejad, the NHL's first start for the week ending March 8, posted a goal, an assist and a plus-2 rating. Fox was good for a goal, an assist and a plus-3 rating in the win.
Shesterkin stopped 31 of 33 shots to pick up his 10th victory, bouncing back after allowing a career-high five goals last time out.
Vancouver Canucks 5, New York Islanders 4 (SO)
The Islanders and Canucks played a wide-open game with plenty of offense, at least through the first two periods.
Andrew Ladd scored his first of the season to open the scoring just 96 seconds into the game. Adam Gaudette got the crowd right back into it 21 seconds later, and Tyler Toffoli added his 24th 44 seconds after that. Things cooled off for a bit before Jordan Eberle noticed his 16th, tying it up 2-2.
The second period was a little better for Thatcher Demko and Semyon Varlamov. Zack MacEwen helped the Canucks take the lead, Brock Nelson reeled them back in later in the period, and then Bo Horvat pushed the team ahead again on the power play.
In the third, the offensive spigot was turned off. Only Brock Nelson was able to break through, notching his second of the game. That was the final goal of regulation, forcing overtime. There were no scores on the 3-on-3, and the shootout resulted in just one goal, a J.T. Miller marker. It wasn't pretty for Demko, but he earned the W.
Anaheim Ducks 5, Ottawa Senators 2
Jakob Silfverberg got the crowd into it with a power-play goal just 2:02 into the game, beating Marcus Hogberg. Then, Nicolas Deslauriers took over. He scored not one, not two, but three goals to pick up the natural hat trick. It was also the quickest hatty in franchise history. He entered Tuesday's game with just four goals and 10 points through the first 57 games, so it was a very unlikely trick.
Ryan Miller was electric, allowing two goals on 42 shots to move to 9-6-4 with a 3.10 GAA and .907 save percentage in his 19 starts and 23 appearances.
The Ducks are back at it Wednesday in a make-up game against the St. Louis Blues, as the defending champs return for the first time since that scary night when Jay Bouwmeester collapsed on the bench, forcing a postponement.