Connor McDavid Is Slick Yet Again

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Dan Dobish
·12 min read
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The National Hockey League had a total of 12 games on the schedule for Saturday, including an ill-fated outdoor game at Lake Tahoe, which ended up being an 11-hour odyssey for the Vegas Golden Knights and Colorado Avalanche. The scoring in the afternoon wasn't terribly prolific, but things heated up as the evening rolled in. We even had one shutout by an unlikely source, and like last Saturday, we had seven underdogs cash in the 12 games, especially during the early slate of games. We have seen on Saturdays lately that you should expect the unexpected, and that was especially evident on this Saturday. Let's get started!

Buffalo Sabres 3, New Jersey Devils 2

The Sabres fired out of the box with a goal from Colin Miller just 5:26 into the game, as Mackenzie Blackwood took a while to settle in. It was Miller's second of the season, helped out by Taylor Hall and Eric Staal.

Buffalo struck for two more goals, and they both came off the blade of Sam Reinhart, who posted his fourth and fifth goals of the season. The second goal at 17:46 was on the power play, and it stood up as the game-winning tally.

Kyle Palmieri and P.K. Subban managed two goals in the third to make it a game, and Linus Ullmark allowed two goals on 27 shots, but the visitors got it done. Blackwood ended up allowing three goals on 29 shots in the loss.

New York Rangers 4, Washington Capitals 1

Igor Shesterkin got the starting nod in D.C. and he helped the Blueshirts to a much-needed road win as moderate underdogs.

Chris Kreider opened the scoring with a power-play goal at 14:57 of the first period, and Alexis Lafreniere and Ryan Strome made it 3-0 before the Caps saw their lone goal from Dmitry Orlov in the final minute of the second. For Orlov, it was his first of the season from Nick Jensen. When Orlov is doing the scoring, and he is the only one, that's not a great recipe for Washington success.

Mike Zibanejad registered a shorthanded goal with 2:12 left in regulation to put a bow on the scoring, as New York won 4-1. Artemi Panarin and Pavel Buchnevich each posted two assists in the victory.

Shesterkin allowed one goal on 27 shots, while Vitek Vanecek coughed up three goals on 23 shots in the loss.

Colorado Avalanche 3, Vegas Golden Knights 2

The Avalanche and Golden Knights squared off at the Edgewood Tahoe Resort with a rink built atop the 18th fairway adjacent to the shimmering aquamarine lake. It was a beautiful setting among the shimmering water and snow-capped mountains on a sunny day. The latter is the key word. Sunny.

The teams played 20 minutes in a sun-splashed first period, but the ice was turning to slush in a hurry under the bright sun. Temperatures were in the upper 20's, and that wasn't the issue, but the sun was doing a number on the ice and making it dangerous to play. Several players and officials lost their footing as the first period went on. They stuck it out, finished up the first period, and at intermission it was decided to postpone to later in the evening.

During the first intermission, it was also learned tomorrow's outdoor game between the Boston Bruins and Philadelphia Flyers at the same venue would be pushed to 7:30 p.m. ET to avoid a sun-drenched sequel.

The teams reconvened at midnight ET, and the beautiful scenery disappeared into the darkness. Alec Martinez leveled the game 1-1 with his first of the season at 7:37 of the second period, before Nathan MacKinnon scored a pretty goal at 11:18 to restore the lead.

Devon Toews potted his fourth to push the lead to 3-1, with help from Mikko Rantanen and MacKinnon. Alex Tuch answered with his fifth goal of the season at 14:25 of the third, cutting the lead to 3-2. If you bet the Under earlier in the day at 5.5, you were sweating profusely down the stretch. The awful ice conditions were your friend earlier in the day, but with 5:35 to play, you were one empty-net goal away from a losing ticket. Luckily that never came into fruition.

Philipp Grubauer allowed two goals on 29 shots to outduel Marc-Andre Fleury, who coughed up three goals on 39 shots for the loss.

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Detroit Red Wings 2, Florida Panthers 1

Social media can often be a wasteland with a bunch of nonsense sometimes. Other times, you learn a thing or two, and it's amazing.

My cousin Chris posted photos of him and his son Brayden taking in the Panthers-Red Wings game at Little Caesars Arena. I had no idea fans were allowed to attend in Michigan. The capacity was set at 500, but some fans are better than none. I am happy to see things very, very slowly but surely getting back to some normalcy. Unfortunately for Chris, who was wearing a Florida Panthers sweater, his team was on the short end in the Motor City.

Alexander Wennberg scored on the power play, his fifth goal of the season, with help from Anthony Duclair and Frank Vatrano, as the visitors led 1-0 heading to the room after 20.

Unfortunately for Chris and the Panthers, Patrik Nemeth and Mathias Brome notched their first goals of the season, and Florida was unable to respond. Jonathan Bernier stopped 38 of the 39 shots he faced in a rare win, just Detroit's fifth in its 20th game overall. Bernier has four of those wins, moving to 4-2-0 with a 2.74 GAA and .910 SV% in his seven starts and eight appearances.

Pittsburgh Penguins 3, New York Islanders 2

The Penguins and Islanders played an entertaining game in the Steel City, and Tristan Jarry looks to be regaining his All-Star form, at least against New York metropolitan teams.

Semyon Varlamov allowed three goals on just 18 shots to suffer another loss to the Pens, slipping to 0-2-1 across his past three starts against Pittsburgh after winning 4-3 on Feb. 6 on the Island.

Jarry allowed just two goals on 35 shots to level his record at 5-5-1 with a 3.30 GAA and .892 SV% in 11 starts. He has been brutal against most every other team, but against the New York Rangers and Islanders at home, he has four wins in four starts.

Sidney Crosby posted two assists in his 1,000th NHL game on Saturday, and he became the first Pens player with 1,000 NHL games with the organization. He is the 350th player, and 25th NHL player, to reach 1,000 games.

Kris Letang picked a great time to light the lamp for the first time this season. He scored on the power play midway through the second period for his first, and returned at 13:34 to record the game-winning tally. It was his first two-goal game since Oct. 19, 2019 against Dallas.

Nashville Predators 4, Columbus Blue Jackets 2

This game was a tale of three periods. Nashville won the first and third periods 2-0, while Columbus won the second period 2-0.

Calle Jarnkrok opened the scoring with a goal on the man advantage, his third of the season. Colton Sissons followed up to make it 2-0 after 20.

Boone Jenner notched the shorthanded goal, and Gabriel Carlsson potted his first to even things up 2-2. Carlsson drew in for his first pro hockey game in a calendar year, subbing for David Savard who was out with a non-COVID illness.

Elvis Merzlikins was chased early in the third after allowing two goals to Jarnkrok and Filip Forsberg in the first minute of the third, both unassisted goals. Pekka Rinne made 21 saves on 23 shots for the win.

Toronto Maple Leafs 5, Montreal Canadiens 3

The Leafs and Canadiens exchanged zeroes in the first period, and then the dam broke and we saw a total of six goals in the second period.

Auston Matthews scored his 17th of the season on the power play, and he returned later in the second for another power-play goal. He also added two assists, totaling four points on the night. Mitch Marner had a goal and three points, as the two made trouble for Carey Price all night.

Matthews has seven goals during his current four-game goal-scoring streak, and he has 18 goals in the first 18 games. He is the first NHL player to do that in 15 years. The Big Cactus also has 175 goals through 300 regular-season games, the third-most by a player in Leafs franchise history through 300 games. He is also working on a 16-game point streak with 18 goals and 28 points since his last scoreless game. And he has even or positive in plus-minus in eight straight games since Jan. 30. Yes, he is white hot right now.

Marner has four goals and 16 points with a plus-16 rating in eight games during the month of February, posting a plus-1 rating or better in each contest.

Los Angeles Kings 4, Arizona Coyotes 2

Cal Petersen is making things interesting in Southern California. He turned aside 22 of the 24 shots he faced to get another win, besting Darcy Kuemper.

Alex Iafallo picked up two goals, including one on the power play and another of the empty-net variety. It was his first game with multiple goals since he had a hat trick on Jan. 30, 2020, also in Arizona. That's three goals and seven points over his past six outings, as he has emerged as a solid fantasy option and DFS play.

Drew Doughty added two helpers and a plus-2, and he now has a goal and eight points with a plus-5 during his current five-game point streak.

On the losing side, Phil Kessel had a power-play goal and an assist, his first time with goals in consecutive games since Jan. 14-16 to open the season. He had two points on the man advantage for the first time since lighting the lamp twice on the power play Dec. 5, 2019 in Philadelphia.

Carolina Hurricanes 4, Tampa Bay Lightning 0

The Lightning have played two games in Raleigh this season. And the defending champs have scored as many goals as you and I in those games.

Alex Nedeljkovic turned aside all 24 shots he faced for his first NHL shutout, and the second of the season for Carolina against Tampa. They also had a 1-0 shutout in overtime back on Jan. 28, courtesy of Petr Mrazek.

Sebastian Aho and Andrei Svechnikov each had a goal and an assist with a plus-2 rating, while Vincent Trocheck scored his ninth of the season. Trocheck's goal was the first of the game, and stood up as the game-winning tally. Cedric Paquette also scored against his former mates.

San Jose Sharks 5, St. Louis Blues 4

It wasn't a good day for fantasy managers to start Jordan Binnington. He coughed up five goals on 27 shots in a wild home loss.

Evander Kane and Logan Couture got Shark Party started in the first period, with Kevin Labanc chipping in with the lone assist on each marker. Rudolf Balcers added his first, as the visitors built a 3-0 lead.

However, the Blues outscored the Sharks the rest of the second period by a 4-1 score, as Brayden Schenn, Zach Sanford, Ryan O'Reilly and Jordan Kyrou struck gold against Devan Dubnyk, making it 4-4 heading to the third.

However, Couture was back with an unassisted goal and the difference maker in a win for the road 'dogs.

Minnesota Wild 5, Anaheim Ducks 1

The Wild haven't scored a lot of goals this season, but don't tell that to John Gibson.

Mats Zuccarello posted his first goal of the season to open the scoring, and Kevin Fiala added two goals, including one on the power play, making it 3-0 just three minutes into the second.

David Backes scored for the Ducks, with help from Josh Mahura and Kevin Shattenkirk, cutting the lead to 3-1 after 40 minutes. It looked like the home side might have a shot, but Victor Rask and Joel Eriksson Ek had other plans in the third, scoring two goals for the 5-1 win.

Kaapo Kahkonen made 26 saves on 27 shots to improve to 5-4-0 with a 2.46 GAA and .911 SV%. He has back-to-back wins, allowing one goal in each start, in the past two against the Ducks. All five of his victories are against teams from the Golden State, too.

Edmonton Oilers 7, Calgary Flames 1

Jacob Markstrom is tired, as he has been doing the heavy lifting for the Flames, but he apparently needs a rest. He got it midway through the second, as he was pulled in favor of David Rittich.

Alex Chiasson opened the scoring on the power play, while Ryan Nugent-Hopkins scored to make it 2-0. Andrew Mangiapane notched a power-play goal to cut the lead to 2-1, but Connor McDavid was back on the power play to push the lead back to 3-1. It got worse for the Flames.

McDavid scored his 11th and 12th to push it out to 5-1, giving him the natural hat trick. It was the second natural trick of his career, both against the Flames. He also turned the trick Oct. 4, 2017. McDavid also had two helpers, giving him 37 points through 20 games, seven more points than anyone else in the NHL.

RNH scored his ninth of the season on the power play, and he finished with two goals and three points. Leon Draisaitl ended up with his 20th assist on Josh Archibald's goal to wrap up the scoring.

It wasn't all great for the Oil, as Slater Koekkoek left the game with an upper-body injury.