It was a pretty good day to be a goaltender in the National Hockey League on Wednesday night. There were three games on NHL ice on Hump Day, with a total of just 13 goals. If you were wagering the Grand Salami, which is a line you can play in most betting shops for the total amount of combined goals from all games on a given evening, Wednesday's total was way under the line of 18. Some things never change, too, as we'll touch on in the final game of the evening from Anaheim. Let's get started!
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Normally these games are hotly contested battles, and that was certainly the case on Wednesday. Both meetings have been decided by one goal this season, although it paled in comparison to the regular season opener on Oct. 4 when the Pens edged the Caps 7-6 in overtime. Braden Holtby was smacked around for seven goals on 41 shots in that display of fire wagon hockey, including a power-play goal by Kris Letang in overtime to turn out the lights. However, the netminder was in lockdown mode in the nation's capital in the rematch, yielding just one goal on 42 shots, including a goal and eight shots by the dynamic Sidney Crosby. Casey DeSmith did a pretty solid job in between the pipes for the visitors, yielding just two goals on 22 shots to keep his team in it, but Holtby was just way too much.
The biggest news of the game might have been T.J. Oshie. He was forced to leave for two stitches to close a laceration near his left eye caused by an inadvertent stick to the face courtesy of Evgeni Malkin. He returned only to take a check to the head by Geno later in the game. He was forced into the league's mandated concussion protocol, but he was fine and biding his time in the locker room until he could come back with revenge on his mind. Oshie returned in the nick of time, potting the game-winning goal with just 74 seconds remaining in regulation to sink the Penguins and get his revenge. As far as Malkin, it's likely he'll have a hearing with the NHL's department of safety, although since he doesn't have the reputation or history as a dirty player, it's unlikely his discipline will be too severe.
In addition to Oshie, Alexander Ovechkin was able to score and finish with a plus-1 rating on his three shots while stepping in front to block two shots. He also delivered two hits. Dmitrij Jaskin made his presence felt with the physical stuff, too, blocking a shot and delivering a team-high four hits in his 13:52 of ice time. John Carlson picked up two more helpers with a plus-1 rating, four blocked shots and two hits across 28:17 of ice time. The veteran rearguard has two assists in each of his past two contests, and he has managed five goals with 13 assists through 14 contests. He has managed a power-play assist in each of the past two outings, too, giving him a goal and 10 points on the man advantage.
There weren't a lot of things to jump up and down about as far as the Pens were concerned. As mentioned, Sid the Kid lit the lamp. He still had a minus-1 rating with two blocked shots and a minor penalty, and he did his usual good work in the faceoff circle winning 17-of-25 at the dot, good for a 68.0 win percentage. Malkin registered 12 PIM, which was unusual for him. Olli Maatta was blanked on the scoresheet, but he managed four blocked shots to lead the team. Jamie Oleksiak dished out a game-best seven hits, while Brian Dumoulin and Jack Johnson picked up four hits apiece. Johnson added an assist with a shot on goal and two blocked shots in his 23:15 of ice time.
Nashville Predators 4, Colorado Avalanche 1
If you were looking for fantasy production, it came from an unlikely source in this one. In fact, this was the only game out of three which was decided by more than one goal. Colton Sissons was the difference, as he posted his second-career hat trick to sink the Avalanche in Denver, beating Semyon Varlamov twice in the first period on even-strength markers and once on the power play with just three seconds remaining in the second period to really take the wind out of the sails of the Avalanche and their normally boisterous home crowd. His first trick came last Jan. 5 against the Tampa Bay Lightning. Nick Bonino assisted on each of Sissons' two first-period markers and he added the primary helper on Ryan Hartman's third-period tally.
Pekka Rinne was able to stop all but one of the 25 shots he faced, yielding a second-period power-play goal to Matt Calvert, who broke through for his first goal of the season. Rinne has won all three of his starts since returning from an injury on Nov. 1, going 3-0-0 with 0.67 goals-against average and .979 save percentage. Last season's Vezina Trophy winner looks like he wants to hang onto his hardware, as he is 6-1-0 with a 1.55 GAA and .949 save percentage with two shutouts through eight starts so far this season. His lone loss was a 3-0 setback on Oct. 9 against the Calgary Flames.
Not many goaltenders have been able to shut down the cash line of Gabriel Landeskog, Nathan MacKinnon and Mikko Rantanen, but there were no match for Rinne. The dynamic trio managed just one assist from MacKinnon while posting a minus-6 rating on seven shots. Ian Cole might have been the most useful Colorado player, at least from a DFS perspective, as he stepped in front of five shots while delivering three hits in his 20:12 of ice time.
Anaheim Ducks 3, Calgary Flames 2
As mentioned above, some things never seem to change. Certain teams have dominated others during the course of hockey history, but perhaps none like the spell the Ducks seem to have on the Flames. Anaheim, a team which was stunningly a home underdog in this one, has now won 31 of their past 32 regular-season meetings at home against Calgary. They have also won 39 of the past 53 meetings overall in this series. Ryan Miller was the beneficiary of the mojo on Wednesday, stopping 37 of the 39 shots he faced to pick up his 372nd NHL victory to tie former Edmonton Oilers backstop Andy Moog for 17th-place on the NHL's all-time wins list.
There were some late heroics in this game. Mark Jankowski connected on an unassisted shorthanded goal at 6:06 of the third period to quiet the crowd, but Ryan Getzlaf answered 26 seconds later and the goal stood up as the game-winning tally. It was the 49th game-winning goal for Getzlaf, and his second GWG of the season.
For the Flames, Matthew Tkachuk was able to chip in with a power-play goal near the end of the first period to extend his point streak to four games. He has managed two goals and six points during the impressive span. Elias Lindholm was able to able to extend his points run, picking up a helper to give him three goals and nine points over the past six outings. Sean Monahan wasn't able to join the streaking fun, as he was blanked to snap his run at six games. He still has four goals and 10 points over the past seven, though, so fantasy owners cannot complain too vehemently.
Jacob Larsson picked up an assist on Jakob Silfverberg's goal for his first career NHL point.