It was a short but sweet slate in the National Hockey League on Hump Day, with the highlight of the evening the Stanley Cup Finals rematch in the nation's capital between the Vegas Golden Knights and Washington Capitals. This game ended the same way as the series did over the summer. On a serious note, good luck to everyone in the path of the Hurricane Michael in the Southeast United States. The storm should have minimal impact on the NHL schedule, but plenty of lives are being impacted. North Carolina will also experience tropical storm conditions and unwanted drenching rains just weeks after Hurricane Florence devastated parts of the state. If you ever wondered why the Carolina hockey club is called 'Hurricanes', this is why. Let's get started!
For NHL news and fantasy advice, find me on Twitter here!
Things started off well enough for the Senators, as first-round draft pick Brady Tkachuk broke ice the ice, and his NHL cherry, with the first goal of the game on the power play. It wasn't terribly attractive, but the greasy goal looks the same on the scoresheet. More importantly, hopefully someone made him do a frumble in the room after the game to celebrate. The rookie liked scoring so much that he did it again to lead off the second period, giving the Sens a 2-1 lead. It was short-lived, and Ottawa would never be ahead again. Maxime Lajoie also got into the act with a pair of goals on the man advantage, and both he and Tkachuk finished with two goals and assist each with a combined 10 shots on goal. Lajoie has shown an early willingness to sacrifice his body, too. He was busy scoring in this one, so he didn't record any hits or blocked shots, but he entered the evening tied for third in the NHL with three blocked shots.
Mikkel Boedker was busy, too, picking up a pair of helpers with four shots and a minor penalty, and he now has three assists over the past three games. Chris Tierney chipped in with three power-play assists with a blocked shot, a hit and a minor, but he also had a minus-3 rating to splash a little cold water on his evening. Zack Smith didn't find the back of the net, or even etch his name onto the scoresheet, but he made his presence felt with six hits, a shot and a minor penalty to more than earn his keep for the small percentage of DFS owners on the short slate. That's usually his calling card, too. Speaking of hits, Mark Borowiecki was tossing his weight around, too, delivering five more hits to give him 13 through four contests. It was busy night, and not terribly memorable, for Craig Anderson. He was peppered for six goals on 44 shots, including a pair of power-play markers. With Erik Karlsson now plying his trade in San Jose, Ottawa's defense is expected to be leaky and Anderson likely is in for many nights like this.
The Flyers were belted 8-2 by the Sharks last night on home ice. Rather than pout about it, Philly put it in the rear-view mirror and decided to dole out the beatdown in this one instead. Jakub Voracek led the way with a career-high five points, potting two goals with three assists, while racking up a plus-3 rating with six shots on net and a pair of hits to give fantasy owners a little bit in every area. Claude Giroux was busy as usual, too, posting a goal, an assist, a plus-2 rating and a game-high seven shots on goal while winning 16 of his 24 faceoffs (66.7 percent) inside the circle in his 20:03 TOI. Scott Laughton got in on the scoring parade, lighting the lamp twice for his first time on the scoresheet since burying one in Vegas in the opener on Oct. 4.
The rearguards were feeling it, too. Radko Gudas was out of the press box and into the lineup in place of Christian Folin, and he made his presence felt in an unusual way. Normally he is known for his grittiness, but he showed some finesse with three assists while posting a plus-2 rating, two blocked shots and a hit over 17:17 of ice time. Shayne Gostisbehere was good for a pair of assists while taking six shots to stay busy on the offensive end. After getting blanked in his first two games he has three points over his past two outings, with all points coming on the man advantage. Andrew MacDonald is more of a blocked shot option for fantasy owners, and he did that well with four blocks to go along with a minor penalty, but he also contributed to the fantasy bottom line with an assist and plus-2 rating. Robert Hagg chipped in with a goal while dishing out five hits, giving him 15 hits and seven blocked shots through just four contests. If you need help in those categories, while not losing much in the offensive areas, Hagg has turned it up.
It was more than enough to Calvin Pickard, who made the start and allowed four goals on 35 shots. That doesn't look like a great outing, but three of the goals allowed were on the man advantage. It wasn't all great for the Fly Guys, though, as Nolan Patrick was forced out in the first period after taking a stick to the coconut. Officially, he's listed with an upper-body injury, but he's in the league's mandated concussion protocol.
Back in late May and early June, these two teams battle for Lord Stanley's grail. Vegas won Game 1 and Washington won the final four games to earn their first-ever championship. Alex Ovechkin apparently likes seeing that gold and black on the other side, as he lit up again on Wednesday. Ovi posted a pair of goals with a plus-2 rating on seven shots while blocking a shot and dishing out two hits. He has scored a goal in each of his three outings so far this season, totaling four goals with an assist and a plus-2 rating. Evgeni Kuznetsov was good for a goal with four points and a plus-2 rating, and the only thing that didn't go great for him was the fact he won eight of his 17 faceoffs. Anyone complaining about that would be splitting hairs, however. Nicklas Backstrom went for a goal, an assist, a plus-1 rating and a blocked shot. Brett Connolly was also good for two assists with a plus-2 rating, a blocked shot and a minor. After going scoreless in the opener against the Bruins, Connolly has three assists with four PIM over the past two contests. T.J. Oshie also jumped into the act while John Carlson added a pair of helpers. Carlson has three consecutive multi-point games to open up his 2018-19 campaign.
Like the championship series, Braden Holtby got the best of Marc-Andre Fleury. He allowed two goals on 31 shots to pick up the win, while Fleury was tagged for four goals on 28 shots in the loss. The big guns for the Golden Knights weren't firing on all cylinders, as the goal scorers were Cody Eakin and Reilly Smith. William Karlsson did pick up an assist, but he is still searching for his first goal after four outings. He bagged 43 goals in his breakout season last year, and he's going to get on track. Keep this in mind, he went without a goal in each of his first six goals in 2017-18, so be patient. Max Pacioretty was blanked for the second time in three games, as he has managed just one goal and no assists to date. Jonathan Marchessault was blanked for the first time in four games, although he is still averaged a point per game with two goals, two assists and a plus-3 rating so far.
Arizona Coyotes 3, Anaheim Ducks 2 (SO)
Nick Cousins didn't score in regulation or overtime, but he was able to score in the shootout to secure the first win of the season for Arizona. Cousins ended up with a blocked shot and three hits during regulation. Brad Richardson was awfully excited to play in this one, and he bagged a shorthanded goal while firing off a game-best seven shots on net. Dylan Strome also had his best game to date, picking up a goal on his only shot of the game. However, he was very good moving the puck with pinpoint accuracy and he won 10 of his 14 faceoffs (71.4 percent). Niklas Hjalmarsson was doing what he does best - sacrifice his body. His assist and plus-1 rating in 19:38 of ice time was a bonus. Blocking two shots is something he has been doing for years. Antti Raanta deserved this victory, as he stopped all but two of the 25 shots he faced in the win. He entered the game 0-2-0 in his first starts, but he had a strong 2.02 goals-against average and .911 save percentage.
The Ducks have been a hard team to figure. While Wednesday marked their first loss of the season in four outings, they walloped a good San Jose team in their own building by three goals, and they have been involved in three straight one-goal games against two squads expected to be non-playoff teams, the Detroit Red Wings in one outing and the Coyotes on two separate occasions. The team was very glad to get Ryan Kesler (hip) made his season debut and he paid instant dividends with a goal on three shots while delivering two hits. He was owned in less than 10 percent of Yahoo! Fantasy leagues earlier in the day, but that number is sure to grow exponentially now that people see he is healthy. Ben Street picked up his first goal of the season in four outings, and he now has two points. Fantasy owners only in the deepest of pools will want to pay him any mind, however. Carter Rowney, the tough as nails kid from Alberta, dished out seven hits, doubling his total from the previous three games. John Gibson allowed just two goals on 39 shots, but his offense struggled.