It was the penultimate day before the All-Star break, and we had a little lighter schedule than usual on a Tuesday night. I was fortunate enough to catch the Winnipeg Jets-Carolina Hurricanes game at PNC Arena, and if you were doubtful of Justin Williams coming back and making an impact, think again. We also had one hat trick and one shutout, so fantasy owners and DFS players certainly had some decent performances even with a light slate. Let's get started!
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Boston Bruins 3, Vegas Golden Knights 2
The Bruins and Golden Knights tangled at TD Garden, and it was an interesting East vs. West battle. Mark Stone got the party started at just 1:24 of the first period, and it looked like it was going to be a long night for Jaroslav Halak.
Jeremy Lauzon, recently recalled from Providence of the AHL, netted his first of the season midway through the first, leveling the game 1-1. By the way, Lauzon now has two goals across 18 career games in the NHL, and each have come against the Golden Knights at TD Garden. He beat Malcolm Subban on Nov. 11, 2018 for his first-career goal. If he isn't up with the big club next season and Vegas comes to town, head coach Bruce Cassidy will definitely want to make the call to bring him up.
Nicolas Hague scored a power-play goal in the second period, his first NHL goal, which put the Knights ahead briefly. Marc-Andre Fleury held the lead heading to the third period, but he wasn't able to hold it.
Jake DeBrusk potted his 15th goal of the season to tie things back up, a goal which Jaroslav Halak picked up secondary assist, and David Krejci untied it and sent the faithful home happy with a goal at 12:18 of the third period with helpers from Brandon Carlo and Danton Heinen.
New York Islanders 4, New York Rangers 2
The Islanders and Rangers were meeting for the third time just since Jan. 13, and this result was different from the first two battles. The Rangers won 3-2 on the Island back on the 16th, and the Rangers spanked the Isles 6-2 at MSG on the 13th. In this one, the Isles finally figured out the combination in cracking the Blueshirts.
One of the combinations might be Thomas Greiss. Semyon Varlamov started the first two meetings, and the Rangers outscored the Isles 9-4. Greiss allowed two goals on 42 shots as the Islanders finally got over the hump against their rivals. Two of the Killer B's were the big guns on offense, as Josh Bailey had a goal and two assists, while Mathew Barzal picked up two helpers while each finished with a plus-1 rating.
Anthony Beauvillier, Anders Lee and Brock Nelson also broke through for goals, while Ryan Pulock picked up an assist, a plus-1 rating and a team-high four hits in his 21:14 of ice time across 28 shifts.
Anton Georgiev allowed four goals on just 18 shots, as he struggled against the Isles big stars. Mika Zibanejad posted two assists with a game-high eight shots on goal, but he was the only Rangers player to join the multi-point club on this night.
The Hurricanes wrapped up the unofficial first half with a nice win against the Jets, as Petr Mrazek was a stud in between the pipes. However, the big story was Justin Williams, who was playing in just his second game since his hiatus from the team.
Martin Necas got the sparse crowd excited with his 12th goal of the season at just 2:28 against Connor Hellebuyck. And to be fair…to be faaaairrrrrrrrr…the Hurricanes drew a little over 14 thousand for this one, but they have had numerous sellouts this season, and they're averaging 16,566 per game, just a few hundred less than traditional markets like the New York Rangers, Buffalo Sabres, etc. They're even without less than one thousand fans per game of the Minnesota Wild, so the Hurricanes have definitely turned a corner. Winning helps.
A lot of the fans who showed up Tuesday were treated to the first goal of the season from Williams. He tipped home a Teuvo Teravainen blast for the power-play goal, and All-Star Jaccob Slavin also got into the act with secondary. Patrik Laine scored 56 seconds after to quiet the crowd, but Turbo was back later in the second to get the goal this time, with help from Sebastian Aho and Andrei Svechnikov.
The night was all about Williams, and he grabbed his second at 9:13 of the third period to put the game out of reach on a goal which was nearly a power-play marker, but came just three seconds after time expired on an interference call to Mason Appleton. The crowd wanted the hat trick, and it appeared to be very possible after head coach Paul Maurice pulled his goalie for an extra attacker with almost four minutes left.
Unfortunately for Williams and the boisterous crowd, All-Star Mark Scheifele and Brett Pesce got into a dust-up by the cage, which also involved Mrazek catching a tripping penalty. Slavin then took a delay of game call, and it was a penalty kill the rest of the way. Williams didn't get onto the ice for the final couple of minutes, much to the dismay of the fans.
Philadelphia Flyers 3, Pittsburgh Penguins 0
Elliott turned aside all 19 of the shots he faced, and on the surface that doesn't look terribly impressive, but some of the saves he made were absolutely outstanding. The Flyers also had to kill off three penalties, and he and the defense obviously did a great job keeping the high-octane Pens power play off the board.
Jakub Voracek struck for his 10th goal of the season at 5:26 of the second period, and since the Pens didn't score it stood up as the game-winning tally. James van Riemsdyk picked up his 14th goal of the season in the closing moments of the second, and Justin Braun added an empty-netter.
Braun was playing in just his second game back from a groin injury which was expected to keep him out until after the All-Star break. He played over the weekend against the Kings, but was scoreless. He had an empty-net goal from the opposite end of the ice to get his third goal in five games.
Florida Panthers 4, Chicago Blackhawks 3
The highest scoring game of the evening came from the Windy City, as head coach Joel Quenneville returned to United Center. He and his team left with two points in tow.
Sergei Bobrovsky allowed three goals on 35 shots to earn his fourth consecutive win, a season high. He might owe Frank Vatrano a steak dinner, as the latter posted his second-career hat trick, and first in a Florida Panthers sweater. A little-known fact, too, only seven other players named Frank have posted hat tricks in NHL history.
Evgenii Dadonov had the other goal for the Panthers, his 23rd of the season. Kirby Dach picked up a goal and an assist for the losing side, his first multi-point game since Nov. 17. Duncan Keith also got on the board with an assist, four blocked shots and two hits, as he had a decent night for fantasy owners, something that has been few and far between lately. Drake Caggiula also got on the board with a power-play goal, and Patrick Kane had his 25th into an empty net, giving him 1,000 points for his NHL career. But Robin Lehner and the Blackhawks came up just short in their final game before the break.