Plenty of thrilling performances Saturday

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Dan Dobish
·9 min read
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The National Hockey League had 11 games scheduled on Saturday. Again, I hope that you didn't spend most your day watching college basketball, although that Oral Roberts-Arkansas game was epic. There were some amazing games on the ice Saturday, with six of the 11 contests decided by just one goal. We also had a few hat tricks, and fantasy managers had to wait until the final game for the day's lone shutout by a rather unlikely source. And we had six total venues allowing a limited amount of fans through the gates. Saturday's total was 19,919 fans, with the Carolina Hurricanes leading the way with 4,433 at PNC Arena in Raleigh. Let’s get started!

Philadelphia Flyers 2, New York Rangers 1

One of those one-goal games occurred in the City of Brotherly Love. While a close game was not a surprise, it was rather surprisingly that this was a defensive battle. New York had scored a total of 17 goals in the past two meetings, and we had 11.5 total goals in the previous four in this series, so fantasy managers and DFS players were expecting big things.

Mika Zibanejad didn't disappoint, as he posted his 11th goal of the season with a power-play marker. Adam Fox had his 24th assist, and Ryan Strome picked up his 20th with the secondary helper. But that was all the offense the Blueshirts would get.

Nolan Patrick leveled the score at 1-1 with a power-play goal midway through the second, with Samuel Morin striking for his first of the season, and also the game-winning goal, at 15:33 of the third.

Brian Elliott stopped 24 of the 25 shots he faced to improve to 8-4-1 with a 2.83 goals-against average and .892 save percentage in his 13 starts and 17 appearances overall.

Boston Bruins 3, Buffalo Sabres 2

The Sabres fired out to a 1-0 lead after just 2:01 with a Sam Reinhart power-play goal against Dan Vladar. For most teams, that's not exactly headline news, but in a 16-game winless skid, it's a big deal.

Matt Grzelcyk evened things up at 11:41 of the second with David Pastrnak and Patrice Bergeron helping out, but Kyle Okposo restored the one-goal lead for the B's heading to the third. Steven Fogarty picked up his first NHL point with the primary assist.

Nick Ritchie evened the score again at 5:22 of the third period, and Ritchie returned with a secondary assist to Craig Smith at 16:10. The B's survived a huge scare as giant favorites.

Vladar stopped 25 of the 27 shots he faced, but he certainly had to work for it.

Detroit Red Wings 3, Columbus Blue Jackets 1

The Red Wings fired out of the chute in matinee action, as Adam Erne and Robby Fabbri notched first-period goals just 29 seconds apart to give Detroit a 2-0 lead against Elvis Merzlikins.

The Jackets wouldn't go quietly, however, as Nick Foligno sliced the lead in half at 11:43 of the second period with helpers to Alexandre Texier and Boone Jenner.

The Red Wings responded, though, something we haven't seen a lot of in recent seasons. Anthony Mantha scored his ninth, while Dylan Larkin and Patrik Nemeth assisted to make a winner out of Calvin Pickard.

Vegas Golden Knights 3, Colorado Avalanche 2 (OT)

This game between Western contenders was an entertaining affair which could not be decided in regulation.

The red-hot Joonas Donskoi picked up his 12th of the season just 76 into the game, as Samuel Girard also posted another helper. Donskoi has been a must-start fantasy option since March 14, scoring six goals with 10 points and a plus-7 rating in the past eight outings.

Alec Martinez posted power-play goal at 16:32 with Chandler Stephenson and Max Pacioretty lending a helping hand. Devon Toews restored the lead just 63 seconds later, with Nathan MacKinnon chipping in.

William Carrier again evened the score at 2-2 at 3:40 of the second period, then Marc-Andre Fleury and Philipp Grubauer tightened up significantly.

Fleury stopped 22 of 24 shots, while Grubauer allowed three goals on 34 shots. The latter is significant, as he had allowed one or no goals in each of his past eight appearances.

Pacioretty made a winner of Flower with his 18th of the season in overtime, and Alex Tuch had the lone assist.

Carolina Hurricanes 4, Tampa Bay Lightning 3

Andrei Vasilevskiy had a 12-game win streak snapped in Dallas last time out. Now, he has a two-game losing streak.

Martin Necas scored two goals while tying a career high with four points, including the game-winning goal. He ended up with a solid plus-2 rating, as he has really emerged as another young star for Carolina. Necas has seven goals and 17 points with a plus-10 rating over 13 games in the month of March. That's fantasy must-start status.

James Reimer was the beneficiary of the offense from Necas, as well as Sebastian Aho and his goal with an assist. Cedric Paquette also scored against his former team, and he has goals in back-to-back games.

For Tampa, Blake Coleman, Pat Maroon and Mathieu Joseph got on the board, but it wasn't enough.

Toronto Maple Leafs 4, Edmonton Oilers 3 (OT)

The last time these teams played in Edmonton, the Leafs had a pair of shutouts and just one goal allowed in a three-game sweep. So Edmonton scoring three goals was huge. The result was the same, though, another loss for the Oilers.

Jack Campbell, who had a shutout last time he faced Edmonton, allowed three goals on 20 shots to improve to 6-0-0.

Auston Matthews won it with an overtime winner, and he and William Nylander each finished with a goal and an assist.

For the Oilers, Leon Draisaitl (what else is new?) led the way with a goal and three points, while Connor McDavid had a pair of assists. Draisaitl has a goal in seven of the past nine games, and nine goals with 19 points across the past 11.

Tyson Barrie also scored against his former mates, and he has two goals and 12 assists with a plus-12 rating over the previous nine.

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Pittsburgh Penguins 6, New York Islanders 3

The Penguins doubled up the Islanders, and it looked like it might be even worse initially.

Pittsburgh fired out to a 5-0 lead with goals from Frederick Gaudreau and Evan Rodrigues with first-period goals, and Sidney Crosby and Bryan Rust (x2) scoring in the second.

Mathew Barzal stopped the bleeding midway through the second with his 10th. It was his first game with two or more points since March 6. He had no goals and just three assists over the previous 10.

Ilya Sorokin barely broke a sweat, but not in a good way. He allowed four goals on nine shots before getting the hook early in the second period. Tristan Jarry was much better, posting 29 saves in the win.

Rust returned later with an empty-net goal, giving him his fourth-career hat trick. He also tired a career high with his sixth straight game with a point, matching a run from Oct. 26-Nov. 3, 2019.

Nashville Predators 3, Chicago Blackhawks 1

The Predators took the lead at 5:10 of the first period and never looked back, as Ryan Johansen got the them on the board early. Rocco Grimaldi added one in the second, and that stood up as the game-winning tally.

That's because Pius Suter scored at 17:33 of the second for Chicago's only goal against Juuse Saros.

Saros was impressive, allowing just one goal on 30 shots. He is now 9-6-0 with a 2.38 GAA and .923 SV% in 17 starts and 18 appearances. He has allowed one or no goals in each of his past five outings, and two or fewer goals in 10 straight appearances since Feb. 9.

Florida Panthers 4, Dallas Stars 3 (OT)

Rust wasn't the only one who had the virtual hats flying on Saturday.

Carter Verhaeghe scored just 24 seconds into the game in Dallas, and that set the tone for his day.

Denis Gurianov and John Klingberg gave the Stars a brief lead midway through the first period, but that's the only time they would be ahead.

Verhaeghe scored a power-play goal, and he returned late in the second with a shorthanded marker. He is the third player in Panthers history, joining Colton Sceviour and Nathan Horton, as players with an even-strength goal, a power-play goal and a shorthanded goal for the hat trick.

Joel L'Esperance notched a goal to force overtime in the third, his first marker of the season, but Aaron Ekblad won it in OT with Verhaeghe grabbing his fourth point and Jonathan Huberdeau chiming in. Noel Acciari also finished with two assists.

Calgary Flames 4, Winnipeg Jets 2

This was a tale of three periods, and the Flames obviously came out ahead.

Calgary won the first period 2-0, as Josh Leivo opened the scoring while Mark Giordano had a power-play marker.

Winnipeg won the second 2-0, as Mason Appleton and Logan Stanley registered goals to level things at two.

Calgary won the decisive third period 2-0, as Andrew Mangiapane scored the game-winning goal, and Sam Bennett added some insurance midway through the period. That was good enough for David Rittich, who allowed two goals on 24 shots.

Arizona Coyotes 4, San Jose Sharks 0

Last, but certainly not least, Adin Hill is making the most of his opportunity to play fairly regularly. Hill registered his second-career shutout with 34 saves, and the Coyotes outscored San Jose 9-2 for the two-game sweep. It was the first shutout by a Coyotes backstop against the Sharks since Mike Smith on Feb. 9, 2013.

Phil Kessel also had something to say. Three times. Phil the Thrill had his seventh-career hat trick, and first since Oct. 11, 2018 against the Vegas Golden Knights when he was wearing a Penguins sweater.

Clayton Keller also registered a goal with three points and a plus-3 rating. He has a goal and five points with a plus-5 in his three-game point streak, and five goals with 14 points in 14 games in March.