Happy New Years, fantasy hockey friends! You have survived last week's Snowpocalypse, Steven Stamkos' broken leg, and with Jonathan Quick's stellar return, now must survive a sad breakup with the magical Martin Jones. There were 12 games last night, so let's get right to the action:.
Avalanche 4, Sharks 3: With two goals, a +2 rating, and four shots on goal, Nathan MacKinnon had a night to remember. The dazzling 18-year-old now leads all rookies with 26 points, overtaking the injured Tomas Hertl, who is expected to miss the rest of the season after right-knee surgery. When some people were his age, they were learning to play beer pong and avoiding arrest for baby oil wrestling; it took four showers with dish-washing detergent to remove the KY Jelly from one's hair. Jamie McGinn added a goal, Semyon Varlamov shut the door late, and Gabriel Landeskog chipped in with an assist, +1 rating, four shots on goal, one takeaway, and one blocked shot. Logan Couture, Joe Pavelski, and Patrick Marleau had goals for Colorado. Marleau could have scored twice had he come over after the game.
Rangers 7, Maple Leaps 1: After wowing over 100,000 fans in the Winter Classic a few days ago, Toronto was booed off the ice after every period on Saturday night. Call it a big-game hangover or pure suckitude, either way, it did not look pretty for the Leafs, who were outshot 50-26 and held a team meeting after the game. Benoit Pouliot, Chris Kreider, Brad Richards, Brian Boyle, and Carl Hagelin had goals for New York, while Dominic Moore had two. Impressively, ten different Rangers added assists in the blowout. Far more impressive, however, was Kreider's first career fight, which was actually more like an awkward dance at middle school homecoming, but whatever.
Bruins 4, Jets 1: Although his giveaway in the first period led to Winnipeg's only goal by Dustin Byfuglien, Torey Krug more than made up for it with two goals and a game-tying assist. The rookie keeps getting better, now with 10 goals on the year, tied with Shea Weber and Erik Karlsson for most in the NHL among defensemen. Jacob Trouba, who is also having an otherwise fantastic rookie season, was -3 on the night with only two shots and two hits. The game featured almost as many fights as goals, with Zdeno Chara taking on Chris Thorburn, Matt Fraser dropping gloves with James Wright, and Andy McQuaid wrestling with Mark Stuart.
Sabres 2, Devils 1: Matt D'Agostini scored his first goal of the season, while Matt Moulson chipped in a power play goal in the third period and Ryan Miller was nearly flawless to lead Buffalo to its fifth-straight home victory. It was only the second time in the past 22 chances that Buffalo converted on the power play. Tellingly, only one Sabre (Matt Ellis) has a positive rating this season (+1), and he has only seen action in 10 games - avoid skaters from the northern tundra of New York if at all possible.
Senators 4, Canadiens 3 (OT): This was a weird one. First, a power-play goal by Rene Bourque was reversed in the first period. Then, with 19 seconds left in the third, P.K. Subban was called for hooking Erik Condra, a controversial penalty that Subban, the lovechild of David Ortiz and a Ninja Turtle, called "personal" after the game. Only 58 seconds into overtime, Clarke MacArthur scored the game-winner for Ottawa's fourth-straight victory. Condra, Mark Stone, and Colin Greening also scored for the Senators. The most pleasant surprise, however, was Daniel Briere, who had two goals, an assist, a +2 rating, four shots on goal, and two blocked shots after sitting out the past two games as a healthy scratch for Montreal. Hopefully, Briere will find his groove and get back on track now.
Panthers 5, Predators 4 (SO): Even though the Panthers were up by two goals with just over five minutes left in the game, they needed six rounds in a shootout to put away the Predators on Saturday night. Tomas Kopecky finally sneaked one past Marek Mazanec, high on the glove side, to end the game. Nashville has not won a shootout this season. In fact, they are 0-17-2 when trailing after two periods. Seth Jones, Mike Fisher, Craig Smith, and Paul Gaustad had goals for the Predators; Guastad's came with just 47.1 seconds left in the third. Tim Thomas, who returned after missing eight games with a groin injury, stopped 38 shots, and Kopecky, Marcel Goc, Sean Bergenheim, and Brad Boyes scored in regulation for Florida, while Jonathan Huberdeau and Aleksander Barkov each had two assists. Barkov has 11 points in the past 11 games - like most rookies, he has been streaky, but he could also be a really useful second-half pickup.
Hurricanes 3, Islanders 2: Jordan Staal and Brett Sutter scored 57 seconds apart in the second period to put this one out of reach, Anton Khudobin was stellar between the pipes, and Patrick Dwyer had two assists, a +1 rating, seven shots on goal, one blocked shot, and one hit for Carolina. John Tavares and Thomas Vanek each scored for New York, but it was not enough. Notably, Ryan Strome showed signs of frustration, throwing back his head after Khudobin made a nice power-play save. The super-hyped rookie is still seeking his first point after playing 10 games in the NHL. I passed on him for exactly this reason, but if you invested in non-keeper leagues, I would give him another week or two to heat up before cutting your losses.
Blues 6, Blue Jackets 2: In the Crayola Classic, St. Louis settled any question about the dominant blue-colored team in the NHL, delighting preschoolers throughout the Midwest with the best start in team history. After a slow first half, Patrick Berglund switched from center to left wing in the second period and scored two goals in the process. Alex Pietrangelo and Vladimir Sobotka each had a goal and an assist, while Jaden Schwartz scored his 15th goal of the season and seventh in the past eight games.
Red Wings 5, Stars 1: Jimmy Howard is back, bitches. After shaking off a tough loss in the Winter Classic, the goalie made 44 saves on Saturday night with two goals from Henrik Zetterberg. Joakim Andersson, Drew Miller, and Tomas Tatar rounded out the scoring for Detroit. Dallas failed to score during seven power plays and turned the puck over 17 times (compared with only four for Detroit). Keep an eye on Russian rookie Alexey Marchenko, a seventh-round pick in the 2011 draft, who debuted for the Red Wings in place of the injured Danny DeKeyser; he had over 13 minutes of ice time, two penalty minutes, and a +2 rating. Hailed as a quick skater, solid passer, and strong defender, he has two goals, 14 assists, and a +15 rating in his first AHL season.
Wild 5, Capitals 3: Ryan Suter had his first career hat trick to help Minnesota become the first team in NHL history to score five goals on fewer than 12 shots (they were outshot 30-11 on the day). Mike Green had two goals for the Capitals, with Marcus Johansson lighting the lamp on the power play, but the Wild still clawed back from a 2-0 first-period deficit. They were assisted by Washington, who at one point was penalized twice in four seconds, leading to two power-play goals by Suter. Braden Holtby, who allowed five goals on 11 shots and has now allowed five goals in each of his past three starts, cried himself to sleep.
Flyers 5, Coyotes 3: After Jay Rosehill kicked Paul Bissonnette's ass (twice), Philadelphia responded with four unanswered goals. Jakub Voracek, Wayne Simmonds, Scott Hartnell, Brayden Schenn, and Claude Giroux scored for Philly. Steve Mason held down the fort in goal, while Mike Smith very much struggled in the same role for Phoenix. Mikkel Boedker had a nice night with a goal, an assist, a +1 rating, and four shots on goal in over 17 minutes on the ice.
Kings 3, Canucks 1: After missing 24 games with a groin strain, Jonathan Quick was back to splits, lunges, and other acrobatics en route to his first victory in two months and the Kings first win in five games. Quick looked sharp, particularly during a late third-period breakaway by Daniel Sedin, and he overshadowed counterpart Roberto Luongo, who also had an excellent game with 46 saves. The timing could not be more perfect as replacement Martin Jones was slowly crashing back to earth after a phenomenal start. As a Jones owner/proud parent, we had to expect this, but I feel like I lost my pet goldfish. It was inevitable, it was fun while it lasted, but god, this flush is going to be so hard. Jeff Carter had two goals, a +2 rating, seven shots, four penalty minutes, and one hit; Dustin Brown had a goal, +1 rating, six shots, two penalty minutes, three hits, and two takeaways; and Ryan Kesler knocked one in for the Canucks, along with four shots, one blocked shot, one hit, and one takeaway.
Check back later for today's injury updates and related transactions. Until then, please post your New Years' resolutions below. Mine include Roman Josi, a zamboni, a Snuggie, and a jar of strawberry jelly.