The move to put Jeff Skinner with Eric Staal paid off abundantly. In its first game, the combination of Staal, Skinner and agitator Chad LaRose combined for six points, and former AAAA player Jonathan Matsumoto added his first two NHL goals as the Canes defeated the New York Islanders. Rick DiPietro only fended off 25 of 32 shots en route to his third straight loss of the year.
Meanwhile, in Washington, the division rival Capitals squeezed by the lowly Toronto Maple Leafs in shootout 5-4. In their first game playing without a captain, the Leafs responded with four goals and a good tempo against Michal Neuvirth, who recently won rookie of the month honors. Moving Alexander Semin back to the top line seemed to be an excellent move as he added a goal and assist– the former was the eventual game tying goal. By contrast, moving Luca Caputi and Kris Versteeg did nothing to get Phil Kessel going, even though Versteeg earned a goal and an assist of his own.
Can anything actually go right for the Sabres? It certainly seems like they are jinxed; just as the team gets Jason Pominville back, they lose Ryan Miller. Without their superstar starting goalie, the team allowed four early goals to the Boston Bruins and eventually lost 5-2. Tim Thomas earned his seventh win on the year while Brad Marchand and Michael Ryder each finished with a goal and an assist. On the bright side, Pominville added a powerplay assist; he should be healthy from this point on.
In another Southeast Division rivalry, the Atlanta Thrashers earned a hard fought victory in Florida against the Panthers. Chris Mason stood on his head and earned the first star honors with an amazing 52 save effort. Dustin Byfuglien added two points, giving him 12 points in as many games, while Fredrik Modin put in two goals of his own. Without Bryan Little in the lineup, the Thrashers have to play together as a team to make up for the scoring, however Mason can’t stand up to 55 shots every game.
Loui Eriksson and the Dallas Stars simply took it to the Pittsburgh Penguins last night, defeating them 5-2. Eriksson led the team with three points while Stephane Robidas, Steve Ott and Brad Richards all added markers for the streaky team. Playing without Pascal Dupuis and of course Jordan Staal, the Pens’ forward lines did not seem to click with only the third and fourth lines adding to the scoring.
A three point night from Viktor Stalberg would prove to be not enough to beat the basement dwelling New Jersey Devils. Knocking out Martin Brodeur also would not give the Chicago Blackhawks a win. Playing as a team for perhaps the first time this season, the Devils got timely goals from Brad Mills, Jason Arnott and Travis Zajac. Perhaps more importantly, the captain Jamie Langenbrunner and former captain Patrik Elias both stepped up and played their games once again. Newly appointed alternate captain Ilya Kovalchuk also added two assists and Johan Hedberg got his first win in a Devils uniform.
Two second period goals from the Detroit Red Wings’ third line was enough to defeat the Calgary Flames 2-1. Despite recently re-signed defenseman Mark Giordano scoring his first goal of the year, the Flames and Miikka Kiprusoff still lost their third straight game. Jimmy Howard was just good enough, making 16 saves and earning his fourth straight win.
In what was expected to be a Tampa Bay Lightning drudging, the Anaheim Ducks surprisingly won 3-2 in overtime. Rookie Kyle Palmieri was able to tie the game late in the third period after Steven Stamkos put the Lightning ahead with his League leading 10th goal. The combination of Ryan Getzlaf and Teemu Selanne put the game away in overtime. Lubomir Visnovsky also added two assists in the Ducks’ win.
Finally our night is capped off by the first NHL hat trick for 15 year veteran Ed Jovanovski as the veteran led the Coyotes to a 4-3 victory. When you see Pekka Rinne facing off against Ilya Bryzgalov, expecting seven goals in a game seems relatively unlikely but so does a hatty from Jovocop. The recently returned Martin Hanzal added two assists and Lee Stempniak added the supplementary goal for the Coyotes. On the other end, the Preds received goals from Patrick Hornqvist, Sergei Kostitsyn and Francis Bouillon.
Well that wraps up an action-packed night of hockey. Be sure to check us all day as we bring you the most relevant fantasy hockey news possible. You can follow us on twitter @dailyfaceoff as we continue to bring you information on starting goalies, team lineups and major injury updates as well as provide in-depth injury updates and player rankings in the future.