1. Thomas Greiss, New York Islanders
There were a handful of strong goaltending performances again on Saturday, and you can even gripe about the placement of stars here, as Greiss didn’t have the most saves in stopping 37 out of 38 shots on goal.
Greiss might have been asked to do the most of any winning goalie, though.
Not only was there no margin of error, as the Islanders beat the Panthers 2-1, but Greiss faced a mixture of quality and quantity against the Cats. According to Natural Stat Trick, Greiss faced 20 high-danger scoring chances, and the Panthers’ expected goals were at 4.41. To hold the Panthers to one goal – and only on the power play – is another great night of work for a goalie who probably deserves more hype at this point.
2. Anders Nilsson, Ottawa Senators
If you look at the bare stats alone, Nilsson had a “better” night than Greiss, allowing one goal on 39 SOG (38 to 37 saves).
We can debate Nilsson’s Saturday vs. Greiss’ Saturday, yet it’s getting tougher to reasonably argue which goalie should be starting for Ottawa — at least if the Senators don’t want to merely tank. Nilsson is now on a three-game winning streak, and his save percentage is up to a splendid .930. He’s shown some signs of being a well-above-average backup goalie for a little while now, especially since joining the Senators.
All due respect to Craig Anderson‘s tremendous accomplishments, particularly helping them come within an OT goal of advancing to the 2017 Stanley Cup Final, but times haven’t been great for the veteran goalie. Anderson’s save percentage is a rough .897 this season, and he’s been putting up replacement-level numbers since 2017-18.
Frankly, tanking might be the best option for Ottawa, so theoretically they could merely split starts for at least a while. If this continues, they won’t be able to get away with even a platoon for a whole lot longer, though.
3. Evgeny Kuznetsov, Washington Capitals, or pick your favorite two-point night
Pointing to Kuznetsov’s goal and assist is a way of moving up the Capitals’ winning streak in the “batting order,” if you will.
The funny thing about the Islanders’ remarkable 10-game winning streak (and their still-active point streak of 12 games) is that, if you were looking at the standings, you might have thought “Huh, but the Capitals are still ahead.” That’s because Washington’s been almost as hot, and with a win on Saturday, the Caps are now at 29 standings points. Which means they’re leading the NHL.
Death, taxes, Capitals winning their division.
Nicklas Backstrom also had two goals in that win, but his was an empty-netter, so Kuznetsov feels like the safer choice. There are plenty of other options for star three, even if you limit your choices to skaters, including Cale Makar and Patrick Maroon, who both scored two goals.
Highlight of the Night
I didn’t mention Shea Weber yet, because one of his two goals earns highlight of the night consideration. If you want more on his night, there’s a fancy post for it and everything. Weber finished the night with two PPG to reach 101 for his career, the 11th most among defensemen in league history (or at least since the stat began being recorded).
- Click here for more on Sidney Crosby leaving the Penguins’ win against the Blackhawks with a lower-body injury.
- Mitch Marner also hurt himself falling awkward, and he could miss some serious time for the Toronto Maple Leafs if his ankle injury is as bad as it looked.
- Avalanche forward Pierre-Edouard Bellemare‘s injury may factor into supplementary discipline for Blue Jackets captain Nick Foligno, who was sick to his stomach about the hit.
- The Senators became the 10th team to score two goals in four seconds or less.
Some might argue this package is the highlight of the night, then.
- A specific but cool stat from NHL PR: St. Louis Blues forward David Perron is the first player in league history to score three OT goals before a team reaches 20 games played.
- Zach Werenski scored his 42nd career goal, setting a Blue Jackets record for defensemen. He can’t slack, though, as Seth Jones isn’t far behind him with 40.
- The Capitals are also off to a 10-0-1 point streak, as NHL PR notes … so again, almost as hot as the Isles.
- Should we call him Matthew Tka-clutch? Matthew Tkachuk now has eight goals between the third period and OT, which leads the NHL, according to Sportsnet Stats.
NYI 2 – FLA 1
TBL 5 – BUF 3
PHI 3 – TOR 2 (SO)
MTL 3 – LAK 2
OTT 4 – CAR 1
PIT 3 – CHI 2 (SO)
WSH 5 – VGK 2
MIN 4 – ARI 3
COL 4 – CBJ 2
STL 3 – CGY 2 (OT)
SJS 2 – NSH 1 (SO)