October 20 – Day Nine – Rematch, Vol. I

Get ready for a wild ride tonight, because there’s going to be a lot of hockey action tonight. Pucks start dropping at 7 p.m. eastern (New Jersey at Boston, Anaheim at Philadelphia and San Jose at Pittsburgh), followed half an hour later by another trio of games (Arizona at Montréal [RDS/SN360], Colorado at Tampa Bay and Washington at Florida). Toronto visits Minnesota at 8 p.m., followed 30 minutes later by Los Angeles at Dallas. 9 p.m. marks the beginning of two games (Carolina at Calgary and St. Louis at Edmonton) followed by this evening’s nightcap an hour later: Buffalo at Vancouver (SN360). All times eastern.

Short list:

  • Anaheim at Philadelphia: With the Flyers‘ first home game of the season, it’s the first time they’re sporting their new threads honoring their 50th anniversary.
  • San Jose at Pittsburgh: You know, it’s just a Stanley Cup rematch. No big deal (or, as the kids put it, NBD).
  • St. Louis at Edmonton – Traded only five days before the season, Nail Yakupov returns to Edmonton, where he spent his first four seasons.

Let’s get real. There’s only two Stanley Cup rematches a year. This being the first one, we have to give it our attention. Sorry Philly and Yakupov.

UnknowntIMcw8ylThe San Jose Sharks enter the night with a 3-1-0 record, with their lone loss occurring three days ago in Madison Square Garden, falling 7-4 to the Rangers.

Other than that lone blemish, the Sharks have picked up right where they left off a few months ago. San Jose has scored exactly as many goals as they’ve given up (12), but excluding the score-fest in New York, the Sharks are +3, which would tie them for the third best mark in the league. Defenseman Brent Burns has led the Sharks‘ scoring, notching three goals and five assists for eight points.

Their opposition also only has only one regulation loss on their record, due in part to playing goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury two times in as many days and three times in four days. That’s far from the only reason though. They failed to find the back of the net once against Montréal Tuesday 4-0.

Similar to San Jose, if you exclude their lone debacle of the season, the Penguins would have a +1 goal differential on the season. Matt Cullen, Evgeni Malkin and Conor Sheary have all scored one goal and two assists for three points on the young season, but Sheary is currently questionable after sustaining a bruise around his eye in Montréal.

Some players to keep an eye on in tonight’s contest include Pittsburgh‘s Fleury (two wins [tied for seventh-most in the league] on a .914 save percentage [ninth-best in the NHL]) and San Jose‘s Burns (eight points [leads the NHL] on five assists [tied for the league-lead] and three goals [tied for sixth-most in the NHL]), Martin Jones (two wins [tied for third-most in the league]), Joe Pavelski (four assists [tied for seventh-best in the NHL]) and Joe Thornton (five assists [tied for the league-lead]).

Bets look to be off with most books in Vegas, which should only prove the expected quality of this game. The only reason I give the Penguins the edge in this contest is due to them having home ice. Then again, seeing that banner might give San Jose just the motivation they need. We’ll have to watch and see.

Hockey Birthday

  • Mikhail Shtalenkov (1965-) – The Russian goaltender spent seven seasons in the NHL, most of which were spent with the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim.  He had a career save percentage of 89.8%.
  • Colin Wilson (1989-) – This marks Wilson’s eighth professional season, all of which spent with the Nashville Predators. Last season, the center scored his 200th NHL point on March 24 against the Canucks.

Yesterday’s Game of the Day was our second 5-4 overtime thriller of the season. Go figure that one included Auston Matthews and the Maple Leafs too, and just like last time, it was the home squad – the Winnipeg Jets in this case- that rose to the occasion in sudden death.

Mike Babcock and the Leafs will be kicking themselves after this one. They scored both goals in the first frame, starting with Connor Carrick‘s (James van Riemsdyk and Mitchell Marner) 6:46 after dropping the puck. Third Star of the Game Nazem Kadri (Morgan Rielly and Milan Michalek) takes credit for the second tally with 3:48 remaining in the frame.

Three more goals were scored in the second period, and two belonged to Toronto. William Nylander‘s (Matthews and Nikita Zaitsev) wrister found the back of Michael Hutchinson‘s net 6:47 after resuming play, followed eight seconds later by a goal from Kadri (Nylander and Leo Komarov) to set the score at 4-0. Tyler Myers (Second Star Mark Scheifele and Shawn Matthias) scored the Jets’ first goal with 6:56 remaining in the frame before the squads returned to their dressing rooms.

As good as the Maple Leafs‘ first period was, Winnipeg’s third was better. Only a minute after returning to the ice, First Star Patrik Laine (Dustin Byfuglien and Scheifele) pulled the score to 4-2 with a wrister. Scheifele (Josh Morrissey and Drew Stafford) followed that 5:05 later with his third score of the season to pull the Jets within one.  55 seconds before what could have been the final horn, Laine (Nikolaj Ehlers) struck again with a snap shot to force three-on-three overtime.

Overtime lasted only 2:40 before Laine (Byfuglien) completed the first hat trick of his career with a wrister past Frederik Andersen to secure the victory.

Hutchinson earns the victory after saving 36-of-40 (90%), while Andersen takes the overtime loss, saving 29-of-34 (85.3%).

With that victory, Winnipeg improves the home team’s record to 7-3-1 in the DtFR Game of the Day series, leading the roadies by four points.

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