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Scott Cullen

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Crosby and Kessel blanked by Antti Niemi; Parise, Ottawa's top line, rookies with game-winning goals, lineup news, Fantasy tips and more in Scott Cullen's Statistically Speaking.

One of the more surprising results Thursday night was the Pittsburgh Penguins getting shut out at Dallas. Both teams are supposed to be exciting offensive clubs, but the Penguins have a dynamic new first-line combination now that Phil Kessel has joined Sidney Crosby, only it didn't quite work out for the Penguins in Game One.

Crosby didn't have a single shot attempt in the game, as he spent much of the night trying to feed Kessel, but there were positives to take from their performance. For one thing, Kessel did have a dozen shot attempts, matching the most he had in a game for the Maple Leafs last season and Kessel had Pittsburgh's best even-strength possession stats (26 for, 13 against, 66.7%).

So, sure, the initial story is that the defensively-questionable Dallas Stars shut down the Pittsburgh Penguins, but if the Penguins are controlling play to that extent when their most skilled players are on the ice, the results will come. It's not every night that a goaltender can deliver a 37-save shutout, but that's what the Penguins ran into with Anti Niemi in Dallas.

HEROES

Antti Niemi – Making his first start for the Dallas Stars, Niemi stopped all 37 shots he faced against Pittsburgh, the second-most saves he's had in a shutout in his career, which includes 33 shutouts. He also added two assists, the first time in history that a goaltender has recorded a shutout with two assists in the same game.

Zach Parise – The Wild winger picked up a hat trick to lead Minnesota back from a 4-1 deficit to earn a 5-4 win at Colorado. When matched against the line of Gabriel Landeskog, Alex Tanguay and Nathan MacKinnon, Parise along with linemates Mikael Granlund and Jason Pominville controlled better than 70% of even-strength shot attempts. Granlund and Pominville each contributed a pair of assists.

Kyle Turris, Mike Hoffman, Mark Stone – Ottawa's top line scored both of their goals, with Turris the finisher on both, while Hoffman and Stone each added two assists, in a 2-1 win at Buffalo. 

ZEROES

Tyson Barrie, Nathan Guenin – Colorado's defence tandem was buried in the defensive zone against Minnesota. In the 12:39 of even-strength ice time that they were on the ice together, Barrie and Guenin controlled just 15.6% (5 for, 27 against) of shot attempts. It could be asking a lot for Barrie to lift Guenin's typically poor possession numbers.

Ryan O'Reilly – Buffalo's big offseason acquisition logged 20:17 of ice time, yet managed no shot attempts and was on for two goals against in a 3-1 loss to Ottawa.

Teddy Purcell – Came in on the low end for possession (8 for, 17 against, 32.0 SAT%) and,   along with Ryan Nugent-Hopkins,  was on the ice for all three goals against in a 3-1 loss at St. Louis.

Goaltenders: Boston's Tuukka Rask allowed five goals on 26 shots, Minnesota's Devan Dubnyk surrendered four goals on 23 shots and Colorado's Semyon Varlamov gave up five goals on 30 shots, including four goals on the first seven shots he faced in the third period.

VITAL SIGNS

Robin Lehner – Buffalo's No. 1 goaltender left after suffering a sprained ankle. Chad Johnson should take over starting responsibilities in the meantime, but if Lehner is out long-term, then the Sabres might need to get into the market to trade for a more reliable option.

SHORT SHIFTS

Avalanche D Francois Beauchemin recorded three assists (one on the power play) vs. Minnesota…Lightning D Jason Garrison scored two goals, including the winner on a breakaway in 3-on-3 overtime against Philadelphia…Stars RW Ales Hemsky had a goal and an assist, along with strong possession (14 for, 4 against, 77.8 SAT%) despite starting only one-third of his shifts in the offensive zone against Pittsburgh… Lightning LW Jonathan Drouin had a pair of assists and had the best shot attempt percentage (13 for, 8 against, 61.9 SAT%) among Lightning forwards…Senators G Craig Anderson stopped 26 of 27 shots in a 3-1 win at Buffalo…Predators G Pekka Rinne turned aside 25 of 26 shots in a 2-1 win over Carolina.

FIRSTS

Jack Eichel – Buffalo's rookie sensation scored their only goal and played 21:58, to lead Sabres forwards, in a 3-1 loss to Ottawa.

Robby Fabbri – The Blues rookie winger scored a goal which counted as the game-winner in a 3-1 win over Edmonton.

Viktor Arvidsson – Nashville's rookie winger scored what turned out to be the game-winning goal in a 2-1 win against Carolina.

Mattias Janmark – Acquired as part of the Erik Cole trade with Detroit last spring, Dallas' third-line centre scored the first goal in a 3-0 win vs. Pittsburgh.

Nic Petan – Winnipeg's rookie first goal may not have been a thing of beauty, deflecting off his skate and in, but he's on pace for 82.

FANTASY FOCUS

I drafted three teams this season, with generally deep leagues. Here is the breakdown of players that I have included on my opening rosters:

Joe Pavelski (2)
Eric Staal (2)
Nikolaj Ehlers (2)
Aleksander Barkov (2)
Travis Hamonic (2)
Martin Jones (2)
Eddie Lack (2)
Sidney Crosby
Tyler Seguin
Jamie Benn
Jakub Voracek
Henrik Zetterberg
Connor McDavid
Anze Kopitar
Alexander Steen
Marian Hossa
Andrew Ladd
Patrick Sharp
Blake Wheeler
Daniel Sedin
Matt Duchene
Bobby Ryan
Johnny Gaudreau
T.J. Oshie
Derek Stepan
Ryan O'Reilly
Alex Galchenyuk
David Pastrnak
Mika Zibanejad
Justin Williams
Mikael Granlund
Jeff Skinner
Teuvo Teravainen
Colin Wilson
Matt Moulson
Jonathan Huberdeau
Boone Jenner
Charlie Coyle
Brendan Gallagher
Clarke MacArthur
Adam Lowry
P.K. Subban
Dustin Byfuglien
Duncan Keith
Aaron Ekblad
Mike Green
Brent Seabrook
Nick Leddy
Hampus Lindholm
Morgan Rielly
Trevor Daley
Dion Phaneuf
Andrej Sekera
Rasmus Ristolainen
Pekka Rinne
Jonathan Quick
Cory Schneider
Jaroslav Halak
Petr Mrazek
Andrei Vasilevskiy

Much of the data included comes from www.war-on-ice.com, and www.naturalstattrick.com

 

Scott Cullen can be reached at scott.cullen@bellmedia.ca