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Scott Cullen

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A big homecoming for a highly-touted rookie; Stamkos on a scoring binge, Johnny Hockey, Mark Giordano, fantasy and more in Scott Cullen's Statistically Speaking.

HEROES

Jack Eichel - The Sabres rookie, and Massachusetts native who played at Boston University, made the most of a game back in Beantown, putting up two goals and two assists in Saturday's 6-3 win over the Bruins. He has six points (2 G, 4 A) in the past three games, and now has 20 points in 35 games.

Steven Stamkos - Emerging from his goal-scoring slump, the Lightning sniper had two goals and an assist in Saturday's 5-2 win over Columbus, giving him six points (5 G, 1 A) in the past four games.

Johnny Gaudreau - Calgary's playmaking winger scored a pair of goals in Sunday's 5-3 win over Edmonton. He has 18 points (12 G, 6 A) in the past 11 games.

Mark Giordano - The Flames captain is coming on after a slow start to the campaign. He scored twice in Sunday's win against Edmonton, and has seven points (3 G, 4 A) in the past four games.

ZEROES

Brad Marchand and Patrice Bergeron - Stop the presses! The Bruins' stellar two-way duo was on the ice for one goal for and five against at even strength in two weekend losses.

Alexei Emelin - The Canadiens blueliner had poor possession stats (14 for, 20 against, 41.2 SAT%) and was on for all three goals against in Saturday's 3-1 loss at Washington.

Claude Giroux - The Flyers centre had a rough night in Sunday's 4-2 loss at Anaheim, winning two of 16 faceoffs (12.5%) while posting poor possession stats (10 for, 24 against, 29.4 SAT%).

Joonas Korpisalo - The Blue Jackets rookie allowed four goals on 18 shots before getting pulled after two periods in Saturday's 5-2 loss at Tampa Bay.

VITAL SIGNS

Sidney Crosby - Returned to the Penguins lineup Saturday and had a goal and an assist in a 3-1 win at Minnesota. After Sunday's loss at Winnipeg, he has 15 points (5 G, 10 A) in his past 16 games.

Kris Letang - Contributed a pair of assists in his return to the Pittsburgh lineup Saturday, giving him eight assists in his past nine games. Letang also took a high hit from Wild C Jarret Stoll which, given Letang's history, raises concussion concerns, and Letang missed Sunday's game.

Jeff Carter - The Kings centre played just 48 seconds Saturday night before leaving with an upper-body injury.

Cam Fowler - The Ducks blueliner suffered a lower-body injury in Sunday's win over Philadelphia.

David Krejci - Left Sunday's loss to Ottawa with an apparent upper-body injury.

Dylan Larkin - Missed Saturday night's win at Nashville with an upper-body injury.

Mark Scheifele - A concussion has sidelined the Jets centre, keeping him out of the lineup in Sunday's 1-0 win vs. Pittsburgh.

Torey Krug - Boston's puck-moving blueliner suffered an injury in Saturday's loss to Buffalo and missed Sunday's loss in Ottawa.

Michael Del Zotto - The Flyers defenceman missed Sunday's loss at Anaheim due to an upper-body injury.

Calle Jarnkrok - Led all Predators forwards with 21:48 of ice time against Detroit Saturday, the third time in the past six games that he played more than 20 minutes.

Darnell Nurse - The Oilers rookie blueliner played 25:30 against Vancouver Saturday, the second straight game in which he topped 25 minutes.

Christian Ehrhoff - The Kings made the veteran defenceman a healthy scratch at Arizona Saturday. His offensive production has been minimal in Los Angeles, yet he has produced strong possession results.

FIRSTS

Connor Hellebuyck - Winnipeg's rookie goaltender recorded his first career shutout, stopping 30 Pittsburgh shots in a 1-0 win. He has a .926 save percentage through nine games since getting called up from the AHL.

Tomas Nosek - Made his NHL debut for Detroit at Nashville Saturday, playing 7:26. The 23-year-old had seven points (2 G, 5 A) in 25 AHL games.

SHORT SHIFTS

Sabres C Ryan O'Reilly had two goals and an assist in Saturday's 6-3 win at Boston; he has 15 points (7 G, 8 A) in the past 12 games…Sabres LW Jamie McGinn contributed a goal and an assist at Boston, giving him 11 points (5 G, 6 A) in the past 13 games…Bruins LW Loui Eriksson had a couple of assists against Buffalo and one at Ottawa, and has 19 points (8 G, 11 A) in the past 20 games…Lightning RW Nikita Kucherov had a pair of assists vs. Columbus, and has 13 points (6 G, 7 A) in the past 10 games…Lightning RW Jon Marchessault also had two assists, and has seven points (3 G, 4 A) during a six-game point streak…Hurricanes D Justin Faulk tallied a goal and an assist in Saturday's 3-1 win at New Jersey and a goal in Sunday's 2-1 win at Chicago; he has 12 points (6 G, 6 A) in the past 10 games…Red Wings D Brendan Smith had a goal and an assist in Saturday's 3-2 win at Nashville, and has four points (1 G, 3 A) in the past four games…Predators LW Filip Forsberg scored both of his team's goals in Saturday's 3-2 loss to Detroit; he has 13 points (7 G, 6 A) in the past 14 games…Kings C Anze Kopitar scored the overtime winner and had an assist in Saturday's 4-3 win at Arizona, giving him 15 points (5 G, 10 A) in the past 16 games…Coyotes RW Mikkel Boedker had three assists in Saturday's loss to Los Angeles then added a goal and an assist in Sunday's 2-1 overtime win at Colorado. He has eight points (3 G, 5 A) in the past seven games…Canucks RW Jannik Hansen scored both Vancouver goals in Saturday's 2-1 OT win against Edmonton. He has six points (4 G, 2 A) in the past six games…Coyotes D Oliver Ekman-Larsson scored two goals on 12 shot attempts (6 SOG) in Saturday's 4-3 OT loss against Los Angeles.

Senators RW Mark Stone had a pair of goals in Sunday's 3-1 win vs. Boston; he has 15 points (7 G, 8 A) in the past 16 games…Senators D Erik Karlsson recorded a couple of assists against Boston, giving him seven points (3 G, 4 A) during a six-game point streak…Panthers C Aleksander Barkov had two goals in Sunday's 3-2 win over Columbus, and has seven points (3 G, 4 A) in the past six games…Panthers LW Jonathan Huberdeau contributed a couple of assists, giving him eight points (1 G, 7 A) in the past eight games…Maple Leafs C Nazem Kadri had two assists in Sunday's 3-1 win at the Islanders. He has seven points (1 G, 6 A) during a five-game point streak…Stars LW Jamie Benn put up a goal and an assist in Sunday's 3-0 win vs. St. Louis, giving him eight points (3 G, 5 A) during a five-game point streak…Stars RW Patrick Sharp also had a goal and an assist, and has eight points (3 G, 5 A) during his five-game point streak..Hurricanes LW Jeff Skinner had a pair of assists in Sunday's 2-1 win at Chicago. Despite coming off four games without a point, he has 12 points (9 G, 3 A) in the past 11 games…. Flyers C Sean Couturier contributed a pair of assists in Sunday's 4-2 loss at Anaheim, giving him six points (2 G, 4 A) in the past five games…Ducks D Sami Vatanen had two assists against Philadelphia, and has 16 points (3 G, 13 A) in the past 20 games…Flames D T.J. Brodie had a couple of assists in Sunday's 5-3 win over Edmonton; he has 13 points (2 G, 11 A) in the past 12 games...Hurricanes RW Kris Versteeg had a strong possession game (20 for, 5 against, 80.0 SAT%) in Saturday's 3-1 win vs. New Jersey.

Capitals G Braden Holtby turned aside 29 of 30 shots in Saturday's 3-1 win over Montreal, and has a .943 save percentage in nine December starts…Stars G Antti Niemi blocked 35 of 37 shots in Saturday's 3-2 shootout loss at St. Louis, giving him a .934 save percentage in nine December games…Penguins G Matt Murray stopped 25 of 26 shots in Saturday's 3-1 win at Minnesota, giving him a .934 save percentage in three starts…Canucks G Jacob Markstrom had 32 saves on 33 shots in Saturday's 2-1 OT win vs. Edmonton; he has a .924 save percentage in 10 games…Senators G Craig Anderson stopped 38 of 39 shots in Sunday's 3-1 win vs. Boston, and has a .929 save percentage in 11 December games… Stars G Kari Lehtonen had a 22-save shutout Sunday against St. Louis…Penguins G Jeff Zatkoff had 27 saves on 28 shots in a 1-0 loss at Winnipeg; he has a .923 save percentage in eight games.

FANTASY FOCUS

The top-scoring players in December that are still available in more than half of TSN leagues:

Alexander Wennberg - A rare bright light for the Blue Jackets, the second-year centre has 12 points in 13 December games. Owned: 7.0%

Teddy Purcell - Riding shotgun with Taylor Hall and Leon Draisaitl, Purcell has 11 points in 12 December games. Owned: 36.7%

Tyler Bozak - Toronto's oft-maligned centre has 10 points in 10 games this month. Owned: 41.5%

Ryan Spooner - Boston's centre has 10 points in 13 games this month, and could be needed to handle a bigger role if David Krejci is injured. Owned: 43.9%

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

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