Did you watch a game last night? Wasn’t it lovely to see playoff hockey played in its most raw, honest fashion?
Well, I enjoyed it anyway. Here’s what happened on night one.
New York Rangers 2 – 0 Montreal Canadiens
The Habs had the coolest pre-game introduction, with a skater setting the ice on fire, but that’s about where things stopped going right for them.
Henrik Lundqvist had a 31-save shutout for the Rangers, while the game-winner came from the most unlikeliest of sources in Tanner Glass, his quick release catching Carey Price out in the first period. Michael Grabner scored the empty-net insurance goal with 70 seconds remaining, putting the Rangers 1-0 up in the series.
Boston Bruins 2 – 1 Ottawa Senators
The Bruins failed to record a shot on goal in the second period.
Can someone in the advanced stat community tell us if that is good?
— Ottawa Senators (@Senators) April 13, 2017
Truly a tweet for the ages. Ottawa took the lead through Bobby Ryan early in the second, and the Bruins were truly awful for two periods. The above stat is correct, but boy would it come back to haunt the Sens.
Despite losing Colin Miller to a knee from Alex Burrows, the Bruins would stage the comeback. Frank Vatrano scored at the five minute mark of the third, and Brad Marchand scored the most Marchand-like of goals with 150 seconds left to steal the win.
Shout-out to debutant Charlie McAvoy, who played 24 minutes and looked every part a NHLer, and to Tuukka Rask, who was outstanding, bailing his side out multiple times in the first two periods.
Columbus Blue Jackets 1 – 3 Pittsburgh Penguins
Despite losing Matt Murray in the warm-ups, this was a comfortable win for the Pens. Marc-Andre Fleury made 31 saves while the team in front of him controlled the tempo of game one.
Bryan Rust opened the scoring, finishing off a beautiful move from Geno Malkin and Phil Kessel, before Kessel made it two with a gorgeous shot on the power play. Nick Bonino tucked away a rebound for the third.
Matt Calvert broke the shutout with seven minutes remaining in the third, but the Jackets couldn’t do much more and fell behind in the series.
St Louis Blues 2 – 1 Minnesota Wild
It took overtime, and 51 saves from Jake Allen, but the Blues took the surprise victory in game one.
This was hugely one-sided, with Devan Dubnyk only facing 22 shots all night, and Allen being lights-out at the other end.
Vladimir Sobotka continued his redemption story by opening the scoring six minutes into the second, and it looked like Allen would get a shutout until Zach Parise levelled things up with 23 seconds of regulation to go.
Joel Edmundson scored the winner at 77:48.
San Jose Sharks 3 – 2 Edmonton Oilers
The grand return of the greatest franchise hockey has ever seen to the post-season didn’t go to plan, as the elder sages of San Jose pulled out a comeback to take game one in overtime.
The Oilers led 2-0 at the end of the first through goals from Oscar Klefbom and Milan Lucic, the second on the power play.
The Sharks gradually got themselves back into the game, though. Joel Ward scored on the power play at 1:43 of the second, and Paul Martin squared it up with five minutes gone of the third.
Melker Karlsson scored after three minutes of overtime to take the series lead.
Truth be told, the Oilers only have themselves to blame. They built the lead, then sat on it far too much. They had very few opportunities in the second, and had a ten minute spell in the third where they only had two corsi events. They also took six penalties, which isn’t ideal. Martin Jones stopped 17 of 19 shots, while Cam Talbot had to face 44.
Just the three games tonight, as the remaining ties get under way.
Leafs @ Capitals (1)
Faceoff: 7e/4p/Midnight BST
TV: USA Network, CBC, TVAS, CSN-DC, Premier Sports
Series Preview: HERE
So, just how good are the #actuallygood Leafs? They get the sternest of tests in the Verizon Center.
They go into game one without Nikita Zaitsev, who is out with an upper body injury. Frederik Andersen is good to go, after recovering from that garbage hit by Tom Sestito, and both Roman Polak and Tyler Bozak have been practicing and are expected to play.
John Carlson will draw in for the Capitals, who seem otherwise fighting fit and ready to go.
Reason to watch: Ovi vs the kids. This is going to be a fun series whatever the outcome.
Predators @ Blackhawks (1)
Faceoff: 8e/5p/1am BST
TV: NBCSN, Sportsnet, TVAS2, CSN-CH, Fox Sports TN
Series Preview: HERE
We can paint this as good versus evil if you like. Delightful human PK Subban against the steaming pile of trash in Chicago.
Nashville have a whole host of players listed as day-to-day: Yannick Weber, Vernon Fiddler, Colin Wilson, Mike Fisher, Roman Josi and Calle Jarnkrok. How many of those are good to go for game one remains to be seen.
Artem Anisimov is set to make his Hawks comeback, but they will be missing Michal Rozsival, who has had his broken face fixed.
Reason to watch: I can’t think of many, to be honest.
Flames @ Ducks (1)
Faceoff: 10:30e/7:30p/3:30 BST
TV: NBCSN, CBC, TVAS, Prime, Premier Sports
Series Preview: HERE
This is either going to be a car crash of a game, or very good to watch. There is no in-between.
The Flames will be missing Chad Johnson. He’s not fully recovered from his lower-body injury suffered in innocuous circumstances against the Ducks in game 80, so Jon Gillies will be on gate duty.
Cam Fowler is the main notable absentee for the Ducks, taken out by a collision with Mark Giordano’s knee in game between the two sides two days before in game 79.
Reason to watch: Potential pugilism! Or, you know, actual decent hockey. Plus we get Micheal Ferland vs Kevin Bieksa round two, so that’ll be fun.