You like your hockey tense, edgy, and nervous right to the final buzzer right? Well boy, was night two the one for you!
It didn’t end well for me personally, but hey, what’s a boy to do?
Toronto Maple Leafs 2 – 3 Washington Capitals
This did not go according to the script, folks.
The Leafs somehow managed to take an early two-goal lead in the Verizon Center. Mitch Marner scored from his knees after 95 seconds, before Jake Gardiner extended the lead just shy of ten minutes in. Then they did what the Oilers did the night before, and let the Capitals come on to them. You know, the league-leading Capitals.
Justin Williams got both goals to tie the game, firstly at 12:24 of the first on the power play, then at 16:00 of the second.
The third was a madness. It was a great game to watch with both keepers switched on and making outstanding saves.
In the end, the unlikely hero of Tom Wilson got the game-winner from a quick release after a turnover in the Leafs’ end at 65:15, and the Caps take the W, albeit not in the circumstances they wanted.
Nashville Predators 1 – 0 Chicago Blackhawks
The leaders of the west were shut out at home by a supposedly overrated goalie. Yup.
Viktor Arvidsson scored at 7:52, and that was that. Pekka Rinne saved all 29 of the shots that he faced, but I can’t say that any of them were completely stunning saves he had no right to. The Blackhawks were very poor.
Unlike the Leafs and the Oilers, the Preds were able to sit on their lead. They defended well, and pushed the case when they could. They never looked like extending their lead, but didn’t give much up either.
Must do better, Chicago. Or don’t, because the west looks much more open without you.
Calgary Flames 2 – 3 Anaheim Ducks
As much as Leafs/Caps was a madness, this turned that up to 11.
The Ducks took the lead after 52 seconds. Dougie Hamilton took the first of many penalties, and Ryan Getzlaf scored six seconds into the power play, via Deryk Engelland’s stick.
Sean Monahan levelled the score on a Flames power play at 8:43, tipping in a Kris Versteeg pass after some great work from TJ Brodie at the blue line.
Sam Bennett rounded off a great period of sustained pressure at the start of the second by converting a no-look backhand Versteeg pass at 29:46, and the Flames looked like they might actually win in Anaheim.
Alas, ‘The Curse’ struck again. The worst on-the-fly change in hockey history left the Ducks with a 3-on-0, Rickard Rakell turning home a rebound at 33:53. Four minutes later, Jakob Silfverberg scored the game-winner, using Michael Stone as a screen to beat Brian Elliott.
That was it for the scoring, but the third was just penalty after penalty after penalty, with Dougie Hamilton losing the plot, Ryan Kesler being hot trash on more than one occasion, and John Gibson making an unbelievable save with 17 seconds left.
Gibson ended the night with 30 saves, while Elliott made 39 and couldn’t be blamed for the loss. If the entire series ends up like this, it’ll be one for the ages.
Night 3 brings four games as the schedule reverts to the usual 4&4 that we’re used to in the post-season.
Rangers @ Canadiens (NYR leads 1-0)
Faceoff: 7e/4p/Midnight BST
TV: USA Network, CBC, TVAS, MSG, Premier Sports
Simply put, the Habs will have to do much better if they want to split their first homestand. The Rangers had a game plan, and it worked. Time for Claude Julien’s plan B.
What the Rangers need to do: More of the same.
What the Habs need to do: Something much different.
Reason to watch: It might be more exciting than game one?
Jackets @ Penguins (PIT leads 1-0)
Faceoff: 7e/4p/Midnight BST
TV: NHL Network, Sportsnet, TVAS2, Root, Fox Sports Ohio
A smash and grab second period earned the Pens game one, and the Jackets didn’t really have an answer to the collective talents of Evgeny Malkin and Phil Kessel. Add in that Marc-Andre Fleury looks dialled in (Matt Murray looks to be out of action for the foreseeable), and it’s an uphill battle.
What the Jackets need to do: Try and shut down some of the most offensively-gifted players on the planet. Yeah, good luck.
What the Pens need to do: Not be shut down, to be honest. More of the same.
Reason to watch: The Pens are good, the Jackets are good, it’ll probably be better than the Rangers game.
Blues @ Wild (STL lead 1-0)
Faceoff: 8e/5p/1am BST
TV: NBCSN, Sportsnet 360, TVAS3, Fox Sports North, Fox Sports Midwest
The Great Narrative Script of playoff hockey has mostly been thrown out so far, and that is no more true than in this tie. Game one was ALL Wild, but St Louis got the W in overtime.
What the Blues need to do: Stop Jake Allen having to make 50+ saves again.
What the Wild need to do: Get some of the deluge of shots to go in.
Reason to watch: 78 shots in game one – can they beat that?
Sharks @ Oilers (SJS lead 1-0)
TV: NBCSN, Sportsnet, TVAS, NBCS CA, Premier Sports
Nobody told the Sharks they weren’t allowed to spoil the second coming of Connor McJesus. There was a little bit of naivety to the Oilers – they got their lead, and much like the Leafs last night, tried to hold on to it, and couldn’t. Cam Talbot faced 44 shots on Wednesday night, and his team only generated 19 in response.
What the Sharks need to do: Stop Connor McDavid (still).
What the Oilers need to do: Continue to drive play regardless of the score.
Reason to watch: Same as before. It’s the kids against the old guard. Plus I live for salty Oilers fans.