Night Two of the First Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs occurred last night with a slate of four games, some more exciting than others. At least one team suffered a serious injury that may result in an end to that player’s season. A couple of teams almost killed their games and playoff dreams with penalties. One game forced Bruins fans to root for one or the other ex-Bruins player. Find out what happened by reading these recaps.
Philadelphia Flyers at Washington Capitals
This one was all about special teams. Twenty-one penalties were called. Washington was able to Capital-ize (heh) on a couple of powerplays and Philadelphia was not.
The Flyers opened the series with strong forechecking and effective work winning puck battles along the boards. Philadelphia was awarded three powerplays in the first period and put some pressure on the Capitals, but were unable to capitalize on the opportunities. They looked solid in the first period, but they couldn’t keep it up after the opening twenty minutes.
The game changed in the second period. Washington came out of their zone much more cleanly and began making things tough for the Flyers, and preventing them from entering the offensive zone with speed. The Caps were winning battles now, and the Flyers took three penalties, while Washington was only assessed one in the period. A little past the halfway mark, Alexander Ovechkin checked Flyers center Sean Couturier, who left the ice favoring his left arm/shoulder. He left the game with an upper body injury. At 19:02, Brandon Manning was sent off for Delay of Game (the Ol’ Quaider Special), and Washington defenseman John Carlson scored on a shot from the blue line.
— Steven (@DoleWhipz) April 15, 2016
From there on out, it was more of the same: Washington dominating and winning battles with everyone and their brother landing in the box. Capitals faceoff ace Jay Beagle scored on a feed from Marcus Johansson, and that’s all she wrote. Washington wins, 2-0. Capitals lead series 1-0.
— CAPITALS HILL (@CapitalsHill) April 15, 2016
Regarding Couturier: Word last night was that he’s out for the series, but he’s going to be re-evaluated today. Hopefully he’s able to return, as that would be a huge loss for Philadelphia.
New York Islanders at Florida Panthers
So this series has all the earmarks of being a super awesome happy fun time series that will get all the grumpy old timers complaining about scoring all hot under the collar. This game had it all- tons of hits, tons of shots, and a total of 9 (!!!) goals. And, of course, Jaromir Jagr. Somehow we’ve fallen through a time warp and found ourselves in 1992. Worse things could happen I guess.
So, the game opened with a bang, with Teddy Purcell putting one past Thomas Greiss only 1:55 into the 1st period, suggesting that this might turn into one of those superstar vs veteran backup (Roberto Luongo vs Thomas Greiss) blowouts; never have I been so wrong. At 6:59, High School Lacrosse Star Brock Nelson catches a cross ice pass from Ryan Strome, and gets a breakaway in behind all 5 Florida skaters and roofs a nifty little goal behind Luongo. Tied 1-1.
At 13:01, we have ourselves a little scrum with pretty well everyone involved, but we only see penalties to Jonathan Huberdeau (2 for Roughing) and Cal Clutterbuck (4(!!) for roughing. This puts the Cats on the PP (still 5v4), and Jussi Jokinen tips a Brian Campbell shot to make the score 2-1 Cats. The cats are unable to hold onto this lead, as Erik Gudbranson got called for being a hooker at 14:57, allowing Frans Nielsen to score just before the end of the PP on a really nice play by John Tavares. We go to the 1st intermission tied 2-2.
The second period was quiet (as far as this game goes), with everyone managing to stay out of the box, and the teams trading goals, including a nice redirect by Reilly Smith at 1:31 to put the Cats back on top, and John Tavares undressing the entire state of Florida in the dying seconds of the period to tie the game 3-3 at 19:38. We go to the 3rd intermission with a tie game, the Cats outshooting the Isles 30-20, and a feeling that the game is not really all that close despite being tied. Oh.
Third Period starts and for the first time the Isles decide to actually look like they’re trying to win and for a bit are dominating the ice, firing off 2 quick-ish goals at 2:33 by Kyle Okposo and at 6:01 by Ryan Strome, making the score 5-3 Isles, and giving them their first lead. I should note that the Isles have now come from behind 3 times and have taken the lead. What. A. Game. Just as I comment that the Isles have the Cats on their heels, Reilly Smith makes a neat play and drive, leading to a goal at 6:56, after which the Isles never really have control again, not that it ultimately mattered. For the remainder of the game, the Cats are dominating play and firing so much rubber at Thomas Greiss he must have thought he was a rioter facing off against the police. Along the way, the Cats get a PP on a Matt Martin slash that the Isles were pretty unhappy about (dude… you snapped Brian Campbell‘s stick in half….) but failed to convert, and likewise the Isles did not convert on a Jussi Jokinen slash at 16:56.
Final score: Isles 5, Cats 4. The Cats outshot the Isles 46 to 26 overall, and while nobody gives 1st Star of the game to a goalie who had a 0.913 SV%, Thomas Greiss definitely won this game for the Isles. Luongo needs to be better if the Cats are going to do this, but damn this was a fun Old Timey game. Game two is tonight because the NHL schedulers are on bath salts.
Minnesota Wild at Dallas Stars
The Wild have a terrible, 27th ranked Penalty Kill with an average of 77.3%. Naturally, they decided it was a great idea to play down a man not once, not twice, but three times in the first period. They killed off all three penalties, because their strategy for this, and most likely subsequent games, is to have Ryan Suter on the ice for all shifts. Although, Jamie Benn broke the penalty drought 5:38 in, the real penalties started with The Wild Penalty Drive started with Miko Koivuhooking John Klingberg, who later would have some words with Suter after a scuffle broke out. Oh yeah, these two teams seem to dislike each other just a little bit. The first period had a few little scraps. Jarret Stoll would get knocked into the boards as he was making a pass, chipping it over the glass for Delay of Game. Local kid Charlie Coyle thought “three’s a charm” and interfered against Stars’ defenseman Stephen Johns. The Wild were very lucky but you aren’t going to win many games by spending 6 minutes of any period on the PK. The Stars led in shots 14-2; at least one of those shots by Minnesota was taken on the PK.
At some point early in the Second Period, I heard the Stars’ music guy play Fugazi’s “Waiting Room”, which was awesome and made me love him/ her. Please, play more. Minor Threat, too, is good. Hey, some Black Flag, maybe? Yes, to all of this.
Ales Hemsky stole the puck from Jarrett Stoll in the neutral zone, passed to Radek “What Does The” Faksa, who scored the first goal of the series.
Antoine Roussel makes a huge effort, literally jumping into the bench, to get off the ice quickly so it’s a good goal.
Despite the goal against, Devan Dubnyk was having a great game at that point. Around the 11-minute mark, he wandered out of the crease, beyond the paint and into the white to poke-check the puck from Ales Hemsky, stopping a sure breakaway goal. Dubnyk made another great stick save before the 12-minute mark. Then, Dubnyk’s fun would end. Jason Spezza scores at 12:20 when he fakes out Dubnyk on the first opportunity, waits for him to be out of position, and roofs the puck up behind him in the net.
Then, all the elbowing happens and face smashing happens! Johns does it to Nino “Low Rider” Niederreiter near the Stars net. After Jason Demers takes a puck to the face while blocking a shot, Niederreiter goes to the box for elbowing Faksa. The Wild just don’t like having the man advantage much as it goes four-on-four for 25 seconds.
Lots of falling bodies all over near the end of the period. Just the way it should be, I guess.
The Third Period starts out slowly with each team only had one shot within the first 5½ minutes. Jason Pominville goes to the box at 12:20 for catching Fiddler in the nose for High-Sticking against the elderly Vernon Fiddler, whose nose was pained but not bloodied. Minnesota Left Winger Ryan Carter had a short-handed chance, but was robbed by Hemsky at the goal.
Tempted by this fifth Power Play opportunity, Dallas finally capitalizes on the man advantage with Patrick Eaves scoring on a wrister. Minnesota Head Coach John Torchetti decides to challenge after Dubnyk protests on the ice to an official. The call stands.
Now down by three goals, Minnesota goes empty net with more than 4:35 to go. It backfires when Jamie Benn scores an Empty Net Goal at 16:00.
To add further insult to their great 4 goal injury, Ryan Suter is penalized for Cross-Checking against Antoine Roussel. They would kill off this final penalty, and ultimately fail to score in their series opener. The Wild are a sloppy, undisciplined team that allowed the Stars to go on the Power Play six times, scoring once. They aren’t going to be in this series for long if they keep this up.
San Jose Sharks at Los Angeles King
Going into this series, I had such high hopes that this match-up would be as amazing as I imagined, and by the time the final buzzer sounded, I knew that if the rest of the games in this series are like the one that happened tonight, hockey fans that want to stay up late are going to be in for a real treat.
This game had a lot of energy right from the beginning, lots of back and forth and just anything and everything that is great about the game of hockey: hits, breakaways, end-to-end rushes, dueling goalies. There was even this “The student has become the master” vibe with this game, as Martin Jones, who got his start backing up Jonathan Quick in L.A. squared off against him tonight.
Jake Muzzin gets the Kings on the board first by banking a shot off of Tomas Hertl‘s skate. Not sure if that’s what he intended to do, but this is the playoffs and no one’s going to care about how pretty goals are. It’s way more important that they just go in.
Later, Anze Kopitar is called for interference, and Joe Pavelski, with a nice slapper, ties it up at one on the power play. (We all know how much it sucks when your star defensive forward is sitting in the box, right?)
The period ends with the score tied 1-1.
Now, here is where the game goes loopy. Brent Burns beats Quick right off a face-off and the Sharks take the lead. Just 40 seconds later, the Kings answer. Joel Ward goes off for interference, and Jeff Carter‘s shot banks off of two Sharks players and Jones before going into the net to tie the game. Again.
Later, with Drew Doughty in the box, Trevor Lewis scores a really sweet shorthanded goal! Yay the Kings have the lead! Only for about 30 seconds though, as Hertl, still on the power play, gets a goal by Quick to tie up the game. Again.
We are all tied up at 3 headed into the third period. And as much as I love this game, I’m thinking, “Oh please don’t go into overtime”.
Well, damn those Hockey Gods.
Pavelski would get his second goal of the game ELEVEN SECONDS into the third, and by now, I think most of us were thinking that the Kings were going to come right back and tie the game up, but that goal would prove to be the game winner.
The Sharks and Kings will meet again on Saturday night (which I hear is all right for fighting) at the Staples Center. Make some coffee and watch if you can, because this series is probably only going to get better the longer it goes on.