Zdeno Chara, Danny Briere

Can Zdeno Chara stop Danny Briere’s playoff hot streak?

Danny Briere isn’t a big guy – he’s generously listed at 5-foot-10, 179 lbs. Yet the crafty forward comes up especially large in games of the hugest importance. Just take a look at the 91 points he’s scored in the playoffs since the lockout ended … that’s the highest total of any player in the NHL during that span.

Briere was the catalyst for the Flyers’ first round comeback, scoring three goals and one assist in those two elimination games and six goals and one assist for seven points in the seven-game series. He also got under the skin of his former teammate, Buffalo Sabres goalie Ryan Miller.

Along with having great hands and outstanding offensive creativity, Briere scores a lot of his points by sneaking his way in front of the net. That’s a pretty admirable quality for an undersized forward because it opens him up to the savage abuse that comes with that territory.

In other words, it means that he’ll need to absorb plenty of hits from Boston Bruins’ behemoth Zdeno Chara. Chara is seven feet tall on skates, but as CSN Philly’s Tim Panaccio points out, he couldn’t intimidate Briere in their 2010 semifinals series.

Briere scored five goals and five assists for 10 points in that seven-game series, a hot run that helped the small forward score a league-leading 30 points in last year’s playoffs. Chara is just starting to feel like his usual all-world self again after fighting dehydration in the first round, so perhaps it will be a tall order for the much larger player. Briere spoke to Panaccio about going up against the imposing blueliner.

“You have to find ways to make him work,” Briere said of Chara. “It is not going to be easy and we know that. I have had the chance to face him a few times in the playoffs.

“He is going to make it tough on us, but we are not going to back down. That is the only way to approach it and you have to be willing to compete against him.

“Probably to try and go around him and make him work. When you are as big as him, it uses a lot of energy to try to chase you. I guess that is the idea with a guy like Chara.”

Of course, Briere isn’t the only Flyers forward Chara must worry about, but he’s been Philly’s most explosive offensive performer for at least the last two playoff runs. It’s obvious which player is larger in the literal sense, but one of the series’ biggest factors boils down to who will come up the biggest in a figurative way.

Oshie’s hat trick lets Caps just barely squeak by Penguins in OT

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What a start.

This series between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals might be headlined by Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin, but as many have said in the lead-up to tonight’s opener, there is so much more to this second round matchup than that. Washington’s 4-3 overtime victory in Game 1 tonight could be offered up as Exhibit A.

This game had everything except big offensive showings from Crosby and Ovechkin. They had their moments, but in the end combined for just one assist.

What we got instead was a hat trick by T.J. Oshie that was completed with a game-winning goal that made it past the line by such a narrow margin that it warranted a video review:

This game also featured a sequence of three goals in 90 seconds and yet also some great saves by goaltenders Braden Holtby and Matt Murray. At the other end of the spectrum, there was a controversial hit by Tom Wilson that might lead to a suspension.

There was even some odd stuff. Like how Jay Beagle got a stick stuck in his equipment.

Twice:

If this game sets the tone for the rest of the series, then we should be in for a closely contested, highlight filled affair.

NOTES:

Nick Bonino had a goal and an assist for the Penguins. Evgeni Malkin and Ben Lovejoy accounted for the Penguins’ other markers.

— Capitals forward Andre Burakovsky scored the game’s opening goal. It was his first marker of the 2016 playoffs.

— Washington outshot Pittsburgh 15-9 in the first period, but Pittsburgh ended up with a 45-35 edge.

— This is the first time in the 2016 playoffs that Braden Holtby has allowed more than two goals. He surrendered just five goals in six games to Philadelphia.

— Matt Murray suffered his first career postseason loss after winning three straight contests against the New York Rangers.

Video: Wilson delivers late, knee-on-knee hit to Sheary

Wilson hit
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Tom Wilson has already found himself in a controversy for delivering a late, knee-on-knee hit to Penguins forward Conor Sheary in the third period of Game 1 Thursday night.

You can see that incident below:

Wilson spent two minutes in the sin bin earlier in the contest for crosschecking Evgeni Malkin, but there was no penalty on this play.

Fortunately Conor Sheary was able to stay in the game. The question now is if Wilson’s actions will lead to him being suspended prior to Game 2.

This isn’t Wilson’s first brush with controversy. He delivered a big hit to Brayden Schenn in 2013, but Wilson wasn’t suspended for that incident. Lubomir Visnovsky’s final campaign was cut short due to a check by Wilson that angered the New York Islanders. More recently, Nikita Zadorov was concussed by a crushing blow from the Capitals forward.

In 231 career regular season games, Wilson has 50 points and 486 penalty minutes.

Related: Wilson says ‘I’ve never been a dirty hitter’ after teams voice complaints

Video: Penguins, Caps combine for three goals in 90 seconds

Oshie goal
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For the first 30 minutes of Game 1 between Pittsburgh and Washington it looked like goaltenders Matt Murray and Braden Holtby might outshine these star-studded offenses. Then the floodgates opened up, if only for a moment.

Washington already had a 1-0 lead going into the second frame courtesy of Andre Burakovsky‘s first marker of the 2016 playoffs, but Ben Lovejoy and Evgeni Malkin scored back-to-back goals within the span of 57 seconds midway through the second period to tilt the scale in Pittsburgh’s favor. That lead didn’t last for long though as Capitals forward T.J. Oshie got a breakaway opportunity and took full advantage of it.

In total, there were three goals scored in the span of just 90 seconds and you can see all of them below:

After that sequence, the 2-2 tie held for the remainder of the frame. However, Oshie was able to reassert Washington’s edge just 3:23 minutes into the third period.

Video: Beagle gets stick stuck in visor

Beagle
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Through 40 minutes of action in Game 1 of the second round series between Pittsburgh and Washington and we’ve already seen some big moments, along with a pretty unusual one.

Beagle ended up with a stick lodged into his visor towards the end of the second frame. He tried to get it out himself, but ended up having to go to the bench for assistance. You can see that below: