In the first period, we discussed the notion that the Vancouver Canucks were playing with fire thanks to the four penalties they took. As it turned out, the San Jose Sharks were the team that got burned by their own lack of discipline.
During a truly stunning two minute span, the Canucks connected on three different 5-on-3 power play opportunities to take a 3-0 lead. Ryan Kesler started things off with a Steven Stamkos-like one-timer, then Sami Salo showed off his stupendous slapper with two more goals. The Canucks went into this game with questions about their special teams. Through the first two periods, they’ve answered those queries in the most resounding way imaginable.
Vancouver 3, San Jose 0
It’s unclear if the Canucks broke a record for 5-on-3 goals in a period (let alone two-minute span), but it remains one of the stranger developments in a rather odd playoff year. Henrik Sedin earned three assists on that power play, suddenly staking him to first place in the 2011 playoffs with 18 points. (Daniel Sedin was strong too, earning two assists himself.)
People shouldn’t blame Antti Niemi too much for allowing goals on some blisteringly hard shots. That being said, Roberto Luongo made some big saves during the Canucks’ torrent of penalties and Niemi didn’t. There are other variables (those Canucks goals came on 5-on-3 power plays, which naturally allow more room for dangerous shots), but many will unfairly boil it down to that.
Earlier on, it seemed like Keith Ballard’s highlight reel hip check (more on that later) would be the most memorable moment of the second period. That scoring spree rendered that moment more or less an afterthought, although many will wonder if things would have been different if he received a clipping penalty on the hit.
Even if the Sharks fall short in the rest of this game, we might learn a lot about San Jose in the third period. This team came back from a 4-0 deficit against the Los Angeles Kings, so we know that they have the firepower and moxie to come back. If nothing else, they need to play a strong final frame to regain their composure and self-respect.
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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.
If this game sets the tone for the rest of the series, then we should be in for a closely contested, highlight filled affair.
— 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.
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
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.
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: