Florida Panthers v Pittsburgh Penguins

Why ‘sad goalie’ Tomas Vokoun isn’t a member of the Detroit Red Wings

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When the Washington Capitals landed Tomas Vokoun for the jaw-dropping discount price of a one-year, $1.5 million contract, I couldn’t help but wonder: how exactly did that happen? Where were the rest of the NHL’s GMs? (Apparently I wasn’t alone.)

Maybe you could look at it as Vokoun’s loss being the Capitals’ gain, but it was just baffling that there was such a dearth of interest in a goalie whose numbers consistently ranked among the best. Could it be that the rest of the NHL’s GMs took John Buccigross’less than scientific approach toward the steady Czech goalie’s game?

Perhaps there were indeed some general managers who somehow questioned a goalie who routinely put up fantastic individual numbers (but didn’t have the guts to also score goals or do whatever it was that critics thoughts he was missing) on sub-par teams. That being said, it wasn’t as simple as Washington being the only team that was interested in Vokoun’s services.

Japer’s Rink did some digging and with the help of Google translator, unearthed an interesting gem: the race for Vokoun actually came down to Washington and the Detroit Red Wings. (Gee, things went pretty well the last time the Red Wings nabbed an aging Czech goalie who racked up high save percentage numbers, didn’t they?)

As it turns out, Puck Daddy’s Greg Wyshynski pointed out a pretty good reason why it didn’t work out between Vokoun and the Red Wings: his name is Jimmy Howard. While Washington has a strong future in net with Michal Neuvirth and Braden Holtby, it’s far from outrageous to put their young goalies on hold for a season or so – a plan Bruce Boudreau laid out on Monday. That would have been a much stickier proposition in Detroit, where 27-year-old Howard’s future is now.

Still, it’s an interesting thought: how strong would Nicklas Lidstrom’s (possible) last run in Detroit look with Vokoun cleaning up the Red Wings’ mistakes? Sports have plenty of great “What if?” moments and that question might register with many hockey fans if Vokoun works out as well in Washington as many expect.

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: