Did the Philadelphia Flyers sleepwalk their way into Wednesday night or were the Pittsburgh Penguins just that excited to get Game 1 started? Feel free to have that chicken-and-the-egg argument in the comments, but the bottom like is that the Penguins had “the extra jump” through the first 20 minutes of the contest.
(That was particularly true in the first 10 minutes, which seems to be the traditional period of time that road teams worry about in the postseason.)
First, Sidney Crosby scored the first goal of the 2012 Stanley Cup playoffs by backhanding a loose puck over Ilya Bryzgalov. Shortly after that, the Penguins burned the Flyers in transition as Jordan Staal made a great play to Tyler Kennedy, who buried a 2-0 goal.
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It wasn’t all early damage, though, as Pascal Dupuis now has a points streak of 17 regular season and one playoff game thanks to a 3-0 tally with just 37 seconds left in the opening frame.
Flyers coach Peter Laviolette wisely opted to call a timeout, which seemed to stop the bleeding – for the most part. Philly had a storybook opportunity later on as Jaromir Jagr found himself on a semi-breakaway, but either he didn’t get enough of the shot or Marc-Andre Fleury did enough to stop what could have been a big counter-punch.
It’s hard not to wonder if Ilya Bryzgalov might get the hook already, as the quote machine in leg pads has suffered the type of tough playoff start that seemed to become a sad signature in Phoenix. (Let’s be honest; it wasn’t always his fault with the Coyotes and it hasn’t been all on him tonight, but many will frame it that way.)
As PHT’s Ryan Dadoun points out, the Flyers are still dangerous when coming from behind. They were 20-22-4 in regular season games when they allowed the game’s first goal, which is good for second overall in the NHL.
Unfortunately for Philly, they’re facing the Penguins -who happen to be the first place team in that category.
The San Jose Sharks became the only team in the second round to jump out to a 2-0 lead in their series. The Sharks did it by beating the Predators 3-2 in Game 2 on Sunday night.
San Jose opened the scoring in the second period when Logan Couture buried a rebound by Preds goalie Pekka Rinne. Brent Burns took the initial shot from the point and extended his playoff point streak to four games.
The Predators finally got on the board at the 12:56 mark of the third period when Mattias Ekholm tied the game at one.
Here’s the goal:
Nashville’s good fortune didn’t last very long. Sharks captain Joe Pavelski gave San Jose a 2-1 lead less than five minutes later.
Pavelski also picked up two assists in the game. The 31-year-old has at least one point in six of his seven postseason games in 2016.
Joe Thornton then added an empty-netter in the final minute of play before Ryan Johansen scored with four seconds remaining.
Despite the loss, Preds head coach Peter Laviolette wasn’t too disappointed by the way his team played.
The Predators outshot the Sharks (39-25), they outhit San Jose (46-26), but they just couldn’t outscore them.
Like the old saying goes: “you’re not in trouble until you lose a game on home ice.” The Preds still haven’t done that, which means they’re not done yet.
The series now shifts to Nashville for Game 3, which will be played on Tuesday night.
It’s a scary night for players getting hit in the head with pucks.
After Brian Elliott was hit in the head by a Jason Spezza slapshot, it was Marc-Edouard Vlasic‘s turn to narrowly avoid disaster.
In the third period of Sunday’s game against the Predators, Vlasic took a puck to the face. The end result could have been catastrophic had Vlasic not had a visor.
You can see the incident by clicking the video at the top of the page.
It’s nice to see that Vlasic was in a joking mood after the game:
Hockey Twitter breathed a collective sigh of relief after Vlasic got back up:
You’ve all seen it by now (if you haven’t, click the video at the top of page). Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta was forced to leave Game 2 against the Capitals after taking a late hit from Brooks Orpik. Not only was the hit late, but Orpik also caught Maatta in the head.
After the Penguins’ optional skate on Sunday, Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan wasn’t optimistic about Maatta’s chances of playing in Game 3 on Monday night.
“Olli’s being evaluated as we speak, so I don’t have any real update as far as his status is concerned,” Sullivan said, per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “He’s being evaluated today, we’ll probably have more information in the morning.
“I don’t have a lot of sense of his availability. I’m probably not optimistic, though.”
After the game, Capitals coach Barry Trotz stood up for his defenseman.
“We’ll let the league handle it,” Trotz said, per CSN Mid-Atlantic. “If you know anything about Brooks, he plays hard, he plays clean. He’s not a dirty player.”
And the league certainly did handle it, as they suspended Orpik for three games.
—Penguins coach takes issue with late, high Orpik hit on Maatta
Brooks Orpik has been suspended for three games for his hit on Olli Maatta (top). The Caps defenseman will be forced to miss Games 3, 4 and 5 of the best-of-seven series against the Penguins.
Orpik delivered a late, high hit to Maatta in Game 2. The Penguins defenseman was wobbly getting off the ice and he was unable to return to the game.
Here’s how the Department of Players Safety saw the play:
“Orpik steps up to pressure Bonino, who quickly moves the puck to Maatta. Orpik peels off Bonino to pressure Maatta, who releases a shot from the top of the circle. The two continue on their path toward the goal line, as the puck is kicked into the slot. A full second after Maatta releases the puck, Orpik delivers a high, forceful hit making significant head contact. This is interference.”
To watch the NHL’s Department of Player Safety’s full explanation, click the video below.
This is the third time Orpik’s been suspended in his NHL career.