If not for Henrik Lundqvist, we might already be previewing a New Jersey-Los Angeles Stanley Cup finals.
That’s not necessarily a shot at the Rangers – no team should apologize for having a great goalie. King Henrik’s performance in the Eastern Conference finals is exactly why he’s paid the big bucks and gets to drives a cool Maserati. (Also, why he gets a nickname like King.)
Still, it’s safe to assume the Rangers would like to get off to a better start in Game 5 tonight at Madison Square Garden. They’ve already spent enough time on their heels in the first period, relying on Lundqvist and other clutch defensive plays to keep things close.
In Game 4, Lundqvist finally broke. The Devils scored twice in the first 12 minutes and went on to win, 4-1.
“There’s no question Jersey right on through the playoffs, not just our series, they have blitzed teams and gained momentum,” New York coach John Tortorella said today. “Momentum is a big part of playoff hockey. There’s no question we like to get that on our side right away.”
Devils coach Peter DeBoer doesn’t disagree his team’s been able to dominate the Rangers early.
“We break down scoring chances by period and game,” he said. “I usually concentrate more on the final number, which has been very good through the series for me. So I haven’t looked closely enough at the individual period. I imagine it’s pretty good. Our first periods have been great.”
New Jersey is 6-2 in the playoffs when it scores first and 4-4 when it doesn’t.
New York is 9-2 and 1-6, respectively.
The Pittsburgh Penguins pulled off a 3-2 Game 1 win against the Washington Capitals, but Thursday’s thriller probably prompted a sigh of relief.
(Washington, meanwhile, might have uttered a sigh at such unpleasantly familiar feelings.)
The first period ended 0-0 in part thanks to Jake Guentzel‘s sprawling “kick save.” Business really picked up in the second after Sidney Crosby raced off to two quick goals, only for Alex Ovechkin to give Washington a shot thanks to a booming goal and some physical play.
It sure felt like this one might head to overtime, especially after Evgeny Kuznetsov was tying things up and flapping his arms like wings. That was not to be, however, as Nick Bonino took advantage of a pretty area pass to beat Braden Holtby for the decisive tally.
Now, it was only decisive because Marc-Andre Fleury was at the top of his game. Oh, and also because the Penguins did a collective Guentzel impression in frantically denying a tying tally.
Makes you want to wipe some sweat from your brow, eh?
The Capitals dominated by just about every statistical measure … except, of course, goals on the scoreboard. Pittsburgh will gladly take that 1-0 series lead, then.
Expect a desperate Washington team in Game 2, which airs at 8 p.m. ET on Saturday. You can watch it online and via the NBC Sports App (click here for the livestream link).
Swedish superstars Henrik Lundqvist and Erik Karlsson were both stupendous in Game 1 between the New York Rangers and Ottawa Senators.
Still, it was Karlsson’s game-winning goal (from a seemingly impossible angle) against Lundqvist that made the difference as the Senators beat the Rangers 2-1 on Thursday. With that, the Senators are up 1-0 in the series.
That Karlsson goal really deserves a special look.
Whether you blame that 2-1 tally on Lundqvist or not, the Rangers would be foolish to do anything but praise their red-hot franchise goalie. He stopped all 21 Senators shots in the first period and ultimately made 41 out of 43 stops in defeat.
Craig Anderson was strong in his own right, mind you. stopping 34 out of 35 shots (including all 28 at even-strength) to help Ottawa take that tight contest.
Anderson’s strong play highlights the fact that Rangers – Senators doesn’t merely come down to Lundqvist vs. Karlsson … but even so, both Swedish superstars really did stand out in this one.
Game 2 airs on NBC at 3 p.m. ET on Saturday. You can also watch online and via the NBC Sports App; click here for the livestream link.
You have to love when sports deliver on – if not exceed – the hype.
The second period of Game 1 between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals has been brilliant and nasty, possibly more than many hockey fans dreamed.
It began with the Penguins getting the big edge; Sidney Crosby scored two goals in the span of 52 seconds and Braden Holtby needed to make some tough stops to keep it at 2-0.
MORE: Video of Crosby’s hot start
That put a damper on the great crowd at the Verizon Center for a bit, but the Capitals ended up responding.
Part of that was a physical response, with Dmitry Orlov delivering a big hit on Tom Kuhnhackl and John Carlson absolutely leveling Evgeni Malkin. The narrative got almost too obvious moments later, as Alex Ovechkin fired a shot past Marc-Andre Fleury to make it 2-1.
Fleury made a tough stop or two of his own once it was 2-1, so while the pace is picking up, the two goalies seem like they’re alert to the challenge as well.
There was plenty of nastiness with 18.9 seconds remaining in the second, setting the stage for what could be a thrilling third period … and maybe more?
Sidney Crosby and the Pittsburgh Penguins came roaring out of the gate to start the second period after a 0-0 opening frame against the Washington Capitals in Game 1.
Crosby scored two goals in just 52 seconds to give the Penguins a sudden 2-0 lead. One feels some pity for any fans who didn’t get to their seats just to start the frame … though in the likely event that they are Capitals fans, they might have been spared.
To Braden Holtby‘s credit, he made a couple tough saves moments later to keep it 2-0. It’s been a hectic first few minutes of the second after that relatively mundane first 20 minutes, so hang on tight.
Check out video above; you can also watch the pair of goals in the GIF combo below: