Phil Kessel scored his first goal of the Stanley Cup playoffs and it turned out to be the winner, as the Toronto Maple Leafs earned the split with the Boston Bruins with a 4-2 victory in Game 2.
As per Mark Masters of TSN, that was Kessel’s first ever even-strength goal against the Bruins, the same team that selected Kessel in the first round, fifth overall, in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft.
You’ll recall Kessel was traded from Boston to Toronto in September of 2009.
After being held without a point – and just one shot – in the series opening loss Wednesday, Kessel was much more effective Saturday. He had 30 shifts, compared to his 21 in Game 1, and was much more of an offensive presence. He not only had the goal, but four shots as well.
“We were really happy for Phil. It’s not easy for him coming into Boston,” said Kessel’s teammate Joffrey Lupul, according to a tweet from Toronto Sun reporter Rob Longley.
Prior to the beginning of this series, Kessel ducked media availability earlier in the week, before eventually speaking to reporters the next day.
Well, the NHL’s two new initiatives for ’15-16 seem to be going swimmingly.
Not long after Ottawa successfully made the second-ever coach’s challenge, fans got their first look at 3-on-3 overtime.
And what a look it was.
In the span of 137 seconds, the Tampa Bay Lightning and Philadelphia Flyers combined for eight shots on goal, a few breakaways, some tremendous saves — including one on a penalty shot — and, finally, Jason Garrison‘s game-winning goal on a breakaway from center, giving the Bolts a 3-2 win.
It was, in a word, fun.
Lots of fun.
A quick sampling of reviews:
Of course, not everybody was a fan:
Now, to temper things a bit — this was the first time we’ve seen 3-on-3 with something on the line, so there was a novelty factor at play. There’s also no guaranteeing future OT sessions will be as exciting as this.
But none of that takes away from the fact 3-on-3 made for appointment viewing, and immense entertainment value. The prospect of future games like this? That’s pretty exciting.
Didn’t take long for Alex Burmistrov to make his presence felt — though not in a good way.
Burmistrov, playing in his first game for the Jets after a two-year stint in Russia, delivered a questionable elbow to the head of Boston’s Patrice Bergeron late in the first period of Thursday’s season-opener:
Burmistrov received a two-minute minor for an illegal check to the head, while Bergeron received a matching minor for roughing (retaliating for the elbow, specifically).
The Bruins went into the intermission leading 1-0, and have yet to update Bergeron’s status.
Update: Bergeron stayed in the game, but B’s head coach Claude Julien was none too pleased with the hit. Following the game, he called for the NHL’s Department of Player Safety to look at it…