The St. Louis Blues made a game of it, but will lament a slow start in their loss to the Minnesota Wild in Game 1 of their first-round series on Thursday.
It wasn’t until the third period that the Blues finally made a substantial push. Twice in the final 20 minutes, they got to within a goal but couldn’t find the equalizer. Minnesota buried a pair of empty net goals, with Mikael Granlund scoring the winner with 1:13 remaining in regulation time, as the Wild came away with a 4-2 victory and 1-0 series lead.
Just 14 seconds after Granlund gave Minnesota a two-goal cushion, Alexander Steen provided the Blues a faint glimmer of hope, perhaps catching the Wild off guard and cutting its lead to one. It set up for an interesting finish when this game looked like it was over just before that.
Again, the Blues just couldn’t tie it. Jason Pominville cemented the win into the empty net with 20 seconds remaining.
Devan Dubnyk, making his first career playoff start after a remarkable regular season performance following his mid-season trade from Arizona to Minnesota, wasn’t overly busy until the third period, but he stopped 19 of 21 shots faced for the win.
It appeared for a while like Matt Dumba’s first career Stanley Cup playoff goal would turn out to be the winner. He gave the Wild a two-goal lead on a power play blast that beat Jake Allen glove side early in the second period.
It’s been 19 years since Winnipeg last had an NHL team in the Stanley Cup playoffs. The 2014-15 Jets didn’t get off to the greatest start Thursday, after giving up the first goal to the Anaheim Ducks at the 1:57 mark of the first period.
The Jets quickly came back with a goal from Adam Lowry just 49 seconds later. Talk about a good response. This series has been billed as one of the more physical showdowns in the opening round and it’s living up to that hype. The two teams combined for 39 hits in the first period, according to NHL.com.
6,927 days have passed since Winnipeg's most recent Stanley Cup Playoff Game
Alex Ovechkin had eight shots on goal in the Washington Capitals’ Game 1 loss to the New York Islanders on Wednesday, but no goals and no points to speak of.
And now the Capitals are in the trail position early in that best-of-seven series.
There isn’t much during his NHL career that Ovechkin hasn’t achieved. He’s a star. He’s scored 50 or more goals in a season on six occasions and can be one of the most electrifying and polarizing players in the game.
“They’ve got a good team,” Trotz said. “I looked at that game, hopefully a playoff series at some point. Two very good hockey teams that mirror each other in a lot of ways in terms of some style.”
How is that for foreshadowing?
When the first round of the playoffs begins next week, it will be the Capitals and Islanders facing off against each other, however home ice advantage will be determined Saturday.
This series will feature two of the game’s big stars, in Alex Ovechkin and John Tavares.
Tavares, with his winning goal against Pittsburgh on Friday, moved into a tie with Sidney Crosby in points with 84, which leads the league. Ovechkin is up to 52 goals this season, which makes it the sixth time in his career he’s reached that mark in a single season.
Well, then Connor McDavid went and scored five goals for the Erie Otters in an Ontario Hockey League playoff game against the London Knights on Friday, upping his offensive totals to 10 goals and 18 points in seven post-season games in 2015.