James O'Brien

New York Islanders v Washington Capitals - Game One

Isles impress, take 1-0 series lead against Capitals

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Five years ago, Jaroslav Halak frustrated the Washington Capitals to a stunning first-round loss. He has a lot more help this time around with the 2014-15 New York Islanders, yet you can forgive some Caps fans if Wednesday brought back bad memories.

The Islanders topped the Capitals 4-1 to take a 1-0 series lead, and while Brock Nelson’s second goal inflated the difference in the form of an empty-netter, the Islanders looked awfully impressive.

In fact, they carried much of the play, as you can see from this Natural Stat Trick graph:

source:

The Islanders didn’t really see their play drop off much, even when they had a comfortable lead. That has to be a wake-up call for Washington, and perhaps a message to the rest of the East: a team that looked like a powerhouse may not be slumping as much as some think.

It’s hard to imagine Alex Ovechkin being kept off the scoreboard every night, mind you, although it will be interesting to see if Barry Trotz continues to try to get balanced offense by splitting him from common running mate Nicklas Backstrom.

The two teams meet again for Game 2 at the Verizon Center on Friday, so the Caps need to shake off this setback or they’ll be in quite the early hole.

Gold rushed: Crawford gets pulled after one period

Corey Crawford
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These aren’t the same Nashville Predators that the Chicago Blackhawks faced years ago in the playoffs. That much was evident in the opening frame, as Nashville stormed to a 3-0 lead in the first period, dispatching Corey Crawford from Chicago’s net in the process.

Colin Wilson stood out in particular, scoring two of Nashville’s three goals, including the one that ended Crawford’s night early.

Scott Darling gets his first taste of NHL postseason action with this one. Chicago recently made it 3-1, so perhaps this change will spark a Blackhawks comeback (a prospect that brings back tough memories for Predators fans).

Bye bye P.K.: Subban gets game misconduct for slashing

P.K. Subban
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Montreal Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban is often a lightning rod for criticism, but on Wednesday, the officials are also putting themselves in the spotlight. Subban was ejected from Game 1 for slashing Ottawa Senators forward Mark Stone.

To be precise, Subban received a five-minute major for slashing and a game misconduct.

The Canadiens aim to beat the Cinderella Senators without Subban and Max Pacioretty for the rest of the evening. We’ll see if anything further happens regarding supplemental discipline and will keep an eye open regarding Stone injury news (if applicable).

Update: Stone appears to be OK, but we’ll find out later.

You know, in the way that NHL teams barely tell the world anything about injuries, that is.

Apparently this isn’t the first time Subban has been tossed from a playoff contest against Ottawa:

Ouch: Sens’ first goal goes off of Markov’s stick

Andrei Markov
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The Ottawa Senators’ luck might not just be reserved for the regular season.

They’ve been taking it to the Montreal Canadiens early on in Game 1, and they were rewarded much to Andrei Markov’s chagrin, as Milan Michalek got credited for the tally on this own-goal:

Oof, that has to sting. Apparently Carey Price was non-too-pleased about that gaffe:

Plenty of jokes came from this one, including an ode to former Edmonton Oilers defenseman Steve Smith and his notorious blunder.

For Markov’s sake, it’s at least a far less crucial time.

Video: Brock Nelson scores the first goal of 2015 Stanley Cup playoffs

brocknelsongetty
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Young New York Islanders forward Brock Nelson began the 2014-15 season on a hot streak. Perhaps he’ll do the same in the postseason, as he scored the first goal of the 2015 Stanley Cup playoffs on Wednesday.

It’s certainly not a beauty, and it’s definitely one that excellent Washington Capitals goalie Braden Holtby would like back. Some think Troy Brouwer has a little egg on his face for this one, too:

Nelson had 12 points in 10 October games to begin the season, easily his best month of his first full campaign. Seeing him get an early goal is a great thing for an Islanders team brimming with talented, inexperienced players.

Update: Marcus Johansson tied it up with a heck of a shot.