There was no shortage of angst in Game 1 of the Tampa Bay-Detroit series, as the two teams combined for 36 penalty minutes.
And there’s been no shortage of it in Game 2, either.
Things reached a fever pitch midway during the second period when Detroit d-man Danny DeKeyser hammered Tampa’s Ondrej Palat behind the Red Wings goal.
The hit resulted in a pair of roughing penalties — to Riley Sheahan and Jonathan Drouin — and an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty for Victor Hedman.
So no, DeKeyser was not penalized for the hit.
That decision came under some scrutiny, as Palat looked shaken up on the play and exited briefly. He did return to action and took regular shifts for the remainder of the second period.
We’ve now got a three-way tie atop the playoff goalscoring leaderboard — just minutes after Nikita Kucherov tied Patric Hornqvist on three goals, Florida’s Reilly Smith got into the act by firing home a rebound past Thomas Greiss for his third goal of the series.
Oh yeah, we’ve also got a new playoff scoring leader.
Smith took that one over by setting up Nick Bjugstad‘s second-period goal to give the Panthers a 2-0 lead. That also gave Smith five points… through five periods of action.
This early playoff success is a continuation of the banner campaign Smith enjoyed in Florida this season, when he racked up a career-high 25 goals and 50 points.
Now, he’s just one playoff goal away from matching the career-best four he notched with Boston during the ’14 postseason.
An otherwise good opening period for Tampa ended on a down note as, during the first intermission, the team announced J.T. Brown suffered an upper-body injury, and wouldn’t return.
Brown was hurt blocking a shot early in the contest, and quickly skated to the bench in discomfort. He played just 2:29 before being ruled out entirely.
A hard-working, physical presence at forward, Brown had a nice year for the Bolts, posting career highs in games played (78), goals (eight), points (22) and average TOI (13:22). He also led the club in penalty minutes, with 59.
Brown had cemented his spot as a regular during last year’s playoffs, when he played in 24 of Tampa’s 26 playoff games — so, if he’s out for any length of time, his absence will be noticeable.
Tampa Bay is already dealing with injuries to captain Steve Stamkos (vascular surgery) and Anton Stralman (broken leg).
No slowing down for Nikita Kucherov in Game 2 of Tampa Bay’s opening-round series against Detroit.
Kucherov, who scored twice and finished with three points in the Bolts’ Game 1 victory, notched his third goal of the series on a 5-on-3 power play to give the Lightning a 1-0 lead on Friday night at Amalie.
It’s been a terrific start to the series for the 22-year-old Russian, who’s already matched his point total from last year’s tilt against Detroit.
Kucherov failed to score a single goal in the seven-game series, but did finish with four assists.
Three sets of teams — Detroit-Tampa Bay, Florida-New York Islanders, Chicago-St. Louis — play their respective Game 2s tonight, while the Ducks and Preds kick off their series in Anaheim.
Detroit at Tampa Bay (7:00 p.m. ET)
This one’s on CNBC, with Chris Cuthbert and Ray Ferraro on the call. To stream the game using the NBC Sports Live Extra app, click here.
NY Islanders at Florida (7:30 p.m. ET)
The Isles and Panthers are on NHL Network, with Howie Rose and Butch Goring on the call. There will be no live stream available.
Chicago at St. Louis (8:00 p.m. ET)
The first of two games on NBCSN tonight — Pat Foley and Ed Olcyzk are on the call. To stream the game using the NBC Sports Live Extra app, click here.
Nashville at Anaheim (10:30 p.m. ET)
The late game of the NBCSN doubleheader, the Preds and Ducks will have John Forslund and Bret Hedican on the call. To stream the game using the NBC Sports Live Extra app, click here.