The Buzzer: Historic first night of 2018 Stanley Cup Playoffs

Getty
6 Comments

Three games on the first night

Penguins 7, Flyers 0 (Penguins lead series 1-0)

Jake Guentzel, Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin lit the scoreboard on fire in Game 1, while Matt Murray shut the door in a lopsided victory for Pittsburgh. The Flyers must do some soul-searching even beyond dealing with the question about who to go with in net. The Pens began their bid for a “threepeat” with style on Wednesday.

Jets 3, Wild 2 (Jets lead series 1-0)

Devan Dubnyk almost stole Game 1 for the Wild, as he kept Minnesota in the game despite a 40-20 shots on goal edge for Winnipeg. Ultimately, Joe Morrow ended up being the unlikely hero for the Jets, who won their first-ever playoff game in this incarnation of the franchise (since the Atlanta Thrashers days).

Golden Knights 1, Kings 0 (Golden Knights lead series 1-0)

Vegas, baby. Game 1 seemingly fell into the Kings’ hands as it was a nasty, grinding affair. It didn’t matter. The Golden Knights protected a 1-0 lead generated just minutes into the contest, and they seemed right at home with the physicality. The expansion Golden Knights won their first playoff game on their first try. Amazing stuff.

3 Stars

1. Jake Guentzel, Penguins: Sidney Crosby deserves a ton of credit for his hat trick, and he’ll likely draw most of the attention for Pittsburgh’s startlingly one-sided win over Philly. Guentzel actually scored more points, though, grabbing a goal and three assists. Guentzel also collected an assist on the game-winner, while Crosby’s hat trick fattened a lead from 4-0 to 7-0.

Nitpicky? Sure, but that’s how you split hairs when it comes to picking the three best players of the night. If you insist, consider Guentzel and Crosby 1a and 1b.

2. Marc-Andre Fleury, Golden Knights: “MAF” stopped all 28 of the Kings’ shots in Game 1, and he had to, as Vegas won 1-0. This marks the 11th postseason shutout for “The Flower,” placing him in select company.

3. Matt Murray, Penguins: Matt Murray and Jake Guentzel are both generating reputations for turning things up a notch when the playoffs kick into gear. Things didn’t always go smoothly for Murray during the regular season, but he remains tough to beat in the postseason. He finished the 2017 Stanley Cup Final with two consecutive shutouts and kept his streak going through Game 1. Scroll down the page for more context on Murray’s rare run.

MISC.

  • Shea Theodore scored the first playoff goal in Vegas Golden Knights history, and he didn’t take long to do it, putting Vegas up 1-0 in Game 1 just 3:23 into the contest.

  • The Flyers’ in-net implosion stole the attention from a weird moment from Game 1, as the puck split apart:
  • There’s some concern for the Winnipeg Jets, as Mathieu Perreault left the game with an upper-body injury and did not return. No word yet on how serious the issue might be. Not good for a player who helps them make such a deep, scary team.
  • Ilya Bryzgalov kindly offered his services to a Flyers team with some goalie headaches.

Factoid of the Night

Thursday’s schedule

Lightning vs. Devils, 7 p.m. ET – NHL Network
Bruins vs. Maple Leafs, 7 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Capitals vs. Blue Jackets, 7:30 p.m. ET – USA
Predators vs. Avalanche, 9:30 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Ducks vs. Sharks, 10:30 p.m. ET – USA

James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at phtblog@nbcsports.com or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.