- After falling behind 3-0, the Blue Jackets stunned the historically dominant Lightning in Game 1.
- The Penguins forced Game 1 into overtime, but Josh Bailey and the Islanders wouldn’t be denied in front of raucous crowd at Nassau Coliseum.
- Patrik Laine might have improved his confidence with a nice goal, but the Blues stayed hot in take a 1-0 series lead against the Jets.
- After Vegas dominated last year’s Game 1, the Sharks returned the favor this time around in a nasty game that had nasty implications for Joe Pavelski‘s face.
- Miro Heiskanen scores as the Stars beat the Predators in Nashville.
Blue Jackets 4, Lightning 3 (Columbus leads series 1-0)
Tampa Bay seemed like they were in business as usual mode during a 3-0 first period, possibly making Sergei Bobrovsky degrade into dreaded “Playoff Bob.” Bobrovsky didn’t allow another goal, however, as Columbus absolutely stunned the Lightning with four unanswered goals. Shocking, indeed.
Islanders 4, Penguins 3 [OT] (New York leads series 1-0)
Some would call it an upset. Some Islanders fans might be upset about that since their team had home-ice advantage. No Islanders fans should be upset about this spirited win. Pittsburgh possessed the puck, especially as the game went along, but the precious win goes to the plucky Islanders.
Blues 2, Jets 1 (St. Louis leads series 1-0)
St. Louis finished the season on the rise, while Winnipeg was struggling mightily, yet the Jets soared off to an early lead. Jordan Binnington and the Blues ultimately won after scoring two third-period goals and keeping Winnipeg’s high-powered offense in check.
Stars 3, Predators 2 (Dallas leads series 1-0)
Coming into this game, it was worthy to note that both OK-to-paltry offenses included three defensemen in their top six scorers. They followed that script, as five of the six goals were scored by blueliners, with Miro Heiskanen leading the way with two of those tallies. Mats Zuccarello may not have played much for Dallas during the regular season, but he scored the game-winner. Also following the script was a Nashville power play that couldn’t get the job done. (UPDATE: The NHL has taken away Heiskanen’s second goal and awarded it to Alex Radulov.)
Sharks 5, Golden Knights 3 (San Jose leads series 1-0)
Speaking of scripts, San Jose flipped it, going from big Game 1 losers against Vegas last year to lopsided winners this year. The score got closer down the stretch, but the Sharks got the better of the Golden Knights during a testy, hard-hitting affair. This series could end up having everything – great scoring, dynamic defensemen, and brawning battles – as long as Vegas can keep it competitive.
[NBC 2019 STANLEY CUP PLAYOFF HUB]
1. Miro Heiskanen
Um, how is this guy just 19 years old? OK, he looks that way literally speaking, but he plays like a veteran.
After an impressive 12-goal, 33-point season as a rookie, Heiskanen scored two goals to help Dallas win Game 1 in Nashville. The Predators’ defense is one of the most-hyped in the NHL, and with good reason (including Wednesday, as P.K. Subban and Roman Josi provided the goals), but Heiskanen ranks as a big reason why the Stars aren’t as far behind on defense as many might realize.
Plenty of Islanders were “under water” possession-wise against the Penguins in their Game 1 win, so Eberle’s game was already solid in that he was one of the few who won the shot share battle against Pittsburgh.
But if that’s too boring for you, Eberle scored the Islanders’ first goal of the game, and he also managed an assist while firing five shots on goal overall. That’s a far cry from the zero goals he managed during the Oilers’ playoff run that likely prompted his trade to the Islanders.
3. Brent Burns
There were some other strong performances on Wednesday, including Josh Anderson (an assist, plus a shorthanded goal) and Jordan Binnington (24 out of 25 saves), but Burns loomed large over Game 1, and not just because he was the person who deflected a puck off of Joe Pavelski’s face for the Sharks’ first goal (counting as an assist for Burns).
Burns scored a goal, and alongside Erik Karlsson, he reminded us prognosticators that the Sharks don’t just have an edge on defense over the Golden Knights in the form of two former Norris winners, they also have an edge over everyone else.
And you could consider this something of a collective Sharks award, if that helps. Erik Karlsson also had two assists, while Marc-Edouard Vlasic and Evander Kane got to two points by way of scoring a goal and an assist apiece.
Highlights of the Night
Josh Bailey’s OT winner came after he shot in a rebound following an exceptional effort from exceptional Islanders forward Mathew Barzal:
Might as well throw in Blue Jackets – Lightning, too. The David Savard goal is probably the most mind-blowing, particularly since he deked around Victor Hedman to make it happen.
Factoid of the Night
The Lightning didn’t lose a game where they had a three-goal lead all season, and they never blew a three-goal lead in a playoff game in franchise history until the Blue Jackets’ rally.
Toronto Maple Leafs at Boston Bruins, Game 1, 7 p.m. ET, NBCSN (live stream)
Carolina Hurricanes at Washington Capitals, Game 1, 7:30 p.m. ET, USA (live stream)
Colorado Avalanche at Calgary Flames, Game 1, 10 p.m. ET, NBCSN (live stream)
James O’Brien is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @cyclelikesedins.