NHL Rink Wrap: A blowout, upset, triple OT during busy playoff night

NHL Rink Wrap: A blowout, upset, triple OT during busy playoff night
Michael Martin/NHLI via Getty Images

• In Game 1, the Penguins and Rangers didn’t just give us the first overtime of the NHL playoffs. They endured a triple OT marathon.

• The Capitals stunned the Panthers, Game 1 of Avalanche – Predators went as expected, and the Stars and Flames played skin-tight hockey.

• The NHL handed out a set of fines, with Jared Spurgeon avoiding a suspension despite an ugly, dangerous cross-check to Pavel Buchnevich‘s lower body. Doesn’t seem like the best message for the league to send, unless they want players to think, “We can get away with a lot.”

Game 1: Penguins 4, Rangers 3 (triple OT)

It remains to be seen if this First Round series between the Penguins and Rangers ends up being a classic. Frankly, one or both of these teams might end up being too exhausted.

Truly, Game 1 of the Penguins – Rangers was already full of drama and intrigue. There were controversial goal and penalty reviews. The Rangers started strong, then Sidney Crosby‘s line took over the second period.

Then the game just kept going, and going, and going. Read more about how the Penguins won Game 1 in triple overtime here.

Game 1: Capitals 4, Panthers 2

For a while, it seemed like the story would be that the Capitals were able to keep up with the Panthers in Game 1, but Florida might still win. A Claude Giroux goal put the Panthers up 2-1 through the second period.

In the third, the Capitals scored two quick goals (one by Evgeny Kuznetsov, the other by T.J. Oshie) to build what would be a commanding lead over the Panthers. As often as these Comeback Cats have been able to rally this season, Washington ended it with an empty-netter.

It’s too early to say that the Panthers’ style can’t work in the playoffs. It’s possible that the Capitals might be able to hang with the Panthers, after all, though.

Game 1: Avalanche 7, Predators 2

Well, for every upset — mild or big — you also interact with the occasional bit of crushing inevitability.

Just 2:42 into Game 1, the Avalanche were up 2-0 against the Predators. A bit more than 15 minutes into that first period, the Avs poured it on to the tune of a 5-0 advantage.

From there, the Predators were mainly trying to save face, and perhaps choose between David Rittich and Connor Ingram. If Game 2 of Avalanche – Predators goes like Game 1, the urge to bring in Juuse Saros may be strong.

That said, if the level of play remains this lopsided, is it worth risking his health (not to mention some level of self-confidence)? For at least one night, the Avalanche looked like the playoff locomotive fans of the sport have been dreaming about. That dream translates to nightmares for opponents.

Game 1: Flames 1, Stars 0

When Elias Lindholm scored a power-play goal 5:01 into the first period, there was at least some feeling that maybe this could be a more open contest than expected. While the Flames are a strong defensive team, Game 1 wasn’t far off from the “blueprint” for what the Stars want in this First Round Series.

Even so, the Flames showed they could handle such a tight game. Jacob Markstrom needed to make a mere 16 saves for a shutout, and the havoc Matthew Tkachuk created might have created the game’s most entertaining highlights.

[NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2022 First Round schedule, TV info]

Three Stars in NHL for Tuesday (second day of playoffs)

1. The goalies from Game 1 of Penguins – Rangers

Truthfully, we might as well rope off the top star of the night section for Game 1 of Penguins – Rangers, in general.

That said, the goalies played the biggest role in pushing this game to a ridiculous triple overtime. While Igor Shesterkin suffered the loss, he made 79 saves. That’s the second-most saves any goalie’s made in a playoff game, trailing only Joonas Korpisalo‘s absurd 85.

Both Penguins goalies put together strong Game 1 efforts, too. Casey DeSmith made 48 out of 51 saves before leaving in double OT (89 minutes and seven seconds of game time). In a bit less than 17 minutes, Louis Domingue stopped all 17 shots.

All three goalies can be proud of their efforts.

2. Nathan MacKinnon and the Avalanche’s top stars

In a lot of cases, a few stars really pile up points, making it difficult to pick just one. (Sort of like eating a single potato chip.)

Nathan MacKinnon helped the Avalanche dominate the Predators, scoring two goals and one assist. Impressively, MacKinnon’s now at 30 goals and 72 points in 51 career playoff games.

You can make just as strong an argument for the game-breaking talents of Cale Makar, too. Don’t be surprised if Makar drew a little extra bit of motivation from any Roman Josi Norris Trophy talk, as Makar scored one goal and two assists.

Mikko Rantanen figured in prominently to the blowout, too, generating three assists. If the Predators hope for any chance in this series, they need to contain MacKinnon, Makar, and other top Avalanche talents far more than they did in Game 1.

Like, a lot more.

3. Sidney Crosby’s line, Evgeni Malkin, Penguins

Top Penguins scorers also helped to swing Game 1 vs. the Rangers. Most obviously, Sidney Crosby, Jake Guentzel, and Bryan Rust turned the tide during the second period, and created chances throughout. Evgeni Malkin set up Rust for an easy power-play goal, then Malkin scored that triple OT game-winner.

It wouldn’t be fair for Penguins – Rangers Game 1 triple overtime to steal all of the headlines, but these performances really stood out.

Wednesday’s NHL Playoff Schedule

Game 2: Bruins at Hurricanes (CAR leads 1-0), 7 p.m. ET – ESPN
Game 2: Lightning at Maple Leafs (TOR leads 1-0), 7:30 p.m. ET – ESPN2
Game 2: Blues at Wild (STL leads 1-0), 9:30 p.m. ET – ESPN
Game 2: Kings at Oilers (LAK leads 1-0), 10 p.m. ET – ESPN2

PHT’s 2022 Stanley Cup previews
Maple Leafs vs. Lightning

Hurricanes vs. Bruins
Blues vs. Wild
• Avalanche vs. Predators
Oilers vs. Kings

Flames vs. Stars

NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2022 schedule, TV info
First Round, Stanley Cup predictions
• NHL Draft Lottery set: Canadiens have best odds for top pick
Why your team will (and will not) win the Stanley Cup

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.

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