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

NHL Rink Wrap: A blowout, upset, triple OT during busy playoff night
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• 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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    Golden Knights captain Mark Stone undergoes back surgery

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    LAS VEGAS — Vegas Golden Knights captain Mark Stone is out indefinitely after undergoing back surgery in Denver, the club announced.

    The Knights termed the procedure as successful and that Stone “is expected to make a full recovery.”

    This is the second time in less than a year that Stone has had back surgery. He also had a procedure May 19, 2022, and Stone said in December this was the best he had felt in some time.

    But he was injured Jan. 12 against the Florida Panthers, and his absence has had a noticeable effect on the Knights. They have gone 1-5-2 without Stone, dropping out of first place in the Pacific Division into third.

    Stone is second on the team in goals with 17 and in points with 38.

    Devils associate coach Andrew Brunette charged with DUI

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    DEERFIELD BEACH, Fla. — New Jersey Devils associate coach and former Florida Panthers head coach Andrew Brunette was arrested in South Florida while driving home from a bar in his golf cart, authorities said.

    Brunette, 49, was pulled over just blocks from the ocean in the Deerfield Beach area, north of Fort Lauderdale, according to a Broward Sheriff’s Office arrest report. He was charged with one count of driving under the influence and two counts of disobeying a stop or yield sign. Brunette was released on $500 bond.

    The Devils said in a statement that the team was aware of Brunette’s arrest and gathering additional information.

    According to the arrest report, a deputy was in the process of giving Brunette’s illegally parked golf cart a ticket around midnight when Brunette walked out of a nearby bar and told the deputy he was about to leave. The deputy said Brunette seemed unsteady on his feet and slurred his speech, and when he was joined by his wife, the deputy said he overheard the wife tell Brunette not to drive while the deputy was there.

    The deputy remained in the area and reported watching the couple drive away about 17 minutes later, according to the report. The deputy said he watched the golf cart run two stop signs before pulling Brunette over on a residential street about a mile away from his home. According to the report, Brunette had difficulty following instructions during a field sobriety test before eventually quitting and asking for an attorney. He also declined to take a breathe test to measure his blood-alcohol level, officials said.

    Online jail and court records didn’t list an attorney for Brunette.

    Brunette is in his first season as associate coach of the Devils. He was interim coach of the Florida Panthers last season after taking over when Joel Quenneville resigned for his connection to a 2010 Chicago Blackhawks sexual abuse scandal.

    The Panthers fired Brunette after they lost in the second round of the playoffs last spring despite him leading them to the Presidents’ Trophy as the league’s top team during the regular season.

    The Sudbury, Ontario, native played 1,159 NHL games for Washington, Nashville, Atlanta, Minnesota, Colorado and Chicago from 1995-2012. He was a Wild assistant in 2015-16 and worked on Florida’s staff from 2019-2022.

    Stars aligned with new coach DeBoer, Nill-constructed roster

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    DALLAS — General manager Jim Nill sensed things were coming together for the Dallas Stars even before the season started with new coach Pete DeBoer and a roster mixed with proven veterans, up-and-coming young players, and even a teenaged center.

    At the NHL’s All-Star break, after 51 games together, these Stars are leading the Western Conference.

    “Every year you start, you put a team together, and there’s always going to be question marks,” said Nill, in his 10th season as the Stars GM. “You have ideas how you think you’re going to come together, but there’s always the unknown. . This year has been one of those years where right from the start, you could just see everything was kind of jelling.”

    The Stars (28-13-10, 66 points) have their trio of 2017 draft picks that just keep getting better: All-Star winger Jason Robertson, goaltender Jake Oettinger and defenseman Miro Heiskanen. The seemingly ageless Joe Pavelski, at 38 and already re-signed for next season, is on the high-scoring top line with Robertson and point-a-game winger Roope Hintz. Wyatt Johnston, their first-round pick in 2021 and half Pavelski’s age, has 13 goals.

    There is also the resurgence of six-time All-Star forward Tyler Seguin two years after hip surgery and 33-year-old captain Jamie Benn, who already has more goals (19) than he did playing all 82 games last season.

    The Stars have a plus-40 goal differential, which is second-best in the NHL. They are averaging 3.37 goals per game, more than a half-goal better than last season when they were the only team to make the playoffs after being outscored in the regular season. They are also allowing fewer goals, and have improved on power plays and penalty kills.

    “Where we sit at this break, I think guys are happy with that,” Seguin said, before being asked the keys to the Stars leading the West and on pace for a 100-point season with their new coach.

    “Our style, our team speed, our puck speed, being predictable. All the clichés, knowing where the puck’s going. Really how we play the five-man unit,” he said. “Our pace this year, it’s been a lot quicker. There’s been some solid depth scoring this year while we’ve got one of the best lines in hockey.”

    The Stars went into the break on their only three-game losing streak of the season, all 3-2 overtime losses at home.

    “Those aren’t real losses,” said DeBoer, who twice has gone to the Stanley Cup Final in his first season with a new team. “I’m happy where we’re at. I like how we’re playing.”

    Plus, Dallas won’t have to worry in the playoffs about 3-on-3 hockey, which has been the only real stain on their season so far. Only one team has more than its 10 losses after regulation.

    “We’ve played a lot of good hockey. We’ve made a lot of good strides in our game,” DeBoer said. “We still have another level we have to get to when we get back, but there are a lot of good things that have happened. They’ve worked to have us where we are right now in the standings. Good spot to be in.”

    The Stars have 31 games left in the regular season. The first four after the break at home, like the last four before their week-long hiatus.

    Robertson’s 33 goals rank sixth in the NHL, and the 23-year-old has the same number of assists while averaging 1.29 points a game even after he missed most of training camp before signing a four-year, $31 million contract. Pavelski has 48 points (14 goals, 34 assists) while playing every game, and Hintz 46 points (20 goals, 26 assists) in only 43 games.

    Oettinger, who is 21-7 in regulation, has a .923 save percentage and 2.26 goals against average since signing his three-year, $12 million contract. That deal came after 223 saves in a seven-game playoff series against Calgary last May, capped by 64 in the series finale that went to overtime.

    Nill said Robertson’s production has improved even with the league adjusting to the high-scoring forward, and that Oettinger is proving to be one of the league’s best goalies. But they are just part of what has been a tremendous team effort.

    “They kind of had that mojo right from the start, and it was kind of this team’s got the right mix,” Nill said. “It’s come together well, and it’s shown in the standings. It’s been good to watch.”

    Canucks’ Ilya Mikheyev to have season-ending knee surgery

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    VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Vancouver Canucks right wing Ilya Mikheyev is set to have season-ending surgery on his left knee.

    Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin said Friday night the 28-year-old Russian forward tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the team’s first preseason game Sept. 25. Mikheyev will undergo surgery next week and is expected to be ready for training camp in the fall.

    Mikheyev was originally listed as week-to-week with the injury and played 45 regular-season games, finishing with 13 goals and 15 assists. He scored in his final appearance Friday night, a 5-2 home victory over Columbus.

    Mikheyev signed a four-year, $19 million contract as a free agent last summer.