CAPITALS 3 MAPLE LEAFS 2 OT (CAPITALS LEAD 1-0)
The biggest question for many was 'Can the Leafs' kids hang with the best team in the NHL?'. I think last night was a pretty clear indication that they can. They came storming out and had a 2 goal lead 10 minutes into the game. Not long after though, Justin Williams scored on a power play and brought them back to earth. Not to diminish the comeback by the Caps, but especially when you look at those goals, there's some bounces happening there, but you know what they say about good teams creating their own luck. Overall, I think the Leafs are not in a state where they should panic, but it's gonna be vital to come back to Toronto for Game 3 with a split. And in keeping with the unlikely heroes theme that's going on this year, Tom 'Not That Kind Of Player' Wilson notching the OT winner was a pretty unlikely scenario, right?
PREDATORS 1 BLACKHAWKS 0 (PREDATORS LEAD 1-0)
Another road team steals home ice advantage as the Preds, on the strength of a 29 save shutout performance took game 1, the only goal of the game coming from Viktor Arvidsson, and oh my, was it a beaut!
It may not be the most exciting series to watch, as we can attest first hand how Nashville can slow games down and completely disrupt the offensive flow of their opponents, but if this is what it takes to get the Blackhawks out, bring it on!
DUCKS 3 FLAMES 2 (DUCKS LEAD 1-0)
Make that 28 straight for the Ducks over the Flames at the Honda Center, as Anaheim got some big games from big names, including captain Ryan Getzlaf, who opened the scoring for the Ducks on a 1st period PP goal just 52 seconds into the game. Sean Monahan would tie it up later in the 1st with his own PP tally, and would take the lead in the 2nd when Sam Bennett would score. The lead lasted all of 4 minutes when Getzlaf and 'Casual' Kevin Bieksa set up Richard Rakell for the tying goal. A goaltender interference penalty late in the period on Lance Bouma was costly as Jacob Silfverberg scored on the PP for what proved to be the winner. The Ducks were able to withstand a late 5 on 3 PP for the Flames, which they inexplicably didn't pull the goalie for. Game 2 goes Saturday in Anaheim.
Montreal will look to find a way to get a puck past Henrik Lundqvist tonight, something that they weren't able to in Game 1. One thing they won't be doing is shuffling any of the lines. Head coach Claude Julien felt that there was no reason for his team to panic, and wanted to make sure his team knew that they have his confidence to bounce back after the opening night loss.
Despite the win, the Rangers knew that they cannot start Game 2 the same way, where they were under siege, the Canadiens firing 16 shots on Lundqvist in the opening frame. They were certainly better than the Habs in the remainder of the game, but it will be interesting to see how they react to Montreal taking a lead in the series.
The big story of Game 1 was definitely Marc-Andre Fleury, who was thrust into the starter's role when Matt Murray was injured in the pregame warmup. The lower body injury will keep Murray out again in Game 2, and Fleury will be under pressure to replicate his efforts in Game 1. One thing the Blue Jackets will need to do is get more traffic in front of Fleury, something that John Tortorella felt they didn't do enough of in Game 1. "I think they score three goals on four or five chances," Tortorella told NHL.com's Dan Rosen, "so we're going to have to find a way to get on the inside and try to bang away and create more offense."
They will also need a bounce-back game from Sergei Bobrovsky. This isn't going to be easy against the highest scoring team in the league this season, and as they showed, keeping Sidney Crosby off the scoresheet is hardly enough to guarantee success. This Penguins team has too many ways they can hurt you.
Jake Allen's 51 save performance Thursday night was something to behold, but the Blues know they cannot allow the Wild to have that many opportunities again tonight. The Wild dominated St Louis in zone time and puck possession all night long, and that's a sure fire way to head back to St Louis with the series tied.
While the Wild came out on the short end, the fact that they were able to push the game to OT should give them a bit of confidence after a very frustrating night. Expect them to continue to fire the puck on Allen from wherever and whenever they can, hoping for a lucky bounce or deflection.
With the jitters that come from playing your first NHL playoff game for most of the team out of the way, the Edmonton Oilers will look to get back to the things that worked for them this season. One thing that's going to definitely affect their chances of tying up this series is the news that Joe Thornton may be back in the San Jose lineup tonight.
The addition of Thornton to the Sharks' lineup makes the experience difference even greater, not to mention that the Sharks PP becomes even more of a threat with Jumbo Joe running it. 7 opportunities for this PP tonight could be fatal for the Oilers, so you know coach Todd McLellan will be preaching patience and making sure they don't take penalties, and that also means keeping their emotions in check.
They'll also need to deal with San Jose's relentless forechecking, which forced a number of turnovers. The Sharks transition game will kill you if you let it, as we saw in Game 1. Other than the potential of Thornton's return, there should be no other lineup changes.
GAME DAY BATTLE HYMN
From their brilliant album `Last Fair Deal Gone Down`, here`s `Chrome` by Sweden`s KATATONIA.