Quite an opening night of the 2019 Stanley Cup Playoffs, eh? We had blown leads, back and forth battles, late goals, an OT winner and some legit upsets. But before we recap everything, I want to give the NHL credit for actually listening to the fans for a change. The biggest complaint about the playoffs, especially in the first round, was the way the NHL refused to stagger start times. For fans who just want to watch, it was maddening to say the least. This year, it appears the NHL’s listened and it made for an entertaining night, allowing viewers to keep track of games (and tune out talking heads in the process). It may not be what their broadcast partners prefer, but the fans appreciate it.
COLUMBUS BLUE JACKETS 4 TAMPA BAY LIGHTNING 3 (COLUMBUS LEADS 1-0)
Let’s start with last night’s shocker. Had this game been a back and forth battle it would have been bad enough, but the fact that the Lightning stormed out of the gate and stomped a 3-0 lead after 20 minutes had many, including myself thinking that not predicting a sweep in this series was an oversight. One of the reasons that I didn’t predict that though was based on Tampa losing one of the few regulation games that they did all year long to the Vancouver Canucks. They’ve taken teams lightly at times and it came back to bite them on the ass. I’m not trying to suggest they’re in trouble, but they’ve already shown the other Eastern teams that they can be beaten. And let’s hand it to grizzled ol’ John Tortorella, keeping Sergei Bobrovsky in the game and letting him battle his way back to allow his team to pull off the comeback.
NEW YORK ISLANDERS 4 PITTSBURGH PENGUINS 3 (OT)- (NEW YORK LEADS 1-0)
Though they play most of their games in Brooklyn now at the Barclays Center, the Islanders returned to the scene of playoff glory on Long Island, and a raucous crowd was treated to hell of an opener. After having a goal waved off :33 into the game on an offside challenge, the Isles continued to press, with Jordan Eberle scoring his first career playoff goal in his first career playoff game a minute later. From there the teams engaged in a back and forth battle, the Penguins battling back to tie each time the Islanders took the lead. That set the stage for some overtime magic from Mathew Barzal and Josh Bailey.
ST LOUIS BLUES 2 WINNIPEG JETS 1 (ST LOUIS LEADS 1-0)
If the Winnipeg Jets want to get anywhere this spring they’re going to have to get their stars firing on all cylinders. It should be encouraging when they were able to get a goal from Patrik Laine last night. Laine has struggled this season, and they’re going to need him to get hot to win this series. They’re also going to have to do something different with Jordan Binnington, as the ‘rookie’ stole on for the Blues last night, keeping them close before third period goals from David Perron and Tyler Bozak (yes, that Tyler Bozak) clinched a Game One victory for them.
DALLAS STARS 3 NASHVILLE PREDATORS 2 (DALLAS LEADS 1-0)
Another team with home ice coughing up that advantage as Miro Heiskanen scored twice, and the Stars got the GWG from Mats Zuccarello en route to a 3-2 win. Roman Josi and PK Subban scored for Nashville.
SAN JOSE SHARKS 5 VEGAS GOLDEN KNIGHTS 2 (SAN JOSE LEADS 1-0)
One of the keys for San Jose to have success this spring was Martin Jones getting back to form. Last night he gave them the goaltending they’ve been looking for all season, stopping 24 of 26 Vegas shots as they cruised to a 5-2 victory. Though they lost the game, Vegas has to be thrilled with Mark Stone, who scored both Golden Knights goals. This has the makings of a 7 game battle and we’re here for it.
TONIGHT’S GAMES: First up we have the Toronto Maple Leafs opening up their series on the road in Boston, trying to conquer their playoff demons. Have they made the changes necessary to get them a 4th win and move past the Bruins? At 7:30 EST/4:30 PST the Champs begin the defense of their title as the Jerks from Carolina invade the US Capital. In the late game we have the final Western Conference Game 1 as Colorado heads to Calgary to take on the Flames. We’ll have our nightly open thread posted at 6pm PST tonight for you to follow along with all the action.