Thursday, April 14, 2016

No Goalie Wins in the Pool Highlight Opening Night

It was one hell of a start down in Tampa Bay last night, as the Red Wings and Lightning put on a pretty good show through two periods, before the Bolts really put their foot down on the gas and let the Wings have it.

The Lightning were the source of many questions heading into these playoffs, as to whether or not they would be able to match their performance from a year ago, even without the likes of Steven Stamkos in their lineup. Well, it was a pleasant surprise to many, when Nikita Kucherov picked up a pair of goals and an assist, Alex Killorn scored the winner and added an assist and Tyler Johnson had a pair of assists.  It was almost like there was no regular season in between playoff runs.

Lightning starter, Ben Bishop, made 34 saves for the victory, but those points went for naught, as the first 37 teams entered did not have him listed.

In Pittsburgh, everyone was waiting on bated breath on the status of Penguins starter Marc-Andre Fleury, who has been dealing with concussion problems at the end of the year.  Well, he wasn't able to go and Jeff Zatkoff got the call for the Penguins in Game 1 and he performed admirably, making 35 saves against the Rangers to take Game 1 of the series, 5-2.

Of course, Zatkoff had a whole lot of offensive help in this one, as Patric Hornqvist got off to a massive start on night number one, picking up a hat-trick and adding an assist for a 4-point night.  Hornqvist, a Box 15 member, was taken seven times out of the first 37 entries, so there were some teams capitalizing on the good start, for sure.

Sidney Crosby picked up a goal and a couple of assists, while Kris Letang had a couple of assists as well, getting nods as multiple-point players.  On the Rangers side, if you opted for Derek Stepan in Box 16, his pair of goals was a help in the loss.

There was some concern in this one, as the Rangers didn't have their number one goalie to start the 2nd period, as Henrik Lundqvist left the game after the 1st period after taking a stick from teammate Marc Staal around the eye area, going through the cage of his mask.  On Thursday morning, the Rangers announced that they had recalled goalie Magnus Hellberg from the AHL, which doesn't bode well for the status of Lundqvist.  We'll keep you posted on his status.

In St. Louis, we knew that this one was going to be a great series and a 1-0 overtime game didn't disappoint.  The home side were the victors in a huge opener, which was highlighted by the physical play of the Blues, as they tried to take to a somewhat under-manned Blackhawks team, out-hitting their opponents 41-24 to start the series.

In what the Blues were doing physically, Brian Elliott, not the sheet goalie for the Blues, was doing for the team in net, as he had to turn away 35 shots for the shutout, points that didn't end up falling into any pool teams last night.

The Blues escaped with a victory, thanks to a sharp-angled shot from David Backes, going off of defender Trevor Van Riemsdyk, getting past Corey Crawford, halfway through the first overtime period.  Backes was the only player in this game that picked up multiple points in the pool, thanks to the bonus point for the game-winner.

This series is already living up to its billing and we've only seen three and a half periods.
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