The Tampa Bay Lightning flexed their offensive muscle on Thursday night, lighting up the Devils for five goals in a 5-2 series opener, taking a 1-0 series lead early on. The Lightning had the better part of the push in the early parts of the game, 3-0 before the 2-minute mark of the 2nd period, but the Devils did give them some push back. Not long after the Devils made it 3-2 in the 3rd, the dagger was plunged in and an empty-netter sealed the deal.
Tyler Johnson and rookie Yanni Gourde each had a goal and an assist to lead the Lightning offensively, while Andrei Vasilevskiy made 29 saves for the win. Taylor Hall, not taken in the pool, also had a goal and an assist, making sure that you notice what you're all missing.
Jesper Bratt and Damon Severson were healthy scratches in this game, but Severson was taken once and that was the only selection left in the cold in this game.
The Boston Bruins power play were given plenty of opportunities on Thursday night, as they begun their series against the Toronto Maple Leafs, and the special teams capitalized three times, as the Bruins cruised to a 5-1 win for the early series lead. Those plucky kids in Toronto just didn't appear to have the playoff moxie in Game 1, as the Bruins came in pretty hot, but there's still plenty of hockey to play to turn that one around.
David Pastrnak led the way for the Bruins, scoring a goal and 2 assists, while David Backes scored the eventual winner, and then David Krejci, Torey Krug, Brad Marchand and Tuukka Rask all chimed in with their 2 points each.
Everyone is expecting to see a suspension today, as Toronto forward Nazem Kadri has been called to the carpet of the Department of Player Safety for his ejection last night for charging.
Rick Nash was able to return from his concussion on Thursday night, but coming out of the lineup as healthy scratches were Ryan Donato and Nick Holden, both players having at least a couple of selections to their name.
A great game in Washington last night, as the Blue Jackets and Capitals faced off in Game 1 of their series and it left nothing out there on the ice afterwards. Scoring had its ebbs and flows, as the Capitals made good on a major penalty twice and then the Jackets came back. The Capitals scored a pretty one in the 3rd and the Jackets tied it, well before the final buzzer. Then it was Artemi Panarin in overtime, scoring an absolute beauty to win it, stinging the Capitals at home and giving Columbus the 1-0 series lead.
Panarin led the way for all players, adding a pair of assists to his winner, giving him a 4-point night. John Carlson of the Caps had a 3-assist night, while Sergei Bobrovsky, Thomas Vanek and Pierre-Luc Dubois had 2 points for the Jackets and Evgeny Kuznetsov and Nicklas Backstrom had 2 points for the Capitals. What a great scoring night!
Columbus forward Alexander Wennberg left the game in the 1st period with an upper-body injury and didn't return. There wasn't any updates after the game, so he'll be questionable for Game 2.
In the healthy scratch department, it looks like Box 23 defenseman Jack Johnson was up in the press box as one last night. He had a string of scratches in the regular season and it does make you wonder how much more time he's going to last with this organization.
The Colorado Avalanche were made the decisive underdogs in this series by our 23 hockey pool teams and I'm sure they gave 22 of 23 pool teams a slight scare, when they went up 1-0 and 2-1 in the game against the Nashville Predators, but the President's Trophy winning side were just too strong in the end, as Filip Forsberg scored a pair by the midway point of the 3rd period and the Preds never really looked back from there. Nashville took Game 1 by a 5-2 mark and those who invested heavily in the NHL's best regular season team were rewarded.
Forsberg led the way with 3 points in the pool, including the winner, while Ryan Johansen and Pekka Rinne were also notable for the Predators, each coming away with 2 points in Game 1.
The Finnish wonder kid Eeli Tolvanen, sitting there in Box 7 as the X factor player for the Predators didn't factor into the game, as he was a healthy scratch and he might only be an injury replacement or a booster, if needed down the line. It sounds like there isn't much of a plan to play him full-time... yet.
Well, the San Jose Sharks did their part in proving the hockey pool right, as they were dominant in Game 1 against the Anaheim Ducks and on their rink to boot. The Sharks rode the shoulders of Evander Kane's two goals, including the winner, and then a solid performance by their number one goalie, Martin Jones, who made 25 saves for the shutout, taking the opener 3-0. The late, late game appeared to be quite tight to start off, but it wasn't until the 2nd period, when the Sharks exploded for all three of their markers and then they held on in the 3rd for the goose egg and the win.
Joe Pavelski also had a notable game, picking up a pair of assists in the win, which only benefited one team in the pool, remarkably.
No other real other news and notes from Game 1 of that series, that's pool worthy. I'm sure we'll have a bit more later on in the day. So, stay tuned!