Playoff hockey is the most beautiful thing in the world. There is a lot going on through the week during the ‘yoffs, so if you’re struggling to keep up with what’s going on outside of the Sharks playoff push, I’ve got you covered. I’ll be wrapping up each series every week, catching you up on what you may have missed in both the Eastern and Western divisions. This will be a great place to keep tabs on your bracket.
In the East:
The defending Stanley Cup champions, the Pittsburgh Penguins, came out fighting in Game 1 of their playoff fight against their in-state rivals, the Philadelphia Flyers. It was a high scoring game, for the Pens at least. They won 7-0, completely destroying the Flyers. Sidney Crosby had a hat trick, Jake Guentzel had a goal and three assists, while the other three goals came from Carl Hagelin, Evgeni Malkin, and Bryan Rust.
The Flyers weren’t going down easy. Come Game 2, the Flyers were ready to fight, and fight they did. They managed to bounce back big time, winning 5-1. Sean Couturier had a goal and two assists, while Shayne Gostisbehere, Travis Konecny, Andrew MacDonald, and Nolan Patrick also found the net. Patric Hornqvist had the lone Pittsburgh goal.
You can tell these teams are rivals. Things got a bit chippy between the two during the second game. Claude Giroux had a big hit on Pittsburgh’s Kris Letang. Letang went to the dressing room after the hit but returned to the game.
Scary moment in Flyers vs. Penguins as Giroux and Letang collide. pic.twitter.com/iCyhmnJtCH— NHL on NBC (@NHLonNBCSports) April 14, 2018
The series is currently tied 1-1. Things will pick back up at 12:00 PST on Sunday.
The Lightning finished the regular season in first place in the East after a close battle with the Boston Bruins. The Devils grabbed a wild card spot and started the playoffs against the powerhouse that is the Tampa Bay Lightning. We’re only one game into this series thus far, but it was a good one.
The Lightning struck first with a goal from Ondrej Palat, with Tyler Johnson scoring shortly after. They came out strong in the second as well with a power play goal by Yanni Gourde. New Jersey responded with Taylor Hall scoring his first playoff goal, an unassisted one at that!
Come the third, New Jersey aimed to keep the goals coming. Travis Zajac scored a power play goal, bringing the score to 2-3. Things were looking up for the Devils, but you can’t count the Lightning out. Tampa would go on to score two more goals, one from Alex Killorn and the other from Nikita Kucherov.
Lightning star Steven Stamkos had missed the final three games of the regular season with a lower-body injury but returned to the line up for Game 1 of the playoffs, where he had an assist and three shots on goal.
Game 2 coming in hot today at 12:00 PST. Tampa Bay leads the series 1-0.
The Blue Jackets had quite a season, and they definitely kept that groove going in game one of their playoff series against the Washington Capitals. The Capitals came in hot with a 2-0 lead, thanks to two goals by Evgeny Kuznetsov. Columbus got a point on the board in the second period with a goal from Alexander Wennberg.
Things got even more interesting in the third period. Thomas Vanek had a power play goal, tying the game up. Washington responded with a goal from Devante Smith-Pelly, getting their lead back. In the 15th minute of the game, Columbus was on the power play and Seth Jones scored. Tie game! Artemi Panarian had the winning overtime goal for the Blue Jackets.
The Washington Capitals will get a chance to redeem themselves on Sunday at 4:30 PST. The Columbus Blue Jackets currently lead the series 1-0.
Boston Bruins vs Toronto Maple Leafs
This series is going to be a good one. These two teams have had quite the history over the 100 years the NHL has existed, especially the last few seasons. This series is also a good one for Sharks fans, as former Sharks Patrick Marleau and Tommy Wingels face off.
This game was full of grit. Brad Marchand got Boston on the board in the first, while Zach Hyman tied it up for Toronto later in the period. David Backes and David Pastrnak scored late in the second period, bringing the score to 3-1. Sean Kuraly and David Krejci sealed the deal for Boston in the third period, giving the Bruins a 5-1 victory in Game 1.
Toronto’s Nazem Kadri has been suspended three games for an ugly hit on former Shark Tommy Wingels, on his birthday of all days. After Wingels checked Mitch Marner, Kadri responded by hitting an already down Wingels into the boards. Wingel’s head made hard contact with the boards. It was a dangerous and stupid penalty to take.
The Bruins lead the series 1-0. These rivals will meet again today at 5:00 PST.
In the West:
Some of the Sharks players may think Winnipeg is the worst city to visit during the season, but Jets hockey has certainly been a fun one to watch this season. The ‘yoffs have proven to be no different. Game 1 kicked off on Wednesday with a 3-2 Winnipeg victory. Mark Scheifele scored a power play goal late in the second, getting the Jets on the board. Opening up the third period, Minnesota’s Matt Cullen tied the game up, his teammate Zach Parise followed suit shortly. Winnipeg’s Patrik Laine and Joe Morrow quickly found the back of the net, giving Winnipeg the W.
Game 2 of this series happened on Friday, and it was another Winnipeg victory. Again, the first period remained scoreless, but come early in the second, Winnipeg’s Tyler Myers found the back of the net. In the third period, Paul Stastny, Andrew Copp, and Patrik Laine would all have goals. Minnesota’s Zach Parise scored a late power play goal, but the deed was already done.
P A T R I K L A I N E.— NHL on NBC (@NHLonNBCSports) April 12, 2018
TIE GAME! pic.twitter.com/VkXcrhmTM2
Game 3 is tomorrow at 4:00 PST.
Who else is completely surprised the Avalanche clawed their way to a playoff spot after how rocky (no pun intended, I am so sorry) their last few seasons have been? The Predators absolutely dominated this season, so that’s not surprising. What is surprising is that their opponents round one are the kid from Long Beach and his Colorado Avalanche squad.
The best part is that Colorado was the first team to get on the board in game one of this series. Nikita Zadorov scored the opening goal of the series, his eighth on the season. That would be the lone goal of the first period. The Preds got on the board in the second with a goal from Austin Watson. Colorado answered back quickly after when Blake Comeau found the net, assisted by our old friend Matt Nieto. The Predators went on the power play and Craig Smith scored the final goal of the second period. Nashville went on to score three unanswered goals in the third period, two from Filip Forsberg and one from Colton Sissons.
FORSBERG THAT MAN HAS A FAMILY pic.twitter.com/rj51TRYApS— NHL on NBC (@NHLonNBCSports) April 13, 2018
They’ll meet for Game 2 at noon PST today.
Vegas Golden Knights vs Los Angeles Kings
Anyone else completely confused on who to root for in this series? Part of me wants the Golden Knights to fail miserably, while the other part can’t stomach to root for the Kings. Regardless, it seems like the Vegas Golden Knights are for real. They currently lead the series 2-0. The Kings were able to hold the Golden Knights to only one goal in Game 1. The lone goal was scored by Shea Theodore. Drew Doughty was suspended for a hit on William Carrier. He will return for game three.
Game 2 was a wild one. Without Drew Doughty, the Kings held on strong. Alex Tuch found the net in the first period for the Golden Knights, and that was be their last regulation goal. Paul LaDue scored on the power play in the second period for LA. The game then went into double overtime, ending with a Vegas goal scored by Erik Haula. The fight between Vegas and LA has certainly been a match up of strong goaltending.
The Kings hope to change their luck against Vegas on Sunday at 7:30 PST.