In round two, we are halfway to watching two teams battle it out in the Stanley Cup Finals.
There’s been only one round, but with three of the series forced to game seven and a multitude of overtime games, it seems finishing a game during regulation is more of an oddity than going into extra minutes.
The next team to follow those who have already clinched into the second round are the Dallas Stars. Monday night was their chance get the fourth win at home and not have to worry about a game seven in “Smashville.”
Nashville was the first to score a little more than six minutes into the first. P.K. Subban fired a shot outside the faceoff circle, and Ben Bishop stopped the original shot, unable to handle the puck in his glove. The rebound landed perfectly in front for Austin Watson to slam the puck into the back of the net.
The Predators seemed to be getting all the chances.
But then a lucky 3-on-1 for Dallas proved to be prosperous. After one of Nashville’s defesemen got caught below the blue line and after missing the puck, Radek Faksa got a nice poke check to push the puck up ice.
He and two other line mates were charging lone defensemen Ekholm and goaltender Rinne at high speeds. Faksa passed it off to Blake Comeau, getting the shot off to make the game even at one.
There were plenty of lucky saves and even luckier shots off the post, but this game headed to overtime (OT). John Klinberg scored the game winner for Dallas.
This was the Stars’ first series win in 11 years. They take on the St. Louis Blues in round two, which began Thursday night in St. Louis.
In the East, no offense to the Toronto Maple Leafs, but it seems like the only way they can make it into the second round is if they don’t play Boston in the first.
In that series’ game 7, Joakim Nordstrom managed to sneak the puck between a sliver of an opening, between Frederik Andersen’s glove and his left pad, to put them up a goal. The Bruins forced a costly turnover right behind the Leafs’ netminder. Jake Gardiner whiffed on a crap pass to get the puck up ice, which led to another goal for Boston, 2-0 Bruins.
John Tavares found the open area to slip one past Tuukka Rask, being the only goal they score the whole game. The Maple Leafs held in for a while, making timely saves, getting plenty of opportunities, but they couldn’t get another tally on the board.
Sean Kuraly scored the third goal, which wasn’t a season ending goal, but the Leafs had to get their second goal to stay in this. Boston would go on to score two empty netters to finalize the score and place their spot in the second round. It was the second consecutive year in which Boston beat Toronto in game seven to advance to round two.
Boston is now faced with the giant-slaying Columbus Blue Jackets starting Thursday night at home.
Moving to Sin City, after making it to the Cup Final last year, the Golden Knights were hopeful to do it again. But their first-round playoff opponent saw to it that it wouldn’t happen. The San Jose Sharks came back in an immensely exciting way. They were down 3-1 in the series and managed to force a game seven. Not only that, but they managed to come back from being down 3-0 in game seven and force it into extra time.
The Knights were up 3-0 going into the third period, then the Sharks struck gold.
Cody Eakin was given a five-minute major and a game misconduct for cross-checking Joe Pavelski, a controversial call that changed the fate of the game. The Sharks went on to score four power play goals in the span of those five minutes.
Jonathan Marchessault scored the tying goal for Vegas to send it into OT. But San Jose’s Barclay Goodrow was coming in hot and got the puck to wrap around Fleury’s right pad to score the game-winning goal. The Sharks never gave up and persevered to show they were playoff ready.
Their next matchup is against the Colorado Avalanche Friday night in the “shark tank” that is the SAP Center.
The final game of round one was a faceoff between the defending Stanley Cup champs, the Washington Capitals, and the underdog looking to de-throne them, the Carolina Hurricanes.
The Capitals took the lead in the first and wound up leading 2-0 going into the second. Washington dominated the first period, but just like it was in the regular season, you shouldn’t count these jerks out until it’s over.
Carolina’s first goal came from shorthanded specialist Sebastian Aho. After calling for the puck at mid-ice, he took a shot that bounced toward his favor and got his own rebound to score. They were down by one, but very much still in the game.
The way the Canes get goals is astonishing. It looks as if they just turn toward the goal and fire, which seems to be working.
Teuvo Teravainen brought the Hurricanes’ deficit back to one, trailing 2-3. Then Jordan Staal sniped one past the stick hand of Holtby to tie the game early in the third. The Hurricanes almost let one slip by when a puck snuck through Mrazek’s five hole but was saved at the last minute.
Through a scoreless OT, there came double overtime. Just like they had been doing, Canes Captain Justin Williams threw the puck towards net perfectly to Brock McGinn’s stick, as it ricocheted into the goal for the Canes to take the win in double OT.
They’re off to face the New York Islanders in round two Friday night on Long Island.
Every team that placed first for their division was knocked out in the first round. Also, for the first time, the NHL is giving fans a second chance to predict the winner.
Make room for the new and young teams. They’re looking to quench their thirst from the cup of Lord Stanley.