The Pittsburgh Penguins and the Montreal Canadiens thanks to some overtime action on Friday, but Saturday's Stanley Cup playoff slate was eventful for its first matchup alone, although a Nashville Predators walloping of the Chicago Blackhawks sure spiced up the late-night action as well.
The Ottawa Senators, blanked by the Boston Bruins in the first meeting between the Eastern Conference foes earlier in the week, seemed to be doing all they could to let Boston run the show once more on Saturday. A three-goal second period from the Bruins had Bruce Cassidy's unit in position for a commanding 2-0 series lead.
But because the Senators just like to keep things interesting (#BecauseItsTheCup), Boston's edge in giveaways, power-play efficiency and general momentum meant absolutely nothing by game's end. Goals from Chris Wideman and Derick Brassard knotted things up in the third, erasing memories of an early-game mishap from goalie Craig Anderson, and then it was defenseman Dion Phaneuf who cranked this shot to lift Ottawa in overtime:
With two straight games in Boston coming up, the Senators took a badly needed step forward with their come-from-behind act.
Big things went down outside Ottawa as well ...
Pekka Rinne and the Predators are a first-round hit
So maybe we expected the Blackhawks to get a fight from Nashville, but did anyone really anticipate Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and the rest of Chicago's title-winning bunch to be shut out at home in back-to-back games?
Something like 3-2 Predators sounds like a reasonable final score for Game 2, a follow-up to an uncharacteristically scoreless night from the Blackhawks in Game 1. But no, Saturday night's fiasco -- or accolade, if you're Nashville -- was a 5-0 affair. Filip Forsberg and Co. might justify a five-goal outing from the Predators even with Corey Crawford in the net for Chi-Town, but Kane, Toews and the guys on the other side of the ice do not justify the Blackhawks logging a second straight goose egg on the scoreboard.
Credit Pekka Rinne for this surge, which suddenly has Chicago on alert as the series moves out of the United Center. The goalie got in on assists in Nashville's big win, scoring more offensively than anyone on the Blackhawks, but his real contributions came in the net, where he halted more than 30 shots on goal and kept the Western Conference favorites off the board for the second time in as many games.
The Maple Leafs are making the Capitals earn their due
Two straight games that went to overtime, including Saturday's double-OT matchup, prove that, if anything, the Washington Capitals are not going to have their first-round series handed to them.
Perhaps it's the tough test the Presidents' Trophy winners need to begin perfecting their not-so-clean postseason track record. Perhaps it's a sign that the Toronto Maple Leafs' high-scoring youngsters are for real, because them sticking with Washington for extra periods in back-to-back games, matching the Caps' shots-on-goal total and claiming a 4-3 win on Saturday night, sure suggests that is the case.
No matter how Game 2 would have ended, whether with the Maple Leafs' rebound win or a hypothetical Caps victory, one thing is clear: Toronto will not go down without a fight.