NHL playoffs: Penguins, Rangers get off on the right foot behind old goalies
New York and Boston opened with wins, but Pittsburgh turned in the most promising performance
On a night that began with a surprise in goal from the Pittsburgh Penguins, helping to spark the defending Stanley Cup champs on Day One of the NHL playoffs, five gamesWednesday night.
The Boston Bruins and New York Rangers slipped past the Ottawa Senators and Montreal Canadiens. Boston enteredvs. the higher-seeded Ottawa, but Habs-Rangers was considered more of a tossup, though Henrik Lundqvist and Co. had the clear-cut edge in Game 1.
In later action we got the first overtimes of the playoffs -- and a couple of road wins, to boot -- as the Blues beat the Wild 2-1 in extra time time on Joel Edmondson's goal, after some regulation heroics from Minnesota's Zach Parise, and Sharks beat the Oilers 3-2 when Melker Karlsson connected at 3:22 of OT.
Here are some takeaways from the beginning of a long journey toward the Stanley Cup:
Penguins look good -- and Marc-Andre Fleury helps
Look who's back. A surprise starter in the net after a late injury to Matt Murray, old Pens hero Marc-Andre Fleury was back where he belongs -- or at least some would like to think so -- and he came up with 31 saves to ensure Pittsburgh's 3-1 Game 1 victory.
The big story was not Fleury's play, rather that Pittsburgh's offense remained dynamic against the Blue Jackets' NHL-best defense. Considering Pittsburgh's health, it could swing either way.
Canadiens could use a nice rebound in Game 2
The expectation was that Montreal and New York would go toe to toe. And, in some sense, they did in Game 1, as the Habs actually seemed to own an advantage early on, even if the Rangers -- behind Lundqvist's 31 saves -- blanked Montreal 2-0.
Lundqvist's shutout was as good as it could get for the Rangers. Remember, he's coming off a so-so campaign, even if his name remains among the league's top goalies, and the general consensus is that Rangers must generate some offense against Carey Price to advance. Taking Game 1 in Montreal puts the heat on the Canadiens.
Jake Allen quieted the doubters for the Blues
Speaking of goalies, how about Jake Allen's no-nonsense performance against the Wild? With a career-best 51 saves in the net, not to mention against a well-oiled offense in Minnesota, the 26-year-old stud did all he could to make a name for himself after a so-so regular season. His efforts nearly kept the Wild from scoring for much of the night.
Senators should be more cautious when tweeting
Here's your lesson in social media etiquette, folks. The Senators apparently thought it'd be cute to take a jab at the Bruins not landing a shot on goal in the second period of Game 1.
Ottawa went on to lose, 2-1, when the Bruins' Brad Marchand broke a tie at 1 with 2:33 left and Boston held on ... so, better luck on Thursday, Sens.
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