142 days after the NHL paused its season due to COVID-19, the Stanley Cup Playoffs have officially started!
Each team played an exhibition game earlier this week, but it’s all business from here on in.
There hasn’t been a best-of-5 series in the NHL since 1986. The League used them for the preliminary round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs from 1980-86, and the team that won Game 1 went on to win the series 87.5% of the time (49 of 56).
Saturday’s action brought us Game 1 of five of the Best-of-5 series games – three Eastern and two Western Conference games, with 28 goals scored. We also saw our first overtime of this year’s playoffs.
New York Rangers v Carolina Hurricanes
Jaccob Slavin and Sebastian Aho each had a goal and an assist as the Carolina Hurricanes got their first victory this season over the New York Rangers, winning Game 1 of their best-of-5 series 3-2 at Scotiabank Arena in Toronto.
Martin Necas added Carolina’s third goal, with his shot taking a deflection off Rangers defenseman, and brother of Hurricanes captain Jordan Staal, Marc Staal.
Peter Mrazek made 24 saves for the sixth-seeded Canes, who were 7-for-7 on the penalty kill.
His counterpart, Henrik Lundqvist made 34 saves in his 128th consecutive postseason start for New York, the No. 11 seed in the East, with rookie goalie Igor Shesterkin ruled unfit to play. He is day to day.
As part of the NHL Return to Play Plan, teams are not permitted to disclose a player’s injury or illness information.
Not only did Slavin score the first goal of the 2019/20 Stanley Cup just 1:01 into the first period (from the left circle off a Teuvo Teravainen pass), he’s also the first player to score an NHL Playoff goal in the month of August.
Aho doubled their lead on the power-play at 6:29 of the second period, converting from a one-timer pass courtesy of Andrei Svechnikov.
Mika Zibanejad cut New York’s deficit in half by scoring on a deflection at 14:26 of the second, before Necas‘ shot deflected in off M. Staal‘s skate to give Carolina a 3-1 lead.
M. Staal made up for the unfortunate bounce with a shorthanded goal at 18:05 to make it 3-2.
Rangers were without key player Jesper Fast for the majority of the game after he was hit by Hurricanes defenseman, and former Ranger, Brady Skjei 29 seconds before the first goal. He left the game after the shift and did not return.
Game 2 of the best-of-5 series is on Monday (12 Noon ET – NBCSN, NHL.TV, SN, SN360, TVAS, FS-CR, MSG).
Rangers v Canes (Best-of-5) – Monday, Aug. 3 (12pm ET – NBCSN, NHL.TV,
Florida Panthers v New York Islanders
The New York Islanders defeated the Florida Panthers 2-1 in Game 1 of their best-of-5 series, thanks to goals from Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Anthony Beauvillier.
It’s the first time the Isles have won with Pageau in the lineup; they went
0-3-4 in their final seven regular-season games after acquiring him from the Ottawa Senators on Feb.24.
Semyon Varlamov made 27 saves for New York, who are the No.7 seed in the Eastern Conference.
Jonathan Huberdeau scored, and Sergei Bobrovsky made 26 saves for the Panthers (No. 10).
Pageau gave the Islanders a 1-0 lead when he redirected a cross-ice pass from Derick Brassard at 12:00 of the first period, before Beauvillier one-timed Devon Toews‘ cross for a power-play goal at 3:39 of the second double their advantage.
Huberdeau scored 23 seconds into the third period to cut Florida’s defect in half.
Islanders defenseman Johnny Boychuk left the game at 2:44 of the second period following an illegal check to the head by Panthers defenseman Mike Matheson.
Panthers v Islanders (Best-of-5) – Tuesday, Aug. 4 (12pm ET – NBCSN,
Montreal Canadiens v Pittsburgh Penguins
Fans didn’t have to wait long for the first overtime of the 2019/2020 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
The Montreal Canadiens caused an upset by taking a 2-0 lead early in the second period and, despite the Pittsburgh Penguins coming back to force overtime, it was the Habs who looked the more hungry for victory.
Jeff Petry scored 13:57 in to overtime to secure the win and send shockwaves around the league.
Jesperi Kotkaniemi opened the scoring at 11:27 of the first period, with Paul Byron deflecting a shot from Brett Kulak off of Kotkaniemi as Pens defenseman Jack Johnson hit him near the crease. It’s the 20-year-old center’s first NHL postseason goal.
Nick Suzuki doubled Montreal’s lead at 6:53. The rookie’s wrist shot from the left face-off circle was also his first NHL postseason goal.
Carey Price made 39 saves, whilst his counterpart, Matt Murray, made 32 saves for the fifth-seeded Penguins.
Sidney Crosby and Bryan Rust scored for Pittsburgh to tie things heading in to the second intermission. The Pens managed to hold on for the third period and the majority of overtime before Petry gathered the puck in the right face-off circle and sent his wrist shot in on the blocker side.
Penguins forward Conor Sheary missed wide left on a penalty shot with 3:03 remaining in the third. Jonathan Drouin also missed a penalty shot on the backhand at 6:46 of overtime for the Canadiens, who are the No. 12 seed in the Eastern Conference.
Game 2 of this best-of-5 series will be on Monday (8pm ET – NBCSN, SN, TVAS, ATTSN-PIT).
Canadiens v Penguins (Best-of-5) – Monday, Aug. 3 (8pm ET – NBCSN,
Chicago Blackhawks v Edmonton Oilers
Rookie Dominik Kubalik had two goals and three assists for the Chicago Blackhawks in their 6-4 victory over the Edmonton Oilers in Game 1 of their Stanley Cup Best-of-5 Series.
Kubalik, a finalist for the Calder Trophy as NHL Rookie of the Year, became the first player in League history to score five points in his NHL postseason debut.
Captain Jonathan Toews scored twice, whilst Brandon Saad and Dylan Strome also found the net. Casey Crawford made 25 saves for 12th seeded Chicago.
Connor McDavid had a goal and three assists, with Leon Draisaitl, James Neal and Ryan Nugent-Hopkins also getting in on the scoring for the fifth-seeded Oilers.
Mike Smith made 18 saves (23 shots) in 26:32 of ice time, before being replaced by Mikko Koskinen, who made 18 saves in relief.
Game 2 of their best-of-5 series is on Monday (10:30pm ET, NBCSN, NHL.TV, SN, NBCSCH).
Blackhawks v Oilers (Best-of-5) – Monday, Aug. 3 (10:30pm ET – NBCSN,
Winnipeg Jets v Calgary Flames
The Calgary Flames scored two power play goals, and one shorthanded in a 4-1 victory over the Winnipeg Jets in Game 1 of their Stanley Cup Best-of-5 Qualifier.
Cam Talbot made 17 saves for Calgary, the No.8 seed in the West. The Flames went 7-for-7 on the penalty kill and 2-for-4 on the power play.
Connor Hellebuyck made 29 saves for the ninth-seeded Jets, who lost center Mark Scheifele 5:39 into the game with an apparent lower-body injury, and right wing Patrik Laine at 5:44 of the third period with a presumed upper-body injury.
Andrew Copp got Winnipeg up and running at 8:51 of the first, before the Flames scored three straight special-team goals.
Johnny Gaudreau tied the game at 7:06 of the second period, lifting a shot over Hellebuyck on the power play. It was his first postseason goal since May 10, 2015.
Tobias Rieder scored on a shorthanded breakaway at 12:51 of the second. Mikael Backlund scored on the power play a little under six minutes later to make it 3-1.
Andrew Mangiapane, who assisted Backlund‘s goal, scored an empty-netter at 18:19 of the third to seal the 4-1 victory.
Game 2 of this series will take place on Monday at 2:30pm ET (NHLN, NHL.TV, SN). The winner will advance to the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Jets v Flames (Best-of-5) – Monday, Aug. 3 (2:30pm ET – NHLN, NHL.TV)