Here’s what happened in the NHL last night (check out replays of every playoff game on ESPN+) and what to watch for tonight, in today’s edition of ESPN Stanley Cup Playoffs Daily:
Game 1: Carolina Hurricanes 1, New York Islanders 0 (Hurricanes lead series 1-0). If there’s been one theme so far in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, it’s that the rested get bested. The Hurricanes played Game 7 against the Washington Capitals on Wednesday. The Islanders hadn’t played since April 16. The Canes hung in there, thanks to more brilliance from goalie Petr Mzarek (31 saves) until Jordan Staal broke the scoreless tie in overtime. Obviously, as every Islanders fan will tell us, New York missed that Nassau Coliseum magic after returning to Barclays Center for this round.
Game 1: San Jose Sharks 5, Colorado Avalanche 2 (Sharks lead series 1-0). The Avalanche have two wins in the Shark Tank — one regular season, one postseason — since 2008. After asking around, this was a microcosm of all of those other losses: Allowing too many Sharks chances, not converting on enough of their own, and the puck just bouncing San Jose’s way (outside of another egregious Martin Jones rebound that resulted in yet another early first-period goal against the Sharks).
After the teams traded goals, Kevin Labanc‘s brilliant tally at 16:02 of the second period gave the Sharks the lead, and Brent Burns‘s goal that deflected off of Cale Makar (one of those aforementioned bounces) was the much-needed insurance. The Avalanche never found their legs after a week off, and the Sharks barely had any left after those incredible final two games against Vegas.
The Sharks score 5 goals, including one from Joe Thornton, in Game 1 vs. the Avalanche to secure the 5-1 victory
1. Jordan Staal, C, Carolina Hurricanes. In Game 7 against the Washington Capitals, Staal scored the game-tying goal in the third period. In Game 1 against the Islanders, he did one better: Staal’s bad-angle shot banked off the skate of Robin Lehner and into the net just 4:04 into the extra session to give the Hurricanes the 1-0 win. (Full marks to Nino Niederreiter for the shot that bounced off the end boards over to Staal.) It was his third goal in three games.
2. Joe Thornton, C, San Jose Sharks. Without Joe Pavelski, another Joe stepped up. Thornton converted Marcus Sorensen‘s pass to tie Game 1 in the second period, and earned an assist on Brent Burns‘ goal later in the game. Jumbo was on the ice for three Sharks goals, and was a pace-setter for San Jose all night.
3. Petr Mrazek, G, Carolina Hurricanes/Robin Lehner, G, New York Islanders. Mrazek eventually got the win and the shutout, but both goalies were brilliant in making 31 saves and sending Game 1 into overtime in a scoreless tie. So we’ll put them in a tie for third star as well.
Here’s where the OT turned for the Canes. (Not the Caps)
Got to get the puck depper in the zone. pic.twitter.com/wmervXwEY7 – Michel Anderson (@TLOMitch) April 27, 2019
Cal Clutterbuck. It was universally acknowledged after the game that the Islanders forward’s fancy pants back pass in overtime played a role in the Hurricanes’ eventual game-winner. “I made a bad play at the end and they score 30 seconds later. That one is on me,” he said after the game. Barry Trotz agreed, calling the sequence “too cute.” But not in, like, a kitten way. In a “turnover that led to the end of Game 1” way.
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Stars center Jason Dickinson spelled out the stakes for Game 2 succinctly: “Steal one on the road.” This would seem rather important considering what the Blues did in the opening round, taking all three games in Winnipeg, which is a rather difficult place to win. Coach Jim Montgomery wants to see a bit more desperation from his team than he saw in Game 1.
It took exactly one game for this series to earn its first silly Brad Marchand moment, as he stomped on the stick of Cam Atkinson and broke the blade. Said Atkinson on Friday: “He owes me $300. You can tell him that. I’m expecting ($300). That’s my property.” Will he take PayPal? Venmo? “Cash. Straight cash.”
What do you know, you *can* kill off four straight minutes of power play time!
– x – San Jose Sharks (@SanJoseSharks) April 27, 2019
The San Jose Sharks killed a double-minor after Brenden Dillon cross-checked J.T. Compher in the head, and their social team was quick to remind everyone — or maybe just the Vegas Golden Knights — that you can in fact kill four minutes of power-play time. The shade here might block out the morning sun in Nevada it’s so strong.
“I think the Vegas series just brought us that more closer together, knowing that we had to go through that elimination-type game every game for three games. We’re a tight group here. It’s going to be hard to stop us.” — Kevin Labanc, San Jose Sharks