The First Round of the N.H.L. Playoffs Is Set. There Have Already Been Upsets. - Republik City News


Nashville played its usual goal celebration song, Tim McGraw’s “I Like It, I Love It,” though Arizona’s Brad Richardson scored the series winner in overtime to upset the favored Predators. Chicago piped in their fans’ raucous cheering during the U.S. national anthem and there were nightly nods to the viewers watching from home during all games, with scoreboards that read, “Tonight’s attendance: 0” and “At the conclusion of tonight’s game, please exit your couch safely.”

In Game 3 of their series against Pittsburgh, the Canadiens joined the teams to surmount multi-goal deficits, and their archrival Maple Leafs staged a stunning comeback to push their series against Columbus to the brink.

Toronto became the first team to rally from three goals down in the final five minutes of a game in which they faced elimination. Their surge forced overtime against Columbus in Game 4, where they got a power-play winner from center Auston Matthews to force a decisive Game 5 on Sunday. But the scoring slowed, as Joonas Korpisalo made 33 saves in a shutout win for Columbus.

Toronto’s Game 4 comeback had returned the favor to Columbus, which had overcome a three-goal deficit to win Game 3 behind center Pierre-Luc Dubois, who scored the franchise’s first postseason hat trick including the game-winner in overtime.

The Blue Jackets now face Tampa Bay in a rematch of last year’s first-round series. Columbus swept the Lightning after they’d won a record-tying 62 regular-season games. This time around, Tampa Bay’s sniping center Steven Stamkos and the hulking defenseman Victor Hedman are both recovering from injuries and their status for the series is uncertain.

Goalie tandems fell out of favor after successful runs by Carolina in 2002 and Minnesota in 2003. But so far in this postseason, nine of the 24 participating teams have used two goalies. It was a development that Bruins netminder Tuukka Rask predicted two weeks before the playoffs began, noting that goalies were particularly vulnerable to groin and hip injuries, especially given the suspension and resumption of play.

“I’d be surprised if you see goalies play every minute of every game in these playoffs,” Rask said.

The round’s best player may have been McDavid or Carolina’s Sebastian Aho, who turned in a magnificent two-way, three-point performance in the Hurricanes’ Game 3 win over the Rangers.

Share this