The 2007-08 NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs got off to an exciting start last night with everything one would expect from these games with lots of hits, highlight reel goals and even more spectacular saves from goaltenders trying to keep their teams alive. Read on for a brief synopsis on all 4 games played as well as what to expect from these same teams in game 2.
Pittsburgh Penguins 4 Ottawa Senators 0
Was anyone surprised by this outcome? With Ottawa's Daniel Alfredsson and Mike Fisher out with injuries, the Sens looked like a team that was trying to find themselves. They were also put in a hole rather quickly as Pittsburgh's 4th line combined at the 1:08 mark of the 1st when The Sens killer Gary Roberts put one past Martin Gerber on a backhand through Martin Gerber. There is a disclaimer here: Gerber was the best player on the Ottawa team. Were it not for him, especially in the 2nd period when Pittsburgh threw 15 shots at him, the game could have easily been over much before the 3rd period when Roberts scored his second and Evgeni Malkin put on a hockey clinic for the rabid Penguins fans. The bad news continues for the Sens as arguably their best defenseman and shot blocker Anton Volchenkov was hit in the face with a puck in the 2nd and did not return to the game. More bad news : The Sens went 0 for 8 on the power-play including two 5 on 3 stints of over 50 seconds. Worse news for the Sens : The Pens showed that they are for real both on the skills side as well as with toughness and the decimated Sens have at least 3 more games against them before they call it a season.
New York Rangers 4 New Jersey Devils 1
I predicted that Martin Brodeur would steal a few for New Jersey... This wasn't one of those games. While his counterpart Henrik Lundqvist literally robbed Devils Patrik Elias and Jamie Langenbrunner on point blank attempts, Brodeur did not appear to be up to the task, looking particularly vulnerable when he clearly had the puck in his possession and needed only to clear it when Ryan Callahan snuck in from behind the net and poked the puck through Brodeur. This goal broke a 1-1 tie and the Rangers never looked back taking the first game in Jersey. I expect the Devils to take the next game or they risk being swept when the teams head back to New York.
Colorado Avalanche 3 Minnesota Wild 2 in Overtime
In my opinion, José Theodore is back. This game is in large part due to him and his resurgence of late, having stopped 28 of the 30 shots the wild ripped his way. But don't underestimate the Wild's back-stopper Niklas Backstrom as he also proved he was there to play. The teams were cautious in the first period with no goals scored, but the Avalanche looked poised to take this one easily when Kurt Sauer and Ryan Smyth both scored in the second leaving the Wild with their work cut out for them in the third. Both teams did not disappoint in the 3rd with the Avs pinging 12 shots on Backstrom and the Wild throwing 8 Theodore's way, but it was the Wild who won this round with Mikko Koivu and Todd Fedoruk scoring early in the period to tie the game. Ryan smyth had a chance to seal the Wild's fate with a penalty shot late in the game, but Backstrom valiantly smothered Smyth's deke attempt and the game went to overtime. Smokin' Joe Sakic potted the game winner at the 11:11 mark of the 1st overtime period making him the player with the most overtime game winning goals (9) putting him ahead of former Habs great Maurice Richard. The next game will be more of the same as I can not see either team blowing either out of the water. The way the Wild rallied, you've got to think they will take the next game at home.
Calgary Flames 3 San Jose Sharks 2
Too little, too late for San Jose who saw the Calgary Flames come to town and steal one from them. I say steal because the Sharks did come to play pelting Miikka Kiprusoff with 39 shots during the game. I said Kiprusoff would steal a few for Calgary..this was one of them. The Flames sounded pretty excited after the game saying that they now wanted the second one in San Jose, but I have a feeling the Sharks might have something to say about that. Stephane Yelle finished the season with 3 goals but looked like an elite goal scorer as he potted 2 for the Flames including their first as well as what proved to be the game winner. Big Joe Thornton was limited to an assist on Ryane Clowe's goal at 19:03 of the 3rd with an empty San Jose net but time ran out on him and the Sharks as the Flames take a lead in the series 1-0. If you think you've heard all about how Thornton has to prove he is a playoff player, believe that Thornton has heard the same things. I expect him to explode on the points scene before this series is over. The next game belongs to San Jose.
Not enough Hockey for you? This was only game one for 4 match-ups ! Game one for the other 4 begins tonight! Stay tuned !