Day one of the NHL’s return to play opened with five games. After so many months without hockey, it promised to be an interesting day with teams thrust back into the hottest of competition with appearances in the postseason on the line.
It didn’t disappoint. There were plenty of close games, one that looked to be a complete blow out before ending closer than it should have, a couple of upsets, fights, and injuries.
The Carolina Hurricanes and New York Rangers game was a closely contested outcome, with Carolina eeking out a 3-2 win. The Rangers surprised the hockey world when Henrik Lundqvist was named the starter for Game 1. Both he and Petr Mrazek had some monster saves in a game that saw a combined 14 power play opportunities.
On the opposite end of that spectrum was the Chicago Blackhawks and Edmonton Oilers game, where defense was optional and the Oilers executed the first in-game goalie pull of the postseason. Chicago roared out to a 6-2 lead before the Oilers stormed back to make the final score look closer than the game really looked. Drake Caggiula will get the first Department of Player Safety meeting after an illegal check to the head of Tyler Ennis in this matchup.
The Montreal Canadiens and the Pittsburgh Penguins forced overtime for the first time this postseason, and set history at the same time. It was the first playoff game in which two penalty shot attempts were made in a single game since 1923. (Neither player scored.) Matt Murray backstopped the Penguins, even though young Tristan Jarry had played Murray into more of a tandem situation with his performances this season. Montreal had Carey Price, and they needed every one of his huge saves to get out of the game with the 3-2 win.
When the Winnipeg Jets took on the Calgary Flames to cap off the first day of games, Mark Scheifele went into the boards with Matthew Tkachuk and left with what could be one of the worst injuries seen in the early goings of this play-in round:
After the game, Jets head coach Paul Maurice said that the injury looked intentional, a claim Tkachuk denies. Tough blow for the Great White North if Scheifele misses significant time. Calgary took game one in a 4-1 blowout.
Day two is likely to have a ton of similarly exciting games. We also get our first couple of round robin games in the mix as well, which leads us to the Defending Big D match of the day choice for the East and West today:
- 1 PM CDT: Arizona Coyotes @ Nashville Predators (USA)
- 2 PM CDT: Philadelphia Flyers @ Boston Bruins (Round Robin - NBC)
- 5:30 PM CDT: St. Louis Blues @ Colorado Avalanche (Round Robin - NBCSN)
- 7 PM CDT: Columbus Blue Jackets @ Toronto Maple Leafs (NHL Network)
- 9:30 PM CDT: Minnesota Wild @ Vancouver Canucks (NBCSN)