NHL playoffs results daily: Penguins win OT marathon, Avs dispose of Predators, Caps have surprise lead

Game 1: Penguins 4, Rangers 3 (3OT) | Pittsburgh leads 1-0

Who was the guy? It’s unfair, forcing us into decisions like this on Night 2. To Igor Shesterkin… we’re sorry. You’re perfect. You’re the special Vezina boy, and you did special Vezina things. In 105: 58 of hockey, Shesterkin faced 83 shots. He stopped 79 of them and finished with 4.5 goals saved above expected. Historic stuff. Honorable stuff. The sort of stuff, in fact, that we’ve come to expect from Shesterkin in his short time as a megawatt star.

We did not expect Louis Domingue to have the night he had, though. We did not expect Louis Domingue to have any sort of night at all, actually, and neither did Louis Domingue. The man said postgame – with a straight face – that he ate SPICY PORK AND BROCCOLI after the first overtime.

What could go wrong, y’know? It’s not like Casey DeSmith was going to cramp up and force Domingue, who was only dressed in the first place because of Tristan Jarry’s injury, to decide the game with cold legs and a belly full of Chinese catering. That, of course, is exactly what happened. Domingue came in, kept his food down – impressive on a couple levels, really – and held down the fort long enough to stop all 17 shots he faced. He’s a folk hero now, and his team has a 1-0 series lead. Not bad.

What was the key? Other than Domingue not barfing in his crease (or worse)? Pittsburgh’s 25-shot, three-goal second period. The Penguins looked dead on their feet in the first 20 minutes. Pure, identifiable sweep fodder. The fact that the game made it to overtime in the first place is remarkable.

Key stat: Four. That’s how many gigantic hits John Marino took in the first period, and they weren’t by accident. He hung around long enough to put a shot on net against Shesterkin that Evgeni Malkin redirected for the game-winner at 5:58 of the third overtime.

The moment it was over: When Malkin beat Shesterkin, with assists from Kasperi Kapanen, Marino and Rangers center Filip Chytil, who inexplicably abandoned Malkin in front.

We almost had a couple dozen different answers for this one, though. Picking one? If Ryan Strome were a left shot instead of a right, that game ends in the first overtime.

The moment of the game: Again, there are too many to choose from. Ryan Lindgren’s hit on Rickard Rakell? Malkin setting up Bryan Rust for a 5-on-3 goal to tie the game 3-3, a few minutes after contributing to Chris Kreider’s shorthanded goal? The biggest, though, was Mike Sullivan’s decision to challenge Chytil’s tie-breaking goal with 3:10 left in regulation. The goal was disallowed – Kaapo Kakko skated into DeSmith after presumably incidental contact from Brian Dumoulin and before Chytil pounced on the loose puck. McIndoe signed off on it, so you know it was correct.

Penguins Worry Meter (on a 1-5 scale with corresponding emojis): Are… Those are a lot of minutes on some old legs, and DeSmith’s Game 2 availability is anyone’s guess, so there should be concern. Still, they won the game.

Rangers Worry Meter: Ster… Shesterkin is a trump card. We know that. The series is young. The Rangers are a much better team than they were before the trade deadline. But man, losses like that have ripple effects.

– Sean Gentille

Game 1: Capitals 4, Panthers 2 | Washington leads 1-0

Who was the guy? Alex Ovechkin making a significant impact in the postseason? Sure. Of course. Ovechkin making a significant impact in the postseason with his defense? OK, you have our attention. Ovechkin, who missed the last three games of the regular season with a suspected shoulder injury, returned to the lineup for Game 1 and was his usual active self, with nine shot attempts, four hits and plenty of menacing power-play shifts. But it was his poke check eight minutes into the third period – standing up MacKenzie Weegar in the neutral zone and knocking the puck clean off his stick to Evgeny Kuznetsov, who raced in on a breakaway to tie the game 2-2 – that was the deciding play in this one.

What was the key? The Panthers were the highest-scoring team in a quarter-century, the first team to average more than four goals per game (4.11) in the cap era. And they averaged more shots per game (37.3) than any team in the last 46 years. But after taking a 2-1 lead on Claude Giroux’s goal in the opening minute of the second period, Washington clamped down on the Panthers, and Vitek Vanecek stopped everything that did make it through, finishing with 30 saves. That sound you hear is 200 Hockey Men banging away at their keyboards writing think-pieces about how offense wins in the regular season, but defense and goaltending are all that matter When it counts. (Though, for what it’s worth, the much-maligned Sergei Bobrovsky was very good in this one.)

Key stat: The Panthers led after two periods 40 times during the regular season. They never lost in regulation in that situation, going 39-0-1. Their record in such situations in the 2022 playoffs: 0-1.

The moment it was over: TJ Oshie’s goal off a slick Nicklas Backstrom pass at 11:37 of the third gave Washington the lead. But with Florida’s firepower, this one wasn’t over until Lars Eller scored a 140-foot empty-netter with 48 seconds left. Credit to Vanecek for holding down in these hairy final minutes.

The moment of the game: Tom Wilson, a polarizing player and a powerful playoff performer, left the game after just three shifts. He scored a goal but also took a Radko Gudas stick to the face. But it was a lower-body injury that took him out of this one, per Peter Laviolette. Wilson came out for a quick spin later in the first period, but headed back to the room and did not return.

Capitals Worry Meter: 🙃🙃 Wilson’s injury certainly complicates the emotions after a big win.

Panthers Worry Meter: 😬 😬 😬 It’s been 26 years since the Panthers won a playoff series. The universe could not give this spectacular – and fun – team one easy one?

– Mark Lazerus

Game 1: Avalanche 7, Predators 2 | Colorado leads 1-0

Who was the guy? Nathan MacKinnon gets credit for pushing the snowball down the hill with this power-play bazooka a little more than two minutes into the game.

He closed out the scoring and added an assist, as well. The Conn Smythe run starts in earnest.

What was the key? For the Avs? Icing a full roster against Nashville backup David Rittich. There weren’t many other potential outcomes here. Devon Toews, Andrew Cogliano, Cale Makar, Artturi Lehkonen and Gabriel Landeskog scored the Avs’ other goals. Matt Duchene scored both of Nashville’s.

Key stat: 22. That’s how many seconds came between MacKinnon’s first goal and Toews making it 2-0, at 2:42 of the first. They were the fastest two goals from the start of a playoff game in Avalanche / Nordiques franchise history.

The moment it was over: When Preds starter Juuse Saros was injured last week against Calgary. Saros is a fringe Vezina candidate. Rittich posted an .886 save percentage in 17 regular-season games and only started 12 of them. There was a reason for that. The drop-off between the two cannot be overstated.

The moment of the game: Probably this.

Rittich allowed five goals on 13 shots and was pulled for Connor Ingram with 5:04 left in the first. Ingram, who’d played in three NHL games, was fine, allowing one goal on 25 shots, but the damage was long done.

Avalanche worry meter: 🤠

Predators worry meter: 🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯

– Sean Gentille

Game 1: Flames 1, Stars 0 | Calgary leads 1-0

Who was the guy? While Jacob Markstrom gets credit for his shutout, Noah Hanifin stepped up tonight in all situations, even without his mainstay partner for two frames. In all situations, he finished second on the team in ice time at 25:21, while being deployed in crucial penalty-killing moments and on the top power-play unit. Hanifin led the team with six shot attempts in all situations and helped keep the ice tilted in Calgary’s favor at five-on-five as the Flames generated 65 percent of the shot and expected goal share with him deployed, according to Natural Stat Trick. That’s even more impressive considering he was the defenseman most often matched up against the Stars’ dangerous top line.

What was the key? Going into the series, the Flames had the edge in special teams but had to put that on display five times on the penalty kill when they could not maintain their discipline. Calgary kept their opponent to the outside and allowed little from the slot area, limiting their chances to tie the score in any of those power-play opportunities.

Key stat: In 10 minutes of power-play time, Dallas mustered a measly 10 shot attempts (two of which were blocked) that equated to an expected goal value of just 0.5.

The moment it was over: As much as the Stars blew chance after chance when they could not capitalize on the power play, it was still a 1-0 game at the end. That’s not a secure lead, even against a strong defensive team and goaltender. The Roope Hintz chance that sailed high with just over eight minutes left almost felt like the end. But there was still hope for Dallas during their 6-on-5 opportunity late in the game… until there wasn’t. Hintz tried to set up Jason Robertson with a lateral pass, and if he could have received and shot the puck quickly, he likely would have had some space to beat Markstrom. But when the pass did not connect, the game was over. To add some salt in the wound after that opportunity failed, the Flames cleared the puck out of the zone and the Stars responded with an icing.

The moment of the game: Lindholm’s power-play goal. Picking out the only goal of the game may seem obvious, but there are two reasons for it. First, it highlights just how effective of a Lindholm shooter is, after a stellar season on both ends of the ice. Second, this is the goal that stood as the game-winner, and that’s pretty noteworthy since the Stars could not match that in their five opportunities on the advantage.

Flames Worry Meter: 🤠

Stars Worry Meter: Was… it was not good for Dallas, but it was not as awful as it could have been! It just might help to score a goal here or there.

Emoji Key: A quick guide to the all-important Worry Meter. We measure on a scale of 1-5, with one being the least worried. The corresponding emojis are:

– Shayna Goldman

1: 🤠

2: 🙃🙃

3: 😬 😬 😬

4: 🥴🥴🥴🥴

5: 🤯🤯🤯🤯🤯

Three stars

On tap for Wednesday

Bruins at Hurricanes, 7 pm ET (Hurricanes lead 1-0)

Lightning at Maple Leafs, 7:30 pm ET (Maple Leafs lead 1-0)

Blues at Wild, 9:30 pm ET (Blues lead 1-0)

Kings at Oilers, 10 pm ET (Kings lead 1-0)

(Photo: Jared Silber / NHLI via Getty Images)

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