Last night was the opening night for the 2017 Stanley Cup playoffs and it sure didn’t disappoint. Every game was a close, low scoring game that saw two Game 1s go into overtime. However, one of the more interesting stats of the night came from the results of all these games. Out of the five games that were played last night, only one team won at home and they are the defending Stanley Cup champions. How did so many road teams win their games? Lets take a look at each road warrior last night and dissect why these results came to be.
St. Louis Blues vs. Minnesota Wild
Easily the best game of the night, St. Louis and Minnesota captivated audiences by displaying the grittiness and toughness that playoff hockey requires from each team hoping to make a run at the Stanley Cup. However, you would have thought differently of the game if you only looked at the stat line for the game. Minnesota doubled St. Louis in shots 52-26, won 58.8% of the faceoffs, and beat down the Blues physically, outhitting them 35-18. So how could St. Louis have possibly won? They won because of the stellar play of their goaltender, Jake Allen. Allen played like a man possessed, making unbelieveable saves just like this one:
Allen would go on to make 51 saves in the game, recording the third-most saves in Blues playoff history in the the process. Allen boosted his team due to his phenomenal play and allowed for defenseman Joel Edmundson to create this early playoff moment:
It will be interesting to see if Allen can keep up these kinds of performances for the rest of the series. Game 2 takes place on Friday, April 14, at 7:00 PM on the NBC Sports Network.
San Jose Sharks vs. Edmonton Oilers
This game would have been the best game of the night had St. Louis and Minnesota not stolen the show. This game had it all, the feel good story of the return of playoff hockey to Edmonton, the playoff debut of the next big thing in Edmonton’s Connor McDavid, and the anticipation to see if San Jose can repeat last year’s run to the Stanley Cup Final. In the first period, it looked as if the Oilers were going to run right through the Sharks, getting 10 shots on goal and scoring two goals to give themselves a 2-0 lead heading into the second.
However, the Sharks defense would rebound very nicely over the score of the rest of the game only allowing a total of nine shots on goal from the second period until the end of the game. Add in the fact that the Edmonton Oilers were playing carelessly the whole night, as evidenced by the six penalties they committed, and San Jose had to feel like they would be able to come back.
After San Jose forward Joel Ward scored on a power play in the second period to cut Edmonton’s lead to 2-1, the Sharks would tie it early in the third thanks to a goal from defenseman Paul Martin:
However, they would not be able to score again in the third, sending this game to overtime. In overtime, forward Melker Karlsson would not take long to put this game away, scoring this goal three minutes into the overtime frame:
Game 2 takes place on Friday, April 14, at 9:30 PM on the NBC Sports Network.
New York Rangers vs. Montreal Canadiens
This game ended up being a microcosm of the outlook of the series, as the winner of the series will be determined by which goalie can outplay the other. The stats prove that as both teams had 31 shots on goal, both teams went scoreless on the power play, and both teams won 28 faceoffs each. In Game 1, it would be Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist that would out duel his counterpart, Carey Price, and get a 2-0 shutout victory as well, becoming the Rangers’ all-time leader in playoff shutouts with 10.
Carey Price and the Montreal Canadiens will look to rebound at home from the Bell Centre on Friday, April 14, at 6:00 PM on the USA Network.
Boston Bruins vs. Ottawa Senators
This game featured a lot of fast-paced, back and forth play from both teams. In fact, the score of this game could, and probably should, have been much higher than it was if it weren’t for the inspired play of Bruins goaltender Tukka Rask and Senators goalie Craig Anderson. This was especially evident in one crazy sequence of the game where both goalies stopped breakaways in the same shift:
However, things were not looking good for the Bruins after the second period, as they not only gave up a goal to the Senators in the period, but they also got severely outplayed, giving up 12 shots on goals and recording none for themselves.
In the third period though, the Bruins would get major contributions from their young guys and their veterans as forward Frank Vatrano would score his first career playoff goal with 15:05 left in the game to tie it 1-1. With 2:33 left in the game, the Bruins would score the game-winning goal off a rebound shot from star forward Brad Marchand, much to the elation of the traveling Bruins fans.
The Bruins and Senators will get an extra day of rest before they battle again in Game 2 on Saturday, April 15, at 2:00 PM on NBC.