Three Stars: Pavelski, Greiss, Spezza stand out in openers
On the second night of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs there was plenty of excitement. The Capitals defeated the Flyers, San Jose edged rival Los Angeles and the Stars seemed to be too much to handle for the Wild.
Here’s who stood out most on Thursday night:
1. Joe Pavelski, San Jose Sharks
The Sharks wrested Game 1, and home ice advantage, from the Kings Thursday night with a 4–3 win that left both sides black and blue. Pavelski led the way with a pair of goals and a constant presence around the puck. He evened the score at one with a sizzling one-timer on a first-period power play then scored the game-winner just 17 seconds into the third period on what might have been the play of the night. Pavelski first beat Anze Kopitar on the faceoff, then fended off the Selke favorite as he drove behind the net and beat Jonathan Quick on the wraparound.
2. Thomas Greiss, New York Islanders
So much for concerns about New York’s goaltending. Making his first career playoff start, Greiss delivered a brilliant 42-save performance Thursday night as the Isles stole Game 1 in Florida. The 30-year-old was tested consistently as his teammates bobbled their defensive duties, including a sharp glove save on Aleksander Barkov with the Isles holding a 3–2 lead in the second. He saved his best stop for last, besting Jaromir Jagr with a pad save in the final minute to preserve the 5–4 win.
3. Jason Spezza, Dallas Stars
Spezza’s had the hot hand of late for the Stars, wrapping up his 33-goal season with a hat trick in Dallas’ division-clinching 3–2 win over the Predators. He kept the heat up in their 4–0 win over the Wild on Thursday night, delivering a jaw-dropper tally that gave his team a 2–0 lead midway through the second period. Spezza took the puck inside the zone, faked a slapper that dropped Minnesota keeper Devan Dubnyk to his knees and then beat him with a wrister that went high glove. It was an absolutely filthy shot from a long-time set-up man who is proving that he can finish with the best of 'em.