- The first night of postseason hockey didn't disappoint—unless you're a Flyers fan. The Penguins, Jets and Golden Knights took home Game 1 wins.
The Playoff Battle for the Keystone State got off to a pretty one-sided start on Wednesday.
Sidney Crosby notched a natural hat trick as the Pittsburgh Penguins trounced the Philadelphia Flyers 7-0 in Game 1 of their first-round Stanley Cup Playoff series.
Pens forward Bryan Rust opened the scoring at 2:38 of the first and the team never looked back, with Carl Hagelin and Evgeni Malkin adding first period goals. Jake Guentzel potted his first of the postseason at 7:50 of the second period, and just 71 seconds later, Crosby joined in on the goal bonanza with his latest bat-the-puck-out-of-the-air effort, a tally that chased Flyers starter Brian Elliott.
Crosby wasn’t done, however, adding two more goals in the third period to welcome Philly backup goalie Petr Mrazek to the 2018 playoffs by tapping home a puck on the doorstep at 7:41 and then completing his third career postseason hat trick with a deflection from the slot at 10:42. Despite the dominant showing, Crosby made it clear he wasn't dwelling on the moment, preferring keep his eyes on the prize that now sits one victory closer than before.
“I mean, it’s one game,” Crosby said. “Whether it’s 7-0 or 1-0 or double overtime, it’s one game. A big part in the playoffs is to get better every game and to adjust, and that’s the way we have to look at it.”
For his part, Guentzel finished the night with three assists and four points while Matt Murray stopped all 24 shots he saw on the evening.
The Flyers are left to regroup ahead of Friday's Game 2 after becoming the fifth team to give up at least seven goals in a series opener.
“They beat us from pretty much every aspect tonight, starting from the net out,” Elliott said. “Everybody just has to be better.”
JET 3, WILD 2
Finally. Finally! The Winnipeg Jets earned their first playoff win in franchise history by edging past the Minnesota Wild, improving to 1-8 all time—and yes, that dates back to the Atlanta Thrashers days.
Matt Cullen and Zach Parise staked the Wild to a 2-1 lead with goals 2:12 apart early in the third period, but Patrik Laine’s first career postseason score—a long-distance snipe past goalie Devan Dubnyk—evened the score at two at 4:51 of the frame. Joe Morrow notched the eventual game-winner at 12:47 of the third to give Winnipeg the historic win.
Jets goalie Connor Hellebuyck stopped 18 of 20 in his first taste of playoff action while Mark Scheifele netted his first postseason goal in the first period. Dubnyk made 37 saves on the evening.
They'll go at it again in Game 2 on Friday.
GOLDEN KNIGHTS 1, KINGS 0
On a night already filled with history, the Vegas Golden Knights made just a little bit more.
Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 28 shots for the 63rd win and 11th shutout in his postseason career. Shea Theodore's goal at 3:23 of the first period stood as the game's only goal as the Golden Knights took a 1-0 win over the Los Angeles Kings in their first-ever postseason game. With the win, Vegas became the first team to post a shutout win its playoff debut since 1968, and the fifth in NHL history.
Fleury out-dueled his Kings counterpart Jonathan Quick, who finished the night with 27 stops.
The Kings will look to even out the series in Game 2 on Friday.
HIGHLIGHT OF THE NIGHT
Sidney Crosby’s penchant for batting pucks out of the air never gets old.
1. Sidney Crosby, PIT — Three goals in Game 1? The Kid has his eye on the Cup three-peat.
2. Marc-Andre Fleury, VGK — Flower was unbeatable in earning his 11th postseason shutout, most among active goalies.
3. Jake Guentzel, PIT — Four points in the postseason opener against the Flyers and Guentzel is ready for another big run.
Things get busy on Thursday with a five-game playoff slate. For the Boston Bruins and Toronto Maple Leafs, one of the most highly anticipated first-round matchups, it will be their first postseason meeting since 2013, a historic series you can be sure neither team’s fanbase has forgotten.
Regular season MVP candidate Taylor Hall makes his Stanley Cup Playoff debut with the New Jersey Devils, who have a tall task as a wild card team facing the top team in the East in the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Bolts hope to regain the dominant early-season form after a fatigued stretch run.
Hopes are high in D.C. as the Washington Capitals outlasted a stacked Metro Division to take the top spot, but Rocket Richard Trophy winner Alex Ovechkin and his Washington cohorts drew a tough Columbus Blue Jackets team that enters the playoffs after finishing the regular season on a 10-2-2 run.
The Nashville Predators begin their quest to get back to the Stanley Cup Final against the Colorado Avalanche after riding one of the deepest lineups in all of hockey and Vezina candidate Pekka Rinne to the President’s Trophy. The Avs hope for big things from breakout star Nathan MacKinnon, but face an uphill battle following some late-season injuries.
There’s no love lost between the Anaheim Ducks and San Jose Sharks, a pair of Californian teams that are well acquainted with one another. Both teams are long-time Cup contenders who are banged up and this series probably won’t help either side with that.