Playoff hockey is back.
The first game of the 2019 Stanley Cup playoffs set the tone when the Blue Jackets scored four unanswered goals to top the Presidents' Trophy–winning Lightning 4–3 in Game 1. Seth Jones scored the game-winner from the slot with 5:55 left in the third to cap the comeback.
After a lackluster first period from Columbus that saw Tampa Bay take a 3–0 lead, the Blue Jackets woke up in the second, starting with several impressive saves from Sergei Bobrovsky. The comeback began when Nick Foligno capitalized on a Lightning turnover in the neutral zone and scored on the breakaway to bring Columbus within two midway through the second. David Savard kept it going 7:56 into the third when he dangled his way around Victor Hedman to score his first-ever playoff goal.
Savard's goal is when Columbus full took control of the momentum, with Josh Anderson scoring shorthanded quickly after to tie it up.
It took only three minutes for that playoff vibe to commence, with Brandon Dubinsky and Dan Girardi going at it early. Girardi got an extra penalty from the scrum, putting the Blue Jackets on the power play, but that didn’t matter much because Alex Killorn scored the first goal of the 2019 playoffs shorthanded for the Lightning. Tampa Bay didn’t let up, scoring twice more before the end of the first period, with goals from Anthony Cirelli and Yanni Gourde.
The Blue Jackets got off to a similarly hot start last year when they beat the eventual Stanley Cup–champion Capitals 4–3 in OT.
ISLANDERS 4, PENGUINS 3 OT
Shortly after the Blue Jackets made many question their brackets, the Penguins and Islanders kept the excitement going with the first taste of overtime this postseason. Justin Schultz scored with 89 seconds left in the third to tie things up, but it was the Islanders who came away victorious thanks to a skillful setup from Mathew Barzal that got the puck toward the net for Josh Bailey to sweep up and send into a wide-open net. The Penguins had luck on their side at the start when 33 seconds into the game, a Tom Kuhnhackl goal was waved off for offsides, but the luck didn’t last. Just over a minute later, Jordan Eberle, who was left uncovered in front of the net, picked up a redirected puck and lifted it past Matt Murray. Phil Kessel tied it up four minutes later with a wrister from the slot and the teams traded goals for the rest of the game until New York won 4–3.
BLUES 2, JETS 1
In keeping with the theme of the night, things went down to the wire out west as well. Tyler Bozak scored with two minutes left when Pat Maroon sent him a pass from behind the net and Bozak swung at it while falling to send it past Connor Hellebuyck for the go-ahead goal. Patrik Laine unleashed his signature wicked shot early to give Winnipeg a 1–0 midway through the first and David Perron tied things up four minutes into the third with a shot from the point found its way through traffic and in the net. Rookie netminder Jordan Binnington made a huge save on a shot from Mark Scheifele, who collided hard with the goalie early in the game, with 12 seconds left to help seal the win for the Blues.
STARS 3, PREDATORS 2
The rookie spotlight continued to shine in the Western Conference with Miro Heiskanen stealing the show in Nashville. Dallas’s rookie defenseman scored twice —an unassisted power-play goal in the second to even things up and again 6:10 into the third—to help lead the Stars past the Predators. Mats Zuccarello, who played his first full game as a Star, padded the lead when he scored off a rebound to make it 3–1. P.K. Subban cut the lead thanks to an impressive toe drag in the slot that seemed to reignite the Preds, but it wasn’t enough to push them further despite getting a power play shortly after and having Pekka Rinne pulled for the final three minutes of the game.
SHARKS 5, GOLDEN KNIGHTS 2
As the most intriguing Western Conference matchup, Game 1 didn’t disappoint. Things got weird when Joe Pavelski stole a page from Justin Williams’s book to open up scoring, the shot deflecting off his face and into the back of net. Pavelski missed the rest of the first period but was back on the ice for the second with a full-face shield. The second period was more heated, with both teams trading penalties to the point of a 3-on-3 situation, which Brent Burns capitalized on when he sniped a drop-pass from Erik Karlsson past Marc-Andre Fleury. Marc-Edouard Vlasic scored 45 seconds later, quickly followed by Mark Stone, who scored both of Vegas’s goals. Hertl’s empty-netter settled things in the final minutes.
HIGHLIGHT OF THE NIGHT
There was a lot of magic happening in Tampa Bay on Wednesday, but Savard’s was the most remarkable. He had Victor Hedman spinning in circles as he buzzed through and sniped his shot right by the Vezina Trophy–favorite.
1. Seth Jones, CBJ — Before anyone really had a chance to truly grasp what was happening, Jones put the Blue Jackets over the edge with a power-play beauty. After scooping up a well-placed pass from Artemi Panarin, Jones rifled a shot through traffic (and a well-executed screen from Cam Atkinson) to complete the comeback few could have seen coming.
2. Miro Heiskanen, DAL — Heiskanen already had an impressive rookie season, posting 33 points. But the 19-year-old defenseman made history on Wednesday, becoming the third teenager to put together a multi-goal game in the playoffs.
3. Josh Bailey, NYI — Barzal muscled a lot of the effort that went into the overtime goal, but the quick reaction to swoop in and score with a bouncing puck at a weird angle was Bailey. The OT winner was a bit of redemption for Bailey, who had a shot clang off the post in the final seconds of regulation.