The Edmonton Oilers, trying to put a positive spin on blowing a two-goal lead on home ice in Monday’s NHL playoff opener against the never-say-die Los Angeles Kings, insist there’s no reason to panic. Teams that lose the first game of a series tend to say these things.
The Oilers, who surrendered a power-play goal to Anze Kopitar with 17 seconds left in regulation time to force overtime, then lost the game on an Alex Iafallo power-play goal at 9:19 of the extra session.
The Oilers say they don’t want to go back to Los Angeles trailing the physical best-of-seven series 2-0, so that makes tonight’s tilt at Rogers Place a “must-win” game, even though nobody on the Oilers is saying that, especially out loud. Fasten your seatbelts, it’s about to get interesting.
Here are five things to know as we head into tonight’s post-season action:
WORKING THE BUGS OUT
Centre Jakub Lauko lost eight pounds and felt weak, Patrice Bergeron couldn’t play, and goalie Linus Ullmark could barely play. The illness that swept through the Bruins’ dressing room this past week is just one of many things Boston coach Jim Montgomery has had to deal with besides the visiting Florida Panthers.
Tonight, Bergeron is a game-time decision as the Bruins look to go up 2-0 in their series after winning Monday’s opener 3-1 at the TD Garden.
Pavel Zacha filled in for Bergeron, playing with Brad Marchand Jake DeBrusk. Marchand and DeBrusk both scored and Zacha collected an assist, so the Bruins’ Plan B isn’t too bad if Bergeron can’t lace up.
LIGHTNING STRIKE FELLS LEAFS
The Toronto Maple Leafs will have to play much better than they did Tuesday to advance out of the first round for the first time since 2004.
Despite opening the series at home, the Maple Leafs lost 7-3 to the Tampa Bay Lightning and are now 2-5 in Game 1s since 2017.
Leafs netminder Ilya Samsonov let in the first six Lightning goals before Toronto replaced him with backup Joseph Woll, who made his first playoff appearance. Head coach Sheldon Keefe didn’t confirm who would start Game 2.
IT COULD GET WORSE
On top of being embarrassed on home ice, the Maple Leafs could be without a key role player when they play Thursday.
Michael Bunting will have a hearing with the league’s department of player safety today for an elbow to the head of Lightning defenceman Erik Cernak, who left the game and did not return.
HOW MANY STITCHES?
The punishing grind of the Stanley Cup playoffs is often synonymous with toughness, and Winnipeg Jets forward Morgan Barron certainly furthered that narrative on Tuesday.
Barron needed 75 stitches after catching Vegas Golden Knights goalie Laurent Brossoit’s skate in the face during a scramble in front of the net during Game 1.
Despite the scary injury and serious repair job, Barron was back on the ice in less than a period sporting a cage to protect the stitches near his swollen right eye, helping the Jets to a road win and 1-0 series lead. The Jets are the only Canadian team in the playoffs to open with a win.
KRAKEN SURPRISE THE CHAMPS
It’s only one game, but the Seattle Kraken defeated the defending Stanley Cup champions 3-1 in Denver to serve notice that tie can skate and score with the best of them. Unlike the New Jersey Devils, who got rocked 5-1 by the visiting New York Rangers and later blamed nerves and jitters, the Kraken looked calm and composed.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 19, 2023.
The Canadian Press