Three of four playoff games on Saturday were decided in overtime, including a double whammy in Winnipeg.
Sniper Steven Stamkos of the Tampa Bay Lightning got into a rare scrap with that familiar-looking guy from the RBC Vantage commercial.
And the Kraken celebrated the return of playoff hockey to Seattle with a gritty game against the defending Stanley Cup champion Colorado before the Avalanche stars cranked it up in the third period and rolled to a 6-4 win.
In short, today’s matchups need to be great to match the energy and entertainment of Saturday’s intense showdowns, but count on the Edmonton Oilers and Los Angeles Kings to give it a good shot as the temperature rises in that Western Conference showdown.
Here are five things to know about the NHL playoffs:
RAISING THE WHITE-HOUSE ROOF
Winnipeg’s White Noise, which hit a fever pitch inside Canada Life Centre when Adam Lowry scored at 19:38 of the third to force overtime in the Manitoba capital, hasn’t felt that much excitement since the last mosquito season ended.
And while Michael Amadio’s goal at 3:40 of double overtime — that gave the visiting Vegas Golden Knights a 5-4 win — brought the fans back to earth, the vocals and visuals were impressive nonetheless.
There’s no doubt the Jets — and in particular defenceman Dylan Samberg, whose intercepted clearing pass in overtime led to Vegas’s winner — are bummed out by the loss and the series-ending knee injury to defenceman Josh Morrissey, but expect the fans to quickly forgive and forget when their team hits the ice for Game 4.
RIELLY, O’REILLY REALLY RALLY
Casual hockey observers learned a few things about the Toronto Maple Leafs on Saturday: this is a team that refuses to quit, and they have a guy named Rielly and another guy named O’Reilly. Both played prominent roles in Toronto’s come-from-behind spirited victory in Florida.
Ryan O’Reilly scored the goal with one minute left in the third period to tie the game 3-3, and Morgan Rielly scored at 19:15 of overtime to give the Leafs the win at Amalie Arena, and a 2-1 lead in the entertaining best-of-seven series.
Also, some pundits were quick to suggest Leafs netminder IIya would fold like a Samson-ov suitcase, when in fact he’s been solid for the two Toronto wins, including Saturday when he made 36 saves, including a couple game-savers late in the contest.
OILERS PUMP UP THE OPTIMISM
Speaking of white noise, while Oilers fans stewed about the high-sticking non-call that seconds later led to the Kings’ overtime winner in Game 3, the bigger issue for Edmonton’s coaching staff is the lack of secondary scoring and ill-timed penalties. Still, bench boss Jay Woodcroft believes it’s just a matter of time before the Oilers’ numerous chances turn into goals.
The Oilers have lost two games in overtime, surrendered two-goal leads in two games, and gave up power-play goals at the worst time. However, the players and Woodcroft believe they are improving and starting to control the games for longer periods. And they know a win in Game 4 tonight ties the series and makes all the other minor issues irrelevant.
MARCHAND MAKES HIS POINT(S)
Boston’s Brad Marchand, the super pest that opposing teams and fans around the league love to hate, was quick to give credit to a number of teammates after his squad — battling injuries and a flu bug — defeated the host Florida Panthers 4-2 on Friday to take a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series.
The veteran Bruin should have pointed at himself, too. Marchand has made it on the scoresheet in all three playoff games and improved his post-season career totals to 51 goals and 70 assists for 121 points. He became the fourth player in Bruins playoff history to record 70 assists, joining Ray Bourque (125), David Krejci (83) and Patrice Bergeron (78).
The Bruins and Panthers tangle tonight in Sunrise before the series shifts back to Boston.
PARITY HITS THE PLAYOFFS
When the New York Islanders won their first-ever playoff game at UBS Arena on Friday — scoring four third-period goals in 2:18 on the visiting Carolina Hurricanes to post a 5-1 win and cut their series deficit to 2-1 — it guaranteed for the second straight year that at least seven of eight series in the first round will require five or more games.
This is the first time in 30 years that has occurred in back-to-back opening rounds.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 23, 2023.
The Canadian Press