It’s the most, wonderful time, of the yearrrrrrrr! Who doesn’t love playoff hockey right? This is what we wait all season for, this is why most of us became fans of the game, as the postseason captivates us year after year after year. My personal favorite part is the dying minutes of a one-goal game when everything is a scramble, bodies are diving everywhere, pucks are zipping around the zone and the intensity is as high as can be. Until we get to overtime that is, when it become full-on, tighten your butt cheeks, gasp and cringe with every shot end-to-end action (WITH NO COMMERCIALS!!).
Who will hoist the 2016 Stanley Cup?
With the team I cover out of the playoffs (again), I relish the opportunity to write a little out of character and enjoy the playoffs as a fan of the game, and pick my three stars of each night like our friends over at Yahoo!/Puck Daddy blog do throughout the season. You can find player standings at the bottom of each post with three points for being the no. 1 star, two for no. 2 and one for no. 3 and on some nights we’ll have an honorable mention.
April 28, 2016
#3) Braden Holtby, Washington: 42 saves/45 shots, Win
Holtby faced 30 shots during the second and third periods as the Pens found their legs and started getting quality chances like they are accustomed to. The future Vezina Trophy winner answered the call overtime he needed to make a key save. Look, he’s had a great season, and an unreal start to the postseason, but he can’t and won’t give up one goal a game every game going forward, even though he gave up three goals on the night (to a stacked team), he still was an important part of the game.
Matt Murray and Braden Holtby only gave up combined 9 goals between them in the opening round. They gave up 7 tonight. 2 offensive powers
— Gino Reda (@GinoRedaTSN) April 29, 2016
— NHL Public Relations (@PR_NHL) April 29, 2016
#2) Nick Bonino, Pittsburgh: goal, assist
His stickhandling through about three Caps players set up the Penguins initial goal of the game and then he netted his own midway through the third period to tie the game. Bonino was flying all night alongside Phil Kessel and Carl Hagelin and this will be the key line to keep producing to alleviate some pressure off of their star players; and hey, he certainly picked a good time to score his first goal of the playoffs. The threesome combined for 13 shots on goal in the Game 1 loss, can they replicate it in Game 2? Definitely Pittsburgh’s best skater on this night.
Bonino Kessel Hagelin line sensational again. Such speed and continuity. #Pens
— Gino Ant (@PHL2PIT) April 29, 2016
— NHL (@NHL) April 29, 2016
#1) TJ Oshie, Washington: 3 goals/GWG in OT
Oshie left his stamp on this game starting at the midway point in the second period with his team trailing 2-1. He scored the tying goal, then the go-ahead goal in the third period, and then capped off the hat trick with a wraparound goal on a move that was something out of a video game. Three goals, on five shots; and he blocked three shots too. His addition in the offseason was one of the big moves the Caps made in an attempt to take that next step in the playoffs, so far so good I guess. The third goal was a bit controversial, but video evidence seemed to confirm the referee’s call of a good goal. We picked the video from his first goal though, because that was a filthy, twisted shot.
— MD (@m_drinnenberg) April 29, 2016
#Caps T.J. Oshie is the first player to score an OTG and record a hat trick in the same postseason game since Patrick Kane (6/8/13 vs. LAK).
— CapitalsPR (@CapitalsPR) April 29, 2016
— Washington Capitals (@Capitals) April 29, 2016
Braden Holtby (Wash): 6
Joe Pavelski (SJ): 5
Brian Elliott (StL): 5
Michal Neuvirth (Phil): 5
John Tavares (NYI): 5
Pekka Rinne (Nash): 5
Nikita Kucherov (TB): 4
Tyler Johnson (TB): 3
Thomas Hickey (NYI): 3
Alex Ovechkin (Wash): 3
Antti Niemi (Dal): 3
Evgeni Malkin (Pitt): 3
Artemi Panarin (Chi): 3
Troy Brouwer (StL): 3
TJ Oshie (Wash): 3
Patric Hornqvist (Pitt): 2
Roberto Luongo (Fla): 2
Tanner Pearson (LA): 2
Frederik Andersen (Ana): 2
Ben Bishop (TB): 2
Mikko Koivu (Minn): 2
Sami Vatanen (Ana): 2
Shane Prince (NYI): 2
Nick Bonino (Pitt): 2
Dan Rice is in his 9th year of reporting for THW & has covered NJ Devils home games for 15+ years at various websites. He began his journey working for legendary broadcaster/writer Stan Fischler from 2002-04 & completed an internship at the ECHL; he also has been writing features for the NWHL (nwhl.zone) website since 2016.