After just four games on opening night, the NHL had a full slate with 16 teams in action on Thursday night. The busy evening gave us plenty to talk about including some league history, a much-anticipated debut and a monster save.
Lundqvist Makes More History
When it is all said and done, New York Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist will go down as one of the greatest goaltenders to ever skate into the crease. The veteran netminder made more NHL history when he started against the Winnipeg Jets Thursday night.
Lundqvist started in his 14th consecutive regular-season opener for the Rangers, becoming only the second goaltender ever to have a streak this long. The only netminder to have a longer streak was his long-time rival, Hall of Famer Martin Brodeur, who started 18 straight opening nights for the New Jersey Devils.
The history did not stop once the puck dropped. Lundqvist made 43 saves in a wild 6-4 victory over the Jets. His performance tied the Rangers’ franchise record for the most saves in a season-opening game since shots on goal were officially tracked. Gump Worsley was the first to accomplish this feat in a 7-4 win over the Chicago Blackhawks on Oct. 7, 1955.
Bobrovsky Comes Up Short in Panthers Debut
The Florida Panthers made quite the splash during the offseason as they landed two of the biggest free agents on the market in head coach Joel Quenneville and goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky. These two additions to an already talented roster led to the Panthers being picked by many experts to return to the Stanley Cup playoffs this spring.
Bobrovsky’s tenure with the Panthers got off to a rough start as he got a rather rude welcome from his new intra-state rivals, the Tampa Bay Lightning. He gave up four goals on 29 shots, including two goals shortly after the Panthers tied the game midway through the third period.
“I felt good, it’s good to start the season,” Bobrovsky said after Thursday’s loss. “Obviously we wanted to have the [win] tonight, but it is what it is. It’s a long season. I don’t think we have to think too much, we just have to put this game behind us and get ready to work on our home opener.”
Bobrovsky and the Panthers will get another crack at the Lightning when they host them on Saturday night.
Ward Returns to the Center of the Storm
For 13 seasons, Cam Ward sat in between the pipes for the Carolina Hurricanes setting the franchise records for wins, games played and shutouts. He capped off an incredible rookie season by winning the Conn Smythe Trophy by leading the Hurricanes to the 2006 Stanley Cup.
After spending last season, his final in the NHL, with the Blackhawks, he returned to Raleigh, NC on Thursday night. The Hurricanes brought back one of their most popular players in franchise history to sound the siren before the team’s season-opening game, in front of a sellout crowd, against the Montreal Canadiens.
The Hurricanes scored a 4-3 shootout victory over the Canadiens.
Shutouts Do Not Come Easy Overseas
The Blackhawks and the Philadelphia Flyers will kick off their seasons in Prague, Czech Republic this afternoon as part of the NHL’s Global Series. Heading into today’s game, the NHL has played 25 regular-season games in Europe and only two goaltenders have earned a shutout.
The first came in 2009 when Antti Niemi made his NHL debut, for the Blackhawks, with a 23-save shutout of the Panthers in his native Finland. The only other European shutout came the following year when Tim Thomas, of the Boston Bruins, stopped all 29 shots he faced in a 3-0 win over the then Phoenix Coyotes. Both of those goaltenders finished their respective seasons by winning the Stanley Cup.
Corey Crawford will start for the Blackhawks today, while Corey Hart gets the nod for the Flyers.
Dubnyk Wows the Nashville Crowd
We are only two days into the NHL season, but we may have already seen the save of the year. Early in the second period in Nashville, Matt Duchene led a 2-on-1 rush and fed a pass over to his new teammate Mikael Granlund for what looked to be a sure goal. However, Minnesota Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk had other ideas and made an unreal, twisting glove save to keep the game scoreless.
Unfortunately for Dubnyk and the Wild, the Predators went on to win 5-2 with Duchene picking up three assists in his debut with the team.
Greg Boysen has been writing about the Chicago Blackhawks since 2010 and has been a site manager for both FanSided and SB Nation. He has been published in The Hockey News and was fully credentialed for the 2013 Stanley Cup Final. Among his various roles with The Hockey Writers are covering the Blackhawks, the AHL, writing the daily “Today in Hockey History” column, serving as a copy editor, and appearing and hosting multiple YouTube shows, including Blackhawks Banter. He is credentialed with the Chicago Wolves, Rockford IceHogs, and Milwaukee Admirals, while also being a regional scout for the NAHL. And, just because his plate isn’t full enough, Greg hosts trivia in the Chicago area two nights a week. For interview requests or to provide topic suggestions, follow Greg on Twitter and reach out.