That was one night of playoff hockey.
Day 1 of the NHL postseason could not have been more riveting, exciting or gut-wrenching. First, we saw New York forward Brock Nelson score the opening goal of the playoffs in the Capitals-Islanders game. That was followed by a crazy bounce that led to a Milan Michalek goal in the Canadiens-Senators opening contest. Three goals for Nashville, three goals for Chicago. The final game saw a goaltending duel between Eddie Lack and Jonas Hiller in the Vancouver-Calgary match-up.
With so much going on, it was hard to pick a favorite story or moment of the night. However, goaltender Scott Darling probably stole the hearts of many … again.
Darling, a resident of the Chicago area, stole the spotlight from backup Antti Raanta earlier this season, when he 32 of 33 Senators shots in his debut on Oct. 26. He then went on to win four of his next five appearances, moving his name further up the depth chart and sending Raanta to Rockford of the AHL.
After Crawford surrendered three goals on 12 shots in the first period of Wednesday’s series opener, Darling was sent to hold down the fort for the remainder of the contest. He was brilliant, stopping all 19 shots in regulation and allowing his club to score three monstrous goals to make a brand-new game.
Nashville came in waves in both overtime periods. Darling, an NHL goalie for just 14 regular season contests, kept coming up with the answer, giving his team every opportunity to end the game with a 1-0 series advantage with Game 2 looming Friday at 8:30 CDT. The Blackhawks did just that, as ice-time leader Duncan Keith scored at 7:49 of the second overtime. Darling stopped all 42 shots he faced.
Devan Dubnyk, Andrew Hammond and Jake Allen better make room; there’s another unlikely hero in between the pipes.
Although Darling was the headliner, there was plenty of action to go around in a wild Wednesday in the NHL.
There were a slew of missed calls in the Predators and Blackhawks’ first OT. [Pro Hockey Talk]
Patrick Kane was back for the Hawks … and you can find his name on the scoresheet. [The Score]
It was a 4-3 victory for the Canadiens over the Senators in Game 1. [TSN.ca]
P.K. Subban was ejected for a major slashing penalty. [The Hockey News]
There was quite the battle at the end of the Canadiens and Senators game. [Globe & Mail]
5 important themes to take away from the Islanders and Capitals game. [Lighthouse Hockey]
New coach, same playoff disappointment for Capitals early on. [Puck Daddy]
Kris Russell was the hero for the Flames in Game 1 against the Canucks. [CBS Sports]
Some might say Russell’s goal should have been disallowed. [Canucks Army]
What are the Flames doing that the Oilers are not? [Edmonton Journal]
Winnipeg Jets fans are gearing up for their playoff return. [L.A. Times]
Joe Thornton made headlines with comments about his superiors. [Today’s Slapshot]
Ron Hextall has not decided what to do about his head coach, Craig Berube. [Philly.com]