Oh what a night of hockey it was!
It’s not often that you get a new round of playoffs started while a couple of teams still have a game left in the old round, but that’s what happened on Wednesday as the Predators and Ducks faced off in Game 7 of the first round while the Islanders opened the second round with a game in Tampa Bay.
On to the action!
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NASHVILLE 2 ANAHEIM 1 (Nashville wins series 4-3)
Pekka Rinne was unbelievable as he stopped 36 shots and eliminated the Anaheim Ducks from the playoffs with a 2-1 victory to win the best-of-seven series 4-3.
Nashville managed 10 shots in the first period and 10 the rest of the way as Frederik Andersen stopped 18 in taking his second loss in a row.
It was the fourth straight year that the Ducks lost a Game 7 after leading the series 3-2 and they are 0-5 in Game 7’s since changing their name from the Mighty Ducks to the Ducks. Perhaps it is time to change it back as they were 2-1 in winner take all series as the Mighty Ducks.
Don’t be surprised if this is the last game that Bruce Boudreau coaches for the Ducks. He deserves a better fate but his record for Anaheim in the post-season, especially in Game 7’s (although he doesn’t play) leaves a lot to be desired.
Jakub Silfverberg drew an assist on Wednesday and it was his fifth of the series. He should be considered next season as he had 11 goals in his last 15 regular season games.
Corey Perry failed to score in the series and that was a big reason why the Ducks were unable to advance. He did have seven shots on goal Wednesday to lead all skaters.
Roman Josi was great on the blueline as he blocked seven shots.
It was the first Game 7 for Nashville and they made it a winning one as they now take on the San Jose Sharks in the second round of the playoffs.
The loss by Anaheim made it two losses in four for divisional winners as they joined Florida in going home (both in cross-over series) while Washington and Dallas advanced.
Nashville won three games of four in Anaheim so opening the series in San Jose likely won’t bother them.
NEW YORK ISLANDERS 5 TAMPA BAY 3 (Islanders lead the series 1-0)
New Yorkers still like going to Florida, even in April as the Islanders went into Tampa Bay and knocked off the Lightning 5-3.
The Islanders love the state as they beat the Florida Panthers in the first round and now lead the series 1-0 with Game 2 on Saturday.
Shane Prince scored twice in the opening stanza to lead the charge but only played 9:50 in the game, the lowest total on both sides.
Travis Hamonic also scored in the first while John Tavares scored on the power play 8:59 into the second to chase Ben Bishop from the Lightning crease and give the Islanders a 4-1 lead. Bishop stopped only nine shots before giving way to Andrei Vasilevskiy who stopped all eight shots in 29:40 of action as Cal Clutterbuck scored into the empty net to seal the win.
But the big story of the night was the outstanding play of Thomas Greiss who stoned the Lightning time-and-time again. He made 33 saves and plenty were of the sensational kind as he kept the Lightning at bay.
Ondrej Palat opened the scoring 3:05 into the first before the Islanders struck for four straight goals.
The Lightning came on in the third as Nikita Kucherov with his sixth and Valtteri Filppula with his first in the playoffs, cut the margin to one with 2:32 to go but the Lightning could not tie it up and Clutterbuck ended things with 55 seconds to go.
Islanders coach Jack Capuano had to leave the game with 11:31 to go in the third as he was hit in the face by an errant puck into the bench. He returned nine minutes later with a cut on his nose and swelling around the eyes but even the coaches in hockey are tough.
Kucherov had seven shots on goal.