The second round of the NHL playoffs got underway on Wednesday with a couple of Western Conference games.
Both visiting teams came away with victories and the home side teams in St. Louis and Anaheim will need to play better come the weekend or they will be in big trouble when the series switch to Nashville and Edmonton.
Let’s get to the action!!!!
NASHVILLE 4 ST. LOUIS 3
The Nashville Predators are proving to be difficult to beat. They swept the heavily favored Chicago Blackhawks in the opening series and waltzed into St. Louis and knocked off the Blues in Game 1 of the Western Conference semi-finals with a 4-3 win.
Vernon Fiddler, who returned to the Nashville lineup after missing the end of the regular season and the first round of the post-season, scored the winner with just over five minutes left in the game chipping the puck past Jake Allen into the empty net.
The Predators came out flying early on as they were led by P.K. Subban offensively. Subban set up Colin Wilson for the only goal of the first period as Wilson tipped in Subban’s shot on the power play.
Subban then made it 2-0 at the 2:22 mark of the second as he beat Allen in the St. Louis cage with a slapshot.
After Colton Parayko cut the margin in half with his second of the post season, slipping the puck through the five hole past Pekka Rinne, Filip Forsberg restored the Predators two goal lead with his third of the playoffs. It was also on the power play as Subban and Roman Josi drew the assists.
But the Blues came roaring back in the third period to tie the game at 3 as Jaden Schwartz and Vladimir Sobotka found the back of the net. I have been quite impressed with Sobotka who spent the last three seasons in the KHL before inking a deal with St. Louis in March.
Rinne stopped 27 shots for his fifth straight win in the playoffs while Allen made 28 saves in the net for St. Louis. Rinne gave up as many goals (three) against St. Louis as he did in the entire Chicago series.
Josi and Subban combined for 10 of the Predators 32 shots.
Kevin Fiala was taken off the ice in a stretcher 1:46 into the second period and he did not return. It looked like a broken leg and it does not appear to me that he will be back in the playoffs. There was no update after the game.
EDMONTON 5 ANAHEIM 3
Adam Larsson was the hero as he scored the winner with 4:40 left in the third period to lift the visiting Edmonton Oilers to a 4-3 win over Anaheim Wednesday.
It was his second goal of the game and it made me think back to his draft year when I wrote that the Oilers should have taken him first overall as they needed a defenseman. Instead they took Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and needed to deal Taylor Hall in the off-season of 2016 to acquire Larsson. Hall is a better player than Nugent-Hopkins and the lack of foresight (in my opinion) has cost them dearly.
Ryan Getzlaf opened the scoring in the second period with a power play goal. He beat Cam Talbot who may have been expecting Getzlaf to pass. His 15 goals and 58 assists this season would definitely show his preference for the pass.
Mark Letestu scored the first of his two power play goals to tie the game at 1 heading into the third period.
That’s when things got wild as there were six goals in the final stanza. The Oilers staked out a 3-1 lead thanks to goals by Letestu (again on the power play) and Larsson.
Ryan Kesler had a pair of assists for Anaheim.
Talbot had 33 saves for the Oilers for his fifth win of the playoffs while John Gibson stopped 27-of-31 shots for Anaheim.