NHL Rink Wrap: Battle of Alberta gets off to wild start
• The Battle of Alberta got underway on Wednesday night with a wild 9-6 win for the Calgary Flames.
• The New York Rangers played their best game of the Stanley Cup Playoffs and it still was not enough against the Carolina Hurricanes.
• Brayden Point will not play for the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 2 on Thursday night.
The Rangers were really good on Wednesday night and looked like a significantly better team than the one that barely snuck by Pittsburgh in the First Round. They defended well, they were the better team for most of the night, and they were three minutes away from stealing Game 1 against the Hurricanes. And then some sloppy play resulted in a Sebastian Aho goal to send the game to overtime where Ian Cole would score the game-winner for Carolina. The Rangers showed they can compete with Carolina, but they are going to need to repeat that effort the rest of this series. And then be able to finish it out.
Game 1: Calgary Flames 9, Edmonton Oilers 6 (CGY Leads Series 1-0)
We expected this series to have some excitement and some fireworks and these two teams did not waste any time. The Flames jumped out to a huge lead, allowed a four-goal lead to slip away, and then still recovered to win a 9-6 game. This game featured 15 goals, which is a high number for any playoff game. The Flames First Round series with the Dallas Stars, which went a full seven games, only had 24 goals over the entire series. One of the big questions for the Oilers in this series would be whether or not Mike Smith could continue his strong play from the second half. He did not get off to a good start on Wednesday, being pulled after allowing three goals on 10 shots in just six minutes of play.
[NHL Stanley Cup Playoffs 2022 First Round schedule, TV info]
Three Stars in NHL Playoffs (Game 1 of Hurricanes-Rangers and Flames-Oilers)
1. Matthew Tkachuk, Calgary Flames
A huge game for the Flames’ top line, including Tkachuk who recorded a hat trick and a game-high eight shots on goal. He was due for a game like this. Even though he had five assists in the First Round series against Dallas, he managed just a single goal in the seven games. That changed significantly on Wednesday with his first career postseason hat trick. The top line led by Tkachuk and Gaudreau has been a game-changer for the Flames all season and they were great offensively on Wednesday.
2. Rasmus Andersson, Calgary Flames
He played a big role in the Flames’ win, logging over 22 minutes of ice-time and finishing with three points (one goal, two assists). His goal early in the third period ended up being the game-winning goal and came just a little more than a minute after the Oilers had tied the game, 6-6. At that point it seemed as if Edmonton was going to pull off a stunning comeback to steal Game 1 with all of the momentum on their side. Andersson’s goal put that back into Calgary’s favor and helped drive the Flames to the win.
3. Sebastian Aho, Carolina Hurricanes
Aho came through when the Hurricanes needed him, tying the game with just around three minutes to play in regulation to send it to overtime. That completed a strong game for Aho that also saw him record a team-leading four shots on goal, block a shot, and record three takeaways in over 18 minutes of play.
THURSDAY’S NHL PLAYOFF SCHEDULE
Game 2: Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Florida Panthers (TB leads series 1-0), 7 p.m. ET -- TNT
Game 2: Colorado Avalanche vs. St. Louis Blues (COL leads series 1-0), 9:30 p.m. ET -- TNT
PHT’s 2022 Stanley Cup previews
• Avalanche vs. Blues
• Lightning vs. Panthers
• Makar, McDavid lead Conn Smythe watch after First Round
• NHL Second Round predictions
• Storylines for the NHL’s Second Round