NHL

NHL best of the night: Wednesday

Pittsburgh's Jussi Jokinen was knocked out of Game 1 late in the third period.
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Already down their main cog, the Penguins on Wednesday enjoyed plenty of gain, but suffered plenty of pain. And one game into the postseason we're already asking, can the East's top seed even survive to the Stanley Cup Final?

East photos

EAST FEAST!

See the best action photos from the Eastern Conference first round.

When the night was over, the Penguins held a 1-0 series lead over the 8-seed New York Islanders after a resounding 5-0 victory at home. But considering what happened before and during the game, you can't blame Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma if he doesn't wake up Thursday measuring his finger for his ring size.

Before the puck even dropped on Game 1 at Pittsburgh, the Penguins learned that captain Sidney Crosby, out since suffering a broken jaw when he took a puck to the face on March 30, would miss the playoff opener, and that his return is uncertain.

Then, with 2 minutes, 10 seconds to play in the game, New York's Marty Reasoner stuck his knee out and went knee-to-knee with Pittsburgh's Jussi Jokinen, sending Jokinen to the locker room, earning himself a five-minute major and a game misconduct, and ratcheting up tensions enough to see 75 penalties handed out after the play.

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And that was on the heels of the second-period hit on the Penguins' James Neal by Travis Harmonic that sent Neal into the boards, and into the locker room.

Neither player returned to the game, and afterward Bylsma would not comment on either player's injury, or their status for Game 2.

On the bright side, Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, the team's biggest question mark (beyond Crosby's health) entering the postseason, had 26 saves for his sixth career playoff shutout. But in the regular season, Crosby, Neal and Jokinen combined for 49 goals, 65 assists and 114 points. Clearly, the Islanders don't appear ready to give the Penguins much of a challenge. But that's a lot of firepower to miss for an extended period of time if you have visions of a two-month run to the Cup.

 

Goalie Q&A in Vancouver

 

Question 1: When in the world is No. 1 netminder Cory Schneider coming back?

Answer: We're not sure if anybody knows.

Question 2: Can the Canucks get by San Jose with Roberto Luongo in net?

Answer: It doesn't look like it.

Now, Luongo certainly had his moments on Wednesday night, like this amazing save to keep the score tied early:

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And the first two goals he surrendered could hardly be pinned on him. But still, with the world asking what is going on with your top goalie, seeing your backup give up three goals on 28 shots in a 3-1 loss at home to open the playoffs can hardly be encouraging.

Schneider, who missed the last two games of the regular season, is dealing with a mysterious injury, which the team is calling a, "body injury" (oh yeah, one of those). A day before the game, Schneider sounded like he was ready to give it a go:

“No one is ever really 100 percent in the playoffs at any point,” Schneider said after practicing for a second consecutive day. “I feel like I can contribute and be a difference-maker on this team and I want to do whatever I can to play. That’s how I feel. I want to play in the playoffs. The trainers and the coaches may have a more long-term view of things, but for me the here-and-now is it’s Game 1 and I’d like to play.”

And Luongo was coming off a game in which he gave up seven goals in a 7-2 loss. Schneider gave up just one goal in each of his last two starts.

Bring on the Twitter bashers!

But then soon came the Luongo ... supporters!

But if Canucks fans don't see Schneider in net anytime soon, at least they'll always have this clip of him going toe-to-toe with Luongo in 'Mortal Pongbat':

 

Pain and gain for Bruins, too

 

The cheap shots weren't isolated to Pittsburgh on Wednesday. In Boston, there were some cheap shots, too. Maybe not as cheap as what the Knicks did to try to intimidate the Celtics in their playoff game, but, once the game starts, it doesn't get much cheaper than a shot to the groin.

Well, it's playoff time and apparently nothing's off limits. With the 4-seed Bruins having their way in their 4-1 win over 5-seed Toronto, Maple Leafs winger James van Riemsdyk decided to give the Bruins' Brad Marchand quite the cup check. As you can see, it wasn't much appreciated.

Marchand obviously needed a breather after that blow but once he caught his breath he had some choice words for JVR.

“He speared me in the privates, so I kind of reacted,” Marchand said after the game. “Plain and simple.”

 

Mr. Bettman? P.O.'d Sharks fans on Line 2

 

Sure, the San Jose Sharks have a reputation as one of the NHL's biggest playoff chokers, having yet to reach a Stanley Cup Final while both of their in-state neighbors to the south have hoisted a Cup in the last six years. But c'mon, making the Stanley Cup playoffs nine consecutive seasons, missing the postseason only once since the 1996-97 season, are nothing to shake your stick at. But when NBC Sports cut its primary 2013 postseason promotional commercial, it sorta forgot to add the Sharks into the montage. What's more, the Phoenix Coyotes are in there twice — and they didn't even make these playoffs!

As you could imagine, Sharks fans noticed, and sounded off.

 

Hat tip to @heyitsthor

 

We here at FOX may not do the NBA or the NHL, but we own the NFL. Oh yeah, and reality TV, too. So props to this guy for noticing (though, for the record, we aren't quite to the finale just yet):

 

Good day for Beantown

VIDEO: BOSTON STRONG

Before the playoffs got going, the Bruins paid tribute to Boston with special pregame video after the marathon bombings. Watch the montage.

 

The Bruins are just getting their postseason going, taking down Toronto 4-1 at home in their playoff opener. But they capped a heckuva day for Boston:

Bruins 4, Maple Leafs 1 (Boston takes 1-0 series lead)

Celtics 92, Knicks 86 (Boston wins at New York, closes gap to 3-2 in series Knicks once led 3-0)

Red Sox 10, Blue Jays 1 (Boston gets its first big win over Toronto on Wednesday as the Red Sox pounded out five HRs and Clay Buchholz became the first pitcher in baseball to pick up his sixth win)

And of course, Boston always has rap's next big thing, Lil Poopy:

 

In case you missed it

 

• Until the Sharks won at Vancouver to end Wednesday's action, home teams were 5-0 this postseason. In the NBA playoffs, the home team opened a combined 8-0.

• Earlier in the day, the NHL announced that, while its network TV ratings were down nearly seven percent from a season ago in terms of average viewers per game, the cable TV ratings using the same metric were their highest since the 1993-94 season.

• Intermission boredom got you down? Maybe you should try this:

Tagged: Islanders, Sidney Crosby, Jussi Jokinen, James Neal, Canucks, Roberto Luongo, Cory Schneider, Sharks, Maple Leafs, Penguins, James van Riemsdyk, Bruins, Brad Marchand

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