Thursday’s best: Now THAT’s hockey!

Entering Thursday night, three games had been played in the 2013 Stanley Cup conference semifinals, and were decided by a combined 10-2 score.

Then one of the NHL’s oldest rivalries renewed, and one of its newest intensified, and we finally got that exciting playoff hockey we’ve become accustomed to. The Bruins and Rangers got us started with an OT thriller in Game 1, and the Kings and Sharks capped the night with a beauty in LA — a game which saw one team score two goals in the final two minutes to turn a potential one-goal loss into a 4-3 win.

First, Boston hosted the New York Rangers for Game 1 of their series — the first playoff meeting between the Original Six teams since 1973. But it was a day that nearly wasn’t for the Bruins’ Brad Marchand, who was injured in the morning skate and nearly didn’t play. But he did make it to the TD Garden for the game. And boy did he play.

Marchand had perhaps his best game of the playoffs, scoring his first goal of the postseason — and his first career playoff OT goal — in the Bruins’ 3-2 win.

Safe to say Rangers coach John Tortorella was less than pleased (but lucky us for getting to watch!).

It may have only been Game 1, but it was the Rangers. And all of Boston had their B’s front and center in their minds. And not all their thoughts were, shall we say … polite?

One pro golfer was so pumped for the game, he shot one of the greatest rounds of his life, apparently so he could get off the course early and catch the game.

But not everybody in Boston was glued to the action on the ice.

And while Boston moved a step closer to dancing in the streets, hardly the same could be said in Los Angeles when the Eastern Conference game went into OT and caused some TV confusion when the end in Beantown conflicted with the start in La La Land.

This guy had the opposite problem. He is in LA and was able to see the Kings and Sharks drop the puck instead of the OT in Boston … and he wasn’t happy.

But once the entire hockey world zeroed in on LA, what a game!

First, there was the absence of the Sharks’ Raffi Torres, suspended for the remainder of the series prior to the game for his Game 1 hit on Jarret Stoll.

Then, the Kings jumped out to a 2-0 lead and looked to be on cruise control, before the Sharks finally figured out Jonathan Quick and scored two quick goals to tie the game at 2-2.

Next was Kings star Anze Kopitar taking a puck to the face with the score tied 2-2 in the first minute of the third period.


He left the game, but of course he returned less than 10 minutes later. Needless to say, Kings fans (and official Twitter feeds) were pumped.

But while he was out, the Sharks took a 3-2 lead, and carried it into the final two minutes of regulation. As the clock ticked away, the Sharks looked poised to steal one in LA and head home with a 1-1 series. But two quick penalties put San Jose down two men. Dustin Brown tied the game with 1:43 to play. Twenty-two seconds later Trevor Lewis made the comeback complete, giving the champs a stunning 4-3 win and 2-0 series lead. The win stretched the Kings’ winning streak to six, and improved their record at home this postseason to 5-0.

An ending so great, even a guy with the face full of vulcanized rubber pulled off the line of the night.