Friday's best: Should Lightning's game-winner against Canadiens have counted?
Best game: Tampa Bay 2, Montreal 1 (OT). Six meetings between the teams this season, six wins for Tampa Bay. The Lightning got a little help on a blown offside call that preceded Nikita Kucherov's game-winning goal, but in earning the win at Bell Centre, Tampa has already accomplished more than it managed in last year's playoff meeting between the clubs, when Montreal swept the Bolts out of the postseason. The biggest difference between that series and this one is that Tampa goalie Ben Bishop is healthy. He missed last year's series with an elbow injury. On Friday, he made 43 saves to outduel Vezina and Hart Trophy favorite Carey Price. For Kucherov, the goal was a nice turn of karma after a controversial call went against him earlier. Three minutes into the first overtime, Kucherov skated in on a breakaway. Price stopped his shot, but as he bumped into Price, the puck went into the net. After a review, it was ruled Kucherov interfered with Price. It appeared Price may have dragged the puck in himself, but he also might have had some help. "I'm not going to complain about it," Kucherov told TSN.
Best stat: 0 for the UC. Minnesota is 0-7 in playoff games at the United Center the past three seasons (and all-time). The Blackhawks have eliminated the Wild the past two postseasons and took a 1-0 series lead Friday with a 4-3 win.
Best at being worst: Devan Dubnyk, G, Minnesota. Dubnyk was an unexpected wonder down the stretch of the regular season, helping the Wild rebound from a poor start to become the best team in the NHL over the second half. That hasn't been the case in the playoffs, and it certainly wasn't the case on Friday in Chicago. Dubnyk allowed three goals on the first eight shots he faced to put Minnesota in a quick 3-0 hole. At least those were quality goals. After the Wild rallied to tie the game in the second period, he allowed an awful goal from Chicago rookie Teuvo Teravainen from the half wall, and Chicago made it hold up for a 4-3 win. In seven playoff games, Dubnyk has a 2.58 goals-against average and a .908 save percentage.
Best visual: Tampa Bay's offside game-winner. Montreal coach Michel Therrien was livid after the game, and he had just cause. About 12 seconds before Nikita Kucherov scored the game-winning goal in overtime, the Lightning entered the offensive zone offside. "It's really frustrating to lose a game on an offside," Therrien told TSN. "Those things aren't supposed to happen."
Best quote, via the Chicago Sun Times: "Sometimes good things happen when I shoot." -- Chicago rookie forward Teuvo Teravainen, who was a healthy scratch in games 3-6 of the first round, on his game-winning goal against Minnesota off a shot from the boards.
Best save, Ben Bishop, G, Tampa Bay. Words are unnecessary. Watch Bishop rob Montreal forward Tomas Plekanec with this ridiculous stacked-pad glove save off a cross-ice feed.
Best start: Brandon Saad, F, Chicago. Chicago's blossoming power forward wasted little time setting the tone for the series. Saad went around Minnesota star defenseman Ryan Suter, cut to the net off the right wing and beat goalie Devan Dubnyk just 1:15 into the first period to get Chicago off and running to a 3-0, first-period lead. Oh yeah, Saad finished the goal with a classic celebration.
Best thing to look forward to Saturday: Washington at New York, Round 2. Rangers coach Alain Vigneault was still steaming on Friday about Nicklas Backstrom's hit on Dan Boyle just before Washington's game-winning goal with 1.3 seconds left in regulation. Whether you agree it was illegal (we don't), Vigneault sounded a Dave Cameron-like tone when he told the Daily News: "The standards have been set to what's allowed as far as hitting from behind." The Rangers aren't suddenly going to morph into the Broad Street Bullies. That's not their game, and they couldn't beat the bigger, more physical Caps at it, but you can expect more attention paid to Washington's top line of Alex Ovechkin, Backstrom and Joel Ward, and more passion from the Rangers in Game 2. Whether that will breathe life into a suddenly gasping New York offense remains to be seen.