NHL playoffs: Perry, Ducks rally vs. Jets; Wild upset Blues
Best game: Anaheim 4, Winnipeg 2. The Jets were making their first playoff appearance since 2007 when the franchise was in Atlanta. For two periods, it was impossible to tell as they carried the play to the Western Conference's top seed with heavy hits, speed and determination. However, Anaheim won an NHL record-tying 12 games when trailing after two periods, so you had to figure the Ducks were comfortable when they entered the third period trailing 2-1. "You have a good feeling in close games, no matter what the situation is," captain Ryan Getzlaf told FOX Sports before the playoffs started. Corey Perry scored early in the third to tie it, then had to wait for a review of an originally waved off goal that allowed play to carry on before officials took a look at his shot, which clearly crossed the goal line before Winnipeg goalie Ondrej Pavelec kicked it out with his pad. The pace and the physical play in this game were breathtaking to watch, leading many analysts to wonder if the teams could maintain it over the course of a series. If Winnipeg is to make this a lengthier affair, it will have to avoid the lack of composure it displayed in the third period when it took three penalties that led to two Anaheim goals, including Getzlaf's blast from the left circle that clinched it with 3:05 left in regulation.
Best stat line, Corey Perry, RW, Anaheim: two goals, two assists. Perry tied the game 1:09 into the third period, produced the game-winner at 13:21 and assisted on Getzlaf's insurance goal at 16:55. Perry has 60 points in 75 career NHL playoff games.
Best visual: Matt Dumba, D, Minnesota. We may never know what Dumba said after his blast from the left point found the net to give Minnesota a 2-0 lead over St. Louis early in the second period of the Wild's 4-2 win. Dumba covered his mouth with his arm as he shouted something. The team's website suggested it was profane so he was shielding the young viewers from his unbridled enthusiasm. Dumba told reporters he might fill them in after the playoffs. In any case, the goal was an exclamation point on a dominant Wild performance in which Minnesota's speed overwhelmed the Blues. Have we mentioned that perennial Cup contender St. Louis has just one playoff series win in its past 11 seasons?
forgot to post this excellent goalie celebration pic.twitter.com/8kf3lU2VUj— Stephanie Vail (@myregularface) April 17, 2015
Best at being worst: Ben Bishop, G, Tampa Bay. Few players entered the postseason with more anticipation than Bishop, who missed all of last year's playoffs with a left elbow injury while Tampa Bay lost in a four-game sweep to the Montreal Canadiens in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals. It’s not that Bishop was so bad in his maiden playoff voyage. Detroit's Pavel Datsyuk scored on a deft deflection and a well-placed wrist shot, but with the Lightning down 2-1, Bishop allowed a soft short-handed goal by Detroit's Luke Glendening, making it three Detroit goals on just 14 shots, and that was enough. To win in the playoffs, a team's goaltender has to do more than stop the shots he's supposed to — a point that was only magnified by the play of Red Wings goalie Petr Mrazek (44) saves). There is plenty of time for Bishop to rebound from this disappointing debut. Something better than a 0-for-7 performance by the Tampa power play would help.
Best old guy in the playoffs, Pavel Datsyuk, C, Detroit. Datsyuk will turn 37 this summer but it’s not apparent in his skill level, skating, two-way game or vision. The 1998 sixth-round pick posted his sixth multi-goal playoff game, and both goals were beauties. Magic Man redirected Kyle Quincey's shot from the point past Tampa goalie Bishop for an early 1-0 lead. Datsyuk also scored right off the faceoff in the second period on a perfectly placed, top-shelf wrist shot to give Detroit a 2-1 lead.
Best start: New York Rangers vs. Pittsburgh. If the Rangers were feeling the weight of the Presidents' Trophy, it didn't show against Pittsburgh. Derick Brassard put the Blueshirts on the board just 28 seconds into the game when he banged a juicy rebound of Rick Nash's shot from the left wing past Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury with defenseman Paul Martin beaten badly on the play. Brassard missed tying the Rangers record for the fastest goal to start a playoff game by one second (Ed Hospodar, 0:27 in 1981). New York added a power-play goal later in the period to take Game 1 at Madison Square Garden 2-1.
Best seed: No. 3. Following Detroit's 3-2 win in Tampa on Thursday, the No. 3 seeds (Chicago, Calgary, Detroit and the New York Islanders) went 4-0 in Game 1s, all of them obviously on the road.
Best drought buster: Adam Lowry, C, Winnipeg. The Jets' first playoff goal since 1996 came from a rookie playing his first playoff game.
Best quote: "That was a tough one to swallow with the effort that we put forth, the amount of quality chances we had, the amount of pucks we put on net. If we sat here and only had 15 shots on goal, then you could say you could have done more, but 46 shots in a playoff game? That's pretty impressive." — Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay center, via FOX Sports Florida, after the Lightning's 3-2 loss to Detroit.
Best thing to look forward to Friday: Game 2, Ottawa at Montreal, 7 p.m. ET. Montreal's P.K. Subban wasn't suspended for a slash that caused a microfracture and ligament damage in Ottawa forward Mark Stone's wrist. Subban said he already paid the price for that infraction with a five-minute major and a game misconduct in Game 1. The Senators disagree, from GM Bryan Murray all the way down to Stone. "When it's a baseball swing slash I don't think so," Ottawa center Kyle Turris said, via NHL.com. "In the playoffs, you get slashes here and there and you get away with some things. But when it's that blatant, to harm a person like that is a little dangerous. There is a line during the regular season, there's a line in the playoffs, and it's up to the league to decide if that was crossed." With Senators coach Dave Cameron intimating retribution is one the way, Friday's game should be packed with emotion.