Stanley Cup Playoffs Have Become Don’t Miss TV

The Stanley Cup playoffs are required viewing for sports fans. (Photo: hhof.com)

The Stanley Cup Playoffs are in full swing with all but one series underway and that one series, which features the Anaheim Ducks hosting the Nashville Predators, opens April 14th at Anaheim’s Honda Center at 10:30 pm ET (NBCSN).  

Although each best-of-seven series has seen only one game played, there has been plenty of exciting action and individual performances. If these were Broadway plays, the critics would be declaring each a smash hit.

Pittsburgh Penguins vs New York Rangers

The Penguins, who went 8-2-0 in their final 10 games of the regular season, kept the train rolling in Game 1 over their arch-rivals with a 5-2 victory.

Patric Hornqvist scored a hat trick and added an assist to pace Pittsburgh while Sidney Crosby added a goal and two assists. Goaltender Jeff Zatkoff turned aside 35 of 37 Rangers shots.

Derek Stepan registered both goals for New York, who lost puck stopper Henrik Lundqvist after the first period. He was hit in the eye by a teammate’s stick and left the game. As of Friday, April 14th, he was still being evaluated for swelling around the eye and appeared to be a game-time decision for Game 2 which is scheduled for Saturday, April 15th at 3:00 pm ET (NBC).

Detroit Red Wings vs Tampa Bay Lightning

In the Sunshine State, the number two team in the Eastern Conference Tampa Bay Lightning opened a one game to none lead over the number three eastern team Detroit Red Wings with a thrilling 3-2 win.

With the teams tied 2-2 after two periods, Lightning power forward Alex Killorn struck 8:52 into the third period to give his team a 3-2 victory over the Red Wings. Killorn finished the contest with a goal and an assist. Teammate Tyler Johnson, who was playing at less than 100 percent physically, contributed two assists and Nikita Kucherov contributed two goals and one assist.

Justin Abdelkader and Mike Green scored for Detroit.

Game 2 will be played Friday, April 14th in Tampa at 7:00 pm ET (CNBC).

Philadelphia Flyers vs Washington Capitals

The Eastern Conference has seen the President’s Trophy winner Washington Capitals assert its dominance over the second Wild Card Philadelphia Flyers with a 2-0 win over the boys from the City of Brotherly Love. However, there was no love lost in Game 1 with the two clubs combining for a total of 56 penalty minutes.

Marcus Johansson led the Caps with two assists in his club’s win. Goaltender Braden Holtby made 19 saves to record the shutout.

The two squads return to the ice Saturday, April 15th (7:00 pm ET CNBC) for Game 2 in Washington.

New York Islanders vs Florida Panthers

The Eastern Conference’s top club, the Florida Panthers hosted the New York Islanders in Game 1 of their best-of-seven series in Southern Florida but it was the Islanders who emerged with the all-important road victory by a score of 5-4.

Game 1 saw three lead changes in the first two periods before New York took control of the contest by scoring three of the last four goals.

Goaltender Thomas Greiss paved the way for the Islanders by stopping 42 of 46 Panthers shots.

Ryan Strome, Kyle Okposo, and Frans Nielsen each contributed a goal and an assist for the Islanders cause. Captain John Tavares scored one goal and assisted on two others.

Florida’s Jussi Jokinen registered a goal and two assists, Teddy Purcell scored a goal, and Reilly Smith picked up two goals and assisted on one lamplighter.

Game 2 will be played Friday, April 14th at 7:30 pm (NHL Network) in Florida.

St. Louis Blues vs Chicago Blackhawks

The thrills of playoff hockey were not only seen in the east.

The St. Louis Blues and the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks kept hockey fans on the edge of their seats all night before the Blues exited Game 1 with a 1-0 overtime win.

St. Louis goaltender Brian Elliott was the star of the show. He stopped all 35 shots Chicago sent his way including seven in overtime to preserve the shutout and the victory.

Blackhawks puck stopper, Corey Crawford, stopped 17 St. Louis shots before the 18th shot, off the stick of Blues captain David Backes, deflected off a teammate’s skate and eluded the goaltender to end the game.

This promises to be a physical series as St. Louis dished out 41 hits in Game 1. Chicago delivered 24 hits.

Game 2 will take place in St. Louis on Friday, April 14th at 8:00 pm (NBCSN)

San Jose Sharks vs Los Angeles Kings

In a series where ice bags may become quite necessary in the dressing rooms as well as on the benches, the Sharks and Kings combined for 68 hits in Game 1 and San Jose was forced to come from behind three times in order to take a one game to none lead with a 4-3 win at LA’s Staples Center Thursday evening.

Puck management played a key role in the game. San Jose was credited with eight giveaways while Los Angeles committed 20 giveaways, which is an unusually high amount for an NHL team.

Sharks captain Joe Pavelski struck for two goals. Teammates Tomas Hertl and Brent Burns each scored once.

Former Los Angeles goaltender, Martin Jones, stopped 21 of LA’s 24 shots in the win.

Milan Lucic assisted on two of the Kings goals in his first playoff game since 2014 when he was a member of the Boston Bruins.

The series resumes Saturday, April 16th with Game 2 taking place in Los Angeles at 10:30 pm ET (NBCSN).

Follow ESPN New Hampshire NHL Writer, Shawn Hutcheon, on Twitter at @ShawnHutcheon.

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