Breaking with the tradition of waiting for all First Round Series to end before beginning the Second Round, Wednesday night saw an overlap in the Stanley Cup playoffs. Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Second Round Series between the Tampa Bay Lightning and the New York Islanders began while it all came down to Game 7 in the Western Conference’s First Round Series between the Anaheim Ducks and the Nashville Predators.
New York Islanders vs Tampa Bay Lightning
The Lightning jumped out to a 1-0 lead 3:05 into the game on a goal by Ondrej Palat and looked to be on their way to controlling the game but the Islanders scored the next four goals, two by Shane Prince, and emerged from Tampa’s Amalie Arena with a 5-3 Game 1 win in their Stanley Cup Playoff Second Round Series.
“A big first period to get the lead,” Prince said following his team’s win. “Good thing we were able to hang on there and get the win because it’s a huge first game of the series.”
Islander defenseman Travis Hamonic answered Palat’s goal at 5:44. Prince followed Hamonic’s goal with his first of the game at 17:28. He struck again with three seconds remaining in the first period and New York skated to its dressing room with a 3-1 lead after one period.
Per Elias Sports Bureau, Prince is the first Islander to score two goals in the first period of a playoff game since Duane Sutter in the 1983 Division Finals.
The Islanders took a 4-1 lead on John Tavares’ power play goal at 8:59 of the second period. The goal ended the night for Tampa Bay goaltender Ben Bishop, who earlier in the day was named a finalist for the 2015-16 Vezina Trophy. Back up netminder, Andrei Vasilevskiy took over and stopped all eight shots the Islanders sent his way.
According to Elias Sports Bureau, Tavares (11 goals, 11 assists, 22 points) is the only player to record 20-plus points in his first 20 career playoff games with the Islanders.
In the third period, Tampa Bay scored twice off the sticks of Nikita Kucherov (7:41) and Valtteri Filppula (17:28) and pressured New York goaltender Thomas Greiss with 17 shots but he withstood the test. Cal Clutterbuck sealed the victory for the Islanders with an empty-net goal with 55 seconds remaining in the period.
Greiss stopped 32 shots to preserve the win.
Game 2 will be played Saturday, April 30th, at Tampa’s Amalie Arena at 3:00 pm ET (NBC, SN, TVA Sports).
Nashville Predators vs Anaheim Ducks
Anaheim had been ousted from the last three postseasons after suffering Game 7 losses, all at home so when the Ducks entered Game 7 of their series with Nashville at the Honda Center, they were determined to change history. However, it was the Predators, who scored the first two goals of the game. Despite controlling large stretches of the game and out-shooting Nashville 28-10 over the final two periods, the Ducks lost the game 2-1.
After trailing Anaheim 3-2 in games, the Predators came back to win the series 4-3. Nashville advances to the Second Round of the playoffs and will face the San Jose Sharks.
“It’s a big step,” Nashville coach Peter Laviolette said after the game. “I feel that if you can’t take this one step, you can’t take any more steps. That makes it a really big win for our guys and for our team. When you’re faced with these situations, you’re either going home or going on and playing hockey to continue to fight for the Cup. It was a big night.”
Colin Wilson put his team on the scoreboard at the 6:19 mark of the first period with an unassisted goal. On the play, Wilson stripped the puck off an Anaheim defender’s stick and went top shelf with a backhand shot that beat Ducks goaltender Frederik Andersen. It was Wilson’s second goal of the playoffs.
Paul Gaustad scored what would prove to be the game-winner 9:32 later. He redirected Shea Weber’s point shot past Andersen and Nashville held a 2-0 lead after one period. Viktor Arvidsson garnered the secondary assist.
The goal was reviewed by the League’s Hockey Operations Department in Toronto for the possibility that Gaustad’s stick was above the crossbar when it hit the puck, after reviewing the replays, it was deemed a good goal.
The teams skated through a scoreless second period. Anaheim sent 13 shots at Nashville netminder Pekka Rinne. The Predators managed six shots at Andersen.
The third period saw Anaheim reel off 15 shots at Rinne but the Finnish goaltender stopped all but one.
The one shot that eluded Rinne was Ryan Kesler’s power play goal at 1:45 of the period assisted by Jakob Silfverberg and Hampus Lindholm.
Rinne stopped a total of 36 shots to record the win. Andersen finished the contest with 18 saves.
Elias Sports Bureau reports that Nashville is the 14th team to win its first Game 7 of the 28 current NHL franchises to have played such a game.
Game 1 of the Second Round Series will be played in San Jose on Friday, April 29th at 10:30 pm ET (NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports).
Thursday’s Stanley Cup Playoff Schedule:
Game 1 Pittsburgh Penguins at Washington Capitals Eastern Conference Second Round Series 8:00 pm ET (NBC).
Follow ESPN New Hampshire NHL Writer, Shawn Hutcheon, on Twitter at @ShawnHutcheon.