Despite being an underdog heading into their first playoff series against the Pittsburgh Penguins, there was plenty of excitement surrounding the Philadelphia Flyers not just because of how great the city in general has been as of late in sports, but also due to how the team ended the regular season.
Malkin pushed the Penguins ahead 3-0 with a spectacular goal at 14:09 as he skated through three Flyers and flipped a backhand shot past Elliott. His last two goals weren't quite as dramatic, though they did pull him into a tie with team owner and Hall of Famer Mario Lemieux for the franchise record for the most career hat tricks in the playoffs. When Crosby was asked afterward why he did it, the Penguins captain responded: "I don't like them".
"I mean, it's one game", Crosby said.
Jets 3, Wild 2 • In Winnipeg, Manitoba • Defenseman Joe Morrow broke a tie with 6:13 left and Winnipeg beat Minnesota n Game 1 for the first playoff victory in franchise history. Jake Guentzel scored a goal and had three assists. The penalty kill, on the other hand, is a glaring weakness, and that's not a good sign once those post-season nail-biter games come around. With that being said, the Jets doubled the Wild's shots on net (40-20) and it was a promising start to what they're hoping will be a deep playoff run.
The Flyers have won four of their six playoff series, including a six-game triumph over Pittsburgh in the first round in 2012, their last playoff meeting.
The Penguins are 4-1 in their last five games overall and have won seven of their last eight Conference Quarterfinals games. Brown and Kopitar turned in four-goal games down the stretch while Jonathan Quick provided timely goaltending in a tight playoff race. Some of that can be pinned on the disastrous Antti Niemi experiment, but also on the injuries sustained by starter Matt Murray - who has yet to play an National Hockey League season that didn't end up in a Cup win. Will the Vegas Golden Knights' magic continue through the playoffs?
Marc-Andre Fleury stopped 28 shots for the 63rd win and 11th shutout in his postseason career. The over is a ideal 5-0 in the last five meetings between these two teams and is 15-5-1 in the last 21 meetings between these two teams in Pittsburgh.
This season, the Predators led the National Hockey League with 117 points, winning the Presidents' Trophy for the first time.
Then again, if the Penguins play like they did on Wednesday night it may not even matter who the goalie is.
Game 2 is Friday night in Winnipeg. Crosby's goal was dazzling as he deflected the puck out of mid air and redirected it past Elliott.
Aside from the absurd rate in which both teams found the back of the net, three Penguins players received suspensions for extracurricular activities, then head coach Dan Bylsma was fined $10,000, and Claude Giroux was deemed ready to take over Sidney Crosby's spot as top player in the world. Ha. With the playoffs being a different playing scenario, Holtby probably is the better option to start over Grubauer even with Holtby's struggles after the all-star break. Home ice wasn't a huge difference maker in the regular season between these two teams, but Philadelphia fans in the playoffs are a different animal. The Bolts hope to regain the dominant early-season form after a tired stretch run.
San Jose at Anaheim, 9:30 p.m.
Not that Pittsburgh's captain wanted to buy into any sort of message sending, even after the Penguins became only the fifth team in National Hockey League history to win a series opener by at least seven goals.