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Lightning Round: Tampa Bay kicks off the postseason with a victory

They join Philadelphia at the top of the Eastern Conference Round Robin standings.

Washington Capitals v Tampa Bay Lightning Photo by Chase Agnello-Dean/NHLI via Getty Images

The Tampa Bay Lightning pulled off the first ever postseason shootout win in NHL history. Despite a fast start that saw them build a 2-0 lead, it wasn’t an easy win as they had to contend with constant physical play from the Capitals. The Lightning didn’t lose their composure, and while they weren’t able to pull off the win in regulation, they did pick up the extra point in what is appearing to be a tight race for seeding in the Eastern Conference.

“We’ve brought in some players who have helped us in that regard immensely. It’s a man’s game when you get in the playoffs. The confidence of our group and the no back-down- attitude is definitely something we’ve noticed.”

That’s what coach Jon Cooper had to say after the game. While players like Barclay Goodrow, Patrick Maroon, and Blake Coleman were brought in to make the Lightning a tougher team to play against, it was a couple of familiar faces that provided a little push back. First it was Erik Cernak burying Tom Wilson into the bench after Wilson took liberties with a hit on Ryan McDonagh. Then it was Yanni Gourde taking on TJ Oshie after the Washington forward rabbit-punched Gourde in the back of the head.

This doesn’t mean the Lightning need to result to dirty tactics or transform into a grind-it-out team. Having that aspect in addition to the skill and speed (Brayden Point was especially quick on the skates all game long) will make them a better playoff team.

Yesterday’s Other Results

Hurricanes 4, Rangers 1

It was the Andrei Svechnikov show on Monday for the Hurricanes. The 20-year-old recorded the first playoff hat trick in Canes history. Sebastian Aho had three assists and Petr Mrazek made 23 saves. Carolina has a two games to none lead in the five game series as the teams head to New York switch locker rooms. It’ll be a tough uphill battle for the Rangers to come back in this series.

Jets 3, Flames 2

The Jets, without Mark Scheifele or Patrik Laine found enough offense to edge the Flames and even the series back up. Nikolaj Ehlers scored the eventual game winning goal midway through the third period.

Golden Knights 5, Stars 3

Vegas was able to find the back of the net a surprising five times against one of the best defenses in the league as the two teams battled for seeding in the Western Conference. Down 3-1 with less than ten minutes remaining in the game, Mark Stone and Nate Schmidt scored twice in less than two minutes. William Carrier scored the go ahead goal that was initially waived off for goaltender interference.

Penguins 3, Canadiens 1

Penguin fans breathed a little easier as Jake Guentzel’s goal with ten seconds left in the game to break a 2-2 tie. The win (which also featured goals from Sidney Crosby and Jason Zucker) tied the series at one game a piece and eased worries, at least for the night, that Montreal would upset the fifth-ranked Pittsburgh team. Matt Murray made 28 saves in the win. Carey Price kept Montreal close making 35 saves of his own.

Oilers 6, Blackhawks 3

Connor McDavid might be a bland leader according to some, but he’s a hell of a hockey player. He posted a hat trick as the Oilers found their offense and evened up the series. The best player in hockey scored nineteen seconds into the game, added another a few minutes later, and then scored the eventual game winner with less than three minutes to go in the second period. Former Lightning blueliner Slater Koekkoek scored his first career playoff goal for the Blackhawks.

Today’s Games

Florida Panthers “@” New York Islanders - Islanders lead series 1-0

12:00 pm, NBCSN, NHL.tv, TVAS, SN, MSG+, FS-F

If the Panthers are going to keep our dream of an all-Florida series with the Lightning in Round One, they should really do their best to win Game Two. The record for teams staring at an 0-2 deficit in a five game series isn’t great (1-for-40). In order to do that, they’re going to have to find a way to score goals, it’s that simple. Unfortunately, that’s kind of hard against a Barry Trotz team.

Arizona Coyotes “@” Nashville Predators - Coyotes lead series 1-0

2:30 pm, NHL Network, NHL.tv, SN360, SN1, FS-TN

The Coyotes pulled off the Game One upset and look to keep the good times rolling. Nashville needs to clean their game up a bit and match the intensity that Arizona brought in the first meeting. It is possible that Pekka Rinne is between the pipes, replacing Game One starter Juuse Saros. A positive sign for the Predators is that they did play better as the game went on. If they can carry that over to Game Two, this series will be tied up.

Columbus Blue Jackets “@” Toronto Maple Leafs - Blue Jackets lead series 1-0

4:00 pm, NBCSN, NHL.tv, TVAS, SN, FS-O

If a loss in Game One led to two sportswriters based in Toronto to start bickering with each other on Twitter, imagine what will happen if they lose Game Two. Columbus did what Columbus does - forecheck like beasts and get just enough offense to edge out a win.

Calgary Flames “@” Winnipeg Jets - Series tied at 1 game a piece

6:45 pm, NHL Network, NHL.tv, SN

The testiest series so far in the Qualifying Round keeps going as the teams play on back-to-back nights. Penalties have plagued the Flames so far as they’ve been whistled for fourteen infractions over the first two games. Winnipeg hasn’t exploited that advantage just yet, but if the Flames can’t play a more disciplined game, this is going to be a tough series for them to win.

Carolina Hurricanes “@” New York Rangers - Hurricanes lead series 2-0

8:00 pm, NBCSN, TVAS, SN360, MSG, FS-CR

We have our first elimination game! With Igor Shesterkin still day-to-day, it might be up to Henrik Lundqvist to stave off elimination for the Rangers. If he’s going to be successful he’s going to need some help from the team in front of him. He’s not the reason the Rangers are down 2-0, the fact that the Rangers have no answer for Andrei Svechnikov is the reason.

Minnesota Wild “@” Vancouver Canucks - Minnesota leads series 1-0

10:45 pm, USA, NHL.tv, SN, FS-N, FS-WI

In yet another somewhat shocking turn of events Minnesota drew first blood in the series thanks to Alex Stalock’s 28-save shutout. While these teams are fairly closely matched, most folks thought that Vancouver’s deeper front line talent would prevail. In Game One it did not.

News and Notes from around the league

There were no positive tests for Covid-19 last week in the NHL. That means all of the teams and their staff made it into the bubble safely. The NHL and the players continue to set the standard for how to handle pandemic hockey, but they can’t relax. As MLB is finding out, one or two instances of poor judgement can shut down entire teams.

Prior to the Golden Knights/Dallas Stars game on Monday, Vegas forward Ryan Reaves took a knee during the U.S. and Canadian national anthems. He was joined by teammate Robin Lehner and Stars players Tyler Seguin and Jason Dickinson. [The Athletic]

“I actually came to Reavo and said I wanted to take a knee,” Lehner said. “We didn’t plan this together, we kind of just came at the same point and decided to do it together. I’m just happy two more guys in Dallas joined us. At the end of the day, it just starts there. It’s a symbolic thing, that we need to make some change. But it’s time to do more than just kneeling and find ways to actually do something.”

NBC released some viewership numbers from the weekend. It was...ok. The Saturday double header averaged 1.3 million viewers while the Flyers/Bruins game on Sunday averaged 1.4 million. While it’s roughly half of the viewership that the NBA is pulling in, it was the most watched doubleheader NBC has produced in four years (excluding traditional playoff games). Can they sustain or improve those numbers as the playoffs move on? [NBC Sports]