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Stanley Cup Playoffs Daily: Lightning shocked, rookies rule

They say anything can happen in the Stanley Cup playoffs, and yet one of the greatest regular-season teams in NHL history blowing a three-goal lead to lose on home ice to the lowest seed in its conference felt stunning to the point where “anything” wouldn’t cover it.

Here’s what happened last night, and what to watch for tonight, in today’s edition of ESPN Stanley Cup Playoffs Daily:

About last night…

Game 1: Columbus Blue Jackets 4, Tampa Bay Lightning 3. The Lightning jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first period, and the team that tied the record for most regular-season wins ever (62) looked like it was going to roll through the playoffs. But then a sloppy Ryan McDonagh pass resulted in a Nick Foligno goal in the second period that ignited the Blue Jackets’ physical and forechecking games. Defenseman David Savard undressed Victor Hedman on a goal in the third. Less than four minutes after that, Josh Anderson scored a shorthanded goal to tie the game, and Seth Jones‘s power-play goal at 14:05 of the third gave them the lead. Sergei Bobrovsky went from Game 1 goat to a 16-save savior in the final two periods.

The Lightning are the 10th team in the history of the Stanley Cup Playoffs to blow a three-goal lead in their first game of a postseason. Only two of the previous nine recovered to win the series. Uh-oh. Meanwhile, John Tortorella lit a fire under his team (and nearly burned down the dressing room):

Game 1: New York Islanders 4, Pittsburgh Penguins 3 (OT). Nassau Coliseum was deafening at times during the Islanders’ Game 1 victory, although the Penguins tried to do their best to stun them into silence with Justin Schultz‘s goal at 18:31 of the third period to tie the game at 3-3. But the fans blew the roof off the old barn when Josh Bailey tucked home the game winner at 4:39 of overtime, thanks to an incredible move from Islanders star Mathew Barzal to set it up, deking several Penguins out of their skates:

Game 1: St. Louis Blues 2, Winnipeg Jets 1. Tyler Bozak scored the game-winner with 2:05 left in regulation on a pass from Patrick Maroon, and it might have been the most meaningful assist in Maroon’s career: He dedicated the win to his late grandfather, who passed away at 95 years old on Tuesday. “It’s been emotional, tough days for me,” said Maroon. “But being with the guys and having them by my side has been really good.” Rookie goalie Jordan Binnington did the rest, with 24 saves in his first playoff start.

Game 1: Dallas Stars 3, Nashville Predators 2. Rookie defenseman Miro Heiskanen scored two goals, becoming the youngest player to ever score a playoff goal in franchise history, while goalie Ben Bishop and the team’s defense did the rest in their win over the Predators. Mats Zuccarello, the Stars’ trade deadline pickup, had the game-winning goal. So desperate for offense were the Predators that coach Peter Laviolette pulled goalie Pekka Rinne with 3:13 left in the game and Nashville on the power play. “We lost our way, we lost the game,” Laviolette said. “There’s nothing encouraging about tonight. We know we’re capable of playing at high speed with high gears and competitiveness. Like I said, it went their way.”

Game 1: San Jose Sharks 5, Vegas Golden Knights 2. It was an ugly game, and not just because Sharks captain Joe Pavelski got his mouth mangled by deflecting the first goal in with his jaw. The Sharks ruled in puck possession through two periods, building a 4-1 lead and limiting the Golden Knights’ attack. They pummeled them physically and dominated them defensively. Brent Burns (1G, 1A) and Erik Karlsson (2A) controlled play. Martin Jones was steady in making 24 saves. Mark Stone scored two goals for Vegas in his playoff debut for them, one of the few highlights in a forgettable game for the Knights.

Three Stars

1. Jordan Binnington, G, St. Louis Blues. The rookie sensation announced his arrival in the Stanley Cup Playoffs by skating into the most hostile of territories — the White-Out crowd of Winnipeg — and stopped 24 of 25 shots . That included 17 saves in the first two periods, many of them spectacular, to give the Blues a chance to rally. The showstopper, literally, was this stop on Mark Scheifele late in the third, the same player who was penalized earlier in the game for charging into him:

2. Miro Heiskanen, D, Dallas Stars. Another sensational rookie making his mark, the Stars defenseman scored a power-play goal in the second period to tie the game and an even-strength goal in the third for the lead in their eventual 3-2 win over Nashville. He was second on the team in ice time at 23:24. Heiskanen is just the third teenager to record a multi-goal game in the playoffs over the last 20 seasons, joining Sean Couturier (hat trick in 2012) and teammate Tyler Seguin (2011).

3. Seth Jones, D, Columbus Blue Jackets. Along with scoring the game-winning goal, Jones was instrumental in helping the Jackets keep the Lightnings’ top players scoreless in their Game 1 stunner.

Play of the Night

Oh, nothing to see here except David Savard of the Blue Jackets looking like Bobby Orr while undressing Victor Hedman, one of the best defensemen on the planet, before lasering home the second goal of their rally.

Dud of the Night

The Lightning’s stars. As lackadaisical as the Tampa Bay defense was in allowing the Blue Jackets to rally, the fact that Nikita Kucherov, Steven Stamkos and Brayden Point combined for 16 shot attempts, eight shots on goal, a minus-4 and zero points was even more shocking.

On the schedule

Toronto Maple Leafs at Boston Bruins, Game 1, 7 p.m. ET

The rivalry continues for these two team, one year after the Bruins eliminated the Leafs in seven games. But this Toronto team has a few new tricks: Namely star center John Tavares and veteran defenseman Jake Muzzin. Will things be different this time, or are we in store for another year of Toronto media complaining about the playoff format because Boston owns the Leafs?

Carolina Hurricanes at Washington Capitals, Game 1, 7:30 p.m. ET

The underdog Canes play their first postseason game since May 26, 2009, in taking on the defending Stanley Cup champions. The Capitals dominated Carolina in the regular season to the tune of 4-0-0. Do these ‘Bunch of Jerks’ from Raleigh have more defiant magic in the postseason, or are the Capitals just too talented for an upset?

Colorado Avalanche at Calgary Flames, Game 1, 10 p.m. ET

The Avs will get big boost entering this one with the return of Mikko Rantanen to the lineup, and one assumes to the line that has Nathan MacKinnon and Gabriel Landeskog. Colorado has a red hot goalie in Philipp Grubauer (8-1-2 in his last 11 games), but is he enough to handle a Flames’ offense that was third in the NHL at 3.52 goals per game?

Social post of the day

John Tortorella left the locker room and walked into the interview room — which smelled like a locker room. He noted the body odor as Torts does, and then walked out … leaving a member of the great unwashed (a.k.a. the media) to administer a sniff test. Wow.


“The only critics that matter are the ones in the room, and there aren’t any. I don’t think he cares about whether he silenced you guys, and I don’t think we care either.” — Sharks coach Pete DeBoer on goalie Martin Jones, and whether his Game 1 performance quieted his critics.

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