The Washington Capitals have been labeled a "regular season team" over the years due to their multiple President Trophy wins leading to early exits in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. They did not get off to a good start early on Thursday night, as they fell to the Columbus Blue Jackets in overtime, 4-3, in Game 1 of their first round series. Artemi Panarin scored 6:02 into overtime, helping his team overcome losing three key players earlier on . The likes of Josh Anderson left with a game misconduct, Alexander Winberg with a head injury, and Nick Foligno after he took a puck to the face. Thomas Vanek added a goal and an assist for the Blue Jackets, who rallied from a 2-0 deficit behind two power play goals for Washington. Evgeny Kuznetsov and Michael Kempny had those early on, while Devante Smith-Pelly gave his team another lead in the third period. Seth Jones went on to send the game into overtime by netting the tying goal with 4:26 to play in regulation on a feed from Panarin. That big tally came less than two minutes after drawing a tripping penalty on Andre Burakovsky, which gave his team the man advantage. The Jackets' victory takes away home ice advantage from the Caps early on heading in to Game 2, which is back in our nation's capital on Sunday.
Four Other Teams Cruise to Game 1 Victories
While the Washington Capitals and Columbus Blue Jackets needed overtime to determine a Game-1 winner, the other four contests were not having that. Beginning with the defending Western Conference Champion, Nashville Predators, who pulled away for a 5-2 win over the Colorado Avalanche. Filip Forsberg led that charge with two goals for the Predators, who got 25 saves from Pekka Rinne. The Predators get the win after earning their first ever President's Trophy, beating the Avalanche in their first playoff game since 2014. Meanwhile, the Tampa Bay Lightning rolled as the East's top seed with a 5-2 win over the New Jersey Devils. The Lightning got five goals from five different players, as Ondrej Palat, Tyler Johnson, and Yannie Gourde all scored to give them an early 3-0 lead. Alex Killorn and Nikita Kucherov added empty netters late to seal the win on their home ice. The team that missed out on the top seed, the Boston Bruins, also cruised at home with a 5-1 win over their Original Six rival, Toronto Maple Leafs. Brad Marchand, David Backes, and David Krejci all had power play goals, while Tukka Rask stopped 26 shots in the win. Davis Pastrnak also scored later on for the Bruins, who will host Game 2 on Saturday night. The Leafs will be without Nazem Kadri for that one, as he has been suspended three games for boarding Tommy Wingels on Thursday. And out west, the San Jose Sharks rode a big second period to a 3-0 shutout of the Anaheim Ducks on the road. Trade deadline acquisition Evander Kane scored twice during that 20 minutes, while Brent Burns added a tally to pull off the upset. This big period supported Martin Jones, who made 25 saves on the night. Kane was making his NHL playoff debut after 574 regular season games, as he recorded 14 points in 17 games with San Jose this year.
Ohtani Stays Hot With the Bat in Angels' Win
The Los Angeles Angels are in first place in the AL West early on in the season, and they also have the story of the year in Shohei Ohtani. He has gotten it done on the mound this season, but did so at the plate on Thursday night in the Angels' 7-1 win over the Kansas City Royals. The Japanese star hit a clutch bases loaded triple during a five-run seventh inning, as the Angels cruised to their fifth straight win. Mike Trout added his fifth home run of the year, while Ian Kinsler returned from the disabled list and hit his first home run as a member of the Angels. With the big hit, Ohtani now leads the Angels with 11 RBI on the young season, while also pitching very well on the weekends. He helped starter Nick Tropeano get his first win since 2016, as he pitched well into the seventh inning. The Angels have also won eight of their past nine games overall, as Kole Calhoun also chipped in with a two-run single. Kinsler's home run was his 47th career leadoff blast, and it came off of Ian Kennedy, who suffered his first loss of the year. Lucas Duda drove in the lone run of the evening for the Royals with a double in the eighth. These same two teams will go at it to continue their four-game weekend series on Friday night.