The Stanley Cup Playoffs kicked off on Wednesday night, and what is known by many as the most exciting postseason in sports lived up to that reputation in its first night. Two teams needed extra time to secure a Game 1 victory, including the San Jose Sharks, who pulled off a road win over the Edmonton Oilers, 3-2. Melker Karlsson scored just 3:22 into overtime, helping San Jose overcome a 2-0 lead against the team that beat them out in the Pacific Division standings to host the series. Joel Ward and Paul Martin also scored for the Sharks in the sold-out Rogers Palace. Conor McDavid made his playoff debut and recorded an assist, while Milan Lucic and Oscar Klefbom scored in the tough defeat. Meanwhile, the St. Louis Blues also needed overtime to defeat a division rival in the first round, as Joel Edmundson netted the game-winner with just over two minutes left in OT for a 2-1 Blues' win over the Wild. Jake Allen dominated on the road with 51 saves and earned the victory from an unlikely hero, as the 23-year-old Edmundson has just six goals in 153 career games. Zach Parise scored the lone goal for Minnesota in thrilling fashion, sending the game into overtime with 22.7 seconds left in regulation. The Blues won the game despite being out-shot, 52-26, and losing the faceoff battle, 47-33.
Penguins, Rangers, Bruins Earn Game-1 Victories
The Pittsburgh Penguins began their Stanley Cup title defense on Wednesday night in style, as Marc-Andre Fleury made the last-minute start in a 3-1 win over the Columbus Blue Jackets. Fleury made 31 saves while starting in place of Matt Murray, who is sidelined with a lower-body injury. Murray will sit out Friday night's Game 2 as well, giving the veteran Fleury another chance to shine in the postseason. Phil Kessel, Nick Bonino, and Bryan Rust all scored in the second period, while Evgeni Malkin recorded two assists in the win. Another goalie that knew he was getting the start also dominated, as Henrik Lundqvist recorded his 10th career playoff shutout in the New York Rangers' 2-0 Game-1 win over the Montreal Canadiens. Lundqvist made 31 saves on the night and recorded his first win over Montreal this season after going 0-3 against them in the regular season. Tanner Glass scored in the first period and Michael Grabner added an empty-netter in the third.
And after the Ottawa Senators taunted the Boston Bruins on Twitter, the Bruins had the last laugh, as Brad Marchand scored late in the third for a 2-1 Game-1 win. Marchand's goal came with 2:33 left in regulation, while Frank Vatrano added a tally for Boston in his first career playoff game. Tukka Rask made 26 saves and only surrendered a goal to Bobby Ryan. Boston was able to overcome a tough second period where they were out-shot, 12-0, becoming the first team to earn a playoff win without recording a shot in a period since 1994.
Celtics Defeat Bucks to Clinch Top Seed
The Boston Celtics did rest some of their players in the season finale on Wednesday night, but still got the job done by defeating the Milwaukee Bucks, 112-94, to clinch the top seed in the East. Gerald Green had 18 points, leading a pivotal 25-2 fourth-quarter run to earn the victory. Green scored 10 points during that run while star Isaiah Thomas watched from the sidelines. Milwaukee was also resting their stars, including Giannis Antetokounmpo, Tony Snell, and Matthew Dellavedova, and was led by Michael Beasley's 15 points in the loss. Boston ends their season on a three-game win streak, and will go up against the Chicago Bulls, who clinched the eighth seed with a win over the Brooklyn Nets. The Celtics have not won a playoff series since 2012. Despite that, they put themselves in good position by taking the top seed over the Cavs, who fell to the Toronto Raptors on Wednesday.