Friday, October 6, 2017

Night 2 of the 2017-18 Season Brought Some Shocking Games

There were eight games played last night in the second day for this regular season. Here I am looking at the first five of them. Each of the games tonight had their own surprises. Here are some of the highlights from the games where the Bruins took on the Predators, Montreal battled Buffalo, the Capitals took on the Senators, Minnesota played against Detroit, and Penguins played against the Blackhawks.

Predators vs Bruins

This was the Bruins' home opener and was expected to be a close game. The Bruins' rookies were impressive last night, stepping up to fill in for Patrice Bergeron and David Backes who were both out for last night's game.
  • Rookie Jake DeBrusk scored his first NHL goal breaking a 1-1 tie early in the 2nd! He also tallied an assist in last night's game.
  • Charlie McAvoy also scored his first NHL goal, in his first regular season game!
  • The final few minutes of the 3rd period were game changing 
  • The Bruins had two men in the penalty box giving the Predators a chance to get back in the game
  •  the Predators sent Rask to the bench giving them a 6-on-3 allowing for two goals in less than two minutes
  • Late game goals for the Predators were scored by Scott Hartnell and Filip Forsberg.
The final score was close thanks to a huge penalty by Boston allowing the Predators to bring the score to 4-3 in the final seconds of play. The Bruins' took the win on their season opener in what turned out to be a very close game. Nothing like an exciting opening night of hockey!

Canadiens vs Sabers

This was a close game from the start. The first period closed with the score tied at 1-1.  Buffalo put the only goal up in the 2nd, breaking the tie. About midway through the 3rd, Montreal tied the game again. This sent the game into overtime, which ended with the game still tied at 2-2. This became the first game of the season to go to a shootout. The nail-biter continued through three rounds before the Canadiens scored the final point to take the game. 
  • Montreal had won four straight season openers before last night's game.
  • Buffalo had lost five straight season openers before last night's game.
Based just on statistics, this should have been a slam-dunk for the Canadiens, so it was a bit surprising that it was such a close contest.
  • Carey Price stopped and amazing 43 shots including three shoot-out attempts!
  • Jonathan Drouin scored the game winning shoot-out goal and put up an assist on the Canadiens first goal of the night.
  • The other two Montreal goals were scored by Max Pacioretty and Phillip Danault.
  • Jason Pominville scored both of Buffalo's goals!
  • Robin Lehner performed incredibly well in goal for the Sabers, making a number of important saves to keep his team in the game!
Both teams played well and fought hard making this a closer and much more exciting game than anticipated.

Capitals vs Senators

This was the second nail-biter of the night. It started out very much like the Canadians vs. Senators game did, with each team scoring one goal in the first. Ottawa made the only goal in the 2nd, putting them ahead.  In the 3rd period, the pace really picked up with Washington putting up three goals and Ottawa making an additional two. This ended the 3rd period tied 4-4, sending the game into a scoreless OT period. Again, last night a game went to a shootout, which also lasted three rounds. The Capitals emerged from the shootout victorious, leading their team to a 5-4 win!
  • Capitals Captain Alex Ovechkin made three goals all in the 3rd period to give him an opening night hat trick!
  • Evgeny Kuznetsov had three assists for Washington in last night's game.
  • Goalie Braden Holtby made 28 saves to post his first win of the season.
  • For the Senators Mark Stone scored two of their four goals.
  • Craig Anderssen made 24 saves to keep the Senators in the game.
Both teams played a hard fast-paced game. In the end, it came down to puck handling. The Senators had several turnovers, which gave the Capitals additional scoring opportunities.

Wild vs Red Wings

This game was all about the 3rd period.  The Wild vs. Red Wings game was slow to get on the score board. It was over 14 minutes into the 2nd period before Detroit put the first goal up. Less than 30 seconds later, however, they got their 2nd goal of the night. Going into the 3rd, the Red Wings definitely had the advantage. However, just two minutes in, the Wild got on the score board with their first goal. Then, only 48 seconds later, they tied the game at 2-2! Unfortunately for them, these would be the Wild's only two goals. The Red Wings came back strong, putting up two more goals before the middle of the 3rd period. The game ended with a score of 4-2.
  • This game might have ended very differently if not for the fact that Minnesota had two disallowed goals in the 1st period for goaltender interference: one by Eric Staal, and one by Ryan Suter.
  • The Red Wings also managed to kill a 5-on-3 power play early in the 2nd to keep the Wild off the board.
  • Red Wings goals were scored by: Anthony Mantha, Dylan Larkin, Henrik Zetterberg, and Martin Frk.
  • Wild goals were scored by Joel Eriksson-Ek, and Chris Stewart.
Even if it is the right call, as it was tonight, having not one but two goals recalled early in the game killed the team's momentum. It is hard to get over that mentally, and it takes a toll on the team. For the other team it can have the opposite effect, charging them up and raising their confidence. This was really the game changer for the Wild. In the end, the Red Wings opened the Little Caesars Arena with a well earned win.

Penguins vs Blackhawks

This game for me was the biggest surprise of the night. I had expected a rough, but close game. I did give the Blackhawks an edge up because, not only had they won their last six contests against the Penguins, but they were fresh, and the Penguins were coming off of a hard game last night against the Blues. My other surprise was the Penguins decision to start back-up goaltender Antti Niemi in goal rather than Matt Murray. I wondered if Murray had a minor injury from Wednesday nights game, or if the Pens were just trying not to have him play back to back games so early in the season. Murray showed no obvious signs of playing through an injury, so it must have been an attempt to rest him. In the end the Blackhawks won by a huge 10-1 margin.

  • Antti Niemi let in three goals in 1 minute 14 seconds at just six minutes into the 1st period. He was pulled from net two minutes later, after letting in a 4th goal.
  • Blackhawks had no fewer than five power plays, but did not score a single power play goal.
  • Brandon Saad scored a hat trick. He was the 4th player to score an opening game hat trick so far this season.
  • The other Chicago goals were scored by Ryan Hartman, Nick Schmaltz (2), Patrick Sharp, Patrick Kane, Richard Panik, and Brent Seabrook.
  • Corey Crawford made 28 saves, letting in only one goal!
  • Pittsburgh's only goal was a PPG scored by Phil Kessel early in the 2nd.
  • The last time the Penguins gave up 10 goals in a game was back in 1996 against the Sharks.

This game was none of the things that I expected. It was not close, it was not a game displaying the elite skills of two multiple Stanley Cup Winning teams. The Blackhawks played a strong game, and Crawford made some good saves, but if the Penguins had been on their A game or even their B game, it would have been a much closer game.

There have been many exciting and shocking games so far this week. We have had 4 hat tricks, several players scoring their 1st NHL goals, and some amazing saves. We have had over time games, shoot out games, shutouts, and crushing victories or defeats. There are still 6 more teams who play their season openers tomorrow, I can't wait to see what they bring!

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