The average sports fan will agree on one thing across all professional sports: the playoffs are the best time of the year. This applies to each and every sport as each game carries a significant amount of weight and aids in inching the team closer to its eventual hope of capturing the championship.
In the first round of the 2021 NHL Playoffs, we have been able to see who’s legit and who doesn’t belong. We have seen a little bit of everything with teams that are neck and neck with one another as well as teams that have swept and handled their opponents with ease.
Following Each Series:
Bruins at Capitals:
Saturday, May 15 marked the beginning of the NHL Playoffs with a debut game of the Boston Bruins visiting the Washington Capitals. The Capitals defeated the Bruins 3-2 in overtime on a Nic Dowd goal to capture the 1-0 series lead. Following their loss, the Bruins fought back in game 2 winning 4-3 in overtime to notch the series at 1 apiece.
Heading back to Boston and playing in their very own TD Garden, the Bruins looked to widen the gap between them and the Capitals, and they were able to do that. The Bruins won the 3rd game of the series in yet another overtime with a final score of 3-2. In game 4 it was all Bruins as the talented offense went to work and came away with a 4-1 win taking a 3-1 lead in the series.
Game 5 was headed back to Washington and the Capitals had little room for error as the Bruins were jumping on all of their mistakes. Advancing to the next round of the playoffs, and winning the series 4-1 was the Bruins as they had little issues dealing with the Capitals and won game 5 with a final score of 3-1.
Islanders at Penguins:
The other 2 teams out of the East division, the New York Islanders and Pittsburgh Penguins are in a much tighter series. It continues to go back and forth between the two teams and with the exception of game 4, the rest of the games have been a 1 goal differential.
The Islanders took game 1 in the Penguins building winning 4-3 in overtime. Game 2 belonged to the Penguins as their 2 first period goals were enough in securing the win and getting the series tied. A lot of scoring and action was provided in game 3 as the Penguins came out on top with a victory of 5-4.
It was the Islanders in game 4 that jumped out to the quick start and never looked back as they captured the 4-1 win. Most previously, it was Islanders hero, Josh Bailey, who gave the Islanders a 3-2 series lead with a double overtime goal in game 5 winning 3-2. Game 6 tonight on NBCSN, and you’re not going to want to miss it.
Predators at Hurricanes:
Recently, the Carolina Hurricanes have created a strong reputation for themselves surrounding the NHL. In their first game of the series versus the Nashville Predators, they had little problems as they dealt the Predators a 5-2 loss. They followed that up with another impressive performance winning 3-0 on a shutout from a goaltender, Alex Nedeljkovic.
The Predators were down, but not out as they clawed their way to a 5-4 win in double overtime for game 3 closing the gap on the Hurricanes. A couple of days later the Predators tied up the series with another double overtime win behind Luke Kunin’s second goal of the game. These 2 teams always go the extra mile it seems as the 5th game was won by the Hurricanes in overtime with a final score of 3-2.
Lightning at Panthers:
The last Eastern Conference matchup remaining consists of the defending Stanley Cup Champions, Tampa Bay Lightning, and the most recent team to see a spark, the Florida Panthers. What an impressive season the Panthers put together, but none of that matters come playoff time. The defending champs took the first 2 games of the series with a 5-4 win in game 1 followed by a 3-1 win in game 2.
The Panthers didn’t let up and earned their first win of the series with a 6-5 overtime win in Tampa. Hungry to return the favor, the Lightning turned it up a notch winning 6-2 in game 4. With the Panthers on their last sheet of ice, it was rookie goaltender, Spencer Knight, who helped secure the 4-1 victory in game 5 forcing a game 6.
Wild at Golden Knights:
Since entering the league a few years ago, the Vegas Golden Knights haven’t missed an opportunity in making the playoffs. The Minnesota Wild entered Vegas May 16th with the hopes of ending their season, and they got a step closer to that with a 1-0 overtime win in game 1. The Golden Knights worked their way to tying the series with a 3-1 game 2 victory.
Traveling back to Minnesota, the Golden Knights looked to keep their foot on the gas as they earned a 5-2 win in game 3. Game 4 was more of the same as the Golden Knights dominated from puck drop capturing the 4-0 victory. The Wild headed back to Vegas with one thing in mind: we cannot lose, and they didn’t, beating the Knights 4-2 in game 5.
Blues at Avalanche:
Remember me mentioning that a couple of series in this year’s playoffs had sweeps? Well, this was one of them as the #1 seeded Colorado Avalanche had little trouble with handling the St. Louis Blues. In fact, not a singular game in this series had a 1 or even 2 goal differential.
Game 1 the Avalanche won 4-1. Game 2 the Avalanche won 6-3. Game 3 wasn’t any better as the Avalanche won 5-1. I guess game 4 was a little better as the Avalanche only won 5-2 this time around. Avalanche advanced to the next round with ease.
Jets at Oilers:
This was another sweep, and although the games were much closer, the series score still ended in 4-0 which is what ultimately matters. The Edmonton Oilers were hot in the regular season behind their future hall-of-famer, Connor McDavid, but in the playoffs, something changed. The Winnipeg Jets took the first game in the series 4-1 and never looked back.
Game 2 went into overtime with the Jets coming out on top winning 1-0. Game 3 provided lots of scoring as the Jets won 5-4 in overtime. Game 4 was just more of the same with the Jets moving on to the next round with a 4-3 victory in triple overtime.
Canadiens at Maple Leafs:
The long, heated Canada rivalry is something that hockey fans will never take for granted. It was the Canadiens jumping out ahead with 2-1 game 1 victory and grabbing the first win of the series. The Maple Leafs did what people expected and bounced back with a 5-1 victory in game 2.
In Montreal, it was the Maple Leafs who came out on top with a 2-1 win and a 2-1 series lead. The following evening, the Maple Leafs took a commanding 3-1 series lead as they dominated with a 4-0 win.
The 2021 NHL Playoffs have been a treat thus far. I anticipate for it to only get more exciting as we get closer to finding out our 2021 Stanley Cup Champion.
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