clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

NHL playoff scores 2016: Zatkoff the unlikely Penguins hero, Elliott secures Blues win

The goaltenders were the story on the first day of the postseason.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Goaltending was at the forefront of everyone's minds on opening night of the 2016 Stanley Cup playoffs.

First, it was Marc-Andre Fleury's absence from the Penguins lineup that shook a tremor through the world of hockey. Despite practicing earlier in the day and through the week, Fleury sat while playoff newbie Jeff Zatkoff took the reins. Backing up Zatkoff was Tristan Jarry, also inexperienced in the ways of the postseason.

But, it didn't matter one bit. In fact, Zatkoff was the star of the Penguins' 5-2 win over the Rangers, despite New York testing the waters early and often. The Rangers had goaltending problems of their own thanks to an unfortunate injury to Henrik Lundqvist, but New York was outdone by their own defense, not the play of backup Antti Raanta.

From first-time playoff netminders to goaltenders that know the postseason like the back of their hands, St. Louis was the center of a goaltenders' duel at the end of the night. Corey Crawford and Brian Elliott kept their Game 1 scoreless for over 65 minutes and change, until a strange deflection went the way of the Blues and St. Louis came away with one in the win column. Elliott made 35 saves in the victory, a show of dominance that the Blues will not be pushed around in net this postseason.

Goaltenders can make a world of difference, or none at all. The Penguins managed to win with netminders of no postseason experience due to their system while the Blues relied upon the strong play of Elliott to bail them out after flatlining in the third.

Just your regular Stanley Cup playoff paradox then. Welcome to the show, everybody.


Lightning 3, Red Wings 2
Penguins 5, Rangers 2
Blues 1, Blackhawks 0 (OT)

* * *

Get the biggest NHL news, rumors and analysis in your inbox every morning!

* * *

3 things we learned

1. The Rangers had the chance to change the narrative, and couldn't

The most disappointing thread of opening night has to be the Rangers, who were gifted a golden opportunity to take a game on the road from the hottest team in the league. Instead, New York could not get enough second chances on Zatkoff when they had them. Once the Penguins jumped on just one mistake, they clamped down and the Rangers had no chance of escape.

Though the Penguins have no word on the status of Fleury, Pittsburgh dodged a huge bullet to their weakest point thanks to the Rangers' defensive mishaps.

2. Tampa Bay and Detroit had the most fire on opening night

The Red Wings clearly remember how they bowed out to the Lightning in the first round of last year's playoffs. If Game 1 is any indication, this series between the Red Wings and Lightning has the potential to be the sleeper pick as the most chippy of the first round.

3. The Blues had more hits than shots in their 1-0 victory

This is exactly the reason why playoff series are seven games. The Blues not only had just two shots in the third period, they managed just 18 all game through almost 70 minutes. Instead, they put most of their energy into hitting the Blackhawks black and blue, of which they managed to connect 41 times. However, they do make for potentially good clips for the end-of-the-season montage.

Impact Moment

It's probably best that you cue this up with the Benny Hill theme.

Love you, NHL playoffs.

Stat of the Night

Patric Hornqvist got a hat trick for the Penguins! And it was quite the hat trick, indeed.