The start of the NHL's Stanley Cup quarterfinals set the bar rather high. Like, five overtimes high.
Before the next day of competition, please check out our staff picks for each series, including the uncomfortable number of us predicting that the best team in the NHL during the regular season will get upset in this round.
Check out the ESPN Stanley Cup Playoffs Daily every day of the postseason until the Cup is handed out in October.
About last night...
It's not every postseason that the first game of a quarterfinal series is one for the time capsule, but this postseason is anything but typical. The Lightning and Blue Jackets played a game that lasted six hours and 13 minutes and combined for a Stanley Cup playoff record 151 shots, including a playoff record 88 from Tampa, in a five-overtime game that never lacked for action or drama. Seth Jones skated 65:06 in the loss, and Joonas Korpisalo made 85 saves. Brayden Point scored 10:27 into the fifth overtime to end the fourth-longest game in NHL history. Oh yeah: The Lightning also took the first game of a revenge series against the team that swept them in last season's quarterfinals. Full recap.
Dillon Dube had two goals and Rasmus Andersson scored the winner as the Flames defeated the Stars in a contentious first game of their Western Conference series. Calgary built a 2-0 lead, but the Stars rallied with goals by Denis Gurianov and Jamie Benn that were nine seconds apart in the second period to make a game of it. Cam Talbot made 24 saves for the Flames, while Anton Khudobin made 23 saves, getting the start as Ben Bishop works his way back to the lineup. Full recap.
Reilly Smith had three points as the Knights shut down the Blackhawks in front of a 19-save performance from Robin Lehner, who got the Game 1 start over Marc-Andre Fleury against the team that traded him at the deadline. Full recap.
There was perhaps no better tribute to the marathon game between the Lightning and Blue Jackets than seeing the Eastern Conference nightcap bumped to the following morning. This was ample fodder for the cheeky Hurricanes social media team:
Question of the day: Should the Stanley Cup playoffs ditch endless overtime?
NBC commentator Mike Milbury might not know the Space Needle from the CN Tower, but he does know a good controversy when he sees one. Milbury praised the teams involved in that five-overtime marathon, but said "enough though" and suggested that playoff games should end sooner "via 3-on-3 or a shootout after a time."
While we can all agree that the war of attrition of the Stanley Cup playoffs is incredible, is there a conversation to be had about the third or fourth overtime dropping down to 4-on-4 or perhaps 3-on-3? (But no shootouts. Never shootouts.)
All times Eastern.
Hopefully this rematch from last postseason is worth the wait. The Hurricanes play their first game since Aug. 4 and their completed sweep of the Rangers. The Bruins try to bounce back from a winless round-robin. Can they flip the switch?
Islanders coach Barry Trotz is downplaying this matchup with the team he coached to the 2018 Stanley Cup, the first in Capitals history. "You spend some time with a lot of the players, but there are a lot of new players," Trotz said. "It just gives me a little insight into some of their tendencies, that's all." Yep, that's all. That and the 10 core players that are still with Washington and might want to get one over on their old coach, too.
Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet was asked what challenges the Avalanche present to his team in this series. "You got an hour?" was his response. But Colorado faces a challenge, too: Solving Darcy Kuemper, the goalie who faced 163 shots in four games and emerged with a .933 save percentage. He's the best chance the Coyotes have for another upset.
Flyers coach Alain Vigneault spent this season hammering home "the right way to play" to his players. As they enter the Eastern Conference bracket as its wagering favoring to advance to the Stanley Cup Final, he thinks they're getting it: "They understand the right way of playing. Now it's up to us to go on the ice and show it. We're playing against a very good team. We're a good team. Both teams want to win." That they do, and the Canadiens believe a locked-in Carey Price gives them a shot after their upset of Pittsburgh.
It's Part 2 of "can this team flip the switch?" The Blues were not themselves in losing all three games of the round robin, including their third game in a shootout to Dallas. "Our group in general has been pretty good about forgetting things and moving on," said captain Alex Pietrangelo. They take on a Canucks team with a talented young core that got a crash course in playoff hockey in their qualification round win over Minnesota.
Bet of the day
Flyers vs. Canadiens under 5.5 goals (-140). This opened at minus-106 and was immediately slammed by bettors who smelled the Carter Hart vs. Carey Price duel a mile away. The Habs were under this number in three of four qualification-round games against Pittsburgh. Philly was under this number in three round-robin games, and six straight overall.
The Jackets goalie made 85 saves in the five-overtime loss, 12 more than the previous record for an NHL game. That includes 46 saves in the extra sessions. "You just go save by save," he said. That is a lot of saves.
Not to be outdone, the Lightning goalie made 61 saves in the victory, a Lightning record. "As every minute ticked down, he got stronger and stronger," said coach Jon Cooper.
Quote of the day
"I'll remember looking at my salmon salad, and wanting to eat it the whole time during the game, but thinking that I might break up the karma, so I stayed hungry." -- Lightning coach Jon Cooper, on one of several things he'd remember from their five-overtime game.
Social post of the day
More Grade-A dad jokes from the NHL.
Subterfuge of the day
After a couple of days of dire conversation about his status for the series against Columbus, Victor Hedman was in the lineup for Game 1 and skated 57:38 for the game. He left their last round-robin game with an injury, slamming his stick in frustration. Yet there he was.
"It looked ugly on video when we saw it, but he found a way to get back in there and compete. We were checking on him all the time to see if he was okay, and he just kept saying, 'Keep putting me out there.' And we did. It's crazy that he almost played a full [60 minutes] too, it's crazy," Cooper said.
Said Hedman, "I was a little nervous when it happened last game, but at the end of the day it's playoffs and it's going to take a lot for someone to sit out. It felt better, and I was ready to go. Never in my mind did I think today was going to be eight periods, but it actually felt pretty good and super excited and excited for the next one."
Controversy of the day
Blue Jackets coach John Tortorella started his news conference by saying, "Don't ask me about the non-call."
It was a reference to Hedman wrapping his arm and stick around Columbus forward Cam Atkinson during a short-handed breakaway in the fifth overtime, and not getting a penalty for it.
"We didn't really get an explanation. I would like them to come up here and give an explanation. I get a call. This is the exact same thing on Hedman," said Jones. "I don't know. It was kind of suspect all night."
In the five overtimes, there were only two penalties called, both on Columbus: Nick Foligno for high-sticking in the third overtime, and Dean Kukan putting the puck over the glass in the fifth overtime.