The second night of the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs got underway Tuesday night, and it paid to be on the road.
All four visiting teams won — and won big — on Tuesday night.
New York Rangers 5, New Jersey Devils 1
The New Jersey Devils took three of their four games against the New York Rangers this season, including their most-recent meeting at the end of March.
But Tuesday night was all New York, as the Rangers got out to an early 2-0 lead thanks to goals from Vladimir Tarasenko and Chris Kreider en route to their four-goal win. Kreider’s power-play goal gave the Rangers that early two-goal lead, and etched his name in franchise record books:
The goal was the 35th playoff goal of his long Rangers’ career, putting him atop the team’s all-time scoring list.
Ryan Lindgren got into the scoring action in the second, going top shelf to give New York a 3-0 lead:
Things got a little chippy between the teams midway through the third period, with a few skirmishes breaking out in front of New Jersey goaltender Vitek Vanecek as some frustration set in for the Devils. Forward Michael McLeod was called for a minor penalty, giving the Rangers a power-play opportunity.
That’s when Kreider added to his historic night, notching his second goal of the game to give the Rangers a commanding 4-0 lead.
New York gave up a goal ate in the game, after Jack Hughes was slashed on a breakaway, giving him a penalty shot opportunity against Igor Shesterkin. Hughes buried a wrister past Shesterkin, for his first career playoff goal.
But it was all too little, too late, for the Devils on Tuesday night, as the Rangers tacked on an empty netter from Filip Chytil for the 5-1 final score.
Tampa Bay Lightning 7, Toronto Maple Leafs 3
Perhaps the Toronto Maple Leafs should not have settled for that field goal earlier in the game …
After climbing back into the contest and trimming a three-goal advantage for the Tampa Bay Lightning, the wheels came off for Toronto, as a 3-2 Lightning lead became a 6-2 advantage in a matter of minutes late in the second period.
Tampa Bay opened the scoring less than two minutes into the series, on a goal from Pierre-Edouard Bellemare. Bellemare was able to shove a rebound past Toronto goalie Ilya Samsonov after Corey Perry wheeled around the net and put a shot on goal:
Tampa Bay added a goal from Anthony Cirelli midway through the first period to build a 2-0 lead, and scored on the power play with just seconds left in the first period, on this one-timer from Nikita Kucherov:
Toronto finally got on the board midway through the second period on a power-play goal of their own, which brought the Scotiabank Arena crowd back into full voice. Toronto’s penalty killing unit then killed off a Lightning power play, getting critical blocked shots from Alexander Kerfoot, Justin Holl, David Kampf, and Michael Marner, and the effort from their special-teams unit set the stage for what would follow: Toronto’s second goal of the night, coming on another power-play opportunity. William Nylander snapped off a wrist shot, cutting the Tampa Bay lead to one.
Within seconds, however, the lead was back to two, and the wheels began to come off for Toronto.
Kampf was whistled for a slashing penalty, and on the ensuing penalty Brayden Point scored his first penalty of the postseason, with Kucherov and Cirelli on the assists. A beautiful feed from Kucherov to Point in front of the net set the stage for a critical goal:
Minutes after Point’s goal, Toronto’s Michael Bunting was whistled for a five-minute major for a hit to the head of Tampa Bay defenseman Erik Cernak. The play was reviewed, and confirmed as an illegal check to the head and a match penalty for Bunting.
Cernak was helped off the ice, and while Tampa Bay was given the five-minute power play, the Lightning are now facing being without two of their top defenders, as Victor Hedman returned to the lineup to start on Tuesday night but was limited.
While that is a matter for the rest of the series, Tampa Bay scored early on the ensuing power-play on a goal from Ross Colton. The play was reviewed, and then challenged by Toronto for potential goaltender interference, but the goal stood and the Lightning had a 5-2 lead, and the Maple Leafs were hit with a delay penalty for the unsuccessful challenge, giving Tampa Bay a two-man advantage for a time.
Toronto killed the two-man advantage, but as the seconds ticked down on Bunting’s minor penalty, Point added his second goal of the night right before the end of the second period to give Tampa Bay a 6-2 lead heading into the second intermission.
Winnipeg Jets 5, Vegas Golden Knights 1
The Winnipeg Jets were the last team to clinch a playoff spot in the Western Conference.
The Vegas Golden Knights are the top seed in the Western Conference.
But Tuesday’s result showed just how different playoff hockey can be. The Jets, who won six of their final eight game to get into the playoffs, took control of the game and smothered Vegas’ offensive, allowing just 17 shots.
That was the fewest amount of shots the Golden Knights had in a game all season.
After a scoreless first period, Kyle Connor opened the scoring for the Jets early in the second period, rocketing a one-time by Vegas goalie Laurent Brossoit:
The Jets took a 2-1 lead into the second intermission, and pulled away with three goals in the third period. Adam Lowry netted two of those, both of which came late in the game.
Winnipeg also got a scare, and then an emotional boost, from center Morgan Barron. Midway through the first period Barron as pushed from behind during a scrum in front of Brossoit as players scrambled for a loose puck, and one of Brossoit’s skates clipped Barron in the face:
He was taken off the ice and needed more than 75 stitches to close the wound, but he was back on the ice in the second period, wearing a full cage to protect his injury:
Winnipeg head coach Rick Bowness talked about his return and the spark it gave the team after the win. “I think more his presence coming back because we all realized how bad it was, and that gave everyone a big boost,” said the coach after the game.
Seattle Kraken 3, Colorado Avalanche 1
The Seattle Kraken made the playoffs for the first time in franchise history this season, and their debut was a good one. Seattle got 34 saves from goalie Philipp Grubauer against his former team, and goals from Eeli Tolvanen, Alex Wennberg, and Morgan Geekie paved the way for the victory.
Tolvanen’s goal in the first period serves as the answer to a future trivial question, as it was the first playoff goal in franchise history. The Kraken took advantage of a Colorado turnover in their own end, with Seattle’s forecheck creating the miscue. A loose puck slid to Tolvanen in front of Avalanche goalie Alexandar Georgiev, and the winger put a shot on net that Georgiev was able to stop. But the goalie could not prevent a rebound, and given a second chance, Tolvanen made the most of it:
After Colorado tied it on a goal from Mikko Rantanen, the teams headed to the locker room with the score knotted at 1. But in the second period, Alex Wennberg gave the Kraken the lead again, snapping off a wrister to beat Georgiev to the glove side:
Seattle added their third goal early in the third period, with Morgan Geekie taking advantage of an opportunity beautifully created by Wennberg:
Game 2 of this series is set for Thursday night.
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