John Tavares (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
When we look back on the post-season, though, here are the 10 moments we’ll remember from the first round.
The first round of the post-season is officially over with the Nashville Predators moving on to the second round to face the San Jose Sharks. And while the second round has already begun thanks to an odd bit of scheduling with the Islanders winning Game 1 over the Lightning, that doesn’t mean we can’t look back on the round that was.
Every post-season has its share of surprises and memorable moments, and there was no shortage of those over the past two weeks. There was the yearly upset — if you can call it that — with the Sharks moving on past a Los Angeles Kings team that looked primed to chase their third Stanley Cup in five years, and there were some matchups that weren’t as close, like that between the Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Rangers.
When we look back on the post-season, though, here are the 10 moments we’ll remember from the first round:
10. Wild come so close to late, tying goal
It’s hard to imagine the playoffs will see a crazier game than Game 6 between the Minnesota Wild and Dallas Stars. After Dallas jumped out to what looked like an insurmountable 4-0 lead, Minnesota stormed back with two quick goals in 16 seconds before really putting the pressure on the Stars. The Wild brought the score as close as 5-4, and in the final minute of play, Nino Niederreiter came within mere fractions of an inch of scoring the game-tying goal.
9. Ovechkin sends Schenn into bench
The series between the Washington Capitals and Philadelphia Flyers was an incredibly physical matchup that saw both teams throw their weight around with regularity, and both teams got a bit carried away. Two Flyers, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare and Brayden Schenn, were suspended for hits from this series. One of the best and cleanest hits of the series came when Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin dumped Schenn into his own bench.
8. Fabbri makes first playoff goal memorable
Even if St. Louis would have lost Game 7 to the Chicago Blackhawks, their would have been at least one slight silver lining for the Blues, and that was the breakout performance from rookie Robby Fabbri. Few Blues players looked as dangerous as Fabbri did when he had the puck on his stick, and in Game 6 he scored his first career post-season goal in style.
7. Roussel scores bizzare goal in Game 2
Stars winger Antoine Roussel could play another 1,000 games in the NHL and he’d never score a goal quite like the one he registered in Game 2 against the Wild. In what has to be one of the strangest goals in league history, Roussel had a puck deflect off of his skate while he stood behind the Minnesota net, pop up and over the goal, off the back of Wild goaltender Devan Dubnyk and across the goal line.
6. Mason’s flub gifts goal to Chimera
Michal Neuvirth was nearly a series saver for the Flyers, but one has to wonder if he would have even gotten the chance to play were it not for an almost unthinkable goal against Steve Mason. Capitals winger Jason Chimera tipped a puck on net from center ice while looking for a change and the puck slid down the ice and right between Mason’s legs. Making matters worse is that Chimera’s goal stood as the game-winning goal.
5. Greiss takes tying goal away from Jagr
The New York Islanders entered the post-season without the services of goaltender Jaroslav Halak, who was likely to be their playoff starter. They handed the No. 1 job to Thomas Greiss, and in Game 1 he made it clear that he wasn’t going to let the Islanders down with a game-saving toe save on Panthers winger Jaromir Jagr.
4. Kane’s double OT heroics help Blackhawks stave off elimination
The Blues did an outstanding job of containing the Blackhawks’ top players in the first round. However, given enough opportunities, eventually Patrick Kane was going to find the back of the net. In the second overtime of Game 5, Kane took a pass from Richard Panik, made two slick moves, backhanded a puck on goal and then finished the play with a wraparound for the OT heroics.
3. Street hockey goaltender Doughty makes pad stop
Drew Doughty may not win the Norris Trophy this season, but he may go down as having made one of the best saves of the playoffs. In a tie game, Doughty dove into the crease to stop a Patrick Marleau shot with the Sharks all over the Kings’ net during a scramble in front. The play had to be reviewed, but it was ruled Doughty — who can be seen laughing after making the save — had stopped the puck before it crossed the goal line.
2. Rakell deflects puck between his legs to score awesome goal
During the 2015 playoffs, one of the best goals came when Tampa Bay Lightning winger Alex Killorn scoring on a backhanded shot that he batted out of the air and between his own legs in Game 1 of the Stanley Cup final. This post-season, it took only three games before Ducks winger Rickard Rakell managed to score a between-the-legs deflection that fooled Predators netminder Pekka Rinne.
1. Tavares scores brilliant series winner in double OT
The Islanders came into the post-season with arguably the best matchup of any wild-card team, but it was never going to be easy to knock out the promising Panthers. The Islanders weren’t ahead until they picked up an overtime win in Game 5 to take a 3-2 series lead. Heading back to Brooklyn for Game 6, the Islanders had a chance to advance to the second round for the first time in 22 years, and of course it was captain John Tavares who came up with some magic in double overtime.