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It was the opening night of the Stanley Cup playoffs and the fans were finally back in Toronto for playoff action for the first time in three years. The 2020 playoffs happened in a Toronto bubble with the Maple Leafs losing in the play-in series to Columbus while they lost last season in seven games to Montreal with only 550 health care workers entering the Scotiabank Arena in Game 7 for the first time in over. a year.
While both games in the Eastern Conference held to form with home wins by Toronto and Carolina, the story out West was different as St. Louis and Los Angeles both had road wins.
There were four games in the NHL last night with all four being the opening games of their respective divisions.
CAROLINA 5 BOSTON 1 (Carolina leads the best-of-seven series 1-0)
It was a great night for netminder Antti Raanta who made 35 saves in the Carolina cage to win in his first ever NHL start in the playoffs. The talented Raanta has a 1-0 record to go with his .972 save percentage.
TORONTO 5 TAMPA BAY 0 (Toronto leads the best-of-seven series 1-0)
The Toronto Maple Leafs weathered an early Tampa Bay five-minute major for boarding by Kyle Simmonds (as a matter of fact the Leafs actually outplayed the Bolts during the man-advantage) and roared to an easy 5-0 shellacking of the Tampa Bay Lightning. .
The defending Stanley Cup Champions couldn’t get their game going as the Leafs smothered their power play and when they couldn’t, Jack Campbell made eight of his 24 saves with Tampa Bay on the man-advantage.
Now raise your hand if you picked up Jake Muzzin to score the first goal of the 2022 Stanley Cup playoffs. Didn’t think so.
But it was Muzzin who opened the scoring for Toronto with the lone goal of the opening period.
The best player in the opening period was Alex Kerfoot who was all over the ice and creating chances, even when Toronto was shorthanded.
It paid off in the second period as Toronto scored three times with Auston Matthews scoring on the power play, David Kampf scoring shorthanded and Mitch Marner lighting the lamp with an even-strength goal.
Matthews with his second of the game, scored the lone goal of the third as Tampa Bay goaltender Andrei Vasilevskiy misplayed the puck, allowing Matthews to score into an empty net.
Matthews and Marner each got the press off their backs with goals after a couple of poor playoff performances in the last two years. For Marner, it was his first playoff goal in 19 games, going back to the opening game of the 2018-19 season against Boston. Matthews had only one goal in seven games against Montreal last season so this output can only help the Rocket Richard Trophy winner.
Campbell made 24 saves for his second playoff shutout.
Vasilevskiy made 28 saves in taking the loss.
There was a bit of a brawl with 9:51 remaining in the third as 78 minutes in penalties were called including misconducts to Corey Perry, Jan Rutta, Morgan Rielly, Ilya Lyubushkin, Wayne Simmonds and Pat Maroon.
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ST. LOUIS 4 MINNESOTA 0 (St. Louis leads best-of-seven series 1-0)
Perron was on all four goals and he drew the secondary assist on Ryan O’Reilly’s first of the playoffs.
Perron gave the Blues a 1-0 lead with a power play goal at the 6:15 mark of the first while O’Reilly made it 2-0 before the end of the opening period.
Perron scored once again on the power play in the second period while completing the hat trick in the third.
Husso was outstanding in his NHL playoff debut. He took over in the middle of the season from the struggling Jordan Binnington and never looked back as grabbed the top job with a 25-7-6 mark with a 2.56 GAA and a .919 save percentage. He showed that there was no fluke with Monday’s perfect effort.
Marc-Andre Fleury gave up all four goals on 31 shots in taking the loss.
Torey Krug had three assists.
Perron had six shots on the net while Kirill Kaprizov and Joel Eriksson Ek led the way for Minnesota with five each.
Marcus Foligno had 14 minutes in penalties as he had a double-minor for roughing and a 10-minute misconduct with less than five minutes remaining in the third.
The Blues will try to extend their lead on Wednesday in Game 2 of the best-of-seven series before heading home for Games 3 and 4.
LOS ANGELES 4 EDMONTON 3 (Los Angeles leads the best-of-seven series 1-0)
Phillip Danault scored the winner with 5:14 left in the third period as the Los Angeles Kings upset the hometown Edmonton Oilers 4-3.
It was a back-and-forth game all night as the Kings never trailed but the Oilers always fought back until Danault’s goal.
It was the second line of the Kings that hurt Edmonton as the trio of Danault, Trevor Moore and Alex Iafallo combined for seven points as all three scored with Moore garnering two assists and Danault and Iafallo, one each.
Moore and Iafallo gave the Kings a 2-0 lead but the great Connor McDavid cut the lead in half with 43 seconds left in the first period.
The Oilers tied it up early in the second as Kailer Yamamoto scored on the power play. The goal by Edmonton’s second unit, was assisted by Duncan Keith and Evan Bouchard.
Enforcer Brendan Lemieux gave the Kings the lead back once again at the 3:50 mark of the second period but Leon Draisaitl evened the score with a power play goal just four seconds before the halfway point of the second period.
It remained that way until Danault’s heroics gave the Kings a much-needed road win in the opening game of the best-of-seven series.
Jonathan Quick was outstanding in stopping 36 shots for his first playoff win in over six years as he last won on Apr. 18, 2016 when he beat the San Jose Sharks 2-1 in overtime, stopping 29 shots.
Mike Smith turned aside 31-of-35 shots in taking the loss.
Evander Kane had five shots on goal and seven hits.
David Perron – 3
Auston Matthews – 2
Torey Krug – 3
Mitch Marner – 2
Morgan Rielly – 2
Ondrej Kase – 2
Trevor Moore = 2
Shots on Goal
Auston Matthews – 6
David Perron – 6
Adrian Kempe – 6
Cal Foote – 7
Brendan Smith – 7
Evander Kane – 7
Zack Kassian – 6
Jake Muzzin – 6
Jan Rutta – 17
Corey Perry – 16
Morgan Rielly – 15
Kyle Clifford – 15
Ilya Lyubushkin – 14
Marcus Foligno – 14