NHL Playoffs Today: Stars strike first; two more series drop the puck Sunday


The NHL moved up Game 1 of the second round to Saturday night. We’re not sure if anyone told the Colorado Avalanche.

“Dallas is a good team. But a lot of what happened tonight was self-inflicted. We didn’t get up to the standard that we have to play at,” said Avalanche forward Gabriel Landeskog after their opening game loss to the Stars.

Looking ahead, two more series get started Sunday, with the Tampa Bay Lightning vs. the Boston Bruins in the early game, and the Vegas Golden Knights against the Vancouver Canucks in the nightcap.

Check out ESPN NHL Playoffs Today every day of the postseason until the Stanley Cup is handed out in October.

Sunday’s games

All times Eastern.

Game 1: No. 2 Tampa Bay Lightning vs. No. 4 Boston Bruins | 8 p.m.

These teams met in the 2018 semifinals, when Brad Marchand did the licking, and his team took only one from Tampa, losing in five games. “We know each other. It makes our pre-scouts much easier. Their core group is much the same, and so is ours. We’ll see if the bubble has changed anything, because we’ve spent the last four weeks in the hotel with these guys, seeing them every day,” said Lightning coach Jon Cooper, who said his team has had some “pretty intense games” with “some sort of fireworks” in their meetings with Boston since Marchand’s antics.

Game 1: No. 1 Vegas Golden Knights vs. No. 7 Vancouver Canucks | 10:30 p.m.

A fascinating series. The upstart Canucks ousted a tough defensive team in Minnesota and then eliminated the defending Stanley Cup champions with a similar formula: Offensive creativity at even strength, outstanding goaltending from Jacob Markstrom, and a tremendous power play. Penalties are going to loom large in this series: Vancouver has drawn more (5.51 per game) than anyone still playing. At 2.93 penalties per 60 minutes, Vegas is the second-least penalized team in the postseason. “We’re a smart team. We know what we have to do to win. At this time of the year, there’s no time to be selfish or take bad penalties,” said Vegas forward Jonathan Marchessault. Vancouver’s power play went 7-for-13 in their wins and 0-for-10 in their losses.

Question of the day: How long is Philipp Grubauer going to be out?

The Avalanche goalie tweaked something while trying to make a save at 3:06 of the second period, and had to be helped off the ice. He had given up three goals on 10 shots. Pavel Francouz stopped 18 of 20 shots after entering the game. “You saw what I saw. Obviously, he’s in a position where he tweaked something and was unable to continued, so that’s already bad news. Time will tell how long he’s out,” said Avs coach Jared Bednar, who said Grubauer will not be on the ice on Sunday for practice. They know what they have in Francouz, who went 21-7-4 in the regular season, much of it when Grubauer was injured. “As a backup goalie, you have to be ready every day. That’s why I’m here,” he said.

Bet of the day

Lightning beat the Bruins in Game 1 (-110). The Lightning had a large Columbus-sized boulder removed from their backs in the quarterfinal. They’re 7-2 in games against Boston since their 2018 playoff series. This game is a tossup for the bookmakers, but we’re on the Lightning.

About last night …

Dallas Stars 5, Colorado Avalanche 3 (DAL leads 1-0)

The Stars won three in a row to close out the Calgary Flames and exerted their will on the Avalanche to win Game 1. They took a 3-1 lead in the first period on goals by Tyler Seguin, Blake Comeau and Alexander Radulov, and never looked back. “The biggest thing is that we had half our team not show up and play,” said Colorado coach Jared Bednar. “I’ll give Dallas all the credit. They were engaged and ready to go. But we did some not smart things. Our brains were not turned on and we were not engaged. And that’s a lethal duo for us. We have to be way better.” Full recap.

Three stars

1. Alexander Radulov, RW, Dallas Stars

The winger scored two goals and assisted on Seguin’s opening goal in the Stars’ 5-3 Game 1 victory.

2. Nathan MacKinnon, C, Colorado Avalanche

The Avalanche lost, but it’s not for a lack of trying: MacKinnon scored two goals and assisted on Gabriel Landeskog‘s goal. He skated more than half of the third period (10:27) for Colorado.

3. Anton Khudobin, G, Dallas Stars

The Dallas goalie stopped 25 of 28 shots, including all eight that he faced in the third period to preserve the win.

Quote of the day

“We felt it out instead of coming out firing. We put our foot in the water and wanted to see how they would play vs. how we know we need to play.” — Colorado’s Nathan MacKinnon, on losing to Dallas in Game 1.

Social post of the day

Well, at the very least the Avalanche had some fun golfing before the game.

Controversy of the day

So Allan Walsh had a tweet:

The agent for Vegas Golden Knights goalie Marc-Andre Fleury posted this image on Saturday of his client being stabbed in the back with a sword featuring coach Peter DeBoer’s name on it. (We reached out to Walsh for comment, to no avail.) Robin Lehner started four of five games in the quarterfinal, winning three of them, with a .916 save percentage. He was acquired at the trade deadline. Fleury, the face of the franchise, struggled during the regular season. “We did not feel that we had enough support behind Marc-Andre, so that was the motivation behind the deal,” said GM Kelly McCrimmon recently. Fleury is expected to speak on Sunday about the, um, pointed criticism from his agent.

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