The Blue Jackets got a long rest after sweeping theLightningin the first round, but they returned to action for Game 1 of their series against the Boston Bruins on Thursday night. The Bruins, who are just a few days removed from a Game 7 win over Toronto, came out with more jump, but they needed late-game dramatics to take the series opener.
Out west, the Blues hosted the Stars for Game 1 of their series. This series is expected to be a defensive battle with good goal tending, and Thursday's opener was tight through most of the game. Ultimately, St. Louis was able to hold off a late Dallas push to jump out to an early series lead.
NHL playoffs on Thursday, April 25
St. Louis holds on for win
The Blues padded their lead in the third period with the help of a tremendous individual effort from Vladimir Tarasenko, who scored his second goal of the game. That gave the Blues a 3-1 lead heading down the home stretch.
Dallas was able to get a goal back in a somewhat controversial manner, as they put a loose puck in the back of the net just as officials were blowing the whistle. Ultimately, the officiating crew ruled it a good goal and Dallas was back in business.
But they couldn't complete the comeback, as St. Louis hung on for the 3-2 win to open the series.
Stars, Blues trade strikes
After coming out of the locker room trailing by one, the Stars found some offense in the second period and were able to tie the game on a circle-to-circle one-timer that beat Jordan Binnington. John Klingberg showed great patience and vision to find Jason Spezza, who finished on the equalizer.
But St. Louis reclaimed the lead later in the second when Vladimir Tarasenko showed off his shot and beat Ben Bishop for a power play goal. It's another goal that Bishop probably wants to have back, but the Blues once again took a one-goal lead into intermission.
Blues come out hot
It didn't take long to get our first goal in the Blues-Stars matchup in St. Louis, and it was the home team getting on the board. About five minutes into the game, the Blues struck first thanks to a shot off the stick of Robby Fabbri. It was a very solid start to the series for the Blues, and a much less solid start for Stars goalie Ben Bishop.
That was the only goal of the first period.
Bruins recover to win Game 1
The same connection that tied the game for the Bruins late in regulation was the one that won it for them in overtime. Once again, Marcus Johansson found Charlie Coyle with a great pass, and Coyle finished for the big goal.
The two forwards that the Bruins traded for at the deadline have come up huge over the past few games. Danton Heinen also made a great stretch to keep the play onside just prior to the goal.
Boston certainly made it more stressful than it needed to be, but they took Game 1 nonetheless.
Columbus finally breaks through, but Bruins answer
Remember how I wondered if the Bruins' missed chances would come back to haunt them? Well, the chickens came home to roost in the third period when the Blue Jackets finally broke through by scoring twice in 13 seconds. Both goals came on deflections in front of Tuukka Rask.
It was an unfortunate (and yet entirely predictable) development in the third for Boston. But the Bruins managed to pull even late in the period when Marcus Johansson delivered a great back-hand pass to Charlie Coyle, who pounded in the one-timer to force overtime.
We ended the first round with overtime, so we may as well begin the second round with it, too, huh?
Boston still in control, but lead not growing
This game was nearly all Bruins through 40 minutes, but Boston's lead is still just 1-0. The Bruins lead in shot attempts (43-26), shots on net (20-14) and scoring chances (21-12), but they've whiffed on opportunities, hit posts and been denied by Sergei Bobrovsky.
They've clearly been the better team thus far, but you wonder if all these missed chances will come back to bite them in the third period of a very close game.
Bruins dominate opening period
There was plenty of "rest vs. rust" debate heading into Game 1 and apparently for good reason. The Blue Jackets came out looking like a team that hasn't played in over a week, as the Bruins took it to them in the opening period. Boston dominated possession and out-shot Columbus 14-4 but they only got one goal to show for it thanks to a strong performance from Sergei Bobrovsky.
That goal? A shorthanded tally from Noel Acciari.
That period could be a bad omen for the Bruins, as the Tampa Bay Lightning also dominated their first period and scored a series-opening shorthanded goal against the Blue Jackets in the first round. We all know how that turned out ...