Welcome to puck drop of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. It certainly didn’t begin as many expected it would over in the windy city. Game 1 turned out to go against what many expected. While players showed up for some crushing play, a goaltending duel erupted. With Nicklas Backstrom injuring what looks like his leg in warmups, Josh Harding got the call to start. Harding would play extremely well until a Bryan Bickell overtime goal ended his chance to steal a game for the Wild.
The Wild got off to an almost unexpected quick start in this game, bringing a little bit of silence to the Madhouse crowd in Chicago. A Cal Clutterbuck goal less than 5 minutes into the first playoff game will do that. Especially when it’s the 8th seed scoring the first goal. Not that the first 5 minutes defines a game, but it sets a tone for how a game will go. And behind the 8 ball is never how you want to start home ice advantage.
However, the Hawks can lend a nice stick tap to Zach Parise. An interference with the goaltender penalty, a mere 11 seconds into the period, means the ever dangerous Hawks took to the powerplay. With only a few seconds remaining with the advantage the game drew even with a Marian Hossa goal. Making him and Cal Clutterbuck your playoff leaders in goals, for what that’s worth.
The second period continued on in the tie, with both teams getting their fair chances to take this one home. The Blackhawks began creeping up in the shot totals. With the third period winding own, Overtime in the first game of the playoffs was beginning to look like a very, very clear possibility. At this point a definite hats off should be extended to the goaltenders on both sides. While Corey Crawford has a lighter load through regulation play, Josh Harding deserves a stand ovation for his play at this point. A playoff start with only 5 starts in the regular season is impressive.
Overtime got underway and as expected was a bit of a timid affair. The play ran back and forth between the two sides. A shot here, 2 shots there and all the sudden the shot totals begin to even up with Corey Crawford beginning to get a little more tested.
SENSHOT 3 STARS
1- Bryan Bickell
2- Josh Harding
3- Corey Crawford
OTHER GAMES OF THE NIGHT: