The Montreal Canadiens on Saturday were just 18 seconds away from trailing the NY Rangers two games to none in the opening round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. Now on Monday they are leading the series two games to one.
After the Canadiens rallied to win Saturday on a tying goal with those 18 ticks on the clock and then another in overtime, they went into Madison Square Garden last night and hung a 3-1 loss on the Rangers. Artturi Lehkonen and Shea Weber tallied on the power play and Alexander Radulov added a goal and an assist. Carey Price faced just 21 shots and turned away 20 of them as the Rangers are struggling to create offense. Home has been anything but sweet for the Blueshirt faithful. The Rangers have now lost their last six playoff games on home ice and will need to break that streak tomorrow night if they want any realistic hope at winning the series.
Elsewhere, the Columbus Blue Jackets got the start they needed at home. Just 11 seconds into game three against the defending champion Pittsburgh Penguins the Jackets struck for a goal, but the game ultimately went to overtime tied at four when Sidney Crosby somehow eluded three defenders behind the Columbus net and sent a perfect feed out front to Jake Guentzel, and he put it home to complete a hat trick on the night, give Pittsburgh a 5-4 win, and a stranglehold 3 games to none lead on the series.
Columbus isn't the only team that needs to dig out of a 3-0 hole, but no one thought the underdog St. Louis Blues would have that lead over the heavily favored Minnesota Wild. But that's the situation now after a 3-1 Blues win yesterday in St. Louis.
And staying out west, the Edmonton Oilers are now up two games to one on the San Jose Sharks, with a 1-0 victory last night, the only goal of the game scored by perhaps the most unlikely player. Zack Kassian, known far more for his brawn than finesse with the puck, picked off a pass in the San Jose zone and put a backhander in for the game winner, the second consecutive game he's scored what proved to be the game winning goal. The playoffs bring out the best in all sorts of players, not just the superstars. Cam Talbot made 23 saves to nail down the shut out for Edmonton.
The playoffs have started in the NBA, and what the Boston Celtics' best player and league MVP candidate did last night in the opening round playoff game against the Chicago Bulls was truly remarkable, even though the Celtics lost the game. Isaiah Thomas had tears in his eyes during the pre-game introductions, taking the court with the terrible knowledge that just one day earlier his 22-year old sister had been killed in a car accident. Thomas nevertheless did what he always does: put the team on his back and play with passion and guts, finishing with a game high 33 points in a 106-102 loss to Chicago.
Very much to his credit, Celtics coach Brad Stevens had told Thomas that he did not expect him to play last night if he didn't feel up to it, but Thomas said he wanted to. And I'm fully behind Stevens' further statement that if Thomas feels the need to skip game two and be with his family instead, that's fine with him also. There are huge expectations for this Celtics team that finished first in the eastern conference and has the potential to make the NBA finals, but in the end, it's still just a game, and whatever Thomas and his family feels is best for him, play or not, is the decision every fan should accept and respect. Thomas declined to speak with reporters after the game. Celtics forward Jae Crowder did, and said "We just should have gotten that win for him." His teammates will endeavor to do that in game two tomorrow night in Boston, with or without Thomas.
Moving on to Major League Baseball, the Boston Red Sox won a weird game at Fenway Park yesterday, 7-5 over the Tampa Bay Rays. Weird because starter Drew Pomeranz struck out ten Rays in 4 and a third innings, but left the game trailing 4-2 after giving up three runs in the first and a solo homer in the 4th. Weird because Pablo Sandoval is still batting under .200 for the season, but hit a big two-run homer to tie the game. Weird because the Sox gave the lead right back and trailed 5-4 before Mitch Moreland came through with a two-run, bases loaded single in the seventh, continuing his torrid start to the season as the new Red Sox first baseman. Catcher Christian Vazquez also had a monster game, going three for four at the plate and making a terrific circus catch on a pop fly, leaning up against the screen to make the grab and flashing a huge kid-like grin after the play. Steven Wright could use a grin. He's the starter fort the Sox later this morning in the annual Patriot's Day game, but is carrying a brutal ERA of 13.50 into the contest.
The NY Yankees swept the St. Louis Cardinals with a 9-3 win at the Stadium last night. Michael Pineda got his second consecutive win, giving up just two runs over seven innings and Greg Bird hit a mammoth home run off Adam Wainwright who took the loss for the Cards, and St. Louis is in unfamiliar territory, now 3-9 on the season and with the worst record in the National League.
The NY Mets got cooled off by a rookie in a 4-2 loss to the Miami Marlins. J.T. Riddle's second ever major league hit was a 2-run game winning walk-off homer off the Met's Addison Reed in the bottom of the ninth.
And the saying in baseball goes "you can't win a pennant in April, but you can lose one", and the Toronto Blue Jays may be doing so. Losing 11-4 to the Baltimore Orioles yesterday, the Jays are now 2-10 to start the season and with last year's MVP Josh Donaldson on the disabled list, may not be able to recover even though the season is less than a month old.