The Boston Bruins trailed the Ottawa Senators, on the road, 1-0 heading into the second period last night in game one of the opening round of the Stanley cup playoffs, and in the second failed to land a single shot on goal. But the Bruins found life in the third, scored twice, and came away with a 2-1 win against the team they hadn't beaten in four previous tries this season.
This was a huge win for Boston, not just because any win in a playoff series is important, but also because a whole bunch of Bruins were playing in their first-ever post-season game, and didn't let the moment overwhelm them. One of those players was Frank Vatrano, who beat Craig Anderson with a laser wrist shot from the high slot to tie the game at one. The veterans took over after that, as the Bruins got the game winner with just under three minutes to go in the game with some tenacious forechecking by the Patrice Bergeron line, a cycle that ended with Brad Marchand potting the game winner to give Boston a one games to none lead.
Tuukka Rask was up to the task, making 26 saves, and kudos to Charlie McAvoy, the former B.U. defenseman whose first NHL game just happened to be a playoff game. The teenager was paired with Zdeno Chara, who's played 19 years in the NHL, the same number of years McAvoy has been alive in earth. The kid showed tremendous poise under the most difficult of circumstances, didn't make any game-altering mistakes, and has got to feel good about getting his first ever pro game under his belt, while helping his team actually win a critical game. Game two is set for Saturday in Ottawa.
The news was not as good for the Montreal Canadiens, who dropped game one of their series with the NY Rangers 2-0 at the Bell Centre last night. Like Ottawa against Boston, the Habs had beaten the Bluehirts in every regular season game this season, but would gladly hand all those back for a win last night. Instead, Henrik Lundqvist made 31 saves, Tanner Glass scored for the Rangers, and the game was put away for New York when the Canadiens pulled Carey Price for an extra skater with just over a minute left and Michael Grabner scored into the empty net. Game two is Friday night in Montreal.
In other playoff action the Pittsburgh Penguins were forced to start back-up Marc-Andre Fluery in net in game one against the Columbus Blue Jackets when their starter Matt Murray suffered an undisclosed injury. But the veteran came through in the Penguins 3-1 win.
The St. Louis Blues shocked the heavily favored Minnesota Wild with a 2-1 overtime win on a goal by Joel Edmundson, and the San Jose Sharks trailed the Edmonton Oilers 2-0 before roaring back to tie the game and win it also in OT on a goal by Melker Karlsson.
To the NBA, and the Boston Celtics are heading into the playoffs as the number one seed in the eastern conference thanks to a 112-94 win over the Milwaukee Bucks in Boston last night. Gerald Green scored 18 for the Green, part of a 25-2 Celtics run in the fourth quarter that sealed the deal. The Celtics will open round one against the eight-seed Chicago Bulls, and while the Celtics will be heavily favored, the Bulls have some weapons in superstar Jimmy Butler, veterans Dwayne Wade and former Celtics guard Rajon Rondo, who was a fan favorite during his years in Boston but will not be afforded such affection when the series tips off on Sunday.
In Major League Baseball, the Boston Red Sox may have to start asking "what's wrong with Wright?" Knuckleballer Steven Wright was sensational last season until being derailed by a shoulder injury and really hasn't been the same since. Last night against the Baltimore Orioles Wright gave up six runs in the first inning, including back to back homers by Trey Mancini and Jonthan Schoop. The O's blasted five home runs on the night, pummeling the Red Sox 12-5, and Wright is now 0-2 to start the season. Boston has a matinee today against the Pittsburgh Pirates, a make up game for a rain out in week one of the season.
The NY Yankees liked what they saw on the mound from 24-year old Jordan Montgomery, who won his first ever major league start at The Stadium in an 8-4 win over the Tampa Bay Rays. It didn't start well for the rookie, who gave up a 2-run home run to Rickie Weeks in the first, but settled down and didn't allow any runs after that. Aaron Judge homered for the Yanks, his third round tripper in as many games. There was a scary collision in this game when Brett Gardner ran into Rickie Weeks who was covering first and was moving to the bag just as he received the ball. Both players went down and Gardner was removed from the game to undergo a concussion evaluation. He reportedly suffered a bruised jaw and sprained neck.
The NY Mets completed a three game sweep of the Philadelphia Phillies with a 5-4 win. Zack Wheeler got the win, throwing six shut-out innings for his first victory in nearly three years following Tommy John surgery. Michael Conforto went deep for the Mets in the win.
Good thing for folks in Toronto that the Maple Leafs open the playoffs tonight in Washington against the Capitals. Hockey is still king in Ontario's largest city, and the Leafs haven't been in the playoffs since 2014. They're also trying to end a Stanley Cup drought reaching back to 1967. And they're a welcome distraction right now from the Blue Jays, who fell to 1-7 to start the season after losing to the Milwaukee Brewers 2-0 last night.