It took long enough, but the first official day of hockey is in the books and all but two teams dropped the puck on their 2013 seasons. Besides the Edmonton Oilers, Buffalo Sabres and Calgary Flames, every single NHL team was in action on Saturday night as the shortened race to the Stanley Cup finally began. Three games took place in the afternoon but we had a full slate of 10 games to close the night on the first day of the season.
New York Rangers 1, Boston Bruins 3
New York saw it’s season come to a heartbreaking end against the Devils last season, and everyone within the organization has been talking up a return to the Conference Finals. The road there has proven to have a bumpy start, as the Rangers dropped their first game of the season to the Boston Bruins 3-1 at TD Garden.
Milan Lucic and Daniel Paille got the Bruins out to a 2-0 lead with respective goals in the first and second period. The Rangers tried to claw back but couldn’t get anything past Tuukka Rask, except for Brad Richards goal in the second. That one goal would prove to be false hope, as Johnny Boychuk iced the game at the 8:13 mark in the third.
New Jersey Devils 2, New York Islanders 1
If you were an Islanders fans hoping to be able to rub one in on your Ranger friends, the Devils had other plans. The perfect scenario for jealous Islanders fans would have been to beat the Devils, a team that bounced the Rangers from the Stanley Cup Playoffs last year, on the same day the Rangers lose to the Bruins.
The Islanders were able to hold their own against the defending Eastern Conference champs, shutting the Devils out in the first period. Travis Zajac changed that at the 14:01 mark of the second period and the Devils took a 1-0 lead. However, Travis Hamonic struck right back for the Islanders in the third to even the score up. The Islanders didn’t win the game, thanks to a David Clarkson goal just over a minute after New York tied the game, but they can boast that their loss was a lot more competitive than the Rangers, but really that’s lipstick on a New York pig.
Toronto Maple Leafs 2, Montreal Canadiens 1
Last year these two teams kicked off their seasons with a 2-0 game going the way of the Habs. This year, Toronto found themselves in similar territory but the shoe was very much on the other foot in 2013. Nazem Kadri decided the Leafs weren’t going to get shout out on a second consecutive opening night and scored the first goal of the season at the 4:51 mark.
The shoe was fully on the other foot in the second period when Tyler Bozak made it a 2-0 game for Toronto. While the night was owned by the Leafs, Brian Gionta decided to spoil the shutout in the third period but Toronto held on to the win. However, more importantly for the Leafs, goalie Ben Scrivens pitched a two period shutout and picked up a one goal win, despite Toronto being the focus of numerous goalie trade rumors entering the season. I believe the phrase is confidence builder.
Washington Capitals 3, Tampa Bay Lightning 6
If we’re taking NFL, Washington and Tampa Bay turned in a defensive struggle on Saturday night. But since we’re talking hockey it was a defensive meltdown that saw a grand total of nine goals scored. Eric Brewer and Vincent Lecavalier helped the Lighting get a 2-1 lead on the Caps in the first period and the scoring floodgates only opened from there.
Joel Ward tied the game 2-2 in the second with his second goal of the day (enough two’s there for you?) and we were actually fooled into thinking this would be a good game for a little while. Martin St. Louis scored one of his two goals in the second, and before we knew it the game was a back-and-forth affair, tied 3-3 entering the final period. Then the Lighting tore the roof off and scored three in the third to soundly defeat the Caps. Both St. Louis and Brewer finished a goal shy of hat tricks on the night.
Carolina Hurricanes 1, Florida Panthers 5
Unlike the Lighting game where the Capitals were somewhat competitive in their high scoring affair, the Hurricanes were down and out pretty much from the start against the Panthers. New high priced addition Jordan Staal did absolutely nothing of note in his Canes debut, recording no goals, no assists and just two shots on goal.
As for the Panthers, they had a whole plenty of shots on goal, with a total of five going in on the night. Many expect Staal to wear out his welcome quickly in Carolina, as the Canes had to dole out some serious coin to re-negotiate his deal after acquiring him from Pittsburgh before the draft. The Panthers scored five goals on the night yet only attempted a total of 25 shots. Carolina had 1 goal and ended their opening night with 42 shots. Staal can’t be totally blamed for the blowout, but he didn’t do much to keep the game competitive either.