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First-round highlights

  • Blog Post by: Michael Russo
  • April 27, 2012 - 1:37 PM

From the NHL:

NEW YORK (April 27, 2012) -- From opening night, when the
Philadelphia Flyers engineered a stunning three-goal comeback victory at
Pittsburgh, to the trio of overtime games on Night 2, to the thrilling
triplet of Game 7s over the past 48 hours, the first round of the 2012
Stanley Cup Playoffs featured a record 16 overtimes in 16 days, razor-thin
margins of victory, frantic comebacks, standout individual performances and
unpredictable results.

Record Overtimes

Sixteen of the 48 opening-round games (33.3%) required overtime, breaking
the mark of 15 set in 2001. In addition, three games featured go-ahead
goals in the final five minutes of regulation. Seven of the eight series
had at least one overtime game.

Three games went to overtime on the second night of competition (Thursday,
April 12), the highest single-day total since 2001. Road teams went 12-4
(.750) in the extra sessions, adding to their dominance of the first round.
It didn't take long to settle most of the 16 overtimes. The average
overtime length was just 8:17, well below the corresponding figure for the
14 OTs during the first round of the 2011 post-season (11:46).

One-Goal Games

Thirty-two of the 48 first-round games (66.7%) had one-goal margins. Teams
were either tied or separated by one goal for 82.8% of total playing time.

Momentum Swings

There were 12 games in which both clubs held the lead, more than double the
total from the corresponding period in 2011 (five).

Historic Road Dominance

Road teams finished the opening round with a 30-18 (.625) record, the
highest winning percentage since the NHL switched to the 16-team playoff
format in 1979-80.

Series Highlights

Capitals-Bruins: As Close As It Gets

For the first time in NHL history, each game in a seven-game series was
decided by one goal. The Washington Capitals and Boston Bruins played seven
one-goal games in their first-round series; including four overtime games.
No postseason series had ever had as many as six one-goal games. The
game-winning goals in six of the seven games were scored with fewer than
two minutes remaining in regulation or in overtime.

Flyers-Penguins: Goals, Goals, Goals

The Philadelphia Flyers (23) and Pittsburgh Penguins (22) combined for 45
goals through the first four games of their series, the most in League
history through the opening four contests of a best-of-seven series. The
previous record was 44, set by Edmonton (26) and Chicago (18) in the 1985
Campbell Conference Final. Of the 17 players who recorded six points or
more in the first round, 13 were Flyers or Penguins players. The Flyers
were an eye-popping 52.2% on the power-play, converting on 12 of 23
chances.

The Flyers became the first team since the 1993 Los Angeles Kings to score
eight or more goals in consecutive postseason games (Games 2 and 3), while
the Penguins scored eight unanswered goals to stave off elimination in Game
4, becoming the first team in more than 22 years to score 10 goals in a
playoff game (Los Angeles – April 10, 1990).

Philadelphia’s Claude Giroux and Sean Couturier each recorded hat tricks in
Game 2, becoming the ninth set of teammates, and first since 2006, to post
hat tricks in the same playoff game.

Giroux added three assists in Game 2 for six total points; the last time a
player had six or more points in a playoff game was May 6, 2010, when
Detroit’s Johan Franzen recorded 4-2--6 against San Jose. Giroux led all
scorers in the first round with 14 points (six goals, eight assists),
becoming the second NHL player since 1993 to score at least 14 points in a
playoff series of fewer than seven games. Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby
registered 14 points in the Penguins' six-game first-round series win
against Ottawa in 2010.

Coyotes-Blackhawks: Frantic Finishes, Milestone Victory

The Phoenix Coyotes and Chicago Blackhawks became the first teams in more
than 60 years to open their playoff series with five consecutive overtime
games. The 1951 Stanley Cup Final between the Toronto Maple Leafs and
Montreal Canadiens featured overtime in each of series' five games,
captured by Toronto 4-1.

Phoenix forward Mikkel Boedker scored the overtime winner in Games 3 and 4,
becoming the first player to do so in back-to-back playoff contests since
Colorado's Joe Sakic in 2004.

The Coyotes franchise won its first playoff series in 25 years and first
since relocating to Phoenix in 1996. Phoenix captain Shane Doan advanced to
the second round of the postseason for the first time in his 16-year NHL
career, all of which has been with the Coyotes franchise. Doan had played
1,242 career games (regular season and playoffs) before experiencing the
winning side of the traditional handshake line.

The Blackhawks became the first team in NHL history to score tying goals
with less than 15 seconds remaining in regulation in consecutive postseason
games of one series. They evened the score in Game 1 with 14.2 seconds left
in the third period and tied Game 2 with 5.5 seconds on the clock. The
Blackhawks then staged yet another late-game rescue, pulling their
goaltender and tying Game 4 of the series with 1:26 remaining -- the third
time in the series they forced overtime by scoring with the goaltender off
the ice for a sixth attacker.

Kings-Canucks: Top Seed Eliminated

The Los Angeles Kings' first-round series win over Vancouver marked the
10th time in NHL history that a No. 8 seed defeated a No. 1 seed and was
the club's first postseason series win since 2001. It also marked the first
time a No. 8 has defeated a No. 1 in five games. Los Angeles’ Dustin Brown
tied a Stanley Cup Playoff record by scoring two shorthanded goals in Game
2.

Devils-Panthers: Playoff Legend Brodeur Meets Resilient Foe

New Jersey Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur, who turns 40 on May 6, became
the second goaltender in NHL history to post 100 career playoff wins in
Game 1 vs. Florida, joining Hall of Famer Patrick Roy. He bounced back from
his shortest playoff start in Game 3 by posting his 24th career postseason
shutout in Game 4, moving him past Roy into sole possession of first place
all-time. He also assisted on Steve Bernier’s third-period score, marking
the third time in Brodeur’s postseason career that he notched a shutout and
assist in the same game. Brodeur concluded the series by making 43 saves to
record his sixth career Game 7 victory, tying Roy for the most all-time.

The Panthers proved a valiant and resilient foe in defeat. They trailed
Game 3 3-0 after 6:16 at a raucous Prudential Center, but stunned the
Devils by scoring four unanswered goals for their first playoff road
victory since June 1, 1996. New Jersey hadn’t yielded a three-goal lead in
the postseason since April 10, 1988. In Game 7, the Panthers erased a
two-goal deficit in the third period to force overtime, but fell just shy
of becoming the second team in NHL history – and first since Montreal in
1979 – to win a Game 7 when trailing by two goals in the third period.

Blues-Sharks: St. Louis Goaltenders Shut The Door

The St. Louis goaltending tandem of Brian Elliott and Jaroslav Halak, who
recorded 15 shutouts in the regular season to tie a modern NHL record for
one team, combined to shut out the Sharks in Game 2, marking just the third
shared shutout in playoff history. The duo teamed to capture the William
Jennings Trophy as the goaltenders on the club allowing the fewest goals
during the regular season and stayed stingy in the opening round of the
playoffs, recording the NHL's lowest cumulative goals-against average
(1.48).

Rookie Heroics

* New Jersey Devils forward Adam Henrique became the second rookie in NHL
history – and first since Montreal’s Claude Lemieux in 1986 – to score an
overtime winner in a Game 7.

* The Washington Capitals' Braden Holtby became the third rookie netminder
to defeat the defending Stanley Cup champions in a playoff series. The
other two: Montreal's Ken Dryden (1971, also against Boston) and Calgary's
Mike Vernon (1986, against Edmonton). Holtby also is the seventh rookie
goaltender to post an overtime win in Game 7 of a playoff series and the
first since the Buffalo's Steve Shields defeated Ottawa in 1997.

* Rangers forward Chris Kreider skated in his first NHL game in Game 3 of
the first-round series vs. Ottawa and tallied the game-winning goal in Game
6 as New Yorks staved off elimination. Kreider, who signed with the Rangers
April 10 after winning his second NCAA title with Boston College April 7,
is the first player to win the NCAAs and make his NHL debut in that year’s
playoffs since Tony Hrkac in 1987 (University of North Dakota, St. Louis).

* Four Philadelphia Flyers rookies scored goals and combined for 15 points
in their first-round victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins: Brayden Schenn
(2-4--6), Sean Couturier (3-1--4), Matt Read (2-2--4) and Erik Gustafsson
(1-0--1). Philadelphia rookies were prominent in staking the Flyers to a
3-0 series lead: Schenn had a goal and two assists in Game 1, Couturier
recorded a hat trick and added an assist in Game 2 and Read potted two
goals, including the winner, in Game 3. The only player younger than
Couturier (19 years, 128 days) to record a postseason hat trick was
Toronto's Hall of Fame center Ted 'Teeder' Kennedy (19 years, 123 days).

* Nashville forward Gabriel Bourque notched the game-winning goal in the
Predators' playoff opener and was the club's leading goal-scorer (three) in
the first-round series win over Detroit. Bourque also tied for the club
lead and for third in the League overall with a +5 rating.

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