The first round of the 2013 NHL playoffs are in the books, eight teams have been sent packing to hit the links while eight teams remain to square off in the conference semi-finals. (Photo Credit: Torch Creative)
The first round did not disappoint hockey fans who have come to expect physical, fast, dramatic hockey in the playoffs and year after year they are not disappointed.
One year after the Los Angeles Kings became the first eight seed ever to win the Stanley Cup both seven seeds and both six have managed to advance to the semi-finals. The Eastern Conference Semi-final match-ups pit the Pittsburgh Penguins (1) against the Ottawa Senators (7) and the Boston Bruins (4) face off with the New York Rangers (6), while the Western Conference will feature the Chicago Blackhawks (1) who will try to hold off the Detroit Redwings (7) and the defending champion Los Angeles Kings (5) will face their fellow Californians, the San Jose Sharks (6).
After a scoreless first period, the Pittsburgh Penguins score three in the second period to blow the game wide open and cruise to a victory in today's game five of this best of seven first round series.
The Penguins got goals from four different players and ten different skaters had points in Pittsburgh's 4-0 shutout. For Tomas Vokoun, it was his second career shutout.
The New York Islanders were hosting a playoff game on Nassau Coliseum ice for the first time in six years in front of a sold out crowd that was salivating for the puck to finally drop. Unfortunately for the Isles, they fell to the Penguins in overtime by a score of 5-4 on a power play goal that came from forward Chris Kunitz just 8:44 into the extra frame.
Special teams would ultimately play the deciding factor in the game, as the Islanders penalty kill only went 2-5, surrendering two additional power play goals in the first period that allowed the Penguins to get into the hockey game.
The Isles came out of the gates with energy and intensity, racking up hits, shots and goals immediately. Within the first two minutes of the game, Matt Moulson would slam home a rebound after Kyle Okposo would get the first few initial chances. Lubomir Visnovsky would be credited with the second assist.
The Pittsburgh Penguins played like a top seed in this opening game of the Stanley Cup playoff series between Pittsburgh and the New York Islanders tonight in Pittsburgh.
The Pens scored five goals, including two on the power play, to blow by an Islander squad that showed little jump all evening. All of this was done without the Pens having their best player as Sidney Crosby is still recovering from the broken jaw he got on March 30th in a game against the Isles.
The 2013 NHL season has come to an end and an impressive push down the stretch by our beloved Isles has secured them the 8th seed in the Eastern Conference. For the first time since 2007, the New York Islanders will play post-season hockey and compete for Lord Stanley’s Cup.
However, the real challenge lies ahead for the Islanders, as they will take on the Pittsburgh Penguins in the first round of the playoffs. The Penguins basically ran circles around the rest of the Eastern Conference during the lockout-shortened 2013 season, finishing in 1st place with 72 points. (Photo Credit: Beauty Playin 'Eh/Flickr)
The victory, Pittsburgh's 15th straight, was also a record night in another way: the Pens have extended their club record shutout streak. The Pens shutout streak now extends over 208 minutes as Pittsburgh has won the last three by shutout.
Pens netminder Tomas Vokoun has extended his personal best shutout streak to just shy of 163 minutes.
When a team finds success in the NHL on a consistent basis, it is very difficult for GM’s to tinker with said success in order to find greater success. It is the easiest explanation as to how the NHL has witnessed such playoff parity. In the modern cap era it has become even more difficult to place a team on the ice that has a continued shot at a championship. So with all of this in perspective, is it possible that we see a Stanley Cup champion this season that has also won the cup within the past five seasons?
It is the question that seemingly everyone in the NHL is waiting to see. With Pittsburgh and Chicago pushing the boundaries of greatness, the NHL might finally witness ...
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Using a Pittsburgh Pirates home run call is about all I can say right about now, because in my mind, Ray Shero has hit a home run.
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