May 17 — Flower, Heroics & Playoff Overtime

Friday’s Forecheck

HE’S NO CON-MAN: Jets forward Kyle Connor scored goals no. 25 and 26 in Friday’s regular season finale — a 4-2 win over Toronto — and has now recorded 25-or-more goals and 50-or-more points in each of the last four seasons.

WE WANT MO: A video of Red Wings top prospect Moritz Seider singing karaoke on stage recently surfaced — needless to say, he’s got the moves like Jagger (or Hasselhoff, maybe?).

Saturday’s Snipes

YES HE CAN-DERSON: 39-year-old Craig Anderson, who was signed by Washington as a third-string emergency option earlier this season, earned a win against the Bruins on Saturday in his first playoff appearance since 2017. He stopped 21-of-22 shots en route to the Capitals’ 3-2 overtime triumph.

Sunday’s Cellys

WHO NEEDS PRACTICE?: Tampa’s Nikita Kucherov recorded two goals and an assist in Sunday’s crazy win over Florida. Welcome back, Kuch!

STANDING TAL: Cam Talbot’s 42-save effort in Minnesota’s 1-0 overtime victory on Sunday, the third team he’s recorded a postseason shutout with (Minnesota, Edmonton, Calgary) — only Curtis Joseph has more, as he notched playoff goose eggs with Toronto, Edmonton, St. Louis, and Detroit.

PAL-MERRY: Kyle Palmieri — who scored just two goals in 17 games after joining the Islanders — matched that total in Sunday’s Game 1 overtime win against the Penguins including the game-winner.

CHUCKIN’ NUCKS: The Canucks scored four goals in the third period to force overtime against the Flames as the two teams wrap up their regular seasons this week.

Monday Milestone

Fleury Stands Alone with 15 in a Row

Marc-Andre Fleury is elite. We know this, it’s nothing new. He’s won three Stanley Cups, and recently — along with Robin Lehner — won the William M. Jennings Trophy this season, awarded to the goaltender(s) who have played a minimum of 25 games for the team with the fewest goals scored against. On Sunday afternoon, as he led his team onto the ice donning his grey home jersey and eye-catching gold pads, he broke Tony Esposito’s record of 14 consecutive postseason appearances. Fleury officially stands alone as the only NHL goaltender to appear in 15 straight playoffs. 

He made his first playoff appearance during the 2006-07 season, when he was a 22-year-old playing for the Pittsburgh Penguins. Let’s put that into perspective: In 2007 the first iPhone made its debut, Bob Barker hosted his final episode of The Price is Right, and Justin Bieber was just a kid in Canada singing songs on YouTube. With all the changes the world has endured over the last 15 years, we can thank Fleury for being the constant that all hockey fans can depend on.

He is the fifth goaltender to appear in at least 15 postseasons along with Patrick Roy, Martin Brodeur, Jacques Plante and Andy Moog. Fleury is a proven champion and is making his case to be in the Hockey Hall of Fame – let’s see if the 36-year-old can add one more Stanley Cup to his resume before entering retirement. 

Why NHL Playoff Hockey’s the Best:

Sudden. Death. Overtime!

Hockey’s obviously awesome – that’s why you start your day with us! Once the postseason rolls around it becomes that much more awesome because everything ratchets up — more passion, more intensity, more drama, more physicality… more of everything! In honor of the first week of the NHL playoffs, each day we will share with you another reason why we love playoff hockey so much.

Let’s start with two thrilling letters for hockey fans: OT!

Look, we love the back-and-forth, fast-paced excitement of three-on-three overtime during the regular season, even if it does have its drawbacks. But through no fault of its own — it will never compare to the edge-of-your-seat thrill of playoff overtime. Five-on-five and played for as long as it takes to win. The hefty importance of every game — coupled with the knowledge that an OT winner can come at any second – makes for relentless drama and stress.

This past weekend the NHL playoffs didn’t just offer a taste of the “fourth period,” they went all-in with a full buffet of overtime action. For the first time in league history, the playoffs opened with three consecutive games decided after regulation ended. It would’ve been four had Brayden Point of the Tampa Bay Lightning not scored with 74 seconds left in the third period to break a 4-4 deadlock in a Game 1 thriller against the Florida Panthers.

Kyle Palmieri, New York Islanders (Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)

On Saturday night, former seventh round pick Nic Dowd tipped in a T.J. Oshie point shot to lift the Washington Capitals past the Boston Bruins in front of 5,000 fans at Capital One Arena. The next day, midseason acquisition Kyle Palmieri scored his second goal of the afternoon 16:30 into the extra frame to help the New York Islanders top the Penguins in Pittsburgh. Finally, Joel Eriksson Ek played playoff hero for the Minnesota Wild, as his OT marker was the only goal scored in a 1-0 win over the Vegas Golden Knights.

There may not have been any multi-overtime marathon games, but hey, we are just getting started. Even with pandemic protocols continuing to limit fan attendance in NHL arenas, you could feel the intensity in Sunrise, Washington DC, Pittsburgh, and Las Vegas amplify as each of these games inched closer to the “next goal wins” territory. It’s the type of tension that you simply can’t build in any other sport and part of what makes playoff hockey so great!