NHL playoffs kick into high gear with OT thrills and fierce battles

nhl playoffs lightning panthers
May 16, 2021; Sunrise, Florida, USA; Tampa Bay Lightning center Brayden Point (21) celebrates with teammates after scoring against the Florida Panthers during the third period in game one of the first round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs at BB&T Center. Mandatory Credit: Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

The NHL playoffs kicked it into high gear with three hotly contested matchups. Two of the matchups needed an extra session to decide it. Every game was decided by one goal. Coming off the heels of the Capitals OT win over the Bruins on Saturday, the playoffs are in glorious full swing.

Game 1, Islanders 4 vs Penguins 3: Kyle Palmieri wins it in OT

Trade deadline acquisition Kyle Palmieri scored the first goal of the game and the last one. After struggling with just two goals and two assists in 17 games after being dealt from NJ to the Island, Palmieri became an Isles playoff hero to give them a 1-0 series lead over the Penguins.

nhl playoffs penguins islanders
May 16, 2021; Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA; New York Islanders right wing Kyle Palmieri (21) scores the game winning goal past Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Tristan Jarry (35) in overtime of game one of the first round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs at PPG Paints Arena. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

“It’s an incredibly exciting time,” Palmieri said. “The opportunity to be in the [Stanley Cup] Playoffs is something I don’t take for granted. Obviously, it’s hard to get here. We came on the road on a mission. We were able to go out there tonight and find a way to get a win.” 

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Ilya Sorokin made 39 saves, some of the incredible kind to get the win. Semyon Varlamov was unable to go in game one and the rookie came up big in his absence. The Penguins will hope to have Evgeni Malkin back in this series as he was not able to go in this contest. Game 2 is set for Tuesday at 7:30 PM ET.

Game 1, Wild 1 vs Golden Knights 0: Cam Talbot wins goaltending duel against Marc-Andre Fleury

Joel Eriksson Ek scored just 3:20 into the extra session to give the Minnesota Wild a 1-0 lead in their best of seven series with the Vegas Golden Knights. The real story of the game was the goaltending battle between Cam Talbot and Marc-Andre Fleury. Talbot registered 42 saves in his shutout, while Fleury stopped 29 of 30 that included a 13 save second period.

nhl playoffs golden knights wild
May 16, 2021; Las Vegas, Nevada, USA; Minnesota Wild goaltender Cam Talbot (33) makes a blocker save against the Vegas Golden Knights during an overtime period in game one of the first round of the 2021 Stanley Cup Playoffs at T-Mobile Arena. Mandatory Credit: Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

“The longer it stays scoreless, it favors us,” Talbot said. “We bent in the first period, but we knew they were going to have a push and come out hard. Fleury was unbelievable there in the second. Great game by both teams, happy to come out on top.”

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Game 2 of this series is scheduled for Tuesday 10 PM ET.

Game 1, Lightning 5 vs Panthers 4: The Battle for the Sunshine State lives up to billing

The Battle for the Sunshine State lived up to the hype as Braden Point scored the game-tying goal and the winner with 1:14 seconds on the clock. This was the game of the playoffs so far as the two teams’ big guns went toe-to-toe exchanging glorious scoring chances. The goals were even prettier with Aleksander Barkov (1G, 1A) and Jonathan Huberdeau (1G, 2A) putting on a skills show for the Panthers.

“[McDonagh] makes a huge block and has the wherewithal or the toughness to get up and make the play after blocking the shot,” Point said. “I knew that a D-man took the shot, so I knew I might have some space. Just went in, made a move, and it slipped in.”

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Meanwhile, Nikita Kucherov welcomed himself back from injury with three power play points that included two goals. Victor Hedman had three assists and Steven Stamkos, also back from injury had two helpers as well. These two teams will do battle again on Tuesday, 8PM ET.

One final note, the Flames beat the Canucks 6-5 in OT as they wrap up their regular season schedule.