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An Emergency Backup and a Fake Hat Trick

Photo by Emily Kaplan

An Emergency Backup and a Fake Hat Trick

The 2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs have had a little bit of everything through the very early stages. And Wednesday evening was no different.

Starting with the Toronto/Tampa Bay series, the once powerful and dominant Maple Leafs opted to play a physical styled game that resulted in seven minor penalties on the evening. Despite two early first period power plays, the Leafs could not get the job done on offence, and could only watch as the Bolts piled on five goals after being shut out in the series opener. Three of Tampa’s goals came on the man advantage, as the Lightning left for Florida with a brand new best-of-five on their hands.

Much like that of the Bolts, the Edmonton Oilers finally woke up and handed the Los Angeles Kings a stunning 6-0 shutout loss. Pounding Jonathan Quick and the Kings for three goals in the first period, the Oilers doubled that lead in the final frame, striking another three times. Leon Draisaitl and Evander Kane scored on the man advantage, while Darnell Nurse’s first career postseason goal came while shorthanded. Mike Smith bounced back in stellar fashion with a 30-save shutout, knotting the series up at ones.

In Carolina, things got off to a testy start, as noted sniper David Pastrnak was initially called for a five-minute major for making contact with Hurricanes’ netminder Antti Raanta. The call was later dialled down to a two-minute minor, but the damage had already been done, as Raanta was forced from the game for AHL standout Pyotr Kochetkov.

Coming in just 7:47 into the game, Kochetkov turned aside 29 of the 31 shots he faced, while Jack LaFontaine served as the team’s emergency backup netminder, with Frederik Andersen already sidelined due to injury.

The Canes continued their hot streak and found the twine five times, beating the Bruins for the second time in three days 5-2. The series shifts to Boston for games three and four.

Off in Minnesota, the Wild responded loudly after being shut out by the St. Louis Blues in the opening game of their first round series. Striking six times, the Wild got three goals in the first period, and scored just 51 seconds into the middle stanza, pulling ahead by a quick four goals through 21 minutes of play.

With both Joel Eriksson Ek and Kiril Kaprizov sitting on two goals apiece, Eriksson Ek thought he had the first playoff hat trick in Minnesota postseason history, but thanks to a Blues challenge, the play was deemed offside as Marcus Foligno had entered the St. Louis zone before the puck, negating Eriksson Ek’s third of the game.

But shortly thereafter, Kaprizov completed a hat trick of his own – albeit on an empty net – but gave fans something else to cheer about. Much like Tampa Bay/Toronto and Edmonton/Los Angeles, the Minnesota/St. Louis series is tied at ones, with the teams next facing off on Friday night.

Thursday’s games include Pittsburgh/New York, Washington/Florida, Nashville/Colorado and Dallas/Calgary.

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