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NHL Morning Skate: Stanley Cup Playoffs Edition – April 22, 2024

* The Jets outlasted the Avalanche in a 13-goal, back-and-forth thriller that concluded as just the second game in Stanley Cup Playoffs history to feature two teams combine for at least six goals in multiple periods.

Dakota Joshua appeared in just his second-ever postseason game, scored one of two Vancouver goals in 12 seconds and helped the Canucks rally to a Game 1 win against the Predators.
 

* Home teams improved to 6-0 in the 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Only four other postseasons in NHL history have featured the home team win the first six or more games to begin a playoff year: 1965 (10), 1959 (9), 1970 (8) and 1962 (8).
 

* The last two Western Conference series begin Monday as the Oilers and Kings meet in the First Round for the third straight season while the Stars and Golden Knights face off in the postseason for the third time.

JETS OUTLAST AVALANCHE IN RED-HOT START TO “WINNIPEG WHITEOUT”

In the first opening-round playoff series since the 1968 Quarterfinals (BOS vs. MTL) to feature a head-to-head meeting between a team with the outright lead in goals (COL: 304 in 2023-24) and the team with the outright lead in fewest goals against (WPG: 199 in 2023-24), it was the latter who skated to a Game 1 victory and did so after the clubs wowed the “Winnipeg Whiteout” at Canada Life Centre with 13 combined goals – including three apiece in the first and third periods.




Mark Scheifele (1-2—3) capped the six-goal first period with his 20th career playoff goal (20-15—35 in 38 GP) – the third tally in a 66-second span by the two clubs. The Jets and Avalanche became the eighth pair of teams in Stanley Cup Playoffs history – and second in as many years (DAL vs. SEA, 6 in Game 1 of 2023 R2) – to combine for at least six goals in the opening period of a series.
 

Kyle Connor (2-1—3) scored two of the six third-period goals as the Jets tallied seven goals in a playoff game for the second time in franchise history (also 7 in Game 3 of 2018 R2). Connor has found the back of the net in four consecutive series-opening contests dating to Game 1 of the 2021 First Round and now sits one shy of the longest such stretch by an active player (Tomas Hertl: 5 GP from 2014 R1 – 2016 SCF).

Cale Makar (1-2—3) also found the score sheet during the frantic first period to collect his 50th career postseason assist and 66th career postseason point as he moved past Sandis Ozolinsh (65) for most points by a defenseman in franchise history. He then factored on two more third-period goals in an Avalanche comeback attempt that fell short to record his eighth career three-point outing in the Stanley Cup Playoffs – tied for the seventh most by a blueliner in NHL history.

QUICK STRIKES GUIDE CANUCKS TO VICTORY AS POSTSEASON RETURNS TO VANCOUVER

On the night the Stanley Cup Playoffs returned to Rogers Arena for the first time since Game 5 of the 2015 First Round, Pius Suter (1-0—1) and Dakota Joshua (2-1—3) scored two Canucks third-period goals in a span of 12 seconds to lift their club to a comeback win in their series opener and help home teams improve to 6-0 this postseason.


* Joshua, a fifth-round pick in the 2014 NHL Draft (No. 128 by TOR), appeared in just his second career postseason contest after first doing so with the Blues during Game 3 of the 2022 First Round (8:36 TOI). He joined Geoff Courtnall (3-1—4 in Game 1 of 1991 DSF), Cliff Ronning (1-2—3 in Game 1 of 1991 DSF) and Brian Bradley (0-3—3 in Game 1 of 1989 DSF) as the fourth player in Canucks history to register at least three points in his playoff debut with the franchise.


* Vancouver established a franchise record for fastest two goals in a playoff game. Two teams scored a faster pair of goals during the 2023 Stanley Cup Playoffs: Seattle (0:11 in Game 1 of 2023 R2) and Minnesota (0:11 in Game 2 of 2023 R1).

PANTHERS, RANGERS EARN GAME 1 WINS IN THE EAST
After the Hurricanes and Bruins earned victories Saturday, the other two Eastern Conference First Round series got started Sunday as the Panthers and Rangers skated to Game 1 victories against the Lightning and Capitals, respectively.

* The Panthers are looking to win a series against their state rival, the Lightning, for the first time in three attempts. Florida’s Game 1 victory marked its first playoff win over the Lightning since Game 5 of the 2021 First Round, after Tampa Bay completed a four-game sweep during the 2022 Second Round.

* The Panthers’ top three goal scorers from the 2023-24 regular season accounted for the three goals in Game 1: Sam Reinhart,Carter Verhaeghe and Matthew Tkachuk. Since joining the Panthers to begin 2022-23, Tkachuk (12-14—26 in 21 GP) is tied with Golden Knights forward Jack Eichel (6-20—26 in 22 GP) for the most playoff points among all skaters.



* The Rangers broke a scoreless tie with three goals in a span of 2:06 during the second period with markers from Matt RempeArtemi Panarin and Jimmy Vesey. Rempe became the first Rangers player to score a goal in his first career playoff game since Matt Gilroy in Game 1 of the 2011 Conference Quarterfinals. Gilroy also did so against the Capitals.

Igor Shesterkin stopped 20 of the 21 shots he faced and has now allowed two goals or fewer in 10 consecutive postseason home starts. In doing so, he became one of six goaltenders in NHL history with a streak of that length and the first since Martin Brodeur (14 GS from Game 3 of 2002 CQF – Game 2 of 2003 SCF). Brodeur’s stretch is the longest in NHL history.

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FINAL TWO WESTERN CONFERENCE SERIES GET STARTED MONDAY

The 2024 Stanley Cup Playoffs continue Monday with a four-game slate, including two Western Conference series that will contest Game 1: Golden Knights-Stars and Kings-Oilers. Additionally, Eastern Conference series will resume in Boston and Carolina, where the home teams are up 1-0 after Game 1 victories Saturday.

* The Stars and Golden Knights will meet in the playoffs for the third time, with the previous two instances contested with a trip to the Stanley Cup Final on the line. Vegas eliminated Dallas in the Western Conference Final in 2023 on the path to the franchise’s first championship, returning the favor after Dallas did the same to them to advance to the Final in 2020.

* The Stars enter as the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference for the first time since 2015-16 and boast a well-rounded offense that included a League-leading eight 20-goal scorers in 2023-24. That group includes 39-year-old Joe Pavelski, who is six tallies from joining the top 10 on the NHL’s all-time playoff goals list.
 

* The Golden Knights start the defense of their 2023 Stanley Cup championship in an unfamiliar spot – this is the first time the franchise has qualified for the postseason as a Wild Card team. Vegas has won at least one playoff series in four of its five previous trips to the postseason, and since entering the NHL in 2017-18, its 11 series wins rank second among all teams behind Tampa Bay (13).
 

* The Oilers and Kings will meet in the First Round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the third straight season, with Edmonton winning in 2022 and 2023. Edmonton and Los Angeles are the 13th set of teams in NHL history to square off in the opening round in three or more consecutive playoff years and first since the Oilers clashed with the Stars in three straight from 1999 to 2001.

Connor McDavid has recorded 7-17—24 in 13 career playoff games against the Kings. McDavid’s career 1.85 points per game rate against Los Angeles in the playoffs is the third highest of any player behind Wayne Gretzky (2.46 P/GP; 13 GP) and Bernie Nicholls (2.17 P/GP; 6 GP).

Adrian Kempe has led the Kings in scoring in each of their past two playoff series against the Oilers, tallying six and eight points in the 2022 and 2023 First Round, respectively. He can become the first player since Wayne Gretzky to be the Kings’ outright leader in points in at least three straight series – Gretzky paced the club in each round of the 1993 Stanley Cup Playoffs, leading them to the Final for the first time.

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