Round one of the NHL playoffs are off to a rousing start (are you watching? You should be.), and last night’s rare convergence of three series clinchers in a single night was the best night of hockey for this and most other seasons. First, the Rangers dispatched of the Flyers at the Garden, making them undefeated (6-0) in Game 7s in the arena. They have Henrik Lundqvist to thank for this one, keeping the wall up after Philly came within one in the early third period. The Rangers will have to up their game to match the well-rested Pens in the next round.
This was only an app to what came next though. The Sharks had one more chance to close out the Kings after starting 3-0, as well as to avoid becoming only the fourth team to lose a series by reverse-sweep while living up to their playoff-choking reputation. Let’s see how that turned out.
The night was truly made by the Wild-Avs game, though. Colorado took a one-goal lead four separate times, including twice in the third period, but was unable to hold off the offensive Wild. Minnesota brought the game into OT before the amazingly named Nino Niederreiter put a wrist shot past Semyon Varlamov to move the Wild into the next round - a round where the dangerous Blackhawks await for what could be a great series. Mostly because these two brutal guys will be on the ice together.
Photos by Doug Pensinger / Getty Images