Thursday, April 12, 2007

Wednesday April 11: First Day of Playoffs

With the NHL playoffs starting on Wednesday night action was tense around the league. For Former Islanders they played roles in only one game, the tense quadruple (yes, that means 4) OT win by the host Vancouver Canucks over the Dallas Stars, 5-4. In other news the Ottawa Senators dropped the visiting Pittsburgh Penguins like they were a bad habit, 6-3. The Anaheim Ducks edged by the Minnesota Wild, 2-1, at the Honda Center. In alternate OT action the San Jose Sharks escaped 2 extra frames against the host Nashville Predators, 5-4. Here is a look at the FI action from the Vancouver front:

  • Roberto Luongo stopped 72 shots in nearly 138 minutes of play to walk away with a win in his long awaited playoff debut. Falling one short of the record number of saves in the playoffs, still held by Kelly Hrudey (73), Luongo set his own record for most saves in a first time playoff appearance. In the OT frames, which lasted just over 78 minutes, Luongo stopped all 36 shots thrown at him.
  • Taylor Pyatt assisted on the opening goal of the game. Touted by some analysts as a potential breakout player for the playoffs Pyatt did not disappoint. The playoff point was Pyatt's first since Game 5 of last year's Eastern Conference Finals when he was a member of the Buffalo Sabres.
  • Bryan Smolinski scored Vancouver's 4th goal of the game 7:36 into the third period. A deadline acquistion, Smoke took advantage of an open side goal to lift the lead to 2. A member of last year's semi-finalist Ottawa Senators, the goal was Smolinski's first playoff tally since netted 2 of May 5, 2006.
  • Trevor Linden assisted on Smolinski's lead extending goal. The point was Linden's first in the playoffs since April 27, 2003 in Vancouver's second round loss to the Minnesota Wild. Linden had gone 12 playoff games without a point owing to his complete disappearing act in the Canucks' first round loss to the Calgary Flames in Spring of 2004.
  • In the weird injury department, Brent Sopel sat out the game after hurting his back in what the Vancouver coach claimed was an attempt to pick up a cracker from the floor. It is hard to tell if the coach was serious or making up an excuse for a back injury obtained through other means.

Four more games are on schedule tonight as the gears of playoff hockey slowly begin to speed up. Keep posted to FIW for all your Former Islander and Stanley Cup news.

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