NHL: Montreal surprises Pittsburgh on entry
It is a team that, in normal times, would have nothing to do in the play-offs, twelfth in the Eastern Conference with only 31 wins and 40 losses. But Montreal benefited from an unexpected ticket with the expansion of the final phase to 24 teams in the exceptional context of the Covid-19 pandemic, and the Quebec training did not wait to take advantage of it.
Winners of the Pittsburgh Penguins, fifth in the Conference (3-2 ap), Saturday night in Toronto, the Canadians created the big surprise of the night of recovery of the NHL, after more than four months of cut. A return to the game full of emotions, despite the absence of an audience in the two bubbles of Toronto and Edmonton.
After thirteen minutes of overtime, defenseman Jeff Petry gave the victory to Montreal, who had taken the lead from the start (2-0 after 27 minutes of play) before seeing the Penguins come back to height under the impetus of Sidney Crosby , obviously, scorer from the start. Previously, each of the two teams had missed a penalty shot (Pittsburgh at the end of regulation time, Montreal at the start of extra time), a rarity.
Very combative and well helped by their star goalkeeper, Carey Price (39 saves including 18 in the first third), the Canadians pocketed the first trick of an unusual format series, the best of five matches, during this preliminary round including the winners will join the top four of the Conference in the first round of the play-offs.
Chicago also surprises against Edmonton
Another unlikely guest, Chicago (12th in the West) has also made its invitation fruitful. The Blackhawks knocked down Edmonton (5th) not in front of his home crowd but on his ice at Rogers Arena (6-4), after a pre-game protocol marked by a moving speech against racism from Matt Dumba (Minnesota Wild) .
Connor McDavid and Leon Draisaitl, the two young stars of the Oilers, answered present (1 goal and 2 assists each) but their team took the lightning in the middle of the first period, conceding four goals in seven minutes.
The eternal captain of the Blackhawks Jonathan Toews (doubled plus an assist) was in the game, of course, his old friends Duncan Keith (2 assists) and Patrick Kane (1 assist) as well. All these beautiful people were however stolen the spotlight by a 24-year-old Czech rookie, who still played in Switzerland at Ambri-Piotta last year: Dominik Kubalik signed two goals and three assists for his first play-off match. offs! Even if the boy had already displayed his talent in the regular season (30 goals in 68 games), it is unheard of.
In the other matches of the night, after Carolina’s inaugural victory over the New York Rangers (3-2), the New York Islanders (7th in the East) logically dominated Florida (2-1) thanks to 27 saves from Semyon Varlamov and Calgary (8th in the West) largely beat (4-1) the Winnipeg Jets (9th), who lived a nightmare evening: two of their best players, Mark Scheifele and Patrik Laine, came out on injury .
The three French in the League, Pierre-Edouard Bellemare (Colorado), Antoine Roussel (Vancouver) and Alexandre Texier (Columbus), all enter the competition on Sunday evening.