NHL Playoffs kick off with a stellar night of Game 1 matchups

Columbus’ Seth Jones, New York’s Josh Bailey and St. Louis’ Tyler Bozak celebrate their game-winning goals on the first night of the 2019 NHL Playoffs. (Getty Images)
Columbus’ Seth Jones, New York’s Josh Bailey and St. Louis’ Tyler Bozak celebrate their game-winning goals on the first night of the 2019 NHL Playoffs. (Getty Images)

How many times have you been excited for something just to be disappointed in the end?

For example, if you want to chat with someone who was let down after plenty of anticipation, you should have a chat with my high school girlfriend after our first kiss.

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Thankfully, the beginning of the NHL playoffs on Wednesday night wasn’t much of a sloppy, uncoordinated, disappointing mess. If anything, the five games on day one managed to overdeliver.

Tampa Bay Lightning vs. Columbus Blue Jackets

After going down 3-0 on the road against a team that put together one of the best regular seasons in NHL history, the Blue Jackets came to life at Amalie Arena.

Nick Foligno got Columbus on the board in the second period before David Savard (of all people) netted this silky marker 7:56 into the third.

Down one and killing a Brandon Dubinsky double-minor for high sticking Cedric Paquette, Columbus’ Josh Anderson miraculously found the back of the net shorthanded to even things up at three.

Then, Seth Jones completed the miraculous comeback with just under six minutes remaining and the Blue Jackets on the power play.

Columbus held on for the 4-3 victory to grab a 1-0 advantage in the first round series and, honestly, this GIF of head coach John Tortorella really says it all.

New York Islanders vs. Pittsburgh Penguins

Let’s fast forward to less than two minutes remaining in the third period for this one.

The Islanders are up 3-2, the crowd at Nassau Coliseum is bumping and the Penguins have pulled goaltender Matt Murray for the extra attacker.

Cue Pittsburgh’s Justin Schultz.

With 91 seconds remaining, Schultz took a pass from Kris Letang and fired a rocket through a sea of legs to knot things up at three.

Then, with only a few seconds left on the clock, New York’s Josh Bailey came this close to ending it.

The 29-year-old — who has spent his entire NHL career on Long Island — wouldn’t be denied in overtime, though.

While it may have been Bailey that finished the game 4:39 into the extra frame, the wizardry of Mathew Barzal leading up to the goal has to be respected.

Islanders take a 1-0 lead in the series with the 4-3 victory on home ice.

Winnipeg Jets vs. St. Louis Blues

The first game in a series that most hockey fans who filled out playoff brackets likely decided with a coin flip was, well, a close one.

The Jets held a 1-0 lead (shoutout to Patrik Laine’s nasty first period snipe) at Bell MTS Centre until early in the third period. That’s when St. Louis’ David Perron struck off the draw to even things up again.

It would stay that way until the late stages of the frame, when former Toronto Maple Leafs legend Tyler Bozak was hit with a Patrick Maroon pass in the slot and became a hero.

While the Blues were fired up about it, I doubt many were as excited about the tally as Bozak’s wife, Molly.

That proved to be the difference as the Blues held on for the 2-1 win and grabbed a 1-0 edge in the Western Conference first-round series.

Nashville Predators vs. Dallas Stars

The story of Mats Zuccarello’s time as a Dallas Star is one of heartbreak and redemption.

After eight-and-a-half seasons with the New York Rangers, the only NHL franchise he’d ever laced up for, the 31-year-old Norwegian was dealt to Dallas at the trade deadline in February.

In his first contest with his new squad on Feb. 24, he scored a goal and added an assist against the Chicago Blackhawks before breaking his arm while blocking a shot.

He underwent surgery, healed up and returned to play in the team’s regular season finale on Apr. 2.

Then, to complete the storybook comeback, his tally 10:39 into the third period stood as the winner in Game 1 of the Stars’ first round Western Conference tilt with the Predators.

The goal — along with a pair of tallies from Miro Heiskanen — gave Dallas a 3-1 lead at the time.

Nashville’s P.K. Subban found the back of the net three minutes later to get the Predators within one, but that would be as close as they would get.

Stars have themselves the 1-0 advantage in the best-of-seven series.

Vegas Golden Knights vs. San Jose Sharks

Going into the night, I was most excited for this contest. The two sides have so much talent at every position and I believed the opening game of their Western Conference matchup had the potential to be the best of the five.

In short, following four one-goal contests earlier in the evening, it was not.

The Sharks came out quick, Joe Pavelski scored with his face, yada yada yada, and San Jose won it by a final score of 5-2.

So, I guess every game couldn’t be epic on night one.

But, c’est la vie. Right, Jessica?

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