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Looking Back at the First Round of the NHL Playoffs

Mario Calvo

The Florida Panthers Celebrate After OT Win Against the Boston Bruins.

The NHL Playoffs are underway, and the first round is complete. From massive upsets to broken curses, the NHL playoffs have proven themselves to be eventful through their first round. In this article, we will take a look at each series, team, and result.

Boston Bruins vs. Florida Panthers (FLA Wins 4-3)

A true battle of David vs. Goliath. In one corner, the Florida Panthers. In a season where Florida barely made the playoffs as the second wild-card team in the Eastern Conference with 92 points, many expected little of the Panthers. The team had issues at goaltending, and overall, the team was simply nothing compared to the Bruins. The Bruins, on the other hand, had accolades galore. The Bruins were coming off a 135-point season, the best season in the history of the NHL, and a 3-1 series lead going into Game 5 on their home ice. However, in the playoffs, anything can happen. Florida won two games in overtime and capitalized on Boston’s mistakes throughout the series to eventually win Game 7 in overtime in front of the Bruins faithful, breaking the hearts of many fans.

Toronto Maple Leafs vs. Tampa Bay Lightning (TOR Wins 4-2)

On one side was a perennial powerhouse of a team in the Tampa Bay Lightning. The likes of Andrei Vasilevsky, Nikita Kucherov, and Brayden Point led Tampa Bay to a 98-point season. On the other hand, a regular season powerhouse of a team in the Toronto Maple Leafs. The likes of Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner, John Tavares, and Morgan Rielly led Toronto to a 111-point season and yet another playoff berth. However, Toronto has suffered from a troubled history of first-round exits. The million-dollar question: can Toronto FINALLY make it past the first round? The answer was a resounding YES! Both teams exchanged lopsided victories in Games 1 and 2, followed by two Toronto overtime victories, a win in Game 5 by Tampa, and a John Tavares Game 6 overtime winner to break the curse. Maple Leaf fans, congratulations.

Carolina Hurricanes vs. New York Islanders (CAR Wins 4-2)

This series was something of an early test for Carolina. In a battle between Sebastian Aho and Sebastian Aho, Carolina had the better Sebastian Aho. A 113-point hurricane of ice proved too much for the Islanders to handle in a 7-game series. A team that struggled on offense and primarily relied on a stout defense was never going to match up well against the leaders of the Metropolitan Division. Despite setting the NHL record for the fastest four goals in the playoffs in Game 3 at home, the Islanders made too many errors on power plays and could not keep up against a high-powered Carolina offense. Ilya Sorokin did extend the series in Game 5, but a late overtime goal by Paul Stasny left the Islanders packing for home by Game 6.

New Jersey Devils vs. New York Rangers (NJ Wins 4-3)

An entertaining matchup indeed for the Battle of the Hudson River. New York’s 107-point season powered by Chris Kreider, Patrick Kane, Jacob Trouda, and Barclay Goodrow led the Rangers to 3rd place in the Metropolitan Division. On the other side of the river, New Jersey’s 112-point season helped clinch the first playoff berth for the Devils since 2018 and their second 50-win season in franchise history. With the likes of Nico Hischler, Jack Hughes, and Ondrej Palat, New Jersey took this series the full 7 games. Unfortunately, two big wins early for the Rangers proved to be all that the Rangers had in the tank. New Jersey would take the next 4 of 5 games to win the series overall, including a Game 3 overtime win.

Colorado Avalanche vs. Seattle Kraken (SEA Wins 4-3)

The defending Stanley Cup champions need no introduction. On the other hand, the second-year Seattle Kraken hoped to make a name for themselves as Seattle’s first-ever Stanley Cup playoff team. This series though, went back and forth, quite literally, through every single game. However, by game 7, Seattle pulled off the ultimate victory with two goals by Oliver Bjorkstrand to seal a major upset against the defending Cup champions and the first playoff series win in the franchise’s history.

Dallas Stars vs. Minnesota Wild (DAL Wins 4-2)

A 2OT thriller would set the tone for most of the series. These two teams fought tooth and nail through 6 games. However, Minnesota ran out of gas by Game 4, as Dallas secured two lopsided wins to secure their ticket to the next round.

Las Vegas Golden Knights vs. Winnipeg Jets (VGK Wins 4-1)

Las Vegas, hoping to rekindle the fire of their expansion Stanley Cup Finals run, went up against the upstart Winnipeg Jets, with their small but mighty fanbase. With a 111-point season crowning them champions of the Pacific Division, Las Vegas did quick work of the Jets following a Game 1 loss. A statement win in Game 2 and a double-overtime thriller in Game 3 were all the Knights needed to bring momentum back on their side and punch their ticket to the next round.

Edmonton Oilers vs. Los Angeles Kings (EDM Wins 4-2)

Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, and a whole host of expectations brought Edmonton as far as the team has come in the Playoffs. Their adversary: a Los Angeles Kings team hoping to keep on winning after trading away franchise icons Dustin Brown and Jonathan Quick. The results? Some overtime thrillers, but also some statement wins on the part of the Oilers to bring them to the next round.


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