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It only took 77 years ...

Friday, 04.13.2012 / 10:51 AM

By John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist / Bracket Challenge Blog

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It only took 77 years ...
Halley's Comet comes around every 76 years -- or almost as often as the Boston Bruins win a playoff game 1-0 in overtime.

The Bruins did just that in their playoff opener on Thursday, beating the Washington Capitals on Chris Kelly's goal 1:18 into overtime after the teams battled through 60 scoreless minutes of regulation. The last time Boston won 1-0 in overtime in a playoff game was 77 years ago -- March 25, 1935, when Dit Clapper scored 3:26 into the second extra period.

It was the first 1-0 overtime game involving the Bruins since they lost 1-0 to New Jersey in the first round in 1995 -- and the first one ever for the Caps.

One reason for the Bruins' victory was their continuing ability to shut down Alex Ovechkin, who entered Thursday with the fourth-highest points-per-game average in playoff history. Ovi led the Caps with seven hits but had only one shot on goal and has now managed just one goal in his last nine games against Boston since the start of the 2010-11 season.

Tim Terrific -- Tim Thomas started the 2012 postseason the way he ended the playoffs last year -- perfect.

Thomas wasn't severely tested in the Bruins' win against Washington, but he was flawless in stopping all 17 shots he faced before Chris Kelly's game-winner 1:18 into overtime. It was the sixth playoff shutout of his career and his second in a row -- he ended last season by putting up a zero in Boston's 4-0 win at Vancouver in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final. Thomas, the Conn Smythe Trophy winner this past spring, has stopped the last 58 shots he's faced in a span of 123 minutes and 44 seconds since Vancouver's Maxim Lapierre scored with 2:26 remaining in Game 6.

Long time coming -- Playoff success and the Phoenix Coyotes have rarely been on a first-name basis -- the franchise has won just two postseason series since entering the NHL as the Winnipeg Jets in 1979, and none since moving to the desert in 1996.

But maybe things are getting better for the Coyotes -- they won their first overtime game since May 1999 when Martin Hanzal's goal 9:29 into overtime gave Phoenix a 3-2 win against Chicago in the opener of their Western Conference Quarterfinal series. It was only the second OT win for the franchise since the move from Winnipeg; the other came in Game 2 in the first round in 1999, when Shane Doan scored. In all, the Coyotes are 2-3 in OT since the move.

The victory in Game 1 was just the sixth in 21 series-openers for the Coyotes franchise -- and just the second since 1992 -- although Phoenix did win the series opener against Detroit two years ago and wound up losing in seven games.

Home cooking at last -- Forgive Rangers fans if they were a little unaccustomed to seeing a series opener at Madison Square Garden.

Thursday's 4-0 victory against Ottawa marked the first time the Rangers have opened a playoff series at home since they hosted Montreal to start their Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series in 1996. New York has opened its last 11 playoff series away from Madison Square Garden.

You have to go back even further to find the last time they won a series opener at MSG. Before Thursday, it hadn't happened since the Rangers beat Washington 6-3 in Game 1 of their conference semifinal series in 1994. The Rangers also played the opener of the conference finals and Stanley Cup Final at home that year, but lost both.

History says the Game 1 win is a good omen for the Rangers; they are 30-11 when winning the first game of a series. Even better is the fact that they finally solved Ottawa goaltender Craig Anderson at MSG -- Anderson had been 6-0-0 with a 1.13 goals-against average at the Garden before Thursday.

Working overtime -- No matter where he goes, Martin Havlat finds a way to score a playoff goal in OT when given the chance.

Havlat scored the third OT goal of his career when he connected 3:34 into the second overtime to give San Jose a 3-2 win at St. Louis in the opener of their Western Conference Quarterfinal series. It was the third overtime goal of Havlat's career -- all of which have come with different teams. He scored an OT winner for Ottawa in 2002 and another for Chicago in 2009 before scoring on Thursday. The only team he's played for and not scored an overtime winner with is Minnesota, which missed the playoffs in his two seasons with the Wild.
Quote of the Day

The old saying in hockey is 'weather the storm.' I put the notion in their heads that we don't want to weather the storm, we want to push just as hard and matched their work ethic. I thought our guys exceeded that in the first period.

— Edmonton Oilers coach Dallas Eakins after their loss to the Nashville Predators on Thursday
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