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Overtime hockey the norm to begin playoffs

Friday, 04.13.2012 / 11:03 AM / Stanley Cup Playoffs

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Overtime hockey the norm to begin playoffs
If the first two nights of the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs are any indication, there is going to be a lot of bonus hockey this spring.

If the first two nights of the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs are any indication, there is going to be a lot of bonus hockey this spring.

Four of the first seven games in this postseason have gone to overtime, including three contests Thursday night. It was the first day with three overtime playoff games since April 18, 2001.

Overtime goals come from anyone, from stars like Martin Havlat to role players like Chris Kelly and Jakub Voracek. They also help cement a player's place in a team's history, especially for guys in their first season with the franchise like Havlat in San Jose and Voracek in Philadelphia.

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"I was just trying to get it on net and I got a shot through and it went in . . . It was a great feeling," said Havlat, who was a key acquisition in the offseason for San Jose but missed much of the regular season with a hamstring injury. "My first thought was that it was time to get some rest."

Havlat's goal ended the game between San Jose and St. Louis in the second overtime, while each of the other three were won in the first 20 minutes. Kelly's goal, the lone tally in a 1-0 win for the defending champion Boston Bruins against the Washington Capitals, came just 78 seconds into the extra session.

Voracek's overtime winner Wednesday capped a crazy comeback for the Flyers, who had ceded the first three goals to rival Pittsburgh before storming back with four unanswered tallies.

Three of the four OT heroes were natives of the Czech Republic -- Havlat, Voracek and Phoenix Coyotes forward Martin Hanzal, who sent the white-clad patrons at Jobing.com Arena home happy Thursday with an overtime strike to beat the Chicago Blackhawks.

Even the non-overtime games have been close. None of the seven contests have been decided by more than two goals. Only two games have seen a lead of more than two -- and the Flyers erased one of them in a victory.

Staying up late for overtime is much a part of the fabric of playoff hockey as beards and Mohawks and superstitions. There has been plenty of it for fans in the first two nights of this postseason, and there could be plenty more to come.

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You don't see many. The [Drew] Doughtys, the [P.K.] Subbans, those are guys that create offense from the back and then on top of that ability, the size that he has. In the West you play against some pretty big players, and being able to clear the crease and contain the [Ryan] Getzlafs and the [Corey] Perrys and [Anze] Kopitars and players like that, we're excited about him going back there.

— Sharks general manager Doug Wilson on Brent Burns returning back to defense