From shocking conclusions to heroic plays and saves, the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs -- which many consider the highest caliber of hockey in the calendar year -- was marked by a host of pivotal moments.
With young teams like Chicago and Washington moving onto the semifinals, and perennial favorites like Detroit and San Jose going in opposite directions, it's time to examine the plays that shaped each series.
Here are the series-defining moments of the Western Conference Quarterfinals as selected by NHL.com.
Eastern Conference Defining Moments
|BLACKHAWKS WIN SERIES, 4-2
Making their first playoff appearance since 2002, the Chicago Blackhawks
rallied for an unbelievable Game 1 victory over the Calgary Flames
thanks to Martin Havlat
Trailing 2-1 late in the third period, Havlat came out of the corner and drove to the net hard. He fired a quick shot that was stopped by Miikka Kiprusoff
, but he followed it by burying his own rebound with 5:33 to go in the third, tying the score at 2-2 and forcing overtime.
In the extra frame, it only took 12 seconds for Havlat to repeat his heroics that tied the game. The Flames turned the puck over at center ice and the Hawks took advantage immediately. Dave Bolland
carried the puck into Calgary's territory and dropped it off to Havlat, who snapped a shot through the legs of Kiprusoff.
Havlat's overtime goal lifted the Blackhawks to a 3-2 victory in Game 1 and Chicago went on to win its first playoff series since 1996.
|RED WINGS WIN SERIES, 4-0
With plenty of pressure entering the 2009 Playoffs, the defending Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings
quickly proved why they won it all last year.
Hosting a hungry, young Columbus Blue Jackets
team that was making its first ever playoff appearance, the Red Wings leaned on veteran goaltender Chris Osgood
early in the series. Whether the Blue Jackets caught the champs by surprise or not, Osgood was prepared for everything they put on goal.
Osgood stopped all 13 Blue Jackets shots in the first period of Game 1 and showed the world that he was up to the challenge in Detroit. From robbing R.J. Umberger
with a glove save to his diving stop on Jason Chimera
, Osgood led the Red Wings to a convincing four-game sweep of the Blue Jackets in the opening round.
|DUCKS WIN SERIES, 4-2
After shocking the top-seeded San Jose Sharks
in Game 1 at the Shark Tank, the No. 8 Ducks proved they were no fluke the rest of the way. The biggest difference-maker in the series was goaltender Jonas Hiller
, who had never appeared in an NHL playoff game in his career.
In a critical Game 2 with the scored tied at one, Hiller withstood 17 Sharks shots in the second period to keep the Ducks in the game. Turning aside deflections, rebounds and one-timers, Hiller's outstanding performance led the Ducks to a crucial 3-2 victory over the Sharks and a 2-0 series lead.
Anaheim went on to knock off the Presidents' Trophy-winning Sharks in six games, thanks largely in part to Hiller.
|CANUCKS WIN SERIES, 4-0
With a 1-0 series lead over the St. Louis Blues
, the Vancouver Canucks
got a big goal in Game 2 from one of their key acquisitions during the regular season, Mats Sundin
In a duel between Vancouver goaltender Roberto Luongo
and St. Louis netminder Chris Mason
, the Canucks were finally able to break through late in the second period. Pavol Demitra
carried the puck into the Blues' zone and fired what appeared to be a harmless shot on goal. But Mats Sundin
cut across the hashmarks and was able to get a piece of the puck as it headed towards the net. Sundin's deflection redirected the puck through the legs of Mason and broke a scoreless tie at 18:04 of the second period.
The Canucks went on to blank the Blues, 3-0, in Game 2 and eventually swept St. Louis in the opening round.