Chants of "Smitty, Smitty" rained down on Calgary Flames goalie Mike Smith at Scotiabank Saddledome on Thursday when he made 26 saves in a 4-0 victory against the Colorado Avalanche in Game 1 of the Western Conference First Round, his first game in the Stanley Cup Playoffs since 2012.
Smith's previous postseason game was May 22, 2012, for the Arizona Coyotes in Game 5 of the Western Conference Final against the Los Angeles Kings.
Against the Avalanche, Smith became the first goalie in Calgary/Atlanta Flames history to have a shutout in a series-opening game. His .947 save percentage in 20 playoff games is the best by any goalie since 1955-56 (minimum 15 games played).
Smith's most recent playoff win came was a 2-0 victory with Arizona against the Kings in Game 4 of the Western Conference Final, on May 20, 2012. Among goalies who have played exclusively in the expansion era (since 1967-68), the only two who have gone longer between playoff wins than Smith's 2,517 days are Brian Boucher (3,616 days) and Sean Burke (3,634 days). Boucher and Burke are two of three goalies in NHL history to go at least 10 years between playoff wins; Jim Henry (3,654 days) did it in the Original Six era.
Smith also became the fourth goalie to have a series-opening shutout at age 37 or older. Smith, who turned 37 on March 22, joined Gump Worsley of the Minnesota North Stars (42 years, 327 days on Game 1 of the 1972 Quarterfinals), Tim Thomas of the Boston Bruins (37 years, 363 days on Game 1 of 2012 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals) and Georges Vezina of the Montreal Canadiens (37 years, 47 days on Game 1 of the 1924 NHL Final).
Video: COL@CGY, Gm1: Smith denies Brassard with glove save
Capitals ride star power past Hurricanes in opener
The Washington Capitals opened defense of their Stanley Cup championship by riding their stars, among them forwards Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom, defenseman John Carlson and goalie Braden Holtby, to a 4-2 victory against the Carolina Hurricanes in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference First Round at Capital One Arena.
Backstrom scored Washington's first two goals, Ovechkin had a power-play goal and Carlson contributed three assists to help the Capitals take a 3-0 lead in the first period. Holtby did the rest, making 27 saves.
Ovechkin's goal, which stood as the game-winner, was the 62nd playoff goal of his career, tying him with Bobby Hull for 27th place on the NHL all-time list. Backstrom's two goals gave him 100 points (33 goals, 67 assists) in 117 playoff games; he's the ninth active player to reach that milestone. Ovechkin (118 points) is the only Washington player with more postseason points.
Video: CAR@WSH, Gm1: Ovechkin slides home loose puck for PPG
The three first-period assists by Carlson, who set Capitals records for assists (15) and points (20) by a defenseman in a single postseason in 2018, matched the NHL playoff record for most assists in a period.
Marner, Maple Leafs too much for Bruins
Mitchell Marner, the leading scorer for the Toronto Maple Leafs during the regular season with 94 points (26 goals, 68 assists), had two of four unanswered goals in a 4-1 win against the Boston Bruins in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference First Round at TD Garden.
The 21-year-old forward tied the game 1-1 at 16:44 of the first period, then scored on a shorthanded penalty shot at 2:47 of the second to put Toronto ahead to stay. He joined Mats Sundin (Game 4, 1999 Eastern Conference Final) as the only Maple Leafs to score on a penalty shot in a playoff game.
Marner also is the fifth player in NHL history to score a penalty-shot goal in the playoffs while his team was shorthanded. Wayne Gretzky of the Edmonton Oilers was the first, in 1984; Daniel Cleary of the Detroit Red Wings had been the most recent, in 2007.
Video: TOR@BOS, Gm1: Marner pots second goal on penalty shot
Toronto won Game 1 of a playoff series on the road for the first time since defeating the Philadelphia Flyers to start the 2003 Eastern Conference Quarterfinals. It was the second time they've accomplished the feat in Boston; the other came in Game 1 of the 1949 NHL Semifinals en route to winning the Stanley Cup for the third consecutive year.
Teens leaving mark on playoffs
The Hurricanes nearly overcame a three-goal deficit in the third period against Washington, with 19-year-old forward Andrei Svechnikov scoring twice to cut the deficit to one goal.
Svechnikov (19 years, 16 days) had a two-goal game one night after fellow 19-year-old Miro Heiskanen (19 years, 266 days on April 10) had a goal and an assist to become the youngest defenseman in Dallas Stars/North Stars history to score a postseason goal.
Selected by the Hurricanes with the No. 2 pick of the 2018 NHL Draft, Svechnikov is the youngest player to score at least two goals in a playoff game in nearly 22 years. Dainius Zubrus of the Flyers (18 years, 329 days) did it May 11, 1997, almost three years before Svechnikov was born.
Svechnikov became the fourth teenager to score multiple goals in his playoff debut, joining Pierre Turgeon of the Buffalo Sabres (1988), Eddie Olczyk of the Chicago Blackhawks (1985) and Don Gallinger of the Bruins (1943). Gallinger (17 years, 339 days) is the youngest player to score more than once in a playoff game.
Video: CAR@WSH, Gm1: Svechnikov rips home one-timer