Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin both reached the 50-game mark in their playoff careers when they stepped on the ice for Pittsburgh Wednesday in Game 1 against the Ottawa Senators. And in terms of postseason production, they couldn't be much closer.
Through their first 50 postseason games, Crosby had 66 points and Malkin had 65. Malkin has more goals (26, to Sid's 24), while Crosby has more assists (42, to Malkin's 39). Not surprisingly, both had the same number of points (3) in Pittsburgh's series-opening loss to Ottawa -- Crosby assisted on both of Malkin's goals, and they both drew assists on a goal by Alex Goligoski.
Crosby is sixth on the Pens' all-time postseason scoring list, with Malkin seventh. A big series could move them past Hall of Fame defenseman Larry Murphy (72 points) into fifth place.
That Malkin got the goals and Crosby the assists against Ottawa should come as no surprise. Malkin has 10 goals in his 16 regular-season games against the Senators; Crosby has only 2 in 17 games.
Left Wing - WSH
GOALS: 0 | ASST: 0 | PTS: 0
SOG: 0 | +/-: 0O for Ovi -- Alex Ovechkin, the NHL's most prolific shooter again this season, made history Thursday -- the kind he'd rather not make.
Ovechkin was not credited with a shot on goal Thursday night in the Washington Capitals' 3-2 overtime loss to Montreal. It's the first time in his 22 career playoff games that Ovi has failed to register a shot on goal.
That "0" in the shots column wasn't for lack of trying -- Ovechkin took eight shots on goal, but missed the net on three and had the other five blocked. But it was a huge contrast from last year's playoff opener, exactly 365 days earlier, when he had 13 shots on goal against the New York Rangers -- though the Caps lost that game as well, 4-3.
It was only the second time this season that Ovechkin did not have a shot on goal -- Detroit held him shotless on Jan. 19, a game the Caps rallied to win 3-2.
Ovi was held without a point by the Canadiens, ending a seven-game points streak in playoff competition. It was only the fifth time in his 22 career playoff games that Ovechkin was held pointless.
Opening-night blues -- Despite their production, neither Crosby nor Malkin could keep the Penguins from joining the "defending champs lose their playoff opener the next year" club.
Pittsburgh lost 5-4 to Ottawa at home in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series, making the Penguins the fifth defending champ in the last six tries (over seven seasons) to lose their first playoff game the following spring. Detroit, the 2008 champion, won its opener against Columbus last year, but before that, the Wings (2003, to Anaheim), Devils (2004, to Philadelphia), Tampa Bay (2006, to Ottawa) and Anaheim (2008, to Dallas) all lost their playoff opener. The 2007 Carolina Hurricanes missed their chance by not qualifying for the playoffs.
Defending champions aren't the only teams who have problems in openers.
San Jose dropped its fourth consecutive series opener when the Colorado Avalanche scored in the final minute for a 2-1 win on Wednesday. All four of those games have come at home, and the Sharks wound up losing the series after two of the three previous losses.
Philadelphia ended an opening-night drought with a 2-1 win against New Jersey Wednesday. Before the win, the Flyers had been 0-6 in series openers (all on the road) after beating Toronto in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semis in 2005. Overall, Philadelphia had dropped eight of its last 10 series openers before beating the Devils.
Unexpected -- Every year, you'll see things in the playoffs that make you shake your head. Game 1 between Detroit and Phoenix was no different.
Perhaps the most remarkable thing was the success of the Coyotes' power play, which scored on each of its first three attempts and finished 3-for-4. Phoenix had just two games all season (neither against a playoff team) in which its power play scored three times. The Coyotes were 8-for 71 with the extra man after the Olympic break and ended in an 0-for-20 drought. (The Wings allowed just 6 goals in 59 opposition power plays during that same span.)
Then there's defenseman Derek Morris, who not only scored the winning goal but assisted on the other two for a three-point night -- not bad for a player who owned just 5 career playoff points (no goals) in 14 games before the series.
Then there was the fact that the Coyotes won a series opener at home. It's something that had never happened since the franchise relocated from Winnipeg in 1996 (to be fair, the Coyotes had opened at home just once in that span), and was the franchise's first win at home in a series-opener since 1985, when the Winnipeg Jets beat Calgary 5-4 in OT. Beginning in 1993, the Jets/Coyotes had lost their last seven series openers before beating Detroit.
To make it even more unusual, consider that the Wings have been superb in series openers -- the loss ended their nine-game streak of winning the first game of a series and was the first time since 2003 that they had lost their first postseason game.
Still perfect -- Buffalo made it 31-for-31 when leading after two periods by holding off Boston 2-1 in its playoff opener on Thursday night. The Sabres were the only team that won every regular-season game in which they led after 40 minutes.
Buffalo won despite surrendering 24 shots (but only one goal) to the Bruins in the second period. The Bruins had not had more that 21 shots in any regular-season game this season.
The 24 shots allowed matched the Sabres' playoff record. No team had had that many against Buffalo in a postseason game since Chicago did it on April 24, 1980 -- and just as they did on Thursday, the Sabres won that game as well, wrapping up a four-game sweep with a 3-2 victory.