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2011 NHL Playoffs: First Round Update, 4/14

There were five games played on the opening night of the 2011 NHL Playoffs. Here is a brief recap of last night's action:

Western Conference:

Nashville Predators 4, Anaheim Ducks 1: The Predators dominated the Ducks in Anaheim, and have now claimed home-ice advantage for this series. Deadline acquisition (and Mr. Carrie Underwood) Mike Fisher was the hero for Nashville, scoring two goals and adding an assist. Ducks starting goaltender (and former Predator) Dan Ellis was chased from the game early into the third period, and was replaced by Ray Emery -- who came out of retirement earlier this season. It appears that Emery may get the start in Game 2 of this series. Without Jonas Hiller in net, this series has swung dramatically in favor of the Predators.

Nashville leads series, 1-0

Detroit Red Wings 4, Phoenix Coyotes 2:

Phoenix took an early 1-0 lead in the first period, and captain Shane Doan played lights out. Unfortunately, Coyotes goalie Ilya Bryzgalov was average in net, and the Red Wings' offensive depth proved too much for Phoenix. Pavel Datsyuk scored an easy wrap-around goal to gain a lead that Detroit would not relinquish. When predicting this series, I stated that Bryzgalov may have to steal three games in this series for the Coyotes to take the series. Instead, he was the goat in Game One. That can't continue, or this will be a very short series.

Detroit leads series, 1-0

Vancouver Canucks 2, Chicago Blackhawks 0: This isn't how Chicago expected their title defense to begin. Roberto Luongo stopped all 32 shots he faced for the easy shutout, and Vancouver scored all the goals they would need in the first ten minutes of the game. With almost every advantage leaning towards Vancouver, the Blackhawks need to steal the next game from the Canucks to make this a series.

Vancouver leads series, 1-0

Eastern Conference:

Pittsburgh Penguins 3, Tampa Bay Lightning 0: The shorthanded Pens did their best to make me look a fool, as goalie Marc-Andre Fleury stole the first game of the series with 32 saves. Pittsburgh broke open a close game with two goals in the span of 30 seconds during the third period. They added an empty net goal to seal the victory. This no-name Pens squad shut down the top offensive talent of Tampa Bay, limiting Vincent Lecavalier, Steven Stamkos, and Martin St. Louis to a total of seven shots. We'll see if that defensive effort can continue throughout the series.

Pittsburgh leads series, 1-0

Washington Capitals 2, New York Rangers 1 OT: The most exciting game of the night happened to be the 1-8 seed matchup in the East (though I predicted this to be an extremely tight series). Matt Gilroy broke open the scoring early in the third period, giving the Rangers a 1-0 lead. But Ovechkin added a controversial goal that went to extended video review to tie the game for the Capitals, and sending the game into overtime. Alexander Semin claimed the game for Washington 18 minutes into overtime, and sending the top seed in the east to a huge one game lead. Henrik Lundqvist stopped 31 of 33 shots in the loss.

Washington leads series, 1-0

Tonight's matchups:

Montreal Canadiens @ Boston Bruins, 7 p.m. EDT, on Versus -- These two Original Six foes kick off a highly anticipated series, as Bruins goalie Tim Thomas looks to continue his record-setting pace from the regular season against a fast Montreal team.

Buffalo Sabres @ Philadelphia Flyers, 7:30 p.m. EDT -- The high-flying Sabres, led by Thomas Vanek, look to make a statement against a shorthanded and struggling Flyers team that will be without defensive captain Chris Pronger.

Los Angeles Kings @ San Jose Sharks, 10:30 p.m. EDT, on Versus -- The Kings are heavy underdogs in this series, but still boast a solid defense and stud goalie Jonathan Quick. They'll need both in prime form if they want to handle a scalding hot Sharks team looking to make some noise in the playoffs after years of disappointment.