The NHL’s Stanley Cup Playoffs begin tonight. Zach Sanford (St. Louis Blues at Winnipeg Jets), Craig Smith (Nashville Predators vs. Dallas Stars), and Joe Pavelski (San Jose Sharks vs. Vegas Golden Knights) are all expected to be on the ice for Game One in their respective series.
Here are five playoff games to remember, each one a special night for a former Waterloo Black Hawk.
May 7, 2013
In a lockout-shortened season, the Stanley Cup playoffs were running behind, but Joe Pavelski’s Sharks were ahead of schedule. Sixth-seeded San Jose had won the first three games in an opening round series against the third-seeded Vancouver Canucks. Pavelski made sure that the Sharks would advance in front of the home crowd at HP Pavilion. With just over five minutes remaining in the first period of Game Four, he broke a 1-1 tie with a power play goal. However, the Canucks swung ahead with two goals in less than two minutes in the middle of the third. Pavelski’s second power play goal of the game with 4:27 left in regulation re-tied the contest, providing the opportunity for Patrick Marleau to deliver the series-clinching score in overtime.
April 10, 2004
Jason Blake had never scored a playoff goal going into Game Two of the New York Islanders’ series against the Tampa Bay Lightning. The Islanders were the #8 seed in the playoffs and had been shutout 3-0 in Game One, two nights earlier. New York took a 1-0 lead in the first period, and the score remained unchanged until 3:36 of the third. Coming off a sprained ankle which had kept him off the ice for two weeks, Blake squeezed a shot from the right circle inside the post, providing a valuable insurance goal. He added an empty-netter in the final minute to set the final score at 3-0. The Lightning won the next three games in the series to eliminate Blake’s Islanders. Tampa Bay would ultimately sweep their next series before claiming the Conference and Stanley Cup Finals in seven games each.
April 17, 2015
Even though the Chicago Blackhawks had a less favorable seed, their playoff history against Nashville suggested that the Predators would be in for a challenge. Chicago won the first game at Bridgestone Arena in double overtime, making Game Two vital for Nashville. The Preds responded with a six-goal Game Two outburst to even the series. However, the count only 2-2 when Smith scored the go-ahead goal at 14:54 of the second period. Nashville would add three more in the third, including a second goal from Smith with 5:32 to go. Unfortunately, the damage had been done with the Game One loss; after stealing home ice advantage, the Blackhawks won three games at the United Center to advance from the series, ultimately winning the Stanley Cup.
May 2, 2010
Joe Pavelski has played in more NHL playoff games than any other former Waterloo Black Hawk, but San Jose’s playoff run in 2010 made him a household name for hockey fans all over North America. After appearing for the United States in the Olympics earlier that winter, Pavelski went on a tear in the postseason. Entering Game Two of a Conference Semifinal series against the Detroit Red Wings, he had already stacked up six goals and three assists in just the four prior Sharks games. Pavelski added two more goals, plus an assist in this contest. Both times he scored, it brought San Jose back from a deficit and into a tie. Joe Thornton delivered the game-winner for a 4-3 final just past the midpoint of the third. The Sharks eventually moved on to the Western Conference Finals.
June 4, 2009
Mark Eaton spent a nervous two minutes in the penalty box for tripping early in the third period. The previous year, Eaton had not been in the lineup for any of the Pittsburgh Penguins’ postseason games, a run which ultimately ended with a Finals loss to the Detroit Red Wings. Now a year later, the same clubs were matched up again and playing a seventh and decisive game. Eaton’s teammates killed off the Detroit power play to preserve a 2-0 lead, but Detroit closed to within 2-1 with just over six minutes to go. The game went to the wire, with a lunging save by Marc-Andre Fluery just moments before time expired. As the clock ran to :00, Eaton and his teammates mobbed the Penguins’ net-minder. To this day, Eaton remains the only former Waterloo Black Hawk to raise the Stanley Cup.
Photo provided by the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Visit Karen’s Print Rite at 2515 Falls Avenue in Waterloo or online at karensprintrite.com.