PONTIFICATING FROM THE SUNSHINE STATE – AUGUST 11
By Leo Haggerty

THE CUP CHASE BEGINS

If you didn’t have a rooting interest in the outcome, the opening game of the National Hockey League’s Stanley Cup playoffs was one for the ages.  To say it was just what the doctor ordered for drawing interest to pro hockey’s second season is a gross understatement.

The Tampa Bay Lightning beat the Columbus Blue Jackets 3-2 in overtime in the first game of their best-of-seven series. Other than this series is a rematch of last season’s Columbus four-game sweep of Tampa Bay, what else is there to talk about, right?

Well, let me give you the particulars.  Bolts F Brayden Point found the back of the net 90:27 into extra time.  Yes, you read that right.  The game that started right around lunch time at 3 pm didn’t finish until midway through the 5th overtime and that was just before bedtime.

Obviously, there were some records set in the fourth-longest game in NHL history.  The one that will get your attention the most is that Columbus G Joonas Korpisalo made 85 saves.  The eclipses the 73 shots turned away by Islanders netminder Kelly Hrudey in a four-overtime win over the Capitals in1987.

Another Blue Jackets accomplishment was turned in by their front-line defensive tandem.  Seth Jones logged 65:06 of ice time.  That’s the most by a skater since that statistic was officially kept by the NHL beginning with the 1997-98 campaign.

His defensive partner, Zach Werenski, was on the ice for 61:14.  That’s the fourth-longest in history and I would bet the mortgage that those two individuals wil have no problem getting to sleep later tonight.

Lightning G Andrei Vasilevskiy wasn’t a slouch in this tilt either.  #88 made 61 saves and that’s a Tampa Bay record.  The Bolts also set the mark for shots on goal by one team at 88.  Yeah, double snowmen.  Amazing, right?

Also, team marks were set today as well.  The Blue Jackets and the Lightning totaled 151 shots on goal and that easily raised the bar that was at 132.  It was also the longest opening game of any Stanley Cup playoff contest.

Both teams, who may still feel the effects of the 150:27 opening tilt, will lace them up again at 3 pm.  To expect anything close to what transpired today would be unrealistic but one never knows what will happen when Lord Stanley’s hardware is on the line.

Stranger things have happened when teams are playing for the Cup.  It will definitely be “must see” TV.