The 2019-20 NHL season was one unlike anything the sport has ever seen. The league was forced to put its season on pause in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic and didn’t return until August.
The Tampa Bay Lightning only lost four games throughout the entire postseason on their way to their second Stanley Cup title in franchise history in the NHL bubbles in Canada. Tampa Bay defeated the Dallas Stars in six games with Lightning star defenseman Victor Hedman winning the Conn Smythe Trophy for Stanley Cup Finals MVP.
On Wednesday, the league returned to play and it offered a very entertaining five-game slate.
The action got started with a Pennsylvania battle in which the Philadelphia Flyers defeated the Pittsburgh Penguins 6-3. The Flyers got production from up and down their roster, but winger Joel Farabee was the story in this one. Farabee recorded four points (a goal & three assists) and assisted on the team’s two power play goals.
One of the most impressive stories of the night proved to be the defending Stanley Cup champion Tampa Bay Lightning. The Lightning looked absolutely dominant against the Chicago Blackhawks as they came away with a 5-1 win. Tampa Bay jumped all over Chicago in the opening period with goals from Ondrej Palat, Mathieu Joseph, and Anthony Cirelli. It also didn’t hurt that goalie Andrei Vasilevskiy was a brick wall in net as he stopped 22 shots on the night.
The Toronto Maple Leafs were also in action as they took on the Montreal Canadiens and were looking to put last season’s early postseason exit behind them. Montreal was certainly impressive out of the gate and jumped out to a 3-1 lead in the second period. However, the Maple Leafs did rebound to score four of the game’s final five goals including Morgan Reilly’s overtime winner in the 5-4 victory. John Tavares and William Nylander each recorded three points apiece to pace Toronto.
In another matchup north of the border, the Vancouver Canucks were looking to build off their playoff run in 2020 after missing the postseason in the previous four campaigns. The Edmonton Oilers found themselves playing catch-up against the Canucks throughout the night. Every time the Oilers would tie the game, the Canucks would score and regain the lead. Winger Brock Boeser recorded a pair of goals to lead the way for a Vancouver team that began its season with a 5-3 win.
To cap off the evening, two of the most talented teams in the Western Conference did battle as the Colorado Avalanche hosted the St. Louis Blues. The Avalanche showcased their lethal offense early on with Andre Burakovsky scoring on a one-timer just five minutes into the game. However, the Blues answered with three consecutive goals from the likes of Oskar Sundqvist (two goals), Jordan Kyrou, and Kyle Clifford and St. Louis earned a 4-1 win. Goalie Jordan Binnington turned away 26 shots to slow down Colorado’s offensive attack.