Nationals make more history in D.C.
The Nationals were down 3-1 entering the bottom of the eighth, but Bryce Harper hit a 2-run homer off Carl Edwards, Jr., and after Anthony Rendon walked and Mike Montgomery came into pitch, Daniel Murphy singled. Then came the coda: Ryan Zimmerman launched a three-run homer into the night, sending a roar through the nation’s capital. The game would end the next inning with that 6-3 score in the Nationals’ favor. It was the first game in postseason history that a team won in its last time up on separate game-tying and game-winning home runs.
Zimm is Mr. Eighth Inn
During the regular season, Ryan Zimmerman hit nine homers in the eighth inning, which was tied with Cody Bellinger for the most in the majors. Three of Zimmerman’s eighth-inning homers broke a tie, as was also the case against the Cubs on Saturday. One of those was a three-run shot on June 4 off Ryan Madson, then pitching with the A’s, but now Zim’s teammate on the Nationals.
Its home run or bust in D.C.
Besides the aforementioned Harper game-tying two-run homer and Zimmerman game-winning three-run homer, all of the other runs in the Cubs-Nationals game were scored via the longball. Anthony Rendon and Willson Contreras led off the scoring with solo shots and Anthony Rizzo hit a two-run shot in the fourth inning that gave the Cubs a 3-1 lead until the bottom of the eighth. The nine runs, all via homer, tied the most runs scored in a postseason game in which every run came on a home run. The Yankees won game seven of the 1956 World Series 9-0 in Brooklyn against the Dodgers, with all runs scoring on homers. That World Series is best remembered for Don Larsen’s perfect game (in game five), but in the decisive game, Yogi Berra opened the scoring with a pair of two-run homers, Elston Howard added a solo shot to chase starter Don Newcombe and Bill Skowron finished the scoring with a grand slam off Roger Craig. Johnny Kucks pitched a three-hit shutout in his only World Series start.
Rizzo stays hot with RISP
Anthony Rizzo’s homer came after a Kris Bryant double. Rizzo went 2-for-2 with runners in scoring position in game one of the series and he is now 3-for-3 with runners in scoring position in this postseason. He is the third Cubs player to start a postseason with hits in his first three at-bats with runners in scoring position, joining Mark Grace in 1989 and Willson Contreras in 2016.
Ray is a wild child in L.A.
Robbie Ray was wild in Los Angeles: he threw three wild pitches, walked four batters, and hit one with a pitch in 4⅓ innings of work. Ray took a loss as Arizona fell to the Dodgers 8-5 and now trail the series two games to none. The three wild pitches are tied with four other pitchers for the second-most in a postseason game. Rick Ankiel has the record for the most: he threw five wild pitches for the Cardinals against the Braves in game one of the 2000 NLDS. The most recent to throw three wild pitches in a game was the Brewers’ Yovani Gallardo, at St. Louis in game three of the 2011 NLCS. Ray became the first pitcher in postseason history to hit a batter and throw three wild pitches in fewer than five innings of work.
No righties allowed
With Gio Gonzalez and Jon Lester facing off in Washington and Rich Hill and Robbie Ray in Los Angeles, Saturday was the fifth date in major-league postseason history in which there were at least two games, featuring an all-lefty starting pitching docket. The last time it happened was on October 13, 1985, in game four of the NLCS, where John Tudor and the Cardinals defeated Jerry Reuss and the Dodgers 12-2 in St. Louis, and game five of the ALCS, where Danny Jackson and the Royals defeated Jimmy Key and the Blue Jays 2-0 in Kansas City.
Devils “Butcher” Avalanche
Defenseman Will Butcher, making his NHL debut, assisted on three goals as the Devils opened their season with a 4–1 win against the Avalanche. Butcher is the first player in Devils franchise history (including the Scouts and Rockies) to make his NHL debut with the club and produced as many as three points in his first game. He’s the first defenseman to record at least three points in his first NHL game since Jarno Kultanen did that with three assists for the Bruins versus the Senators on Oct. 5, 2000.
Ovechkin produces hat trick in two straight periods
Alex Ovechkin, who scored three goals in the Capitals’ season opener (all in the third period), scored four times in Washington’s second game, a 6–1 win over the Canadiens, with three his goals coming in the first period and one in the second. This is the first time that an NHL player has produced a hat trick in each of his team’s first two games of a season since 1917–18, the league’s inaugural campaign, when Cy Denneny (Ottawa), Joe Malone (Canadiens) and Reg Noble (Toronto) all did so. Ovechkin is the third player in NHL history to score at least seven goals in his team’s first two games of a season, with Malone and Noble each having scored eight goals in their respective teams’ first two games in 1917–18.
Ovechkin is the third player in NHL history to score three goals in one period in each of two consecutive games at any point in a season. The other players to do that were the Sabres’ Rick Martin in 1975 (Oct. 19–22, both in the first period) and the Maple Leafs’ Darryl Sittler in 1980 (March 2–5, both in the third period). The only players before Ovechkin to score three goals or more in each of two consecutive periods of an NHL season both did so within one game: Joe Malone (Quebec Bulldogs, Jan. 31, 1920, second and third periods) and Sittler (Maple Leafs, Feb. 7, 1976, second and third periods).
Neal helps keep Golden Knights golden
James Neal scored both goals for the Golden Knights when they made their NHL debut with a 2–1 win at Dallas on Friday, and he scored the overtime goal, which earned Vegas a 2–1 victory against the Coyotes in Arizona on Saturday. Neal is the first player ever to score the winning goal for a team in each of the first two regular-season games in franchise history. That includes all the defunct franchises, so-called “Original Six” clubs and expansion franchises in the NHL’s 100-year history.
Toews and Kane punish Blue Jackets
Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane each scored a goal for the Blackhawks in their 5–1 win over the Blue Jackets on Saturday. Toews has scored 17 goals in his career against the Blue Jackets and Kane has tallied 16 times against them. Since Toews and Kane entered the NHL together in October 2007, the only other players who have scored at least 16 goals against Columbus are Patrick Sharp (22) and David Backes (17).
Points o’ plenty for Pietrangelo
Alex Pietrangelo tallied two assists for the Blues’ in their 4–2 win over the Stars on Saturday, after scoring two goals, including the overtime winner, when St. Louis opened its season with a victory at Pittsburgh on Wednesday. Pietrangelo is the fourth defenseman in Blues history to produce at least two points in each of the team’s first two games of a season. The others are Jeff Brown in 1993–94 (first three games), Al MacInnis in 1998–99 and Kevin Shattenkirk in 2013–14.
Four shorties in Isles win over Sabres
The Islanders notched their first win of the season with a 6–3 victory over the Sabres, a game which featured four shorthanded goals, two by each team and all in the second period. With Scott Mayfield’s roughing penalty forcing the Islanders to play down a man, John Tavares and Casey Cizikas scored shorthanded goals 50 seconds apart to give the Islanders a 3–0 lead. But later in the period Buffalo’s Evander Kane scored a pair of shorthanded goals which cut a 4–0 Islanders lead in half. This was the first NHL game in which four shorthanded goals were scored since Nov. 18, 2000, when Ottawa (3) and Florida (1) did so in a game the Senators won by a 5–2 score. Before Saturday, the last time each team scored two shorthanded goals in one game, and the last time there were four shorthanded goals in one period of an NHL game, was when the Stars played the Avalanche on Dec. 3, 1995. Each team scored two shorthanded goals in the second period of a game the Stars won, 7–6.
Murray shuts out Predators
Penguins goaltender Matt Murray notched his first shutout of the season with a 4–0 win against the Predators on Saturday. Murray led all NHL rookie netminders with four shutouts last season and he notched three more in the playoffs as Pittsburgh won its second consecutive Stanley Cup. Murray was the fifth rookie goaltender in NHL history to register at least three shutouts in one playoff year. The others were Toronto’s Frank McCool in 1945 (four), Boston’s Tiny Thompson in 1929 (three), Montreal’s Steve Penney in 1984 (three) and Anaheim’s Ilya Bryzgalov in 2006 (three).
Rookie Frk looking good for Red Wings
Rookie Martin Frk scored the only goal for the Red Wings in their shootout win at Ottawa on Saturday, after scoring a goal in Detroit’s season-opening victory against Minnesota on Thursday. Frk is the fourth rookie in Red Wings franchise history to score a goal in each of the team’s first two games of a season. The other Detroit rookies to do that were Jud McAtee in 1944–45, Max McNab in 1948–49 and Tom McCarthy in 1957–58.
Aho’s third period points help Hurricanes
Sebastian Aho tallied two points with a pair of third-period assists for the Hurricanes in their season-opening 5–4 shootout win against the Wild. Aho racked up 19 third-period points as a rookie for Carolina last season (nine goals, ten assists), which ranked him second in that category among the 2016–17 rookie class, behind Winnipeg’s Patrik Laine, who produced 28 third-period points (12 goals, 16 assists).
Panthers notch unlikely late win
The Panthers earned a split of their season-opening home-and-home series against the Lightning with a 5–4 win in Sunrise on Saturday, after the Bolts won in Tampa on Friday. Florida trailed, 3–2, at the end of the second period of Saturday’s game but the Panthers outscored the Lightning, 3–1, in the third period to pick up their first win this season. The Panthers won only one game last season in which they trailed heading into the third period and they required an overtime goal to get that victory (Nov. 12 against the Islanders). This was the first regulation win for the Panthers in a game in which they trailed at the end of the second period since a 4–3 victory over the Canadiens on April 2, 2016.
Toronto keeps scoring and scoring and scoring
The Maple Leafs, who won, 7–2, in their season opener at Winnipeg on Wednesday, made it two wins in two games with an 8–5 victory against the Rangers in Toronto on Saturday. The only other time Toronto scored at least seven goals in each of its first two games of a season was in 1917–18, the NHL’s inaugural season, when the team then known as the Arenas scored at least seven times in each of its first three games (a 10–9 loss to the Montreal Wanderers, 11–4 win versus Ottawa and 7–5 win against the Canadiens). The last NHL team before the 2017–18 Leafs to score seven goals or more in each of its first two games of a season was the Penguins in 1990 –91 (7–4 wins at Washington and at home against New Jersey).
Kings end long drought
The Kings improved to 2-0 with a 4-1 victory in San Jose. It is the first season that the Kings started 2-0 since 2002, which was by far the longest drought for current franchises without a 2-0 start. That distinction now belong to the Flames, who have not started 2-0 since 2009.