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Stanley Cup Playoffs: Night 8

Last night, we officially entered Week 2 of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. One more series ended, one was pushed to the brink, and one will come back to the higher seed's home tied 2-2 after it left after Game 2 with the higher seed up, 2-2.

G4: Rangers 2, Capitals 1 (NYR leads 3-1)

The Caps found tough sledding on the offensive side after scoring four goals Monday night in Game 3. And the Rangers found just enough offense to take Game 4, earn a split in these two games at MSG, and take a 3-1 lead back to our nation's capital.

Goals from Paul Mara and Chris Drury gave Henrik Lundqvist all the offense he would need in this one.

It wasn't all dark clouds for the Caps. For the second straight game, Simeon Varlamov played pretty good in goal, save for his fumbling of the puck right before Chris Drury scored early in the second. The only other goal he gave up came on Mara's deflection of a Brandon Dubinsky shot from the point.

The problem is, that one mistake on Drury's goal was just a little too much considering the way Lundqvist played in goal. He was brilliant during a second period 5-on-3 power play for Washington and his play elicited chants of 'Henrik!' from the MSG faithful.

Alex Ovechkin finally scored his first goal of the series early in the third, but it wasn't enough. So now a Stanley Cup Finals pick of many is really up against it down 3-1 heading back home Friday night.

G4: Bruins 4, Canadiens 1 (BOS wins 4-0)

I'm going to assume by the highlights that this was a very entertaining game. Very wide open, which is what you'd expect when you have one team facing a sweep.

That is until Boston put the game away in the second with goals from Phil Kessel and Michael Ryder.

The game started well enough for the locals as Andrei Kostitsyn scored 39 seconds in to give the Habs a 1-0 lead. And they peppered Tim Thomas with 16 shots in the opening frame.

But Thomas is the model of poise for this team. Especially early in the second where for a 45 second stretch, it was end-to-end. First, Mike Komisarek was denied by Thomas a nice chance from the top of the right faceoff circle, then Josh Gorges got a wide open shot from the ladies tees that Thomas stopped, helping to spur a breakaway the other way by Kessel that Carey Price was able to stop.

In the series, Thomas only surrendered six goals and the Bruins won by at least two goals in every game.

That's dominance.

And it'll also allow the Bruins a few days off, though they may not have to wait long to find out who their second round opponent is. If the Rangers win their series as early as Friday, it'll be the Rangers, whom the Bruins haven't met in the playoffs since 1973.

G4: Flames 6, Blackhawks 4 (Series Tied 2-2)

Us Stars fans know just how this time of year can be quite the inducer of heart attacks. Old Blackhawk fans like me, already knew this based on the history of Chicago in the post season. And if you just became a Blackhawks fan recently, welcome to the club.

Quite simply, this was a game Chicago should have won for two reasons.

One, because their defense just wasn't up to the snuff we usually see from Joel Quenneville coached teams. It's not that Nikolai Khabibulin played bad. He just couldn't make the saves to let his defensemen off the hook. Especially Cam Barker, whose brain fart led directly to Olli Jokinen's goal 50 seconds into the second that gave Calgary a 2-1 lead.

A seeing eye Adrian Aucoin shot and another goal from Jokinen gave Calgary the same 4-1 lead they grabbed in the third period of Monday's game.

Or so it seemed.

The second reason the Hawks should have won is  because they had a ton of momentum going into the third after taking just over seven minutes in the second period to erase that three goal deficit.

First, Kris Versteeg scored on a broken play on the power play, then Barker atoned for his earlier screwup by scoring to cut the deficit to one. Then the Hawks got another power play late in the second and Sami Pahlsson scored to tie it.

But instead of roaring into the third period like gangbusters, Chicago played the third close to the vest, Calgary weathered that storm, and then Eric Nystrom roofed a rolling puck over Khabibulin to give Calgary the lead, again.

This time, they wouldn't relinquish the lead and Jarome Iginla salted this one away with an empty netter.

So now we're left with a best of three series going back to Chicago. The Hawks still have home ice advantage, but they do have to be kicking themselves a bit because they came to Calgary with a 2-0 lead.

But that's part of the learning process for an outfit that hasn't made the playoffs in six years. As tight as the first two games were, we shouldn't be surprised that Calgary was able to lean on their playoff experience and tie this series.

Both teams will take the next two nights off before resuming the series at the United Center Saturday night. And that's probably a good thing considering how tight this series is.

Best to stop, take a breath, and then go back at it in three days.