What a nice night of hockey that was. We had a sweep, a couple of shutouts, the top seed in all the league get pushed to the brink.
And even a first intermission earthquake.
G5: Flyers 3, Penguins 0 (PIT leads 3-2)
As far as I'm concerned, this game was decided in the first 20 minutes. Granted, it was a scoreless 20 minutes, but the Penguins came out flying, despite what some zoological experts will tell you about these waddlng little birds.
Seriously, Marty Biron played great throughout in earning the shutout. But he was tested the most in the first period, but turned away all 15 shots he faced, including Evgeni Malkin from point blank range on the power play with just over four minutes left in the frame.
The only puck that got by him was a negated goal because Malkin blatantly kicked the puck under Biron's arm and into the net with 11:35 left in the second. It would have tied the game at 1-1had Malkin been able to get his stick on it.
Before that negated goal, Arron Asham had put the Flyers up 1-0 with a slapper from the point. Claude Giroux scored later in the frame and then Mike Knuble put things away on an odd man rush in the third.
Biron did the rest, and the series is coming back to the City of Brotherly Shove on Saturday. I still think Pittsburgh has control of this series and wouldn't be surprised to see them close this out in six games.
G5: Devils 1, Hurricanes 0 (NJ leads 3-2)
The last time we saw Marty Brodeur, he was destroying his goal stick. It must have been a bad goal stick because the one he used to replace that one repelled many a Cane shot.
And when he lost his stick after colliding with a tripped up Chad LaRose, he even made a diving glove stop getting back into the net. All in all, Brodeur backstopped the Devils to a 1-0 shutout over Carolina. His play prompted Greg Wyshynksi to tweet:
Brodeur should go insane more often.
I can't argue with that.
The lone goal scored was setup by a John Madden screen on Cam Ward. And when David Clarkson found some space between Ward's glove and the left post, he didn't miss.
Marty did the rest, so they'll go back to Raleigh with a chance to advance to the second round.
G4: Red Wings 6, Blue Jackets 5 (DET wins 4-0)
Steve Mason may very well win the Calder.
But he saw first hand just how much he and his defensemen need to elevate their games to hold the very talented Red Wings in check come playoff time.
When you combine a Red Wings' offense, the playoffs, and a rookie goaltender, you sometimes give up goals like the kind he gave up on Detroit's third goal of the game when a seemingly innocent play turned into a goal because Mason didn't get over to cover the right post.
As it was, Daniel Cleary was Johnny on the Spot and banked the puck off Mason's right skate and into the net. As for the other five goals, let's just say the Columbus defense was overwhelmed by the Red Wings.
Throughout it all, though, the very game Jackets did a great job of continually coming back in this game. On two separate occasions, the Wings had a two goal lead. And on each occasion, Columbus came back to the game in part because Chris Osgood was a sieve in this one.
That might be one area of concern for Detroit when they do begin second round play in about a week. But getting back to the game, we're at 5-5 right now going into the third, right?
OK, well, the third period was played fairly tentatively by both teams. To be expected when a combined 10 goals are scored in the first 40 minutes. And one that worked out for the Blue Jackets until Fredrik Modin hopped off the bench and played the puck before Jake Voracek got to the bench. A transgression that was immediately spotted by one of the linesmen and gave Detroit a late penalty.
Hitch didn't like the call.
"By the rulebook, it’s probably the right call. By the circumstances of the game, I didn’t like the call. … Unless it’s obvious, let’s play," said Hitchcock, who said the third period had been loosely called to that point.
Now I generally like Hitch. Like other Stars fans, I have fond memories of him when he was coaching the Stars way back when.
But I've seen enough hockey to know that when one player jumps off the ice and immediately plays the puck before the guy he's replacing is still several feet away from the bench, that call's going to get made 98% of the time.
And of course, Detroit made them pay when Johan Franzen banged home a rebound to the right of Mason to give the Red Wings a 6-5 lead with 46.6 seconds left in regulation to give Detroit the win and the series sweep.
G4: Ducks 4, Sharks 0 (ANA leads 3-1)
A good ol' Southern California earthquake rocked Orange County before and during last night's game. Then Bobby Ryan broke a piece of glass between the benches causing a lengthy delay.
Ahem...OK, now that I've got today's bad joke out of the way, I said that San Jose's power play would be the lynchpin to this series.
Well, you've got to get power play chances before you can cash in on them. And last night, the Sharks were only able to draw two non-coincidental penalties from the Ducks with one of those chances coming in the first and the other in the second after Ryan scored his second goal of the game to put Anaheim up 2-0.
Why is that?
Well, I have one theory.
San Jose went .500 in the faceoff dot. For a team that relies so much on puck possession, they've got to be able to win more draws in order to put more pressure on their opponents to either score goals, or force the opposition to take more penalties.
They didn't, Ryan scored his two goals in the middle frame, Corey Perry adds another on a tip in in the third, and Drew Miller puts it away with an empty netter.
That'll Cheech You is blaming Evgeni Nabakov for letting in what he terms soft goals, but I'm not so sure that's fair.
For one, you can't allow a talented player like Ryan to sache his way through the slot like that with so little resistance from the defense. The second Ryan goal came on a broken play where the defense, once again, did a horrible job of defending the slot.
San Jose's lucky it wasn't 3-0 after two because they allowed Teemu Selanne a lane to the net on his backhand that Nabakov was able to stop.
And the third goal...well, that was just a nice deflection by Perry. Not much you can really do there. Though he was a little too deep in his net.
As to what the answer is for San Jose, they've got to get back to the game plan that helped them dominate the game territorially in Games 1 and 2. Then they have to turn that domination into goals. It's the same old playoff story for them.
Not enough scoring.
As for Anaheim, just keep doing what you're doing. Even in Game 3's loss, you scored goals and you had to know you weren't going to keep San Jose's potent power play down for long.