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Stanley Cup Playoffs: Friday night fireworks

To be honest, I haven't had as much time as I want this year to watch playoff hockey so I was pretty stoked to be able and sit down to watch both games last night. Of course, during the third period of both games, a drunk driver took out some trees and a power transformer on my street leaving me without electricity for 12 hours or so. You don't realize just how dark it is at night until you only have a few candles. But I digress.

One series was evened up and another saw the underdog take a commanding 3-1 series lead.

Yet the big story of the night is the devastating hit laid out by NHL superstar Alex Ovechkin. He has his share of fans and detractors and this latest incident will only divide them further.

Oh yeah, and Jussi Jokinen nets another game-winning goal.

G4: Capitals 3, Penguins 5 (Series tied 2-2)

Simeon Varlamov had his worst game of the playoffs, allowing three very soft goals. He seemed shaky, unsure of himself and a bit fatigued so it will be interesting to see what happens with the goaltender moving forward.

There's no doubt that Varlamov has propelled the Capitals in the playoffs and was the key factor in their comeback in the series against New York. They need him to be at his very best and last night he wasn't.

But if Alex Ovechkin doesn't do more than generate two shots on net, it doesn't matter how well Varlamov plays. The NHL's superstar started off strong but played tentatively after his big hit on Sergei Gonchar in the first period.

Ovechkin and Gonchar were both going for the puck in the corner when Ovechkin decided to lay the big hit on the Pittsburgh defensemen. Gonchar tried to sidestep the hit and the two players collided knee on knee.

Gonchar never returned to the game.

Now some would argue that Ovechkin purposefully kicked his leg out to catch Gonchar, but when I watch it I just see one player trying to avoid a big hit and another trying to give one. Ovi may have kicked a bit, but I could see that as him trying to adjust to a moving player.

Whatever happened, Gonchar didn't return and Ovechkin wasn't the same. He expressed remorse for the hit afterwards.

"I wanted to hit him, but I didn't want to hurt him, especially knee-on-knee," said Ovechkin, who received a two-minute minor for tripping. "I think it's a dirty hit and it's not my play. If I hit a guy, I hit clean."

Ovechkin isn't sure if the League will take a look at the hit and issue a fine or suspension. But considering how somber he was during his post-game press conference he clearly felt a lot of remorse for injuring Gonchar, someone he respects.

"I didn't have time to realize what was going on," Ovechkin said. "It was an accident. I'm not the kind of player that wants to injure guys like this. I know Gonch, and I wouldn't hit him like this."

All around, it was a poor game by the Caps. The officials also had a poor showing with several blown calls throughout the night. J.P. at Japers' Rink had this to say:

Considering that Milan Jurcina's shorthanded goal came after Matt Bradley interfered with Kris Letang and as Brads interfered with Brooks Orpik and that AO only got those two minutes for his hit on Gonchar and that the Caps got away with slashing the stick out of Pens' hands (flippers?) at least twice (not that the calls were all going the Caps' way, of course), I'd like to think that we've heard the last griping about the officiating. But I doubt it.

Game five is today, 6:00p in Washington.


G4: Bruins 1, Hurricanes 4 (Canes lead 3-1)

The 'Canes dominated the first period and led 1-0 until Boston tied it up early in the second. Boston fought hard in the middle frame but couldn't get another past Cam Ward, who was once again terrific against the #1 ranked Bruins.

Tied at one, the Hurricanes exploded for three goals and walked away with an overall dominating win.

Once again, Jussi Jokinen was the player of the game with a goal and two assists. His power play goal early in the third would turn out to be the game-winner.

While some Stars fans may be pissed that all of a sudden he's stepping up in the playoffs, I'm proud to see him become so loved in Carolina. Bubba over a Canes Country sums up Jussi's postseason:

It's almost like divine intervention is at work regarding some of Jokinen's goals.  He's in the perfect spot at the perfect time and to his credit, has been able to take advantage of his chances.   After the game, the red hot player said that he was not finished yet.  The team's goal is to win the Cup and they still have a long way to go to.   He also had two assists in the third period and was named the game's number one star.    

After his goal, the crowd had a nice chant of "U..C......U..C.." going.  (The closest English pronunciation of his first name, Jussi)

Game five is tomorrow night in Boston.