Games 1 and 2 are in the books for each series and they did not disappoint. My girlfriend (who knows nothing about sports) asked me, “Do they always have overtime?” and I replied, “No, but this is why playoff hockey is the best.” Every day has had an overtime game, with 6 total OT games out of the 16 total played. Overtime in the playoffs is such a great display of the heart these players have. Watching these guys in OT, at the end of a long 3-minuet shift, blocking shots and still finishing hits is what the playoffs are all about. Lets get to it…
Montreal Canadians vs New York Rangers
Game 1: The series started off with big hits and great goal tending. Price and Lundqvist were outstanding. Tanner Glass had the best shot of his career with the first goal of the series. It was a lose puck off of a face off and he just back handed it towards the net and it went bar-down. Lucky bastard. Lundqvist looked like himself posting his 10th career playoff shutout.
Game 2: This was a great game, unless your a Rangers fan. Montreal got on the board 5 minuets in with a snipe from Jeff Petry after Lunqvist broke his stick. Michael Grabner tied it up 10 minuets later with an incredible goal. Fake shot to a backhand, deadly. A little more than a minuet later, Montreal answers with a great heads up pass from behind the net to an open Paul Byron. The Rangers took the lead in the 2nd period with a top corner snipe from Nash and goal off a rebound from Zucc. The 3rd period was back and forth the entire time. Montreal pulled the goalie and with 17 seconds left, they sneak one in off a Rangers defender. A veteran Plekanec threw it towards the net with little time and got the bounce he was hoping for. After playing into the last minuet of overtime, Montreal’s Radulov was able to out muscle Zibanejad and push it past Lundqvist for the Game 2 win.
Series: 1-1. Game 3 is back in Madison Square Garden 7pm on Easter on NBCSN.
Boston Bruins vs. Ottawa Senators
Game 1: This game started off with both teams getting great scoring chances early, on breakaways, but the goal tending answered. The first goal was scored by Bobby Ryan on a great play attacking the net and following his rebound. The Bruins answered early in the 3rd with a great shot from Vatrano in the slot. With 2 minuets left in the 3rd, MVP candidate Brad Marchand was able to put a rebound past Anderson to get the Bruins past the Sens in game 1.
Game 2: The theme of great goal tending and defense continued into the 2nd period of game 2. It was 0-0 until 10 minuets into the 2nd when Drew Stafford took an one-timer off a deflected pass. About a minuet later, the Sens answered on the power play with a great passing play. Derek Brassard from the boards to Bobby Ryan under the net to MacArthur in the slot all off one-touch passes. A bone-headed play from the Senators goalie led to the Bruins cleaning up a loose puck short-handed to make it 2-1. A few minuets later on the power play, Patrice Bergeron of the Bruins snipes one past Anderson to put the B’s up 3-1 going into the 3rd. 5 minuets into the 3rd the Sens answer with a snipe from the point. 2 minuets later, Karlsson showed why he is an elite defender slicing up the B’s defense and opening up Derrick Brassard for a wide open one-timer to tie it up and send it to OT. Shortly after a power play in OT, Phaneuf of the Sens is able to sneak a shot from the point past Rask to even the series.
Series: 1-1. Game 3 back in Boston on 4/17 at 7pm.
Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Columbus Blue Jackets
Game 1: During warm ups, goaltender Murray for the Pens hurt himself. This was a scary start for the Pens. Once the game started, the Penguins picked up right where they left off after winning the Cup last year beating the Blue Jackets 3-1. They scored 3 goals in the 2nd period taking advantage of Columbus being the youngest team in the NHL. Kessel had a great playoffs last year and continued in game 1, making a great soccer-like pass off his skate to set up Rust for the first goal of the series. Kessel followed that up with a power play goal, showing patience before sniping it bask Bobrovski. Late in the 2nd, Bonino snuck a rebound past Bobrovski to put them up 3-0. Pain in the ass Matt Calvert got a garbage time goal in the 3rd to make the final 3-1.
Game 2: The Pens followed their dominate performance in game 1 with another in game 2. Crosby started the scoring off in the 1st after an incredible display of skill from the Pens. From behind the net Sheary made a great no look, behind the back pass to Guentzel who trapped off his skate then a quick one-touch pass to Crosby who buried in the back of the net. Brandon Saad answered in the 2nd with a snipe past Fluery. Then the Pens took over scoring 3 unanswered goals. The Pens are very skilled and very experienced which is trouble for the young Blue Jackets being obvious in games 1 & 2.
Series: 2-0 Pens. Game 3 is in Columbus on Easter at 6pm
Washington Capitals vs. Toronto Maple Leafs
Game 1: A typical start for the Caps in the playoffs led the Leafs to an early lead. A diving shot from Marner after a scrum behind the net put them up 1-0. Soon after, Gardiner dangled in the slot to burn one by Holtby putting them up 2-0. The Caps fans were very uneasy until they got a 5 on 3 advantage, when Williams was able to finesse one past Anderson after a pass from Oshie. Williams added on with his 2nd goal of the game during the 2nd period after Niskanen ripped one on net and Anderson could not locate it. Williams was there to push it in. Unlikey hero, Tom Wilson had the best shot of his career in OT to win it. After a failed clear, Wilson ripped one top right to beat Anderson for the win.
Game 2: Another playoff game, another slow start for the Caps. The Leafs took an early lead on a JVR goal from the slot off of a loose puck. The Caps answered early in the 2nd with a power play goal from Ovechkin. He got open in the slot and ripped a wrist shot past Anderson to tie it up. The Caps scored again later in the period with a John Carlson blast from the point. Then, Toronto took over. Kasperi Kapanen displayed a great deal of skill to tie it back up. He got a pass from behind the net with his back to the goal, turned and backhanded it through Holtby’s five-hole. In the last minuet of the 2nd, Toronto on the power play took the lead back. Reiley from the point shot one towards the net and a good screen by JVR allowed the puck to sneak by. Midway through the 3rd, the Caps tied the game on a heads up play by Backstrom to pick up a deflected puck around the net and buried it. The first OT was back and forth with both teams trading chances. Ovechkin had a breakaway and was stopped. Nobody scored and a 2nd OT was necessary. Halfway through the 2nd OT, the Caps hit the post. Shorty after, the Leafs ended it with another goal from Kapanen. Credit is due to the veteran Boyle (who was picked up at the trade deadline) for a unbelievable no look, behind the back pass from behind the net to a wide open Kapanen.
Series: 1-1. Next game is in Toronto on 4/17 at 7pm.
Minnesota Wild vs. St. Louis Blues
Game 1: This game was dominated by good defense and goal tending until Vladimir Sloboka snuck one past Dubnyk in the 2nd. Dubnyk definitely wishes he had that one back, could have been stopped. Minnesota had a few chances shortly after to tie, but could not capitalize. Towards the end of the 2nd period, a scrum around the net led a puck to trickle past STL goalie Allen. However, the Minnesota players (Parise) crashing the net to finish ended up knocking the puck away. Brutal. However, that hockey-player determination on display at the end of the game when Zach Parise redeemed himself and tied it up with 23 seconds left. A pass from the point led to a incredibly finessed pass from Koivu in front to a wide open Parise next to the net who put it in. What a play. The game went to OT where it got chippy after the whistle. Charlie Coyle of Minnesota had a great chance in front, but a stick failure prevented the game winner from going in. Shortly after, Tarasenko showed why he is one of the best in the NHL. He took the the defender (Koivu) on to the side, bodied him up and put the puck through his legs then finessed a perfect pass to Edmundson who buried it away for the Game 1 winner. What a finish.
Game 2: A very similar game in game 2 like game 1. Defense dominated the first half of the game until Edmundson blasted one by Dubnyk on a delayed penalty call. Late in the 2nd period, Minnesota had a 5-3 advantage and was able to capitalize. Zach Parise was able to clean up a lost puck in front and put it past Allen. Minnesota had a few golden scoring chances in the 3rd period, but could not capitalize. STL defenders were just quick enough to prevent a few goals. With 2 minuets left in the game, Jaden Schwartz got open in the slot and was able to utilize the Perron screen in front of Dubnyk to rip one past Allen. Minnesota was on the assault with 10 seconds left and ended up scoring, however it was after the final buzzer by a few seconds. What a finish.
Series: 2-0 STL. Headed to STL now for game 3 at 3:00 on Easter.
San Jose Sharks vs. Edmonton Oilers
Game 1: The first playoff game in Edmonton in a while produced a great game. Edmonton jumped out to a quick 2-0 lead in the 1st period. Klefbom started the scoring with a quick wrister past SJ goalie Jones. 10 minuets later, the Oilers got their 2-0 lead with a power play goal from Milan Lucic. He got the puck off of a rebound then attacked the net allowing him to get a good shot off and beat Jones. The veteran Sharks were able to answer in the 2nd and 3rd. On the power play, Joel Ward was able to score off of a great pass around the net from Donskoi to make it 2-1. While 4-4 in the 3rd period, Tomas Hertl was able to muscle his way from behind the net in front to get a shot off. Paul Martin was there to bury the rebound to tie it up. Heading into overtime, the Sharks came out firing. A nice stretch pass from Pavelski to Karlsson allowed him to get open and rip one past Talbot for the game winner.
Game 2: A different Oilers team showed up in Game 2, playing faster and more physical. Zach Kassian is now a fan favorite after his great performance in this game. He started it off with a massive hit on a SJ defender to get the crowd into it. In the 2nd period, he got his first goal of the playoffs off a stretch pass from Letestu that lead to a breakaway. Kassian ripped it past Jones. Good neutral zone play by both teams kept the scoring low. Until the 3rd when NHL points leader McDavid got his chance. Shorthanded, McDavid got the puck in the defensive zone, accelerated through the neutral zone into the SJ territory then fired one past Jones for the 2-0 lead. The eventual final score.
Series: 1-1. Headed to San Jose for an Easter day match up at 10pm.
Anaheim Ducks vs. Calgary Flames
Game 1: Calgary has not won a game in Anaheim since 2004 and that continues after game 1. Not even a full minuet into the game, Calgary found themselves behind after a Ryan Getzlaf power play one time blast. The fans in Anaheim were fired up after the score. Later in the period, the Flames answered on a power play of their own. After a failed clear by Anaheim, Calgary was able to keep it in the zone and connect passes that lead to a Sean Monahan goal. Calgary took the lead in the second after a great skill play. A shot that missed the net deflected wide of goal and Versteeg made a spinning pass to Sam Bennett in front who was there to punch it in. After a terrible line change by Calgary, Anaheim found themselves with a 3 on 1. Getzlaf shot it on net and Rakell was there to put the rebound in. Late in the 2nd, Calgary had a great chance to score but great defense by Anaheim stopped them and even took a penalty. Jeeeeez Calgary. Anaheim would end up scoring the game winner on that power play off of a Silfverberg snipe top right.
Game 2: Anaheim would jump out to another quick lead off in game 2. Silfverger picked up where he left off in game 1 with another snipe top right to give a 1-0 lead. Calgary goalie Elliot should have stopped this one. While 4-4 Rakell would get his 2nd of the series putting the Ducks up 2-0. Another brutal play by Elliot who not able to locate Rakell attacking the net from behind. Calgary’s Backlund would answer for them at the end of the 1st period off of a great move on a break away. Sean Monahan would get his 2nd of the series during the 2nd period. A great passing play led to a one timer by Monahan that beats Ducks goalie Gibson. Late in the 3rd, Calgary’s curse will be on full display. While on the power play, Getzlaf tried to make a pass across the offensive zone. However it would hit a Calgary defender, deflecting the puck on an insane angle which Elliot could not recover in time. Absolutely brutal. Poor Calgary.
Series: 2-0 Ducks and heading to Calgary. Flames players/fans couldn’t be happier to be heading home. Game 3 is 4/17 at 10pm.
Nashville Predators vs. Chicago Blackhawks
Game 1: The most surprising result of any games 1 and 2 come in this series. A very strange series so far. Numbers and previous encounters would show that Chicago would blow Nashville away. However, that is why they play the game. An early Arvidsson goal off of a great deflection play would be the only goal in the game. Nashville has a great defensive core with Subban, Josi, Ellis and Ekholm. So they want to play tight in the neutral zone and make Chicago dump and chase into the offensive zone where the Nashville defenders can play their game. The Hawks had their chances but Rinne was phenomenal, throwing up a shutout.
Game 2: Watching this game was strange, it felt like a game in the Bizzaro world. Chicago was flat. They had no energy at home. Nashville ended up winning 5-0. They were up 3-0 going into the 3rd period and after a failed power play, Nashville got their 4th goal and put the Hawks away. The Hawks haven’t scored in the 2 games. So not like them. Their superstars have been shut down. Rinne was amazing again. He had 30 saves and even tallied 2 assists. Nashville is playing so well right now and should scare any Hawks fan and any fan whose team is in the West. Johansen tallied a goal and 2 assists in game 2.
Series: 2-0 Preds. Game 3 is heading back to Smashville where it will be very loud. The Hawks have seen their fair share of comebacks (and failed comebacks) in their recent decade of success.