The NHL Playoff Recap gives you our take of what happened in each game of the night and what the consequences will be for the rest of the series.
We also provide our Three Stars of the night, which will be tabulated after each round and kept track of each day in our Playoff Game Day Preview. First Star is three points, Second Star is two points and Third Star is one point. Be sure to vote on who you think the first star was as well.
Of course there’s the other side of the coin: The Black Hole is a piece of the lineup that just couldn’t get it going on a given night and contributed to a difficult evening for the team.
THN’s Take: Boston’s third overtime victory of the series – and Nathan Horton’s second consecutive winner – settled another classic between the Bruins and Habs. The B’s looked like they might blow Montreal right out of the water, getting up 2-0 early, but true to their plucky nature, the Canadiens hung around and forced the home side into extra time when P.K. Subban scored late. Both clubs squandered chances to pad their goal totals along the way, but that only added to the excitement. On a bizarre side note, the Canadiens have now lost the past three series in which they took 2-0 series leads in the oppositions’ building (Boston 2011, Carolina 2006, Rangers 1996). Boston at least partially erased the memory of last season’s Game 7 loss to Philly and now they get to further eradicate any lingering bitterness from that collapse when they face the Flyers in Round 2.
1. Nathan Horton – This is a lesson that sometimes when you score is more important than how many you score. The B’s top line, with David Krejci between Horton and Milan Lucic, struggled all series, but Horton popped two when it mattered the absolute most.
2. Chris Kelly – The reason Boston overcame the dearth of offense from its top line was because the third line of Kelly, Rich Peverley and Michael Ryder was awesome. Kelly scored his third of the series to put Boston up 3-2 in the third.
3. Tomas Plekanec – Bad in the faceoff circle, but solid everywhere else. Really made it a game with his shorthanded tally to tie it 2-2 in the second.
The Black Hole
Tomas Kaberle – He was supposed to fortify the Boston power play. Instead, he’s thrown it further into a state of flux. The B’s didn’t get a man-advantage marker all series and Kaberle’s 14:10 of ice time – least of any Bruin defenseman in Game 7 – tells you what coach Claude Julien thinks of his play. Honorable mention to Montreal’s “top tandem” of Scott Gomez and Brian Gionta, who once again failed to find the net and went a collective minus-6.
THN’s Take: In the fourth Game 7 of Round 1, the Penguins did exactly what they hoped: shut down the Lightning’s Big 3. But the Pens couldn’t answer Sean Bergenheim’s third goal of the series less than six minutes into the second period. A theme throughout the series, Pittsburgh dominated the first period and Tampa won stanzas two and three. The Lightning took the lead, bottled up the middle of the ice and neutralized the home crowd advantage en route to a 1-0 victory and their first series win since their Stanley Cup year in 2004. Tampa has never lost a Game 7.
1. Dwayne Roloson – Now 6-0 in elimination games, he was perfect on 15 shots in the first and pitched a shutout with a 36-save performance to become the third 40-year-old to get to Round 2 this year.
2. Eric Brewer – He played 25-plus minutes and led the Bolts in hits and blocked shots while seeming to be everywhere danger sparked – and snuffing it out. Huge acquisition for GM Steve Yzerman prior to the trade deadline.
3. Marc-Andre Fleury – Bergenheim’s goal wasn’t his fault and Fleury made an outstanding glove save on Pavel Kubina to keep it 1-0 half-way through the second period, one of his 22 stops. Pittsburgh’s best player.
The Black Hole
Kris Letang – The poster boy for what ailed the Pens all series, their inability to capitalize with the man advantage. Pittsburgh went 0-for-5 on the night, including a 5-on-4 to end the game and 1-for-35 in the series. The loss wasn’t his fault, but as the most offensively skilled player on the team, he had to lead a more effective power play.