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 trck 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: All the hype, all the drama, all the venom (from at least one side’s fans). All that aside, the questions were: could the Habs handle Boston’s physical play?; could the Bruins handle Montreal’s speed?; and which goaltender would blink first? The Habs gave it as well as they took it. The Bruins counter-attacked as well as could be hoped. And if Tim Thomas barely had time to blink before Brian Gionta scored less than three minutes in, Carey Price stared Boston down all night.
1. Carey Price – Shut down the Bruins early to help negate home ice and kept it going in a lopsided second period and all night. First win in eight playoff games. Message sent.
2. Brian Gionta – Scored both Montreal goals. Killed penalties. Numerous dashes down the wing with the puck. Played like a captain should
3. Scott Gomez – Showed maturity by bouncing right back from a bad season and setting up Gionta on both goals. Played like a veteran with playoff experience.
The Black Hole
Brad Marchand – Tough to pick anyone after a great game. Marchand was all over the place all night, but had two chances to score early and another late went for naught. Have to bury.
THN’s Take: The Sabres used a classic playoff road formula to take Game 1 – superb goaltending, committed team defense, timely scoring and some good fortune. The Flyers executed their game plan close to perfection, with the obvious exception of failing to solve Ryan Miller. They dominated zone time, shots on goal, scoring chances and forced numerous turnovers with an aggressive forecheck, but a lack of finish and an 0-for-5 power play – which included a two-man advantage – was their undoing.
1. Ryan Miller – There were some questions about his health coming into the game, but he answered them by turning away all 35 shots he faced and staying calm in the face of the crease-crashing Flyers.
2. Patrick Kaleta – The world-class agitator stirred up shifts, played with high energy and scored the game’s only goal.
3. Danny Briere – Veteran buzzsaw played more than 21 minutes, doled out four hits and won 60 percent of his faceoffs.
The Black Hole
Sergei Bobrovsky – The rookie netminder had a good game, but needed to be perfect to give the Flyers a chance to win. His fatal flaw was poor rebound control on a Marc-Andre Gragnani shot in the third that Kaleta drilled home.
THN’s Take: Early on, Thursday’s late game looked as though it would be another lopsided affair like Wednesday’s Nashville-Anaheim tilt. The Sharks held a 18-3 shot advantage and a 1-0 lead early in the second period when Niclas Wallin shot the puck over the glass for a delay of game penalty. From then on, the Kings had energy and outshot San Jose 32-27 the rest of the way. Los Angeles had no real trouble answering – San Jose didn’t hold a lead for more than nine minutes – but never led in the game and were dominated by the Sharks for long stretches. In his first game back from injury, Justin Williams was terrific for L.A., with a goal and an assist and a plus-1 rating.
1. Antti Niemi – Didn’t get tested early, but with the pressure of past Sharks failures on his shoulders, Niemi came up big when the Kings turned it on. Finished with 33 saves.
2. Jonathan Quick – Without Quick, this game was over early. Some show-stopping saves put any doubts about his ability to rest as he finished with 42 stops.
3. Joe Pavelski – This dude really tied the team together. ‘The Big Pavelski’ not only scored the overtime-winner, he recorded five shots and led all Sharks forwards in ES, PP and PK time.
The Black Hole
Dustin Penner – Geesh. Kyle Clifford and Kevin Westgarth were the only Kings with less ice time than Penner’s 15:46, but he still managed to be a minus-2. Penner was out to lunch on the game’s opening goal and was pushed off the puck by smaller players too many times for playoff hockey.
The NHL Game Night Recap will get you caught up with all the playoff action. THN will name our Three Stars for each game and tabulate the results after each series. First Star = three points, Second Star = two points, Third Star = one point.