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: This white-knuckler featured a ton of ebb and flow as the Canadiens and Bruins launched counter-attack after counter-attack like a pair of heavyweight contenders. When a premature whistle wiped out an early Montreal goal, the Canadiens got the officiating breaks the rest of the opening period. And when the Bruins got power plays of their own, it didn’t help that their futility streak with the man advantage reached six games. This series is going the distance as Game 7 is Wednesday in Boston. Paul Mara set an unofficial record for the longest, thickest playoff beard prior to the end of the first round.
1. Carey Price – Calm, cool and collected, Price stopped every crucial shot directed his way, especially down the stretch when the Bruins were desperate for the equalizer while playing shorthanded.
2. Brian Gionta – He scored two goals in Game 6, but only one of them counted. He played with energy all night and was just as solid defensively. His star just as easily could have gone to Mike Cammalleri, who opened the scoring for Montreal.
3. Brad Marchand – Just about every threatening Bruins chance came with Marchand on the ice, creating havoc with his speed and playmaking. And to think he started the season on the fourth line.
The Black Hole
Milan Lucic – Boston’s rugged offensive leader took a lame-brained boarding major when he slammed Jaroslav Spacek into the boards in the second period. The Habs scored the winning goal on the power play – aided by a Patrice Bergeron penalty and a 5-on-3 man advantage – and the absence of Lucic the remainder of the game short-circuited an already inefficient Boston attack.
THN’s Take: The Sabres couldn’t have come out with a flatter performance in the deciding game of their series against Philadelphia, allowing the host Flyers to dominate them in the first period (outshooting them 16-2) and digging themselves a 4-0 deficit by the midway point of the third. The Flyers capitalized on the two power play opportunities Buffalo gave them in a six-minute span of the second frame. Ultimately, the Sabres looked spent and with Philly leader Chris Pronger back and playing a much bigger role than his return from injury in Game 6, Buffalo never really was in the game at all.
1. Danny Briere – The veteran had a typically productive playoff game, scoring the Flyers second goal and adding an assist in the win. He was physical and buzzing the Sabres net all night.
2. Chris Pronger – In Game 6, Pronger played just 4:33, but he played 17:27 in Game 7 (including 16:12 of even strength action) and chipped in an assist and a game-high five blocked shots.
3. Claude Giroux – The emerging playoff force had two assists and won 10 of 14 faceoffs for a 71 percent efficiency rating.
The Black Hole
Thomas Vanek – Buffalo’s highest-paid player failed to perform like one, as Vanek registered just two shots on net in 21:03 of ice time and was a minus-1 on the night. By contrast, Drew Stafford had seven shots on net, while both Nathan Gerbe and Andrej Sekara had three apiece. That’s simply not good enough on a team that needed all the offensive help it could get against the Flyers.
THN’s Take: Wow. Most times, hyped games such as this don’t live up to their potential, but this one exceeded it. The referees no doubt let more go than they had earlier in this series, but like it or not, the game was much more exciting than it would have been if it was full of man-advantage perimiter passing. Both teams got away with a lot, which made physical battles a key component in the game and rendered the Sedins obsolete. Even when a rare power play was granted the penalty-killers on both sides showed their teeth, with Jonathan Toews notching the shorthanded, game-tying goal in the last two minutes of regulation. Roberto Luongo came through in a big way for the Canucks, even if he did look shaky at times. As the Canucks move to Round 2, they can only hope Luongo will move on from his jitters and settle into Vezina-nominee mode. Ryan Kesler didn’t score all series, but was also great in this game and would have qualified as the fourth star.
1. Alexandre Burrows – Scored the first goal early and the last goal very late. Burrows hustled all night and was a difficult skater to handle. He took a penalty in overtime that nearly made him the goat when Patrick Sharp had a glorious opportunity that was denied by Luongo.
2. Corey Crawford – Even though he lost, Crawford was absolutely phenomenal in making 36 saves. His stop on Kesler that would have buried Chicago much earlier was the best of the first round.
3. Roberto Luongo – After all the perceived drama around the Vancouver goaltenders, Luongo reacted just the way coach Alain Vigneault hoped and made 31 saves to finally knock off the Hawks.
The Black Hole
Henrik Sedin – It would be too easy to give this to Chris Campoli for his turnover to Burrows that handed Vancouver the series. In the bigger picture, Henrik Sedin (and his brother) was nowhere to be found for most of the game. Henrik had a great chance late, but opted to pass off to Burrows at the side of the net rather than try a shot head on. Vancouver needs Henrik and Daniel to come through in these games if the team is to be successful in the long-run.