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: After failing to score at all in Game 1, the Bolts came out guns blazing and fired three first-period goals to seize control of Game 2. While Steven Stamkos still doesn’t have a point in the set, go-to guys Vincent Lecavalier and Marty St-Louis scratched their way onto the scoresheet. Pittsburgh looked fairly punchless all night, their only goal coming off a miscue by Tampa goalie Dwayne Roloson when he came out to play the puck. The Pens defense corps, which is supposed to be the strength of the club right now, was far too loose, offering up chances the Lightning cashed.
1. Eric Brewer – Opened the scoring to get Tampa rolling and knocked down a hip-high clearing attempt at the blueline during a power play, which eventually led to the second Bolts tally. His 24:52 of ice time was almost three minutes more than his next closest teammate, Victor Hedman.
2. Martin St-Louis – After an errant stick sent him to the dentist’s chair following Game 1, St-Louis was smiling with a goal and an assist in the second tilt.
3. Vincent Lecavalier – To use some coaching jargon, Lecavalier’s goal was a direct result of his “compete level” at the lip of the crease, as he fought off Kris Letang and stuffed the puck through Marc-Andre Fleury.
The Black Hole
M-A Fleury – He had Tampa shooters looking skyward in Game 1, but the Pens goalie was hanging his head after a couple goals Friday night. Brewer beat him short-side to start the scoring, he kicked a rebound right to Nate Thompson for the third Tampa goal, but the back-breaker came with just 14 seconds left in the second frame, when St-Louis restored his team’s three goal lead by squeezing a puck between Fleury and the near post from a bad angle. At the other end of the ice, the Pens are 0-for-13 on the power play in the series.
THN’s Take: Washington rode its momentum from overtime in Game 1 and ramped things up on home ice in Game 2. The Capitals won the vast majority of 1-on-1 battles against the Rangers and used a methodic, disciplined approach to beating New York goalie Henrik Lundqvist. Wahington’s top two lines were flying all night, but it was the trio of Marcus Johansson, Jason Chimera and Brooks Laich who did the grinding and broke down New York’s defense on the opening goal.
1. Brooks Laich – His speed and playmaking kept the Rangers on their heels. Typically the first man to loose pucks.
2. Jason Chimera – Big-framed winger did plenty of bone-crunching along the boards and was the triggerman on the tic-tac-toe passing on the winning goal.
3. Karl Alzner – Stay-at-home defender played heavy-duty shutdown minutes as the Rangers applied heavy pressure in the third period. Was constantly in the path of New York’s Marian Gaborik.
The Black Hole
Matt Gilroy – The Rangers defenseman was outmuscled along the boards by Brooks Laich on Washington’s first goal, then had a Mike Green shot deflect off him to Jason Arnott on the Capitals second goal. The 2009 Hobey Baker Award winner lost various other battles in his own end and didn’t measure up as the Capitals came out stronger than in Game 1.
THN’s Take: Chicago continued to lean on their big stars in Game 2, with Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook pulling down major minutes again. But, despite the tight score and shot differential, you never really got the feeling Vancouver was going to lose outside of the frantic last few minutes when any crazy bounce could have turned the tide. Roberto Luongo was confident and unfazed early, however he began to show a few cracks for the first time in this series as the game went on. Luongo allowed three goals on 26 shots, so everyone will be wondering if another Meltdown on Madison is on the way, but with the support and confidence of the Canucks in front of him (even without Mikael Samuelsson) Luongo has some wiggle room.
1. Daniel Sedin – The Hawks didn’t give either Sedin much room to work with, but when it happened goals soon followed. A patient pass to Jannik Hansen behind the net to open the scoring and two timely goals had the crowd chanting “M-V-P.”
2. Alex Edler – The fact Edler is a second-unit defenseman on this team says everything you need to know about how good they are. The Swede was a physical force and scored the critical third goal with 14 seconds left in the second to take back a two-goal lead.
3. Ben Smith – It would be folly not to give this guy credit. Smith had no shots on goal in Game 1, but notched two goals on two shots this time around. Both goals were front-of-the-net crashers and for all the efforts the Hawks put into playing their stars, it’s worth noting Smith was on the ice in the game’s final seconds with Chicago seeking the tying goal.
The Black Hole
Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook – Perhaps it’s from overuse, perhaps it’s frustration setting in, but the Hawks’ top pairing was a combined minus-3. Seabrook accumulated seven hits, but some of those were taken at ill-advised times. The Hawks are leaning on these two not just to matchup against the Sedins, but also have to be wary of Ryan Kesler and the effective Jannik Hansen, Tanner Glass and Chris Higgins. This series is one tall order for the world-class pair of defenders.
THN’s Take: A game bereft of flow until the final half of the third, thanks to a regular stream of bodies heading to the box, saw the Ducks assert themselves, as expected, as the more offensively powerful squad. But that wasn’t the most troubling aspect of Game 2 for Nashville. Anaheim was tougher top to bottom and at the times the game got chippy the Predators had no answer. (Expect more jabs, stabs and face-washes back in Orange County.) Nashville looked lost for stretches as the Fowl’s physical forwards attacked on the rush and down low. Barry Trotz is a master at finding the answer to problems, but if he can’t the streak of first round losses will continue.
1. Ryan Getzlaf – A pair of beauty setups, especially the one on the early 5-on-3, as well as a tally makes him an easy choice.
2. Corey Perry – The league’s only 50-goal man proved why, converting Getzlaf’s aforementioned feed and providing the screen on Teemu Selanne’s wrister, the Ducks second goal.
3. Patric Hornqvist – Had one of the Predators’ two markers and played a role on the other; was a regular around the Ducks crease.
The Black Hole
Francois Beauchemin – No particular player stood out for a poor performance, so we’ll tag Beauchemin for no other reason than he twice failed to clear the puck late in third and it led to a pair of quality chances that could have tied the game.
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.