It was a battle of exceptional goaltending last night as Evgeni Nabokov and the San Jose Sharks out-dueled Miikka Kiprusoff and the Calgary Flames 2-0 to even that series 1-1.
Kiprusoff was the workhorse facing 43 shots (27 in the second period) and kept the Flames competitive.
But it was Nabokov who made a pair of spectacular glove-in-the-air desperation saves that could have sent the Sharks spiraling downward if he had not made them. In the first period, he snared a Cory Sarich one-timer from the slot just as it was about to cross the goal line. That would have opened the scoring.
Nabokov did the same thing in more dramatic fashion in the third period on Owen Nolan. That would have put the Flames right back in it.
BOO, HISS: Both cheers and jeers to referees Tim Peel and Marc Joannette calling last night’s Game 2 in San Jose. They had the gumption to call six straight penalties in a 10-minute span on the Flames in the second period.
Why is it coaches – Calgary’s Mike Keenan was livid on the bench – and some fans think the referees should try to “even up” the calls, never calling more than two or three consecutive infractions against one team? That has never made sense to me. Funny thing is, most refs are very cognizant of that, trying their best to be fair, like it’s their responsibility to level the playing field.
So cheers to Peel and Joannette for not falling into that trap at that point.
But jeers to the both of them for making a couple of bone-headed calls among the six consecutive Calgary penalties. Jarome Iginla clearly did not hold a Shark on his penalty (he pushed a player who had the puck) and Kristian Huselius didn’t hook (the Shark forward should have been called for diving).
Those penalties led to extended 5-on-3 opportunities for San Jose, which eventually resulted in a goal to make the score 2-0.
What’s worse? Peel and Joannette clearly felt pangs of guilt and proceeded to make a couple of “even up” calls against the Sharks. Craig Rivet was called for “interfering” Matthew Lombardi when he merely checked him as he was breaking towards the San Jose goal. And Torrey Mitchell was fingered for “interfering” Dion Phaneuf when it was Phaneuf who should have been called for embellishing.
UGLY BERT: Todd Bertuzzi was up to his old antics acting like a thug in Anaheim’s 4-0 loss to Dallas in the opening game of that series.
Late in the first period, teammate Teemu Selanne got into a pushing match with mild-mannered Dallas defender Philippe Boucher after a battle along the boards. Leave it to Bertuzzi to be the third-man in, try to pull the back of Boucher’s jersey over his head, presumably to pound him into submission.
Luckily, Steve Ott of the Stars got involved and it never got that far.
Then, late in the second period with the Ducks pressuring on the power play, Bertuzzi took liberties with his stick on Dallas’s Brendan Morrow as he lay prone on the ice. Bertuzzi twice took forceful swipes at the puck, hitting Morrow in the chest instead. The vicious thing is, the puck was under Morrow and even if Bertuzzi connected with it, the direction of his swats would have sent the puck into the corner and not towards the net.
Again, Ott got involved before another nasty slash was made and they both wound up in the penalty box.
THN.com’s Playoff Blogs, featuring analysis and opinion on the action from the night before, with insight on what happened and what it all means going forward, will appear daily throughout the NHL playoffs. Read more entries HERE.
For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, Subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.