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NHL Playoff Game Day 4: Islanders-Penguins, Senators-Canadiens, Wild-Blackhawks, Sharks-Canucks

The Hockey News

The Hockey News

Game 2: Montreal 3, Ottawa 1 – Series tied 1-1

Why Montreal won: Because Carey Price not only matched Craig Anderson save for save, but he was the better goaltender. And unlike Game 1, the Canadiens forwards did a far better job of taking time and space away from a shakier Erik Karlsson. And if Anderson and Karlsson are not superhuman every single night for the Senators, their chances of winning decrease exponentially. The Canadiens managed to ramp things up physically without being undisciplined.

Why Ottawa lost: Because the Senators were unable to deal with the Canadiens hunger for the puck and were discombobulated by Montreal’s physical attack. When you play a game as passive as the Senators do, you run into problems when teams come at you as relentlessly as the Canadiens do. The Senators also did a very, very poor job of managing the puck, which led to numerous turnovers and quality scoring chances.

Play of the game: Thanks to Price, Montreal was outshot 13-10 in the second period but outscored the Senators 3-1. The third Canadiens goal by Michael Ryder came immediately after a series of saves by Price that turned the potential swing from a 2-2 tie to a 3-1 lead.

Three stars

1. Carey Price: This is the kind of goaltending the Canadiens have come to expect from Price, and the kind of play they’ll need if they have any hope of a long playoff run.

2. Ryan White: Not only did he score the first goal of the game, White was a physical force without being undisciplined.

3. Brandon Gallagher: He also contributed a goal, but more importantly the Senators seem unable to deal with his wrecking-ball style of play in the offensive zone.

What’s next: Well, Anderson lost a tooth in Game 1 and the Senators won. Price lost a tooth in Game 2 and the Canadiens triumphed. If this keeps up, the goaltenders are going to be eating their meals through a straw by the end of the series. The Canadiens will continue to have success if they keep working the corners and boards the way they did in Game 2. – Ken Campbell

Game 2: NY Islanders 4, Pittsburgh 3 – Series tied 1-1

Why New York won: Because they showed a mettle that few teams in their position would or could, bouncing back to dominate for much of the game after a falling behind by two goals twice early following a one-sided effort in Game 1. They took full advantage of a Penguins D-corps that played far too soft on the rush and got running around in their own end. The real Islanders showed up for Game 2, not the deer-in-the-headlights version from the series opener.

Why Pittsburgh lost: Because they took their foot off the gas 10 minutes into the game. Instead of stepping on the Islanders throat and all but ensuring a short series with another blowout win, Pittsburgh allowed the Islanders a glimmer of hope that’s now as bright as a lighthouse spotlight.

Play of the game: Poor Marc-Andre Fleury. He’s one of the best goalies in the world, but gaffs like the one on the game-winner, in which he batted a Kyle Okposo shot coming back off the boards between his own legs and into the net, continue to raise questions about his ability to stay steady in crunch time.

Three Stars

1. Evgeni Nabokov: stood tall all night after getting the hook in Game 1. He was especially brilliant in helping to kill off a four-minute high-sticking penalty to John Tavares at the end of the second period.

2. Sidney Crosby: didn’t take long to hit the scoreboard in his return, scoring twice in the game’s first eight minutes. And with 23-plus minutes of time on ice, he wasn’t eased back into the lineup.

3. John Tavares: only picked up an assist – the first playoff point of his career – but was the best Islanders forward in impressive overall attack

What's next: The Penguins struggled badly in their own end and are taking far too many needless penalties. For long stretches they resembled the team that gave up 30 goals to the Flyers in the Round 1 loss in 2012. Will this serve as a wakeup call or will doubts creep into the Penguins game? - Edward Fraser

Game 2: Chicago 5, Minnesota 2 – Blackhawks lead 2-0

Why Chicago Won: The Hawks came at the Wild in waves, using superior skill to pepper Minnesota goalie Josh Harding, who could only do so much. Whether it was capitalizing off the rush or completing nifty passing plays within the Minnesota zone, Chicago put on an offensive clinic at times. The fact the third line posted the first two goals of the game is a scary premise for Minnesota to deal with now.

Why Minnesota Lost: There's a lack of cohesion with this Wild squad, which opened up lanes for Chicago's playmakers and led to blown assignments defensively. Minnesota does feature a young 'D' corps and some prominent new faces this season, but that can't be used as an excuse at this juncture; it's the playoffs and mistakes must be kept to a minimum. There was never much of a sense that Minnesota was going to come back in this game.

Play of the Game: Patrick Kane's turnaround pass through traffic to set up Patrick Sharp's second goal of the game was simply incredible and basically a do-over of the set-up that eventually led to the previous score by Sharp, but in a less messy fashion. It was also a microcosm of the skill that Chicago is lording over Minnesota early on in this series.

Three Stars

1. Patrick Kane – His wizardry knew no bounds in Game 2 and when he wasn't scoring early, he was still hustling after pucks and creating chances.

2. Michael Frolik – The third-liner's two early goals set the pace for the Hawks and at the time, his shorthanded marker off the rush looked like a backbreaker.

3. Devin Setoguchi – Minnesota's second line was quite competitive on the night and Setoguchi's laser for the first Wild goal proved the squad wasn't going to roll over.

What's Next: The series heads back to Minnesota, but only the uniform colors will likely change. Ryan Suter can't always be out there (and his ice time was dialled back to a reasonable 24:36 this time) and the Hawks simply have too much talent for the Wild to deal with. Since Mikko Koivu has his hands full with Jonathan Toews, the first line hasn't generated anything yet – and with Dany Heatley and Jason Pominville out, that's an issue. - Ryan Kennedy

Game 2: San Jose 3, Vancouver 2 OT – Sharks lead 2-0

Why the Sharks won: They were able to win this tug-of-war because they weathered Vancouver’s upshift in intensity and stole back momentum very late. This was an excellent game of hockey and really showed off the new-found speed San Jose has been noted for since the trade deadline. The Sharks showed a lot of determination and got some kind of contribution from just about every one – they’re for real.

Why the Canucks lost: Ryan Kesler snapped his team out of a slumber when he suddenly turned ferocious late in the second period, throwing big hits on Joe Thornton and Justin Braun. He single handedly put them in the lead with two rip-raorin’ slappers, but there wasn’t the same frantic level from any other forwards. A troubled offense is a troubling trend Vancouver is in.

Play of the game: In San Jose they call Brent Burns their Colin Kaepernick because he’s as unpredictable and dangerous as the San Francisco 49ers quarterback. Burns was moved back to forward – a position he was drafted at – in March and has been credited as a real game changer. It was his block on Alex Edler along the boards and pass off the rush to Raffi Torres that ultimately ended this game and put the Canucks in a real bad spot.

Three Stars

1. Ryan Kesler – Even though the Canucks lost, this was an impressive performance from the team’s heart and soul player. Kesler was invisible in Game 1 and didn't wake up until late in the second period of this one, but once he did Kesler was a one-man team. He scored two goals and, since Raffi Torres scored into his own net last game, Kesler is the only Canuck to really score this series.

2. Brent Burns – He will never playe defence again. Burns has a wicked combination of size and speed and it feels like the best is yet to come as he settles in. He registered two assists, including on Raffi Torres' winner.

3. Patrick Marleau – His 24:07 of ice was second-most of the Sharks and he gets credit for scoring two big, late goals for San Jose in two games. In Game 1 it was the insurance marker with five minutes left, and in Game 2 it was the last minute crease tap-in two send it to OT.

What’s next: Do or die for Vancouver. You can bet Kesler is going to come out with a chip on his shoulder as his personal rivalry with the Sharks is being brought to new levels. They'll have to fight off this crushing loss, because if the Sedins or Derek Roy don’t make themselves more productive Vancouver will be at mercy to San Jose’s vast potential on offense. When the Sharks scored at least three goals this season they went 14-3-1. - Rory Boylen



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