With Pavel Datsyuk hobbled and Henrik Zetterberg focusing most of his energy on stopping Sidney Crosby, the Detroit Red Wing who struck The Fear of God into me last Stanley Cup Finals was Johan Franzen. Simply put, the man has ridiculous hands and – when he’s on his game – little fear of using them to destroy your team’s hopes and dreams.
That being said, Franzen’s playoffs didn’t jump out to me at first; I had to check his game log to realize that he’s actually had a point in each contest. To be fair, though, only two of those points were goals so last night was still an anomaly for the sniping Swede. He had a natural hat trick in the third period and one more later on, capping a ridiculous four-goal, two-assist performance and maybe forcing some Sharks fans to bite their nails a bit last night.
Did he change the makeup of this series?
Fight video: Zack Kassian racks up penalty minutes, faces Brian Strait
Alex Ovechkin scored to join Wayne Gretzky and Mike Gartner as only players with at least 30 goals in each of their first 11 NHL seasons, and Matt Niskanen netted the game winner as Washington beat the Flyers 3-2 at Verizon on Super Bowl Sunday.
It didn’t always look as though Washington would emerge the victor, however. The Caps were out-shot 35-30 on the day and looked disjointed at times, finishing with 12 giveaways (Philly was credited with just five, for comparison’s sake).
But good teams find ways to win when they’re not playing especially well, and the Caps are a pretty good team — especially when Braden Holtby is on his game.
Holtby, atop many Vezina lists at the moment, had another terrific outing on Sunday, making 33 saves, perhaps none better than this one on Mark Streit in the second period:
Holtby’s counterpart, Steve Mason, had a solid outing as well, finishing with 27 stops.
Looking ahead, the Caps will now head out on a three-game Western Conference swing through Minnesota, Nashville and what promises to be a high-octane game in Dallas on Feb. 13.
The Flyers, meanwhile, will now kick off a three-game homestand against Anaheim, Buffalo and New Jersey.
Jets’ Stafford to have disciplinary hearing after high-sticking Holden
There was no immediate video of the incident available. Stafford wasn’t penalized on the play, which occurred during the third period; Holden finished the final frame with 10 shifts for 6:46 of ice time.
Stafford, 30, has a clean disciplinary history and hasn’t been fined or suspended during his 10-year NHL career.