The next move in the Ultimate Hockey Chess Match took place during Sunday’s Game 5 match between the Chicago Blackhawks and Philadelphia Flyers. Nope, I’m not talking about Chicago coach Joel Quenneville’s line changes or the game itself. Instead, I’m referring to the previously Pronger-dominated post-game tradition of players stealing the game puck.
Eager grabbed the puck at the United Center as soon as the final horn sounded after the Hawks’ 7-4 victory gave them a 3-2 series lead over the Philadelphia Flyers.
Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger had grabbed the pucks after the Blackhawks’ victories in the first two games, and he said he threw them in the garbage, where they belonged.
Eager had scored the game-winner in Game 2, but he wasn’t able to keep the game puck as a souvenir. He and Pronger had words after that game and both were assessed misconduct penalties.
Here is a video of Eager scooping up the game puck, from NHL.com.
Sure, this story is silly, but it shows the psychological impact Pronger can have on a series. He’s the kind of player who can get in his opponents’ heads. The Blackhawks and Flyers don’t have much of a recent history with each other, but I get the feeling Chicago hates Pronger after five hostile Stanley Cup finals bouts.
Pavelski’s late goal helps Sharks grab 2-0 series lead over Preds
The San Jose Sharks became the only team in the second round to jump out to a 2-0 lead in their series. The Sharks did it by beating the Predators 3-2 in Game 2 on Sunday night.
San Jose opened the scoring in the second period when Logan Couture buried a rebound by Preds goalie Pekka Rinne. Brent Burns took the initial shot from the point and extended his playoff point streak to four games.
The Predators finally got on the board at the 12:56 mark of the third period when Mattias Ekholm tied the game at one.
Here’s the goal:
Nashville’s good fortune didn’t last very long. Sharks captain Joe Pavelski gave San Jose a 2-1 lead less than five minutes later.
Pavelski also picked up two assists in the game. The 31-year-old has at least one point in six of his seven postseason games in 2016.
You’ve all seen it by now (if you haven’t, click the video at the top of page). Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta was forced to leave Game 2 against the Capitals after taking a late hit from Brooks Orpik. Not only was the hit late, but Orpik also caught Maatta in the head.
After the Penguins’ optional skate on Sunday, Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan wasn’t optimistic about Maatta’s chances of playing in Game 3 on Monday night.
“Olli’s being evaluated as we speak, so I don’t have any real update as far as his status is concerned,” Sullivan said, per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “He’s being evaluated today, we’ll probably have more information in the morning.
“I don’t have a lot of sense of his availability. I’m probably not optimistic, though.”
After the game, Capitals coach Barry Trotz stood up for his defenseman.
“We’ll let the league handle it,” Trotz said, per CSN Mid-Atlantic. “If you know anything about Brooks, he plays hard, he plays clean. He’s not a dirty player.”
Brooks Orpik has been suspended for three games for his hit on Olli Maatta (top). The Caps defenseman will be forced to miss Games 3, 4 and 5 of the best-of-seven series against the Penguins.
Orpik delivered a late, high hit to Maatta in Game 2. The Penguins defenseman was wobbly getting off the ice and he was unable to return to the game.
Here’s how the Department of Players Safety saw the play:
“Orpik steps up to pressure Bonino, who quickly moves the puck to Maatta. Orpik peels off Bonino to pressure Maatta, who releases a shot from the top of the circle. The two continue on their path toward the goal line, as the puck is kicked into the slot. A full second after Maatta releases the puck, Orpik delivers a high, forceful hit making significant head contact. This is interference.”
To watch the NHL’s Department of Player Safety’s full explanation, click the video below.
This is the third time Orpik’s been suspended in his NHL career.