Here are summaries of tonight’s first three games. Expect recaps for the second half of games later on.
Toronto 5, Atlanta 4
At this pace, the Thrashers might become an obvious “seller” during the upcoming trade deadline. It seems like the team needs to make some kind of swap to bring in some new blood, as Toronto handed Atlanta their fourth consecutive loss. The Thrashers have only won two games in the last month.
It was a high-scoring affair between the two squads, as the Leafs and Thrashers have combined for 30 goals in their three contests.
The Thrashers actually took 2-0 lead into the first intermission before being outscored 5-2 in the last two periods. Dustin Byfuglien ended his scoring slump with a power-play goal while Phil Kessel remained stuck in his slump, but their teams produced different results.
Detroit 3, NY Rangers 2
It didn’t take long for Pavel Datsyuk to make an impact in his first appearance with the Red Wings after missing 19 games. Detroit had gone two games without scoring a single goal before Dastyuk scored on his own rebound in the second period. He added an assist for a successful return to action as the Red Wings squeezed out a tough win against the rugged Rangers.
Jimmy Howard has been struggling quite a bit lately (as Mike Milbury noted), but he stopped 45 out of 47 shots in this game. Martin Biron was solid in his second straight start, making 32 saves, but he wasn’t able to earn the win.
Edmonton 4, Nashville 0
The Predators have now lost five of their last six games, with their only win coming against the Red Wings (of all teams). Nashville remains in fourth place in the West, but they are rapidly falling back into the conference’s sizable bubble. While the Oilers don’t have as much to play for, it must have been a relief for them to end their four-game losing streak.
The Predators weren’t exactly sleep-walking to start this game, though, as they out-shot Edmonton 13-1 through the game’s first 10 minutes. Devan Dubnyk stood strong to earn a 37-save shutout, the first of his NHL career. Pekka Rinne didn’t have such a good night on the other end of the ice, as he was pulled late in the game after allowing four goals on only 20 shots.
Things were getting out of hand between the Dallas Stars and St. Louis Blues on the scoreboard in an eventual 6-1 Blues win.
They were also getting a little raucous on the ice when it was clear that the Stars weren’t going to stage a comeback.
Jamie Benn was whistled for cross-checking Alex Pietrangelo, but it was Stephen Johns‘ hit from behind on Pietrangelo really revved up the violence.
Watch that hit and then the scrum that ensued in the video above, which included a scary display of an angry Ryan Reaves … who got creative at the end.
You may also want the kiss alone, so here it is:
Memo: rough stuff might not work so well against the Blues.
Read about that blowout here.
Sometimes a final score is misleading. In the case of the St. Louis Blues’ 6-1 thrashing of the Dallas Stars, it might just be the start of the story.
Honestly, the most positive thing the Stars can say is “Well, at least it was just one game.”
It was one ugly game, however, and now the Blues hold a 2-1 series lead with a chance to really take control if they can win Game 4 at home.
The Blues dominated just about every category on Tuesday, firing more shots on goal, enjoying better special teams play and throwing more hits. They even blocked a higher number of shots, which often isn’t the case for the squad that carries play.
This leaves the Stars picking up the pieces, especially when it comes to their work in their own end.
Do you put greater blame on struggling goalies Kari Lehtonen and Antti Niemi or is this more about the Stars’ lax defensive coverage? The scary answer may be “Both,” and the Stars likely know that they need to find answers quickly.
On the bright side for Dallas, it is just one game … and the Blues were searching for answers of their own after Game 1.
We saw the Blues turn things around with these two straight wins, so now the Stars must show that they can gather themselves and play the attacking, out-score-your-mistakes style that got them here.
Granted, they may have to keep an eye out for supplemental discipline after some rough stuff toward the end of the game.
After a dispiriting 1-0 goal allowed by Pekka Rinne, things were looking bleak for the Nashville Predators for a moment there.
Nashville’s developed into a resilient group, however, and they stormed back for a commanding 4-1 win to shrink San Jose’s series advantage to 2-1.
The Predators saw some of their big names come up huge as the series shifted from San Jose to Nashville.
Pekka Rinne looked sharp following that first goal (and didn’t allow another). Their goals came from James Neal, Colin Wilson, Filip Forsberg and captain Shea Weber.
Weber’s tally was the game-winner, and it was downright thunderous:
Another promising sign: after a struggling to a 2-for-31 clip in previous playoff games, the Predators’ power play went 2-for-5 in Game 3.
Overall, the Predators really couldn’t ask for much more from this win, especially if Colton Sissons is indeed OK after a scary crash into the Sharks’ net.
Things could get really interesting if Nashville manages to “hold serve” with another home win on Thursday.
It’s pretty tough not to make jokes about the Dallas Stars spending $10.4 million on their goalies at times like these, even if Dallas’ defense should shoulder plenty of blame.
After Kari Lehtonen was pulled from a Game 2 loss, the St. Louis Blues chased Antti Niemi early in the second period of Game 3 after Niemi allowed three goals on 12 shots.
Troy Brouwer‘s 3-1 goal was enough for Lindy Ruff to give Niemi the hook:
Unfortunately for the Stars, Lehtonen got off to a slow start as well, allowing an immediate Vladimir Tarasenko goal.
The Blues are now 4-1 and the Stars are searching for answers … and probably wishing Tyler Seguin was around to help them out-score their problems.