Tampa Bay 4 – Carolina 3 (F/OT)
Usually when a team blows a two-goal lead in the last minute of the game, they crash and burn horribly in the end. The Lightning were able to avoid such embarrassment tonight when Marc-Andre Bergeron scored his first of the year in overtime to win it for Tampa Bay. Jeff Skinner and Erik Cole scored in the final minute of regulation to tie the game up with Tampa Bay, but Bergeron’s goal finished them off. Sean Bergenheim had a goal and an assist for the Lightning while Dwayne Roloson made 31 saves for the win. Cam Ward made 37 saves in the loss while Eric Staal and Erik Cole each had a goal and an assist.
Vancouver 4 – Calgary 2
It’s tough when you play a great game and still lose. When you’re dealing with a team as good as Vancouver, these things will happen now and again. For Calgary it stinks as it’s their second loss in a row. After coming into this game winners of eight of their last ten, it might be a bit of a knock to the psyche to lose after playing well. The Canucks got two goals a piece from Mikael Samuelsson and Alex Burrows to lead the way. Tim Jackman and Curtis Glencross scored for Calgary. For Vancouver they extend their lead in the division to 16 points over Minnesota with the win and have an NHL-high 81 points.
Nashville 5 – Colorado 3
In Music City, USA it was a night of a pair of intriguing appearances. Newly acquired Mike Fisher made his Preds debut and earned an assist after being acquired from Ottawa. It also had former Predator and Avalanche legend Peter Forsberg on the ice yet again. Much like in his first game, Forsberg had trouble finding the scoresheet. Forsberg finished the game a -2 and played 17:32 on a line with Matt Duchene and Milan Hejduk. Martin Erat led the way for Nashville with a goal and two assists while Patric Hornqvist and David Legwand each had a goal and an assist. Pekka Rinne’s night was quite as he only made 15 saves in the win while Peter Budaj was hung out to dry being forced to make 34 saves. The loss marks the seventh in a row for Colorado as they slip back to 14th in the Western Conference.
Montreal 3 – Toronto 0
An Original Six clash in Montreal goes sour for the Leafs as Carey Price earned his sixth shutout of the season stopping 27 shots to get the win. Brian Gionta scored his 21st goal of the season while Benoit Pouliot and David Desharnais also tallied for the Habs as they snapped a three-game losing skid and got to within a point of Northeast Division leading Boston. Jean-Sebastien Giguere stopped 36 shots in the loss for Toronto as they lost their second in a row.
Phoenix 3 – Chicago 2 (F/SO)
Phoenix, like Tampa Bay earlier in the evening, avoided disaster by grabbing victory in the shootout after blowing a 2-0 lead against the Blackhawks in Phoenix. Radim Vrbata proved to be the hero on the night as he scored a goal in regulation and had the shootout winner for Phoenix. Ilya Bryzgalov made 31 saves for the Coyotes in regulation and didn’t allow Chicago to score in the skills competition. The win gets the Coyotes back to within one point of Dallas for the Pacific Division lead. Chicago’s comeback effort thanks to goals from Dave Bolland and Duncan Keith fell short but got steady play from Corey Crawford after a shaky first period. It wasn’t meant to be and the Hawks weren’t able to keep pace with L.A. and Minnesota in the West race.
Minnesota 3 – St. Louis 1
A feisty affair in the back end of a home-and-home series between these two saw the Wild chase Jaroslav Halak in the second period after the Wild jumped ahead 3-0 thanks to goals from Cal Clutterbuck, Antti Miettinen, and Kyle Brodziak. Patrik Berglund’s late second period goal was all the Blues could muster as the Wild got 24 saves out of Niklas Backstrom to earn the win and leapfrog Calgary into the eighth spot in the Western Conference playoff race.
Kari Lehtonen might have been more hit than miss in the playoffs going into today’s action, but Game 2 against St. Louis was certainly a start he’d like to forget.
Dallas outshot St. Louis 10-5 in the first frame, but the Blues still managed to take a 3-1 lead. Antti Niemi replaced Lehtonen for the second period which means, barring another goalie change, Lehtonen will actually end up with a sub-.500 save percentage this afternoon.
The numbers obviously look bad and it’s hard not to blame Lehtonen in the face of that, but the Blues deserve a lot of the credit for those goals. Patrik Berglund had a great shot on goal for the first marker, Joel Edmundson‘s first career playoff goal came after a nice setup by Troy Brouwer, and when Brouwer collected his own goal it was off of a rebound during a power play.
So to an extent, you could say Lehtonen looked bad due to circumstances that were very unfavorable to him. Nevertheless, the Stars needed to shake things up after what was unquestionably a bad period for them.
Pittsburgh’s Pascal Dupuis, Florida’s Jaromir Jagr, and the Rangers’ Mats Zuccarello have been selected as the three finalists for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy.
The Masterton Trophy recognizes “the National Hockey League player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.” In 2015 it went to Devan Dubnyk, who struggled mightily in 2013-14, but dramatically turned his career around the following season and led the Minnesota Wild to the playoffs in the process.
Dupuis attempted to play in the 2015-16 campaign while taking blood thinners, but on Dec. 8 he announced that he would stop playing “because of a medical condition related to blood clots.”
Jagr celebrated his 44th birthday in February, but despite his age he managed to score 27 goals and 66 points in 79 contests this season. With that, he became the oldest player to reach the 60-point mark in a single NHL campaign.
Zuccarello played in 81 games and set career-highs with 26 goals and 61 points this season after suffering a skull fracture and brain contusion during the 2015 playoffs that left him temporarily unable to speak.
The Anaheim Ducks might not have suffered a reverse sweep at the hands of one of their biggest rivals, but they seem to have reached a breaking point when it comes to playoff disappointments.
After firing head coach Bruce Boudreau, GM Bob Murray was highly critical of the team’s core, even noting that at this point he’s not a fan of long-term contracts. That was perhaps a swipe at how he feels Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf‘s eight-year $69 million and $66 million contracts have worked out thus far. Meanwhile Ryan Kesler‘s six-year deal worth roughly $41 million is about to begin.
After San Jose suffered its first round loss to the Los Angeles Kings in 2014, Sharks GM Doug Wilson said they were now becoming a “tomorrow team” and they began a cultural shift that included Joe Thornton losing the captaincy.
There are differences of course between the two situations. One notable one is that the Sharks’ guard was already starting to change hands in 2013-14. Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau were entering their mid-30s, but Joe Pavelski and Logan Couture were on the rise. Anaheim’s core of Getzlaf and Perry is significantly younger, but while Anaheim also has some promising forwards like Jakob Silfverberg, that generation of players doesn’t seem ready to carry the torch for the Ducks.
“We don’t have a lot of young guys in the lineup. … Today’s a much different feeling leaving the rink,” Ducks forward Andrew Cogliano said, per the Los Angeles Times. “In those [previous] years there’s been a sense of hope. Today, there’s zero feeling like that.”
Perhaps the Anaheim Ducks will find hope by watching the rest of the 2016 playoffs. If the San Jose Sharks continue to succeed, they will be an example of a team that once underachieved, hit a critical low, but then managed to fix that in a relatively short time without a massive turnover in terms of on-ice personnel. While we’re at it, you could make a similar argument for the Washington Capitals.
Maybe Murray will look to those franchises for inspiration as he moves forward.
Pittsburgh only won by a single goal in Game 2 on Saturday and that deciding marker came with 4:28 minutes remaining in the third, but that contest had the potential to be far more one-sided.
The Capitals were outshot 28-10 through 40 minutes and were consequently leaning on goaltender Braden Holtby to keep things close.
“First two periods, I thought they were way better than us,” Washington coach Barry Trotz told CSN Mid-Atlantic. Or has Justin Williams put it, the Capitals “were getting embarrassed out there” during the first 40 minutes.
Washington did rebound in the third period, though it wasn’t enough to prevent the Penguins from evening this series at 1-1. That puts the pressure on Washington to take at least one game in Pittsburgh before the second round’s over.
Starting the game off strong is always going to be important, but that’s particularly true when talking about the Penguins and Capitals. Pittsburgh was 39-0-0 in the regular season when leading after 40 minutes while Washington was 37-0-1. So far in the playoffs, both teams are 4-0-0 when they have the lead after two periods.