It wasn’t the kind of dominant win the Vancouver Canucks might have wanted to profoundly shake the Chicago Blackhawks from their psyches, but the Presidents’ Trophy winners will gladly take a 2-0 series lead from tonight’s win.
This Game 2 contest featured a mixture of the expected (a great performance by Hart Trophy frontrunner Daniel Sedin, who scored twice and recorded an assist) and the unexpected (Sedin’s goals being answered by two Ben Smith rebound goals, the first playoff tallies of his career). For a while, it seemed like the ‘Hawks might go into Game 3 wondering if they could solve Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo. By the end, there were many left wondering if Luongo still needs to get that monkey off his back.
Viktor Stalberg’s goal might have been the best microcosm of the surprising sources of Chicago offense, as the forward’s quick release caught Luongo off-guard … but also surprised Stalberg, as he took a noticeable amount of time to realize he scored a goal.
Ultimately, the Blackhawks made too many mistakes, especially when the Sedin twins were on the ice. Daniel had his three points and Henrik showed up too, providing two helpers. Chicago rarely had a solution for the pairing beyond “Let’s hope Corey Crawford can handle it.”
Crawford had some great moments despite allowing four goals on 27 shots, but Luongo did enough to win again, stopping 23 out of 26.
The best team from the 2010-11 season has the defending Stanley Cup champions in a tough situation, but the Blackhawks host the next two games at the United Center, an arena that has been a House of Horrors for Luongo and the Canucks the past few playoff years. Perhaps Chicago built a little confidence in giving Vancouver a late run in Game 2, but the bottom line is that they must match the Canucks’ efforts with two home wins of their own if they have a chance to make this a series.
It’s been a thrilling (if occasionally messy) first two games, but we’ll see if Chicago can get back into this series in the next two games.
Raanta rewards Rangers for starts over Lundqvist by blanking Blackhawks
If someone told you that the New York Rangers started a goalie on back-to-back nights, and that goalie wasn’t Henrik Lundqvist, you’d probably wonder if he was hurt or retired.
Nope. It just so happens that Antti Raanta is playing at an incredibly high level, Alain Vigneault noticed, and that decision paid dividends on Friday night. Raanta won both nights of a back-to-back, allowing a single goal (with the Rangers protecting him, being that he only needed to stop 43 of 44 shots during that span).
Raanta and the Rangers blanked the Chicago Blackhawks with a 1-0 overtime win, at least briefly climbing to first place in the massively competitive Metro Division:
1. Rangers – 39 points in 29 games played
2. Penguins- 37 points in 27 GP
3. Blue Jackets – 36 points in 25 GP
4. Capitals – 35 points in 26 GP
5. Flyers – 35 points in 29 GP
Nick Holden ended up scoring the only goal of the game:
Meanwhile, the Blackhawks lost but at least salvaged a standings point and it seems like Patrick Kane is OK after this injury scare:
Raanta improved to 7-1-0 on the season, allowing two goals or less in all but one of his appearances so far this season. That’s the kind of work you’d expect to see if you’re going sit a guy who’s, you know, a living legend.
Blue Jackets remain in thick of things in Metro on tough night for Red Wings
As the Columbus Blue Jackets keep rolling, the Detroit Red Wings are probably just happy to get Friday behind them.
For the second straight game, the Blue Jackets beat their opponent 4-1.
They’re now on a five-game winning streak, and like the climbing St. Louis Blues, things look great if you go back a little further. They’re 10-1-2 in their last 13 games and 13-2-3 since November began.
The New Jersey Devils have been incredibly difficult to beat at home. Lately, the St. Louis Blues have been on a roll just about anywhere.
On Friday night, the Blues were the hotter team, handing the Devils their first home loss in regulation in 2016-17. And it wasn’t particularly close, with St. Louis winning 4-1.
It’s a convenient time to note that the Blues rank among the hottest teams in the NHL. Most recently, they’re 5-1-1 in their last seven games, but they’ve been especially impressive since they flirted with .500 at 7-6-3. Beginning with a 4-1 win against the Buffalo Sabres on Nov. 15, the Blues are on a 8-2-1 tear.
This leaves them second in the Central with a 16-8-4 record.
That’s impressive stuff.
This 4-1 win was quite the showcase for Robby Fabbri and Vladimir Tarasenko, in particular. Tarasenko collected three assists while Fabbri scored two goals on Friday night. His second goal was particularly slick:
The Blues are right in saying that this was a pretty fitting opportunity to drop a “Holy Jumpin.”
Minnesota Wild goalie Devan Dubnyk has been the most difficult goalies to score against this season. Leave it to a high-level player like Leon Draisaitl to make it look this, well, “easy.”
Draisaitl scored his 13th goal of 2016-17 by capping this pretty give-and-go play with Benoit Pouliot. You can see the frustration from Dubnyk at the end of the tally, as if he was saying “How was I supposed to stop that?” (though probably with more colorful language).
Draisaitl came into Friday with five goals and three assists in his last five games, so he’s been almost unstoppable lately.