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.
Vancouver 4, Chicago 3; Canucks lead series 2-0.
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.
“Costly victories” may have been one of the themes of Saturday night, as some teams paired impressive wins with worrisome injuries.
The good news is that, in each case, it appears that the early word is optimistic about those players (Tyler Seguin got stitched up in the Stars’ win, for example).
The Anaheim Ducks are reportedly readying to recall Anton Khudobin on Sunday after John Gibson suffered an upper-body injury during a collision with Chicago Blackhawks forward Richard Panik.
Again, so far the hope/expectation is that this might not be a major issue:
The pessimistic take would be to wonder “Uh oh, is the Ducks goalie carousel starting again?”
Frederik Andersen has seen some runs as Anaheim’s No. 1 guy, so maybe this issue is a reminder that the Ducks may be better off keeping both Gibson and Andersen around … at least while they can.
For two periods, the Dallas Stars seemed to say, “Are you sure the Washington Capitals are the best team in the NHL?”
They chased Braden Holtby and built a 4-0 lead through those first 40 minutes, and that was enough … but barely. The Stars beat the Capitals 4-3 on Saturday, which accomplished the following:
- Dallas ended Washington’s winning streak at five games. The Stars have now won three straight.
- This win slides the Stars ahead of the Chicago Blackhawks for first place in the highly competitive Central Division. While both teams sit at 77 standings points, Dallas holds three games in hand.
- By passing Chicago, the Stars now lead the Western Conference as a whole.
Impressive stuff. Some might even call it a statement game, although others may hold that nail-biting ending against them (possibly arguing that the Stars’ flaws may come back to haunt them in the playoffs).
Dallas’ biggest concern likely has little to do with doubters. Instead, they must monitor the statuses of forwards Tyler Seguin and Cody Eakin.
Long story short, the Stars are red-hot, yet bigger challenges likely lie ahead.
The Chicago Blackhawks are on edge on Saturday, and it’s not because of what’s currently a close game against the Anaheim Ducks.
(Not that they’re indifferent toward a match against their opponents from last year’s conference final match, mind you.)
Instead, the Blackhawks are quite concerned about the health of Marian Hossa, who needed help off of the ice following an awkward, scary-looking crash into the boards. (Hampus Lindholm delivered the hip check that sent Hossa sprawling, in case you’re wondering.)
You can see that moment in the video above, while My Regular Face’s GIF also captures that troubling moment:
It’s too early to tell if Hossa will bounce back or miss some time from this. Stay tuned for potential updates.
Update: Joel Quenneville seems optimistic about Hossa, broadly speaking:
Ryan Getzlaf scored the overtime game-winner as the Ducks won 3-2 (OT).
If it weren’t for Mike Yeo and the Minnesota Wild, you could argue that the Florida Panthers suffered from the worst night so far.
You can see that Saturday was unpleasant merely from looking at the scoreboard: the Nashville Predators pummeled the Panthers by an unkind score of 5-0.
The pain goes beyond that … literally so.
For one thing, Quinton Howden suffered an upper-body injury and did not return. That’s no good, but if you want to feel sick to your stomach, footage of Brandon Pirri‘s likely lower-body injury (ankle maybe?) may do the trick.
(Seriously, you may be happier if you don’t look.)
The Panthers didn’t make an announcement about Pirri one way or another, so we’ll see if he somehow avoided anything significant.
Either way, it was a night this team would like to forget.