Tyler Seguin, Bruins explode in second period, hang on to tie series 1-1

A lot of people watched Tyler Seguin’s astounding four-point second period and wondered what Boston Bruins coach Claude Julien was thinking when he made him a healthy scratch for two rounds. Yet it’s quite possible Seguin benefited from having fresh legs and the motivation to never watch a playoff game in street clothes again. Either way, it’s hard to imagine the second pick of the 2010 NHL Entry Draft being a healthy scratch again anytime soon.

If ever, really.

Boston 6, Tampa Bay 5; Series tied 1-1

There really wasn’t a dull moment in this game, which surprised many considering the defense-first strategies both teams normally employ. The Lightning will inspire yet another round of “striking fast” puns thanks to Adam Hall’s goal, which happened just 13 seconds into the game. The Bruins dominated most of the first frame and tied it up 1-1, but Steven Stamkos sent a brilliant blind pass to set up a Martin St. Louis 2-1 goal with just seven seconds left.

That goal left the Boston crowd stunned, but it turned out be a prelude to two more dramatic periods.

Tyler Seguin, Bruins chase Dwayne Roloson in the second period

In a second period some might call “The Revenge of the Law of Averages,” the Bruins finally took over Game 2. Obviously, the biggest story was Seguin, who set a single-game playoff record for a teenager with four points (according to Versus). We’ll have more on his special night in a separate post, but if you need a taste of just how special he was, check out this video.

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Seguin wasn’t the only Bruins forward who dominated in the second period, even if he clearly produced his first true star-making moment. Michael Ryder scored two goals himself, for example. Another heartening trend for the Bruins was their improved power play (and, by extension, Tomas Kaberle, who produced two assists). That much-derided unit produced two goals on six opportunities and plenty of shots in the process.

It’s important to note the timely (and difficult) saves made by Tim Thomas. The Lightning received a disturbing amount of (partial or full) breakaway opportunities, but Thomas made some huge saves to maintain what became a 6-3 lead. In keeping with the theme of this crazy game, the game was far from over even if elderly godsend Dwayne Roloson was chased from the Lightning net.

Tampa Bay storms back in third

As Keith Jones pointed out in the post-game recap, the Bruins missed Patrice Bergeron the most when they were trying to hold onto what should have been a secure 6-3 lead in the final frame. Say what you will about this Lightning team, they won’t just slump their shoulders and quit.

They didn’t end up tying the game, but the Bolts can take some momentum going into their home games. Stamkos continued his own excellent night by firing an absolute laser beam over Thomas to make it 6-4, giving his team hope once again.

Dominic Moore ended up making it 6-5 on a bizarre interchange. It seemed like Victor Hedman scored a goal seconds before a wild scrum, but Moore was wise to punch it back in as Thomas was bowled over. Check out footage of that moment below.

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That goal came with almost seven minutes left in the third, so there were plenty of breath-taking moments. If you ask me, the closest the Lightning came when Marc-Andre Bergeron nearly scored on a rebound attempt 16:09 into the third. Thomas ended up stopping it, though, and the Bruins held on for dear life with some resourceful last-minute plays.

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This was a wild and memorable game, so we’ll have a little more on Seguin’s special night and how each team should feel going into Game 3 shortly.

Rangers punch playoff ticket to wrap up night of clinched spots

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The New York Rangers weren’t ecstatic that Chris Tierney‘s 4-4 goal sent their game to overtime against the San Jose Sharks, but either way, getting beyond regulation punched their ticket to the playoffs on Tuesday night.

For the seventh season in a row, the Rangers are in the NHL’s postseason. They fell to the Sharks 5-4 in overtime, so they haven’t locked down the first wild-card spot in the East … yet. It seems like a matter of time, however.

The Rangers have now made the playoffs in 11 of their last 12 tries, a far cry from the barren stretch where the Rangers failed to make the playoffs from 1997-98 through 2003-04 (with the lockout season punctuating the end of that incompetent era).

New York has pivoted from the John Tortorella days to the Vigneault era, and this season has been especially interesting as they reacted to a 2016 first-round loss to the Penguins by instituting a more attacking style. The Metropolitan Division’s greatness has overshadowed, to some extent, how dramatic the improvement has been.

This result seems like a tidy way to discuss Tuesday’s other events.

The drama ends up being low for the Rangers going forward, and while there might be a shortage of life-or-death playoff struggles, the battles for seeding look to be fierce.

Oilers end NHL’s longest playoff drought; Sharks, Ducks also clinch

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There’s something beautiful about the symmetry on Tuesday … unless you’re a Detroit Red Wings fans, maybe.

On the same night that the longest active NHL playoff streak ended at 25 for Detroit, the longest playoff drought concluded when the Edmonton Oilers clinched a postseason spot by beating the Los Angeles Kings 2-1.

The Oilers haven’t reached the playoffs since 2005-06, when Chris Pronger lifted them to Game 7 of the 2006 Stanley Cup Final.

In doing so, other dominoes fell. Both the Anaheim Ducks and San Jose Sharks also punched their tickets to the postseason.

The Sharks, of course, hope to exceed last season’s surprising run to the 2016 Stanley Cup Final.

Meanwhile, the Anaheim Ducks continue their run of strong postseasons, even as their Cup win fades to the background ever so slightly. All three teams are currently vying for the Pacific Division title.

The Western Conference’s eight teams are dangerously close to being locked into place, as the Nashville Predators, Calgary Flames and St. Louis Blues are all close to looking down their spots as well.

Want the East perspective? Check out this summary of Tuesday’s events from the perspective of the other conference.

Craig Anderson took his blunder hard – probably too hard – in Sens loss

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Members of the Ottawa Senators were quick to come to Craig Anderson‘s blunder (see above) in Tuesday’s 3-2 shootout loss to the Philadelphia Flyers, and it’s easy to see why.

It’s not just about his personal struggles, either. When Anderson’s managed to play, he’s been flat-out phenomenal, generating a .927 save percentage that ranks near a Vezina-type level (if he managed to play more than 35 games).

Goaltending has been a huge reason why Ottawa has at least a shot of winning the Atlantic or at least grabbing a round of home-ice advantage, so unlike certain instances where teams shield a goalie’s failures, the defenses are absolutely justified.

Anderson, on the other hand, was very hard on himself.

You have to admire Anderson for taking the blame, even if in very much “hockey player” fashion, he’s not exactly demanding the same sort of credit for his great work this season.

It’s official: Red Wings’ playoff streak ends at 25 seasons

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When we look back at the 2016-17 season for the Detroit Red Wings, it will be remembered for some said endings.

It began without Pavel Datsyuk. We knew that their last game at Joe Louis Arena this season would be their last ever. And now we know that Joe Louis Arena won’t be home to another playoff run.

After 25 straight seasons of making the playoffs – quite often managing deep runs – the Red Wings were officially eliminated on Tuesday night. In getting this far, they enjoyed one of the greatest runs of longevity in NHL history:

Tonight revolves largely around East teams winning and teams clinching bids – the Edmonton Oilers could very well end the league’s longest playoff drought this evening – but this story is more solemn.

EA Sports tweeted out a great infographic:

“Right now it’s hard to talk about it, because you’re a big reason why it’s not continuing,” Henrik Zetterberg said in an NHL.com report absolutely worth your time.

Mike “Doc” Emrick narrated a great look back at Joe Louis Arena here: