Boston Bruins v Vancouver Canucks

Video: Alex Burrows bites Patrice Bergeron, might face suspension

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The first game of most Stanley Cup finals series usually requires a period of time for the two teams to “get to know each other” since the two conference representatives rarely meet. (That might change next season though, as NHL commissioner Gary Bettman vaguely referred to a “more balanced schedule” for the 2011-12 campaign during his press conference tonight.)

It doesn’t seem like the Boston Bruins and Vancouver Canucks needed much flirtation before things got dirty, as the first period was wide open, physical and testy. Interim head of discipline* Mike Murphy won’t need to wait more than a game to face his first important decision of the 2011 Stanley Cup finals, either.

Canucks power forward Alex Burrows bickered with Bruins two-way center Patrice Bergeron as time expired in the first period, receiving two roughing penalties to Bergeron’s single minor. Leaving his team shorthanded wasn’t Burrows’ worst mistake, though, as he clearly landed a bite on Bergeron’s hand during the skirmish. (Go ahead, get your Mike Tyson jokes out of the way right now.)

There have been times when a player seemingly got away with such an action when there wasn’t clear video evidence of some chomping. As you can see from the video below, it’s pretty obvious Burrows learned what Bergeron’s glove tastes like, though. Jarkko Ruutu received a two-game suspension for biting Andrew Peters during a 2009 regular season altercation, so my guess is that Burrows could be in line for a one-game punishment since this is the playoffs.

As you’ve surely learned from almost any Internet hockey humorist, it’s rarely safe to assume anything but chaos from the league’s decision making process. Feel free to debate what kind of punishment (if any?) Burrows deserves for the bite. Naturally, we’ll keep you up to date whenever the NHL addresses this memorable gaffe.

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* – Brendan Shanahan will eventually take over Colin Campbell’s recently vacated job, but Murphy will ease the transition by making the choices in this round.

Fights, hits and a blown kiss: Stars and Blues get nasty

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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.

Blues bombard Stars, go up 2-1 in series

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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.

Predators smash Sharks to get back in series

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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.

Stars’ goalie carousel goes around again: Lehtonen replaces Niemi

Dallas Stars goalie Antti Niemi (31) subs in for goalie Kari Lehtonen (32) during the third period of an NHL hockey game, Tuesday, Dec. 8, 2015, in Dallas. The Stars won 6-5. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
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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.