If you predicted that a Panthers/Blues game would pair two of the hottest teams in the league at any point this season, you could have won some serious money in Las Vegas. But coming into Thursday night’s game, the Florida Panthers were riding a four game winning streak, while the Blues were unbeaten in four straight games since Ken Hitchcock took over ten days ago. The new-look Panthers proved they were no match for the new-look Blues as St. Louis dominated en route to a 4-1 victory.
The Blues are now 4-0-1 under their new head coach. The only blemish since Hitchcock took over was a shootout loss to the Maple Leafs a week ago after giving up a pair of first period goals. In an amazing stat, the Blues haven’t given up any 2nd or 3rd period goals since Hitchcock took over five games ago. St. Louis goaltenders have pitched two shutouts and have only give up four total goals in five games. Any team that can keep the puck out of the net that well is going to be successful.
And people said the NHL game had passed Hitchcock by.
The loss for the Panthers snaps their impressive four game winning streak. The game in St. Louis was their fifth game in five cities and it showed. Despite bombing the Stars earlier in the week 6-0, the Panthers looked like a team that was ready to head home. ““We didn’t have a lot of energy tonight,” Panthers coach Kevin Dineen said. “We looked sloppy and we looked slow when we’re not engaged in the game.”
Part of the effort can be attributed to a tough patch of the schedule, but the Blues came out and earned the victory. Now the Panthers can look forward to their four-game homestand that starts this weekend against the Penguins. They’ll hope to rediscover their winning ways against a team that was dominated tonight in Tampa Bay.
It’s unbelievable what Hitchcock has done with the team in such a short time. Their defense makes them look like an elite team and their power play (which was the worst in the league), looks like its improved from “embarrassing” to “adequate.” Hitch’s boys will look to continue their hot start against another surprising team: the Minnesota Wild.
Can they win their fourth straight?
Brooks Orpik has been suspended for three games for his hit on Olli Maatta (top). The Caps defenseman will be forced to miss Games 3, 4 and 5 of the best-of-seven series against the Penguins.
Orpik delivered a late, high hit to Maatta in Game 2. The Penguins defenseman was wobbly getting off the ice and he was unable to return to the game.
Here’s how the Department of Players Safety saw the play:
“Orpik steps up to pressure Bonino, who quickly moves the puck to Maatta. Orpik peels off Bonino to pressure Maatta, who releases a shot from the top of the circle. The two continue on their path toward the goal line, as the puck is kicked into the slot. A full second after Maatta releases the puck, Orpik delivers a high, forceful hit making significant head contact. This is interference.”
To watch the NHL’s Department of Player Safety’s full explanation, click the video below.
This is the third time Orpik’s been suspended in his NHL career.
The Nashville Predators and San Jose Sharks will face-off in Game 2 on Sunday night. You can catch the game on NBCSN (8:00 p.m. ET) or online with the NBC Sports Live Extra app.
The Sharks used a five-goal third period to squash the Predators in the opening game of the best-of-seven series. Game 2 at the Sharks Tank should be a whole lot of fun.
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Here’s some reading material to get you ready for the game:
—Sharks swarm in the third period, take down Predators in Game 1
—Black cat hits the ice before Sharks-Predators Game 1
—Are there similarities between the ’14 Sharks and ’16 Ducks?
The St. Louis Blues won’t be thrilled with the way they played in the third period, but in the end, they did just enough to come away with a 4-3 overtime win over the Dallas Stars in Game 2. The Blues’ win means that the series will head to St. Louis tied 1-1.
The Stars opened the scoring in the first period, but the Blues responded by scoring three unanswered goals (Patrik Berglund, Joel Edmundson, Troy Brouwer) on five shots. Stars coach Lindy Ruff had seen enough from starter Kari Lehtonen at that point. He yanked Lehtonen in favor of Antti Niemi at the start of the second period.
Neither team was able to find the back of the net in the second period, but things got crazy in the third.
With his team still trailing 3-1, Mattias Janmark split Alex Pietrangelo and Colton Parayko before scoring a great goal.
Moments after Janmark’s goal, Brian Elliott took a Jason Spezza blast off the mask. Elliott was shaken up on the play (he even lost one of his contact lenses), but he did stay in the game.
Stars captain Jamie Benn (surprise, surprise) leveled the score by burying a goal by Brian Elliott with under three minutes in regulation.
Like they did during their first round series against Chicago, the Blues took some time to regroup before finding a way to get the job done.
The Blues’ power play went back to work after Antoine Roussel took his third penalty of the game. That’s when the birthday boy, David Backes, came through.
That’s a nice way to celebrate your 32nd birthday.
Game 3 goes Tuesday night in St. Louis.
This definitely wasn’t the way the St. Louis Blues drew it up.
The Blues entered the third period of Game 2 with a 3-1 lead. Unfortunately for them, they weren’t able to shut the game down on the road.
St. Louis jumped ahead 3-1 after 20 minutes before Dallas decided to pull Kari Lehtonen in favor of Antti Niemi. The move didn’t provide any results in the middle frame, but something certainly sparked the Stars in the third period.
Mattias Janmark cut the deficit to 3-2 with this beauty (notice how he split Colton Parayko and Alex Pietrangelo).
With less than three minutes remaining in regulation, Stars captain Jamie Benn tied it up (top).
It’s safe to say this wasn’t a memorable third period for the Blues.