Well, it was awfully close to being Chicago vs. Nashville in the first round of the playoffs, but (to paraphrase Dennis Green) the West’s No. 4 vs. No. 5 seed matchup is what we thought it would be. The fourth-seed Nashville Predators are set to host the fifth-seed Detroit Red Wings. Here are a few thoughts to warm you up:
- It’s no secret that the Red Wings struggle on the road. While they’re home record (31-7-3) is the best in the NHL, the Red Wings are just 17-21-3 on the road. Only the Washington Capitals (15-21-4, seriously) are worse when it comes to playoff teams. Can Detroit overcome that enough to win the series?
- The Predators are carrying the feeling of a franchise that’s ready to take the so-called “Next Step.” They won their first series last year, come in with all the Alex Radulov buzz and quietly put up a little more offense this season. Do they have the stuff for a deep run? Would this season be a huge letdown if they fall to Detroit?
This series has a lot to love. Original Six franchise takes on what might be the definition of a “non-traditional” market. Some will grumble that Shea Weber and Ryan Suter might be auditioning for a future job with Detroit while others might wonder if winning or losing this series could determine that future. A few might even look at this as a matchup between a high-powered Red Wings offense and a meticulously crafted defensive force in Nashville.
What do you think, though? Share some early thoughts on the series – we’ll have plenty more once previews and other good stuff rolls around.
The Pittsburgh Penguins will head back home with a split of their second-round series with the rival Washington Capitals.
Former Capitals forward Eric Fehr came back to burn his hold team, as he scored with under five minutes remaining in regulation to help lift the Penguins over Washington with a 2-1 victory in an eventful Game 2 on Saturday. Evgeni Malkin threw the puck toward the net and Fehr was able to re-direct it by Braden Holtby.
Oh, this was an eventful game, indeed.
It started early in the first period with Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik catching Penguins blue liner Olli Maatta with a late and high hit that warranted — at least for now — only a minor penalty for interference. Maatta, clearly in distress following the hit, didn’t play another shift and saw only 31 seconds of ice time in total, as Pittsburgh was reduced to five defensemen for the remainder of the game.
It continued in the third period. Kris Letang was furious after getting called for a trip on Justin Williams, and even more ticked off when the Capitals tied the game on the ensuing power play.
For two periods, the Capitals couldn’t get much going. Only four of their players had registered a shot on goal through 40 minutes, while the Penguins held the edge in that department and held the lead.
Washington came out with more jump in the third period, testing rookie netminder Matt Murray with 14 shots in the final 20 minutes. But the Penguins got the late goal to break the deadlock.
Kris Letang watched from the penalty box as the Washington Capitals tied up Game 2 with a power play goal in the third period. The Pittsburgh Penguins defenseman was called for tripping after he appeared to muscle Justin Williams off the puck as he entered the zone.
Letang let his disagreement with the call be known at the time, and was furious after the Capitals capitalized on a goal from Marcus Johansson.
The Capitals started the period down a goal and being outshot 28-10 by the Penguins, who need a win to even the series.
Also, it seems this is worth mentioning:
In their quest to even the series, the Pittsburgh Penguins had done a nice job through two periods of suffocating the Washington Capitals, while gaining the lead on a beautiful goal.
Carl Hagelin took advantage of a vast amount of space that opened up in front of the Washington net, finishing off a nice pass from Nick Bonino, burying his shot just under the cross bar on the glove side of Braden Holtby.
Through two periods, the Penguins were outshooting Washington 28-10. Only four Capitals players — Alex Ovechkin, T.J. Oshie, Evgeny Kuznetsov and Matt Niskanen — had registered shots on goal.
The Pittsburgh Penguins were without defenseman Olli Maatta for most of the first period of Game 2 after he was on the receiving end of a high, late hit from Washington Capitals defenseman Brooks Orpik.
The hit occurred early in the first period, well after Maatta had gotten rid of the puck on a rush into the Washington zone.
Maatta, who nearly fell over as he tried to stand back up, was in obvious distress as he went to the dressing room. Orpik was given a minor penalty for interference on the play.