The Western Conference series were all pretty one-sided, but the east will provide us with three Game 7s over the next two days. Which begs the question: which one are you looking forward to the most? Here’s a quick preview of each game:
The New York Rangers vs the Ottawa Senators – This looked like the most lopsided series going into the playoffs. It was an accomplishment for the Senators to even make it to the first round and after Daniel Alfredsson suffered a concussion in Game 2, things looked even grimmer for Ottawa. Still, the Senators have matched the Rangers blow-for-blow in this series and it’s entirely possible that neither of the first seeds will survive the opening round.
The Boston Bruins vs the Washington Capitals – Goaltender Braden Holtby has really made himself the story of this series. He had almost no NHL experience going into the playoffs and was only starting because of injuries to Tomas Vokoun and Michal Neuvirth. However, Holtby has risen to the occasion and has looked just as good or better than Tim Thomas. The question now is if he can steal one more game for the Capitals or if the defending champion Bruins will extend their season.
The Florida Panthers vs the New Jersey Devils – No matter what happens in Game 7, we’re going to see a team advance to the second round for the first time in years. Of course, for Florida the wait has been much longer. Until this season, the Panthers hadn’t even made the playoffs since 2000. Depending on the outcome of this game, we might be getting out last glimpse of Zach Parise in a Devils’ uniform and Martin Brodeur.
But the chance for at least a single point slipped at the worst possible time, as Jonathan Toews scored with 1:18 left in regulation and then set up an empty net goal from Marian Hossa just a few seconds later to secure the 4-2 win.
The Canucks remain stuck at five wins — just five wins — on the road. They have the 29th-ranked road record in the entire NHL. Only the Arizona Coyotes have been worse away from home ice. So, that’s a problem that needs to be fixed down the stretch.
Vancouver had a chance to move into a wild card spot. Instead, they let the Blackhawks regain momentum as the period went on, and as a result, they remain on the outside of the Western Conference playoff picture for right now.
Corey Crawford earned his 200th career win, making 26 saves. That’s a milestone night for him. For Toews, that’s his most productive night of the season, as he factored into all four Chicago goals, which, of course, included the winner.
So overtime against the New York Islanders seemed like a perfect time for captain Claude Giroux to bust his scoring slump.
Without a goal in his last 12 games, or since Dec. 21 before the holiday break, Giroux finished the Flyers comeback with an overtime goal to give Philly a 3-2 victory on Sunday. Jakub Voracek did great work along the boards to force a turnover from John Tavares, and Shayne Gostisbehere followed up his chance with a quick pass to a wide-open Giroux at the top of the crease.
That comeback win — Philly trailed by two goals early in the second period — bumps the Flyers back into a wild card spot.
Steve Mason had a big game in net for Philly, with 36 saves, while the Flyers fired 47 shots on goal toward Thomas Greiss, although it’s a difficult task trying to re-set and stop Giroux — an accomplished scorer in the NHL — on the doorstep.
Goals, goals and more goals! Blue Jackets outlast Senators for overtime win
Plenty of goals. A little three-on-three overtime. Seemed like an enjoyable afternoon of hockey between the Ottawa Senators and Columbus Blue Jackets.
Well, maybe the goalies, Mike Condon and Joonas Korpisalo, didn’t enjoy it as much.
The Blue Jackets prevailed for a 7-6 overtime win, with Cam Atkinson scoring just 1:09 into the extra period. That’s his 23rd goal of the season. Only two players — Jeff Carter (24) and Sidney Crosby (28) — have scored more goals than Atkinson this season.
With the win, and the Capitals sitting idle today, the Blue Jackets move back into a tie with Washington at 68 points in the fight for first place in the Metropolitan Division.
There were some anxious moments for Columbus.
Rookie defenseman Zach Werenski was hurt blocking a shot in the third period. He briefly left the game, unable to put any pressure on his right leg as he was helped off.
The good news: He only missed a few minutes, returning late in regulation and for the overtime as well, which is important for the Blue Jackets.
#CBJ Zach Werenski said on @FOXSportsOH post-game he "thought it was broken" and "long term" injury when he blocked the shot.
“He’s made a couple of huge mistakes in a game and he comes to the bench, shakes it off and then goes out and makes a great play. For a 19-year-old playing that position and the amount of time he’s getting in key situations with this organization, it’s pretty impressive.”