Minnesota Wild owner Craig Leipold can breathe a sigh of relief. Everything didn’t go exactly according to plan, but the Wild will at least participate in the playoffs after signing Zach Parise and Ryan Suter over the summer.
The Wild seemed like a lock to secure a playoff berth at one point, but they dropped nine of 13 contests from April 1-26 before finally coming through with a 3-1 victory against the Colorado Avalanche tonight.
Although, even their win against the worst team in the Western Conference wasn’t pretty. Colorado appeared to take a 2-1 lead early in the second period, but the goal was ultimately disallowed in a controversial decision.
You can see that below:
With Minnesota’s victory, the Columbus Blue Jackets have been eliminated. The two teams were tied in points, but the Wild claimed the tiebreaker (most regulation+overtime wins). The Blue Jackets were expected to have a horrendous season after trading away Rick Nash, but goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky led them in a surge that ultimately proved to be just a tad too late.
Minnesota will now play against the Presidents’ Trophy Chicago Blackhawks in the first round. The Wild have only made the playoffs in three other years and have never faced the Blackhawks in the postseason. They were the first team to beat Chicago this season — a 3-2 shootout win on Jan. 30 — but Chicago won their other two matches this season.
Chicago figures to be heavy favorites going into this series, but as we’ve seen before, anything can happen in the playoffs.
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.