The San Jose Sharks held the lead for most of Game 2 against the Vancouver Canucks on Friday. Then Ryan Kesler stepped up in the third period to give the Canucks a 2-1 edge.
With less than a minute left in the contest, it looked like that would be sufficient, but Patrick Marleau found the back of the net with 56 seconds to spare. Raffi Torres scored in overtime to give the sixth seed Sharks a 2-0 series lead.
That kind of clutch performance is in defiance of the Sharks’ history of falling short in the playoffs, but perhaps their past misses are part of what made this comeback possible.
“We’re a bunch of veterans,” Sharks’ captain Joe Thornton told NHL.com. “All of us have played in so many playoff games, the calmness is scary sometimes.”
Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle’s attempted pass near the midway point of the third period led to Kesler’s second goal, but Boyle shrugged that off and helped set up Marleau’s game-tying goal.
“We showed a lot of character and a lot of guts to come back,” Boyle said in a CSN Bay Area report. “A win is a win. It wasn’t pretty, and we were obviously on our heels after we had the one goal lead a little bit too much, but a win is a win.”
San Jose had a 17-2-5 record in the HP Pavilion this season. With the series heading there, Vancouver will have a very tough time turning things around.
The future of Winnipeg’s goaltending will be on display tonight in Minnesota.
Connor Hellebuyck, the highly-touted prospect that starred for Team USA at the 2015 World Hockey Championships, will make his NHL debut today when the Jets take on the Wild at Xcel.
Hellebuyck is up with the Jets following an injury to No. 1 (or, “No. 1”) netminder Ondrej Pavelec, who’s out until January with a lower-body injury. An AHL All-Star a year ago, Hellebuyck arrived in Winnipeg with great fanfare and it’ll be interesting to see how he responds to the hype and pressure that come along with his first-ever big league start.
For the Wild, Devan Dubnyk‘s in goal.
— Corey Crawford goes for Chicago in Anaheim. No word yet on who the Ducks will have in goal.
— Braden Holtby starts again for Washington, as the Caps host the Bolts. Tampa Bay has yet to name a starter, much like the Ducks.
— Marc-Andre Fleury takes on Sergei Bobrovsky in Columbus tonight, as the Blue Jackets host the Penguins.
— Mike Condon is back in the starter’s role for Montreal with Carey Price sidelined, and his first order of business is a road date against Cory Schneider and the Devils in New Jersey.
— Cam Ward faces Chad Johnson as Buffalo welcomes the ‘Canes.
— The Isles will start Jaroslav Halak in Florida. The Panthers will counter with Roberto Luongo.
— Cam Talbot finally gets back into the starter’s role tonight in Detroit. Jimmy Howard will go for the Wings.
— It’s Ryan Miller versus Antti Niemi as the Canucks take on the Stars in Dallas.
— Even though Jonas Hiller is healthy and Joni Ortio‘s in the minors, Calgary will stick with Karri Ramo in Arizona. The Coyotes are going with their No. 1, Mike Smith.
For the first time since Nov. 5, Zach Parise will suit up for the Minnesota Wild.
The team confirmed today that Parise will be in the lineup tonight at home versus Winnipeg. The 31-year-old forward has missed the last eight contests with a sprained MCL.
The Wild were 7-2-2 before Parise got hurt. They lost the game against Nashville in which he suffered the injury, then went 4-3-1 without him.
“I’m just hoping to get back to form as quick as possible and go from there,” Parise told the Star Tribune. “I’m not thinking I need to score right out of the gate, I just want to play. … We’re still right in the hunt for everything. We’ll be fine.”
The Vancouver Canucks will face a pretty motivated Dallas Stars team tonight at American Airlines Center.
Blame the Ottawa Senators. They were the ones who smoked the Stars, 7-4, on Tuesday.
“It brings you back down to earth,” captain Jamie Benn told the Stars’ website. “You learn that any team can come in here and whip your butt. It was embarrassing for us, especially in our home rink and in front of our home fans. We don’t want that to happen again.”
The Stars have had their way with the Canucks in recent years. The last time Vancouver won in Dallas was Feb. 21, 2013. Since then, victories have included scorelines like 5-1, 4-1, 6-1, and 6-3.
The Stars have already hosted the Canucks once in Dallas this season. On Oct. 29, they fought back from a 3-1 third-period deficit to win, 4-3, in overtime.
Dallas (17-5-0) has yet to lose consecutive games this season.
Well, Matt Beleskey sure made his presence felt in the Thanksgiving Showdown.
With the Rangers leading the Bruins 2-1 midway through the second period, Beleskey delivered a huge hit on Rangers forward Derek Stepan, then had to answer the bell as he was immediately confronted by towering Blueshirts d-man Dylan McIlrath.
Needless to say, it had a pretty profound effect on the game.
McIlrath got the instigator penalty for the fight, which sent the B’s to the power play. Not long after, Brett Connolly scored his fifth of the year to even the score at 2-2.
Then, later in the period, Stepan was spotted going down the Rangers’ tunnel.
We’ll keep tabs on Stepan’s condition moving forward, and if the comes out for the third period.
There’s a pretty good chance New York bench boss Alain Vigneault will be asked for his thoughts on the hit, too, so stay tuned.
Update: The Rangers have ruled out Stepan for the remainder of the contest.