In the first two games of Colorado’s opening-round series versus the Wild — both Avalanche victories — Paul Stastny, Nathan MacKinnon, and Gabriel Landeskog combined for seven goals.
The rest of the Avs had two.
Tonight in Minnesota, the Wild will be hoping that having the last change in Game 3 can help shut down Colorado’s trio of red-hot forwards and turn the tide in the series.
From the StarTribune:
That likely will mean top defenseman Ryan Suter and the third line, which should consist of at least veteran Matt Cooke and speedy rookie Erik Haula.
“Obviously I want that matchup for me and for my line and for our team,” said Cooke, who will play his 100th playoff game. “It’s tough when you’re on the road. We’re going to get the last change, and if that’s the way that Coach wants to go, then I’ll be ready.”
Haula is the Wild’s fastest forward, so it would make sense to assign him the task of shadowing MacKinnon, one of the fastest NHLers already at the age of 18. MacKinnon has seven points in the first two games.
As much as the Avs have impressed with their spectacular goals and just-find-a-way-to-win attitude, the Wild have to know they’re not done yet. After all, Darcy Kuemper can’t be any worse than Ilya Bryzgalov between the pipes, and it’s not like Colorado is brimming with playoff-proven veterans who have experience putting teams away.
Remember: of the eight first-round series in last year’s playoffs, two of them saw a team win the first two games, only to lose the series.
Worry (if you’re pulling for the Stars) or gloat (if you’re a Blackhawks fan) all you want, but the bottom line is that the Central Division’s No.1 spot is clearly in Chicago’s control after Saturday night.
The Blackhawks earned a decisive 5-1 win against the Dallas Stars, giving them a five-point standings lead over Dallas for the Central Division lead.
You may feel like that’s more of the same, but consider this: things would look a lot closer if Dallas won or gained points, as they hold three games in hand on the ‘Hawks.
At least one Blackhawks player admits this game means a little more than your average W.
Indeed, while Antti Niemi was pulled from the game and Kari Lehtonen faced his own struggles in Dallas’ net, Corey Crawford ranked as one of the big reasons why the score was so lopsided.
(Artem Anisimov had a big say in that, too.)
As a wise coach with 1,000+ games of experience would do, Joel Quenneville didn’t go overboard in assessing the victory.
Was this a statement game? Who knows, but a certain statement is that the Blackhawks now have a five-point standings lead.
Looking at the standings, beating the Buffalo Sabres was pretty important for the Boston Bruins. The Atlantic Division’s run for spots appears particularly congested out East.
Of all the Bruins to get a chance to win it all, the team might have wanted Brad Marchand to have that opportunity. He’s on pace to destroy his previous career-highs for scoring, and Marchand’s been particularly hot lately.
Either way, Marchand came up big indeed, scoring the rare overtime game-winner on a penalty shot. Check out the drama below:
That can be a big extra point and ROW (regulation/overtime win) when the regular season is finished.
Note: Many believe that Marchand should not have received a penalty shot on the play.
For quite some time, it looked like the Florida Panthers would keep the Pittsburgh Penguins under wraps.
Florida nursed a 1-0 lead into a 2-0 margin almost halfway through the third period, looking to win its sixth consecutive game. That looked great … and then Sidney Crosby + Kris Letang happened.
Let’s put it this way: this GIF of Crosby being frustrated is amusing, yet it doesn’t exactly tell the story of Saturday’s 3-2 overtime win for the Penguins:
Instead, Crosby grabbed his 900th point assisting on a Letang goal, and finished the night with 902 by collecting the game-tying goal and grabbing a helper on Letang’s overtime game-winner.
Crosby crossing that barrier is indeed special, even if it prompts “What if?” questions about No. 87’s health.
The resurgence of Crosby and Letang already played a big role in the Penguins going from disjointed and frustrating to sneaky and scary, so it shouldn’t be that surprising to see them play so well. Doing so in such brisk order is a little bewildering, however.
Saturday’s been unkind to the Toronto Maple Leafs, and not just on the scoreboard (where it’s 3-0 early on against the Ottawa Senators).
The Maple Leafs lost Tyler Bozak to an apparent upper-body injury thanks to a questionable hit by Sens forward Mika Zibanejad.
You can judge that check (which drew a minor penalty for illegal check to the head) in the video above. Again, Bozak will not return to tonight’s game.
It’s unclear if Bozak will miss time beyond this contest.
Update: It didn’t get much better going forward; the Senators beat the Maple Leafs 6-1.