Anaheim Ducks v Dallas Stars - Game Four

Stars chase Andersen, tie series with Ducks 2-2

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The Dallas Stars found themselves down 2-0 in Game 4, but much like in this first-round series itself, they resolved to get back into it. They did more than that on Wednesday, in fact, storming back against the Anaheim Ducks to win 4-2 and tie the series 2-2.

This comeback win also prompted Ducks head coach Bruce Boudreau to yank Frederik Andersen in the third period, likely inspiring some to wonder if there’s uncertainty regarding who’s the go-to guy in net. Then again, that might not really be that good of a thing for Dallas, as Jonas Hiller carried the ball for much of this season and has a lot on the line if he’s given a chance to start.

The Stars rode third-period goals from Cody Eakin and Alex Goligoski to secure the win. Here are video clips of the game-winner and the 4-2 insurance goal:

Goaltending isn’t the only area of concern for the Ducks. Even with Ryan Getzlaf mysteriously out of action for Game 4, beloved veteran Teemu Selanne was a healthy scratch, prompting plenty of late criticism:

Of course, the Devil’s Advocate argument would point to “The Finnish Flash” only have one assist in the three games he appeared in during the playoffs, but the bottom line is that a lot of people are doing some second-guessing right now.

Really, it was a bit of a nightmare for the Ducks tonight, especially as things got ugly late in the contest. Antoine Roussel even managed to draw Corey Perry into a fight in the closing minutes:

Stars blog Defending Big D noted that Boudreau and the Ducks were already losing their cool regarding some of the Stars’ pesty players after Game 3. That testiness is probably boiling over to full-blown hatred by now (although, to be honest, it’s possible that disdain was already deep from their days as Pacific Division opponents).

On paper, the Stars seemed like they might be a sneaky-tough out for the Anaheim Ducks despite being the bottom-ranked West team in the playoffs (much like the Detroit Red Wings seemed like they might be a challenge for the Boston Bruins). They’ve fit that bill so far, sending this series back to Anaheim tied 2-2 … essentially “holding serve.”

For the Ducks, it’s gut-check time, as they face the uncomfortable possibility of following two excellent regular seasons with two first-round series struggles.

Pens coach praises Murray: ‘He doesn’t get rattled’

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Hot take: the Pittsburgh Penguins probably won’t deal with a goalie controversy going into Game 7.

(Ugh, that’s a failed hot take … you can’t use “probably” in those things, right?)

Matt Murray was fantastic at times during Game 6, much like his counterpart in the Tampa Bay Lightning’s net in a 5-2 win. Granted, there were some tense moments during the Bolts’ late-game push:

Much has been made about experience, especially from those calling for Marc-Andre Fleury earlier in this series. It’s telling that the praise Murray draws sure sounds like what you’d expect from a “veteran.”

“He has a calming influence,” Sullivan said. “He doesn’t get rattled. If he lets a goal in, he just continues to compete. That’s usually an attribute that usually takes years to acquire that, and to have it at such a young age is impressive.”

Thanks in part to Murray’s efforts in Game 6, he’ll get a chance to prove his resolve in something new: a Game 7 in the Eastern Conference Final.

Once again, his teammates seem pretty confident in this elimination situation.

Lightning lament Game 6 effort, Cooper doesn’t blame disallowed goal

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The Tampa Bay Lightning seemed to sleepwalk through the first two periods of Game 6, and waking up in the final frame wasn’t enough to edge the Pittsburgh Penguins.

On the bright side, at least the Lightning aren’t in denial about that weak first 40 minutes.

It seemed like everyone on the team more or less admitted as much in unison.

Brian Boyle added that he felt like the Lightning tiptoed around this game. Jon Cooper often provides great quips, yet he was pretty matter-of-fact in this case.

Many will linger on this disallowed goal for Jonathan Drouin, which would have provided a 1-0 lead for Tampa Bay in the first period.

Let’s face it; that moment came pretty early in the game. To Tampa Bay’s credit, they’re not pinning the loss on that setback.

Now they must set their sights on competing throughout Game 7 … and maybe earning some bounces of their own in the process.

Read more about Game 6 here.

Penguins force Game 7 after holding off Lightning rally

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The Pittsburgh Penguins played with fire late in Game 6, but they also showed plenty of fire in beating the Tampa Bay Lightning 5-2.

With that, this thrilling Eastern Conference Final will go the distance with Game 7 on Thursday.

There are at least a few “What if?” scenarios to consider, especially for the Lightning.

What if that offside goal counted?

Jonathan Drouin played some fantastic hockey on Tuesday, yet his most memorable moment came via something that ultimately “didn’t happen.” An offside call on a goal review kept a 1-0 lead from happening for Tampa Bay:

Instead, the Penguins poured it on during the first period and eventually went up 1-0. They then carried that momentum over through the second period, adding two more goals to go up 3-0 heading into the final frame.

What if Tampa Bay played more like they did in the third period?

The difference between the level of play in the first 40 minutes and the final frame were night-and-day.

Now, you can make a chicken-and-the-egg argument here. Did the Penguins take their feet off the gas with that lead? Maybe Jon Cooper finally unleashed the hounds when the Lightning were facing a big deficit?

Maybe it’s a combination of those factors; either way, the Bolts couldn’t come all the way back even after making it interesting. At one point the game was 3-2 before a Bryan Rust breakaway goal and an empty-netter put things out of reach.

Both Matt Murray and Andrei Vasilevskiy faced plenty of tough chances and came through more often than not. We’ll see if there are any goal controversy rumblings, but each netminder came through at times tonight.

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Now the series shifts back to Pittsburgh for Game 7 with a Stanley Cup Final on the line. Excited and/or nervous yet?

More: Great goals by Sidney Crosby and Phil Kessel.

Sidney Crosby scores a superstar goal

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With the Pittsburgh Penguins’ season on the line in Game 6, plenty of eyes are on big guns Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang and Phil Kessel.

Those marquee names are really coming through so far as they’ve now built a 3-0 lead through two periods against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

You likely already saw Kessel’s display of high-end hand-eye coordination (if not, check it here). Kris Letang scored his first goal of the series to make it 2-0 on a very tricky, well-placed shot.

The highlight really might be Crosby’s tally, though. He left multiple Lightning players baffled and beat a very-much-game Andrei Vasilevskiy to beef that lead up 3-0.