If you missed it, there was plenty of drama last night.
The Blue Jackets and Stars overcame big deficits to tie their respective series against Columbus and Pittsburgh. Meanwhile, Chicago and St. Louis went to overtime for the third time in four games and this time it was the defending champion Blackhawks that came out on top.
As a result we now have three series that stand at 2-2. We might have two more series tied before the end of the night…
Game 4: Boston Bruins at Detroit Red Wings [Boston leads series 2-1] (8:00 p.m. ET, NBCSN)
Detroit won the first game thanks to a strong performance by goaltender Jimmy Howard and Pavel Datsyuk’s — as San Jose’s Logan Couture put it — filthy move late in the contest. Since then though, it’s been all Boston.
The Bruins outscored Detroit 7-1 over Games 2 and 3. The Red Wings have been to the playoffs for 23 straight campaigns, but they were led there this season by a young and largely inexperienced core, and lately that’s shined through in a bad way. Conversely the Bruins have played like they belong.
Henrik Zetterberg might return for Game 4 and that would certainly be a huge boost to the Red Wings. Either way though, Detroit needs more out of its young core before time runs out.
Game 4: Colorado Avalanche at Minnesota Wild [Colorado leads series 2-1] (9:30 p.m. ET, CNBC)
The Avalanche absolutely overwhelmed goaltender Ilya Bryzgalov in the first two games, but they haven’t figured out his replacement, Darcy Kuemper, yet. That resulted in Colorado losing Game 3 because the Wild were given the time to bombard Semyon Varlamov until they finally beat him on their 46th shot on goal.
Colorado has a strong offense and Minnesota can’t count on Kuemper posting another shutout. At the same time, the Avalanche are in a tough spot after the Wild’s Matt Cooke took out defenseman Tyson Barrie with a knee-on-knee hit. Both players have now been taken out of the series — Barrie because of a MCL injury; Cooke due to a suspension — but Colorado’s loss will likely sting more.
Cooke was serving as a third line forward while Barrie logged over 20 minutes in each of the Avalanche’s first two playoff games. Barrie was also a key contributor offensively during the regular season with 38 points in 64 games.
The loss has forced the Avalanche to make adjustments, but one surprise change was the call up of 2010 first-rounder Joey Hishon, who will make his NHL debut tonight.
Game 4: San Jose Sharks at Los Angeles Kings [San Jose leads series 3-0] (10:30 p.m. ET, NBCSN)
San Jose didn’t dominate Game 3 like it did in the first two contests of this series, but the Sharks still came away with an overtime win. Kings coach Darryl Sutter pledged that his squad “won’t go away quietly,” but can they really hope to come back?
Only three teams have ever bounced back from a 3-0 deficit, but it helps that Los Angeles has two players — Mike Richards and Jeff Carter — that previously pulled it off when they were members of the 2010 Philadelphia Flyers. The two are living reminders for the Kings that this series is still winnable.
Meanwhile, the Sharks will go for the sweep. They have four chances obviously, but they’re worried about what might happen if they let the Kings retake any ground.