Tonight on CNBC, it’s the Minnesota Wild hosting the Chicago Blackhawks starting at 9 p.m. ET. Following are some game notes, as compiled by the NHL on NBC research team:
• Chicago scored two late third period goals to put away Minnesota in Game 2 and take a 2-0 series advantage. The series now shifts about 400 miles northwest to St. Paul and the Xcel Energy Center, where the Wild have won all three of their home games this postseason. They have allowed the fewest amount of goals/game of any team in the playoffs at home (1.00), but are tied for the most goals allowed/game on the road (4.33). Their lone win on the road in the playoffs was Game 7 in Colorado when they defeated the Avalanche, 5-4 in overtime.
• Chicago has now won six straight playoff games after winning the final four games in their First-Round series vs. STL. Marian Hossa (0-3) and Bryan Bickell (1-2) both tallied three points in Game 2. For Hossa, it was his second straight game with three points after picking up a goal and two assists in Game 1. He now has 4-8—12 in seven career postseason games vs. MIN, including a trio of three-point performances (also, 2-1—3 on May 9, 2013). Bickell extended his point streak to five games (5-3—8) and is off to another strong playoffs after an impressive performance during Chicago’s Stanley Cup run last year.
• The Wild’s letter players — Mikko Koivu (“C”), Zach Parise (“A”), Ryan Suter (“A”) — have struggled in the two playoff matchups against Chicago this season and last. In the seven games they’ve played against Chicago, they have a combined two points.
• Blackhawks goaltender Corey Crawford has now won a career-high six straight playoff games. During this stretch, he has allowed nine goals (1.43 GAA) with a .951 save percentage. Ilya Bryzgalov has gotten both starts in net for the Wild in this series, posting a 3.54 GAA and a .833 save percentage.
• The Blackhawks haven’t won the first road game in a Stanley Cup Playoff series since Game 1 of the 2010 Western Conference Final against the San Jose Sharks. Since then, Chicago is 0-8 in series road openers, including a 3-2 overtime loss in Game 3 against the Wild last year.
The San Jose Sharks became the only team in the second round to jump out to a 2-0 lead in their series. The Sharks did it by beating the Predators 3-2 in Game 2 on Sunday night.
San Jose opened the scoring in the second period when Logan Couture buried a rebound by Preds goalie Pekka Rinne. Brent Burns took the initial shot from the point and extended his playoff point streak to four games.
The Predators finally got on the board at the 12:56 mark of the third period when Mattias Ekholm tied the game at one.
Here’s the goal:
Nashville’s good fortune didn’t last very long. Sharks captain Joe Pavelski gave San Jose a 2-1 lead less than five minutes later.
Pavelski also picked up two assists in the game. The 31-year-old has at least one point in six of his seven postseason games in 2016.
Joe Thornton then added an empty-netter in the final minute of play before Ryan Johansen scored with four seconds remaining.
Despite the loss, Preds head coach Peter Laviolette wasn’t too disappointed by the way his team played.
The Predators outshot the Sharks (39-25), they outhit San Jose (46-26), but they just couldn’t outscore them.
Like the old saying goes: “you’re not in trouble until you lose a game on home ice.” The Preds still haven’t done that, which means they’re not done yet.
The series now shifts to Nashville for Game 3, which will be played on Tuesday night.
It’s a scary night for players getting hit in the head with pucks.
After Brian Elliott was hit in the head by a Jason Spezza slapshot, it was Marc-Edouard Vlasic‘s turn to narrowly avoid disaster.
In the third period of Sunday’s game against the Predators, Vlasic took a puck to the face. The end result could have been catastrophic had Vlasic not had a visor.
You can see the incident by clicking the video at the top of the page.
It’s nice to see that Vlasic was in a joking mood after the game:
Hockey Twitter breathed a collective sigh of relief after Vlasic got back up:
You’ve all seen it by now (if you haven’t, click the video at the top of page). Penguins defenseman Olli Maatta was forced to leave Game 2 against the Capitals after taking a late hit from Brooks Orpik. Not only was the hit late, but Orpik also caught Maatta in the head.
After the Penguins’ optional skate on Sunday, Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan wasn’t optimistic about Maatta’s chances of playing in Game 3 on Monday night.
“Olli’s being evaluated as we speak, so I don’t have any real update as far as his status is concerned,” Sullivan said, per the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “He’s being evaluated today, we’ll probably have more information in the morning.
“I don’t have a lot of sense of his availability. I’m probably not optimistic, though.”
After the game, Capitals coach Barry Trotz stood up for his defenseman.
“We’ll let the league handle it,” Trotz said, per CSN Mid-Atlantic. “If you know anything about Brooks, he plays hard, he plays clean. He’s not a dirty player.”
And the league certainly did handle it, as they suspended Orpik for three games.
—Penguins coach takes issue with late, high Orpik hit on Maatta
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.