James O'Brien

Boston Bruins v Washington Capitals

Video: Nifty work from Nicklas Backstrom

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Most hockey fans know that Washington Capitals center Nicklas Backstrom is an All-Star-caliber player even though he’s never made such a team. Sometimes he needs to remind others why people hammer on that point.

The versatile Swede already has a goal and two assists in Game 2 for the Capitals, including this 3-3 goal in which he stupefied the New York Islanders’ penalty killers:

Yep, that’s pretty impressive.

Healthy enough: Pacioretty scores on power play

Washington Capitals v Montreal Canadiens
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Is Max Pacioretty really 100 percent in Game 2? One could probably argue that few players are truly “healthy” at this point in the year, but either way, the Montreal Canadiens winger made an impact tonight.

Maybe it’s a goal that Ottawa Senators sensation Andrew Hammond would like back, but either way, Pacioretty found the net to tie things up 1-1 (for now):

Update: The bigger Habs highlight came when P.K. Subban scored this impressive slap-shot goal:

Video: Carey Price’s great save on a fantastic Mika Zibanejad try

Carey Price, Mika Zibanejad,

The Montreal Canadiens and Ottawa Senators aren’t lacking in hatred for each other, but that doesn’t mean that all those hard feelings are overwhelming all displays of skill.

In fact, both teams had some skill to flaunt on this display, as Mika Zibanejad showed some serious talent in even getting a shot off on Carey Price, who was game to the challenge:

Yep, that’s pretty impressive. It looked like the two teams would go into the first intermission with a 0-0, but Clarke MacArthur beat Price in the waning moments of the period. Mark Stone managed to grab an assist on that goal, too.

https://twitter.com/Senators/status/58921791491977625

Stone’s in for Senators tonight

P.K. Subban,
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It looked shaky, but the Ottawa Senators will have Mark Stone in the lineup against the Montreal Canadiens in Game 2 tonight.

The Senators were concerned that a micro-fracture injury suffered from P.K. Subban’s infamous slash might have sidelined him for the entire series, but he instead will gut it out. The potential Calder candidate didn’t look great in warm-ups, as multiple reporters observed, including ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun:

Stone isn’t the only possibly banged-up sniper in this one, as Max Pacioretty is making his 2015 postseason debut for the Habs tonight.

If either player can contribute anywhere near their normal level, it could very well be a difference-maker in this series or at least in Game 2. Then again, there’s also the threat of re-injury, particularly in a series that’s already very testy:

It’s remarkable how far Stone has come for Ottawa, isn’t it?

Patched up: Habs get Pacioretty back for Game 2

Max Pacioretty
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The Montreal Canadiens managed to win a contentious Game 1 against the Ottawa Senators without him, but with tempers rising, they’re likely glad to see Max Pacioretty in the lineup for Game 2.

That said, a player sidelined with an upper-body injury since April 5 would be wise to “keep his head up” even more than everyone else though, right?

It’s always a little nerve-wracking to place a seemingly vulnerable player into the playoff pressure cooker, yet if Pacioretty is anywhere near full-strength, the Canadiens regain a key component.

The 26-year-old set a new career-high for points with 67 and continues to come close to the 40-goal mark, capping out this time at 37.