Vladimir Tarasenko has been amazing when it’s come to playoff hockey. Although the Blues lost to the Chicago Blackhawks in the first round of the 2014 playoffs, Tarasenko found the back of the net four times in that six game series. Now 23 years old, he’s been doing even better against the Wild in 2015.
Tarasenko found the back of the net for the sixth time in the first round series early in Game 5 tonight. What makes that feat even more remarkable is the fact that he’s only needed nine shots on goal to reach that total.
Although to be fair, Alexander Steen deserves a lot of the credit for Tarasenko’s latest marker, as you can see below:
Tarasenko has been one of the main reasons for the Blues’ success in 2014-15 as he scored 37 goals and 73 points in 77 regular season contests.
As strong a series as he’s having though, it hasn’t been enough to put Minnesota on the ropes. The series was tied at 2-2 going into tonight’s contest and Minnesota’s Marco Scandella responded to Tarasenko’s goal roughly three minutes later.
When the Ottawa Senators defeated the Montreal Canadiens in five games back in the 2013 playoffs, goaltender Craig Anderson played a big role. Could he top that in their current first round series?
He’s certainly giving Montreal a reason to be concerned as he turned aside 45 of 46 shots in Ottawa’s 5-1 victory Friday night. This is the second straight time that Anderson has thwarted the Canadiens’ attempt to advance as he also earned a 28-save shutout in Game 4.
Anderson first came into the series for Game 3 and nearly kept the Senators from falling behind 3-0 in the series by kicking out 47 of 49 shots in that contest.
If there was one big difference between this contest and Anderson’s previous efforts though, it’s that Ottawa was able to provide him with plenty of support. Bobby Ryan ended his 16-game goal scoring slump while captain Erik Karlsson and forward Erik Condra each found the back of the net for the first time in this series. However, it was 24-year-old Patrick Wiercioch that netted what proved to be the game winner:
The one major setback for Ottawa was that Clarke MacArthur sustained a lower-body injury and didn’t play in the third period as a result.
That obviously hurts the Senators, but they now have the momentum and the series is heading back to Ottawa. Montreal won’t have much time to regroup as Game 6 is set for 6:00 p.m. ET on Sunday.
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The St. Louis Blues are looking to build off of their commanding 6-1 victory over the Minnesota Wild, but they’ll have to do so without Jori Lehtera. The 27-year-old forward absorbed a shot from teammate Jay Bouwmeester during the final frame of Wednesday’s contest and is sidelined as a result.
Lehtera also missed St. Louis’ morning skate, but at the time Blues coach Ken Hitchcock wasn’t ready to completely rule him out.
“I’m thinking he’s 50-50 to play, but we’re leaning more toward playing him than not,” Hitchcock said after the practice, per the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. “We’ll see how it goes.”
With Lehtera unavailable, Paul Stastny is projected to play alongside Jaden Schwartz and Vladimir Tarasenko. Marcel Goc will reenter the lineup after being scratched in Game 4 and he’s likely to center the third line.
Lehtera, who made the move to St. Louis this season after excelling in the KHL, scored 14 goals and 44 points in 75 contests in the regular season. He’s recorded two assists in four playoff games.
Minnesota and St. Louis’ series is tied at 2-2.
Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist and Penguins netminder Marc-Andre Fleury have been at the top of their game so far tonight, so in a way, it seems appropriate that Pittsburgh’s first marker of the contest came under unusual circumstances.
With the Penguins down 1-0 and facing elimination, Sidney Crosby took a shot on goal that was stopped by Lundqvist. However, he could not control the rebound under the circumstances and it ended up hitting Nick Spaling in the arm as he crashed towards the net. The play was initially reviewed to determine if Spaling batted it in with his hand, but it was determined to be a good goal.
The NHL Situation Room issued this statement:
At 17:23 of the second period in the Pittsburgh Penguins/New York Rangers game, video review supported the referee’s call on the ice that the puck deflected off Nick Spaling and into the New York net in a legal fashion. According to Rule 78.4 “If an attacking player has the puck deflect into the net, off his skate or body, in any manner, the goal shall be allowed”. Good goal Pittsburgh.
Spaling only had nine goals in 82 games during the 2014-15 regular season. Coming into this contest, he had two career markers in 32 playoff contests.
The game remained tied at 1-1 going into the second intermission.
New York Rangers forward Mats Zuccarello wasn’t able to join his teammates for the start of the second period in Game 5 against the Pittsburgh Penguins. Shortly after the frame began, the Rangers confirmed that he was done for the night.
Zuccarello was struck in the head by teammate Ryan McDonagh’s shot late in the first period. He immediately headed to the locker room, but the good news is that he did so on his own strength.
You can see the incident below:
Losing the 27-year-old forward for any amount of time would be a significant blow for the Rangers. He’s coming off of a solid regular season where he scored 15 goals and 49 points in 78 contests. That led to him signing a four-year, $18 million extension in March.
He also had two assists in the four playoff games coming into tonight’s action.