The Chicago Blackhawks have a chance to advance to the Western Conference Final with a win tonight and they got off to a 2-0 lead thanks to goals from Brent Seabrook and Andrew Shaw. However, they suffered a potentially serious setback as defenseman Michal Rozsival left the game with what looked like a pretty bad ankle injury.
He fell awkwardly and had to be helped off the ice. You can see the unfortunate incident below:
Chicago hasn’t provided an update yet, so it’s possible that this is a case where the injury isn’t as bad as it initially seems. If he can’t return to the game though — and it would be surprising if he does — then Chicago will need to rely much more on Kimmo Timonen. The 40-year-old blueliner has been averaging 9:31 minutes per game in the playoffs and logged a mere 5:44 minutes on Tuesday.
Update: As expected, Chicago announced that he won’t return tonight.
Tampa Bay still has a 3-1 lead in their second round series against the Montreal Canadiens even after Montreal’s 6-2 win tonight, but the Lightning have cause for concern.
Obviously Montreal’s a great team with Carey Price between the pipes and P.K. Subban leading the defense, but that’s not the only consideration. The Lightning barely won in the first and third games of this series and in the case of the latter, it wasn’t their best work. So while Tampa Bay came into the night with a chance to advance to the Eastern Conference Final, this series hadn’t been nearly as one-sided as the 3-0 lead suggested.
“We got what was coming,” Stamkos told Tampa Bay Times’ Joe Smith.
“We just have to be better…We’re not good enough the last couple games,” he added, per Lightning.nhl.com’s Bryan Burns.
Stamkos’ play in particular remains troubling for the Lightning. To be fair, he’s on a three-game point streak and it’s not like he’s the reason the Lightning lost Thursday night. At the same time, he hasn’t recorded a shot on goal in the last two games of this series. Combine that with the fact that he’s only scored one goal in the 2015 playoffs and it becomes fair to say that more is expected from him.
Tampa Bay will get another shot to end this series on Saturday. The Canadiens clearly won’t go down quietly though, so unless the Lightning step up their game, they might run into problems.
This could be the last night of Minnesota and Montreal’s playoff runs as the Blackhawks and Lightning have a 3-0 series lead in their respective series. The Wild went into the second round hoping that this would finally be the year they got past Chicago after failed attempts in 2013 and 2014. Montreal meanwhile had high aspirations thanks in large part to goaltender Carey Price’s efforts.
Both squads still have a chance to reverse their fortunes, but the odds are now stacked heavily against them.
Montreal will be the first to fight for its survival as Game 4 vs. Tampa Bay is scheduled to start at 7:00 p.m. ET on NBCSN. You can also stream it via NBC Sports Live Extra and tune in as early as 6:00 for pregame coverage:
CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE
Chicago’s Game 4 contest against Minnesota will start at 9:30 p.m. ET. It will also air on NBCSN, but the Wild-Hawks contest still has its own livestream URL:
CLICK HERE TO WATCH LIVE
Including the regular season, Montreal went into Thursday’s game against Tampa Bay without a single win in eight meetings. Another loss tonight would have ended the Canadiens’ playoff run, but instead they scored early and often in a 6-2 victory.
Montreal defenseman Andrei Markov set the tone of the game just 2:44 minutes in when he beat Lightning goaltender Ben Bishop. That put the game on a path that led to Bishop being pulled early in the second frame after allowing a soft goal from David Desharnais.
Andrei Vasilevskiy made his first career playoff appearance as a result, but it didn’t work out for him as Jeff Petry and Brendan Gallagher found the back of the net just 15 seconds apart to turn this contest into a blowout.
Tampa Bay was able to capitalize on a couple power-play opportunities after that, but Montreal didn’t let up in the third period so it’s hard for the Lightning to take many positives out of this one. Although they won Game 3, the Lightning were looking for a better performance tonight and didn’t get it.
Really the only silver lining for the Lightning is that they’re in a position to shake off this loss. They had a 3-0 series lead and thus still have three more chances to eliminate Montreal. Even still, it would be very dangerous to let the Canadiens get back into this series. With stars like goaltender Carey Price and defenseman P.K. Subban on their side, the Canadiens have the talent to make some history.
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When Calgary Flames captain Mark Giordano suffered torn biceps that required surgery, there was speculation that the Calgary Flames might collapse. After all he wasn’t just their leader, he was arguably a strong Norris Trophy contender before he got hurt.
The Flames showed resilience by not only making the playoffs, but also getting to the second round. However, they now find themselves down 2-1 in their series against the Anaheim Ducks. Getting Giordano back now would be a big boost. He’s not ready yet, but he is making some progress.
The 31-year-old defenseman participated in a lengthy practice on Thursday that included some contact. He took it as a positive and is upbeat about his progress overall. At the same time, he needs to continue strengthening the area, gradually shoot harder, and continue to take progressively more contact.
“It’s still pretty early with this type of injury so we got to be smart about it,” Giordano cautioned, per the Flames’ website. “It seems like every day is getting better and better so it’s been all positive.
“At the end of the day you’ve got to leave it up to the number one guy to take advice from is our surgeon — who has seen a lot of these before — and go from there.”
In the meantime, the best thing the Flames can do for Giordano is continue to extend their run so that the odds of him returning increase. Calgary will play in Game 4 on Friday.