Tag: game recaps

Sean Bergenheim, Steve Downie

Steve Downie scores three points in 4-2 Lightning win, Tampa Bay forces Game 7


Make no mistake about it, this is a great time to be a hockey fan. There will be two Game 7 showdowns on Tuesday and thanks to the Tampa Bay Lightning’s 4-2 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins, there will be at least one more on Wednesday.

The Lightning won thanks to Steve Downie’s one-goal, two assist night and a 27-save Dwayne Roloson performance, setting up a decisive Game 7.

Tampa Bay 4, Pittsburgh 2; Series tied 3-3.

Pascal Dupuis began the scoring about eight minutes into the first period, but Teddy Purcell banged a rebound home to send the first period to a 1-1 tie. Sean Bergenheim scored the only tally of the second period, sending Tampa Bay into the third with a 2-1 lead. Jordan Staal scored his first goal of the playoffs with a great shot to tie things up 2-2, but that’s when the game turned on its head.

Roloson made an enormous, highlight-reel save right after allowing that tying goal and then Downie answered Staal’s goal with the game-winner a bit more than a minute later. He barely slipped the puck under Marc-Andre Fleury to collect a rebound goal.

Ryan Malone made his fair share of mistakes, including taking a third period penalty, but he ended up putting the exclamation point on Tampa Bay’s win by scoring with a slap shot on a partial breakaway. Malone told Versus that he just “closed his eyes” and hoped it would go in. He ended up with a goal and a primary assist in the game.

Two experienced goalies in different spots

While Fleury didn’t give up a bunch of goals like he did in Pittsburgh’s two other losses, there still might be some question about his mindset after this game. Fleury allowed four goals on just 21 shots. Of course, “The Flower” received plenty of criticism at times during the Penguins’ 2009 playoff run, yet most people just remember his Cup-clinching save against Nicklas Lidstrom in Game 7 of the finals.

Tampa Bay probably doesn’t share the same worries with their hot-and-cold goalie. Roloson stopped 27 of the 29 shots he faced, pushing his record in elimination games to a startling 5-0. (Beyond being a solid goalie, Roloson did this without ever winning a Stanley Cup because he was injured in the first game of the Edmonton Oilers’ Cup finals series against the Carolina Hurricanes and was demoted in a goalie rotation during his days with the Minnesota Wild.)

Looking ahead

While Tampa Bay’s comeback after being down 3-1 isn’t quite on par with the Chicago Blackhawks’ turnaround, it’s still an impressive feat. Of course, it won’t mean much if they cannot complete the task, as they must beat the playoff-proven Penguins in Pittsburgh on Game 7.

Naturally, we’ll break that game down before and after it takes place on Wednesday. Stay tuned.

Flyers put together 5-4 comeback win as Ville Leino’s OT goal forces Game 7

Ville Leino, Ryan Miller

If you want an interesting microcosm of everything that’s right and wrong about the Philadelphia Flyers, today’s resourceful 5-4 overtime Game 6 win over the Buffalo Sabres might be ideal.

On the bad side, you have Michael Leighton’s laughably bad first period. Even people who expected the goalie to look rusty were probably surprised to see him allow three awful goals on only eight shots in one period of duty. Another ugly element of the game was Mike Richards’ hit on Tim Connolly. Richards sent Connolly head-first into the boards with a check from behind but only received a two-minute minor penalty.

Before you roll your eyes at the complaint that Richards didn’t get booted out of the game, chew on this: he was on the ice for Philadelphia’s game-tying and game-winning goals. Then again, that love-it-or-hate-it style suits the Flyers really well, as they found to way a win thanks to their deep reservoir of quality forwards.

Philadelphia 5, Buffalo 4 (OT); Series tied at 3-3.

Ville Leino scored a goal that felt a little like a grittier version of Nathan Horton’s OT winner against the Montreal Canadiens last night. Leino found himself on the doorstep when a rebound bounced his way and the Sabres’ defense couldn’t react quickly enough to keep him from scoring that sudden death tally.

The Flyers fell behind 2-0, 3-1 and 4-3 in this game but came back every time. This marks the second straight game in which this series went to overtime, but this time Philly came through with their season on the line.

There will be some controversy over the Richards hit for sure; in fact, there might even be a suspension if the league’s feeling courageous (though we wouldn’t bet on it). You can decide for yourself if the Richards hit is suspension-worthy by watching this video of two big hits: Richards on Connolly and Tyler Myers on Kris Versteeg.

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Ultimately, it almost seems proper that this series will go to the limit. After all, every game in this series was decided by one goal (discounting one Philly empty-netter). Each team now has two regulation wins and one overtime victory each. It’s been an even-matched and increasingly contentious series, so Game 7 should be an absolute blast to watch.

Here’s Ville Leino’s game-winning goal in overtime.

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Game 7 outlook

On one hand, the Flyers realize that they can come back from some formidable odds. They managed to tie Game 5 up after falling behind 3-0 but lost in overtime, yet this time around, they were able to dig themselves out of a 3-1 first period hole.

Even if they’ve shown the resiliency to fight back after falling behind, it’s obvious that the Flyers would like to avoid this situation in Game 7. Some might expect a goalie controversy after Leighton’s flop, but with two relief wins, it would be very surprising to see anyone but Boucher in net.

(You really never know when it comes to the Flyers and their goalies, though.)

One thing seems clear, at least if Game 6 is any indication: Chris Pronger simply isn’t healthy enough to be a significant contributor for the Flyers right now. His time on ice was just 4:33 in Game 6.

The funny thing about this series is that Philadelphia receives all this criticism, yet Buffalo has problems of their own. It’s probably unfair to throw Ryan Miller under the bus (he stopped 44 out of 49 shots), but their defense deserves some serious scrutiny.

Buffalo blew a three-goal lead in Game 5 before winning in OT and three different leads in this loss. As dangerous as the Flyers might be, that remains unacceptable for a team hoping to make a dark horse run in the 2011 playoffs.

There are plenty of questions on both sides, but all that does is set up what should be a thrilling Game 7 confrontation. Will the Flyers force their way to the second round or will the Sabres mildly upset the second seed? Either way, the biggest winners are hockey fans.

Jonathan Quick sets new Kings playoffs record with 51 saves in 3-1 win vs. Sharks

Torrey Mitchell, Jonathan Quick

As crazy as it might sound, Tim Thomas might not have been the American goalie with the most impressive night on Saturday. If nothing else, Los Angeles Kings netminder Jonathan Quick made an awfully convincing counter-argument.

Quick set a Kings franchise record with 51 saves on 52 shots, silencing those who wonder if he was rattled after allowing six goals in each of his last two games. Maybe his team got a little lucky tonight, but they’re just happy to be alive in a series that isn’t over yet.

Los Angeles 3, San Jose 1; Sharks lead series 3-2

Forgive the Sharks if they left this game with a familiar feeling of frustration. Firing puck after ineffective puck at Quick probably felt a lot like doing the same against Jonas Hiller in 2009 and Craig Anderson in 2010.

Even taking into account the notion that Evgeni Nabokov faced some playoff struggles of his own, the one big difference is that they might not be so sure about their starting goalie this time around. Antti Niemi experienced what must have been the most embarrassing start of his NHL career as he allowed three goals on four shots before getting pulled before the midway point of the first period.

After watching Niemi get pulled in two of the team’s last three games, the Sharks might want to consider turning to Antero Niittymaki. The team’s other new-coming Finnish netminder stopped all 18 shots he faced and only allowed one goal in his other relief appearance (that historic comeback).

Wayne Simmonds and Kyle Clifford earned a goal and an assist each on those first two tallies while Dustin Penner may have eased some of the tension headed his way by making it 3-0. That would end up being all the Kings needed, as Patrick Marleau scored San Jose’s only goal early in the second.

Even if every shot wasn’t a unique snowflake of danger, it still must be tough for the Sharks to accept losing after out-shooting the Kings by 30 shots (52-22). Yet most pundits will tell you that you can often steal a win with a great goalie (Quick) and an early lead (3-0 in the first), so Los Angeles did what they needed to.

Does that mean they can come back and win this series? Their chances will improve greatly if Quick maintains his current, heady level of play.

Bruins beat Canadiens 2-1 in 2nd OT after Tim Thomas and Carey Price engage in epic duel

Montreal Canadiens v Boston Bruins - Game Five

When people pictured how the Montreal Canadiens-Boston Bruins series would play out, this was the type of game people were expecting. Both Carey Price and Tim Thomas were flat-out amazing, with Thomas stealing the show even though two Bruins skaters made great “saves” of their own during the contest.

Even though it took until a second overtime period for Nathan Horton to bang in a rebound for a 2-1 Bruins win, each squad brought relentless energy to a game that was full of drama and close calls. The Habs shouldn’t feel shame with this loss, but this is the kind of defeat that’s tough to shake.

Boston 2, Montreal 1 (2nd OT); Bruins lead series 3-2.

This marks the second consecutive overtime win for the Bruins, who now have the Canadiens on the ropes after dropping behind 0-2. The Bruins also became the first team to win a home game in this series.

The greatest moments probably came from the most amazing saves.

After plenty of trips to the doghouse, Michael Ryder is putting together the type of postseason that could make him a folk hero in Boston. Ryder made an outrageous (but unofficial) save on a Tomas Plekanec shot, stopping the puck with his right hand with the type of reaction that makes him a great off-season ball hockey goalie.

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You would assume that would be the highlight of the game, but Ryder ended up with some great competition, with Zdeno Chara making a crucial “save” of his own (though it was a bit more accidental).

Judging from those two dodged bullets, one might wonder if Thomas had a bad night. Instead, he was at his aggressive, sprawling best while stopping 44 out of 45 shots. His best moment came in the the second overtime period when he stopped a well-executed 2-on-1 play in what was probably the best save of the playoffs so far.

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(Unless you prefer Ryder’s out-of-context stroke of brilliance, of course.)

Carey Price didn’t get the win, but anyone who blames him for the loss obviously didn’t watch the game (or even peruse the box score). Price made 49 out of 51 saves, including a brilliant stop when David Krejci tried a fancy one-on-one deke on him.

Here are all of the highlights:

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Thomas and Price put on a goalie clinic, but ultimately, the unorthodox goalie’s team came out on top against the polished butterfly stylist.

The three goal scorers

Brad Marchand made it 1-0 in the third period after the puck went his way from Patrice Bergeron’s broken stick, a goal that happened shortly after Max Pacioretty’s nose-related insults cropped up on Twitter. (Pacioretty later apologized.)

That 1-0 goal lead didn’t last, though, as Jeff Halpern took advantage of a Bruins lapse to bring the score to 1-1. It would stay that way until Horton scored off of a rebound nine minutes into the second OT. (If you’re like me, you’re expecting to come across a lot of Dr. Seuss puns in the near future.)

The impact on both teams

The Bruins must feel a lot of confidence with their backs against the wall. They’ve won three straight games with little-to-no margin of error, and again, two of those victories came in OT. After a relatively shaky start, Thomas is showing the world why he’s one of the absolute best netminders alive.

The Canadiens must be heartbroken right now, especially since they had a legitimate chance to win all five games. The silver lining is obvious, though: they’re obviously talented enough to trade blows with a strong team.

Montreal only needs to look to their 2010 series against the Penguins and Capitals for more dire situations, although this one might match those from an emotional standpoint.

This series is living up to its expectations so far, but if this amazing Game 5 is any indication, there’s plenty of fun left. It just goes to show you that you don’t need a bunch of goals to have a captivating game.

Sharks ride momentum into Game 5 win; Kings find themselves down 3-1

Devin Setoguchi, Jonathan Quick
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The San Jose Sharks rode the momentum of their dramatic Game 3 comeback and another busy second period to earn a 6-3 win over the Los Angeles Kings. These two road wins give the Sharks a commanding 3-1 series lead.

Some might reflexively wonder if the Kings were “broken” by that Game 3 loss, but if you ask me, it’s all about San Jose’s superior talent taking over.

San Jose 6, Los Angeles 3; Sharks lead series 3-2

While it couldn’t beat that insane seven-goal second period from Game 3, the middle frame was the story of this game as well. The two teams skated to a 0-0 tie in the first period before the Sharks stormed to a 3-0 lead thanks to one goal by Jason Demers and two by Ryane Clowe.

This time around, Kings coach Terry Murray decided to take a time out, which paid off for the Kings in the short term. Brad Richardson and Justin Williams scored goals to make it 3-2 going into the second intermission.

That was as close as the Kings would get, though. Joe Thornton scored a goal and then blew a kiss, which was a surprising moment considering the fact that Jumbo Joe has been such a target for playoff criticism over the years. It ended up being a safe move, though, as Joe Pavelski made it 5-2 less than a minute later. Torrey Mitchell and Alexei Ponikarovsky exchanged goals late in the third to make it 6-3.

The Sharks have gone from being worried about another upset to being in a position to end this series fairly quickly with Game 5 back at the HP Pavilion.

While Los Angeles has to be down in the dumps, their collective heart shouldn’t be questioned. Honestly, the only thing I questioned is the pace of this series from the Kings’ perspective. It’s been fantastic, frantic hockey to watch … but is this the type of game that really suits their situation?

All positivity aside, the Kings had a chance to take a 3-1 series lead with two games at home. Instead, they are in the opposite situation. That’s disappointing, even if it might be part of a growing process for a young and promising team.