Tag: game recaps

Roberto Luongo

Chicago dismantles Vancouver and Roberto Luongo again, bring series deficit down to 3-2

1 Comment

After dropping three tough games to go down 3-0, the Chicago Blackhawks have stormed back into their first round series with the Vancouver Canucks. After their profoundly one-sided 5-0 win in Game 5, the Canucks series lead is down to 3-2.

Chicago 5, Vancouver 0; Canucks lead series 3-2.

There are plenty of ways to frame the story of the last two games. Dramatic types might say that the Blackhawks are getting revenge for the Raffi Torres hit on Brent Seabrook. People who lean toward historical angles might wonder if Chicago remains in Roberto Luongo’s head. Others will just wonder if the Canucks lack “killer instinct.”

Either way, Duncan Keith (two goals and two assists) and Marian Hossa (two goals and one assist) came to play while Luongo and the Canucks did not. This marks the second consecutive game that Alain Vigneault benched Luongo, as the team’s franchise goalie allowed four goals on just 12 shots. The Blackhawks have outscored the Canucks by a stunning 12-2 margin in these two wins.

Even though there have been some great comebacks as of late, it seemed like the Canucks were done when they went into the first intermission down 3-0. Luongo only made it 1:26 into the second period before a Hossa breakaway goal chased him from the net. Cory Schneider allowed one more goal during the rest of the game while Corey Crawford earned a 36-save shutout.

It’s natural to wonder about Bobby Lou’s state of mind after he allowed 10 goals in two abbreviated appearances (he allowed that many on 40 shots in only about 66 minutes of game time). His body language looked downright awful at times before he was given the hook, so it’ll be interesting to see if Vigneault goes with Luongo or Schneider in Game 6.

Of course, the other big question is: can the Blackhawks actually make this comeback happen? Stay tuned for a look at that possibility in a post later tonight.

Michael Ryder powers Bruins’ OT comeback, Boston ties series 2-2

Chris Kelly, Rich Peverley, Michael Ryder

There’s an old saying that a playoff series doesn’t begin until a team wins on the road.

This Montreal Canadiens-Boston Bruins series is flipping that theory on its head, as both teams are undefeated away from their friendly confines. Then again, maybe former Habs forward Michael Ryder just thinks he’s still at home at the Bell Centre, considering the fact that he buried his old team tonight. Ryder scored two goals, including the game winner, to give the Bruins an unlikely OT win and a 2-2 series tie.

Ryder also had an assist in the game as the Bruins continued this week’s exciting trend of comeback victories.

Boston 5, Montreal 4 (OT); Series tied at 2-2

The Habs will look back at Game 4 as a serious missed opportunity. They held three leads in this game, but couldn’t hold on any of those times.

This week’s trend of wild second periods continues.

The Canadiens carried a 1-0 lead into the first intermission, but yet another wacky second period made instant commentary a risky proposition. Ryder tied it 1-1 two minutes in, but Michael Cammalleri and Andrei Kostitsyn scored less than a minute apart to make it 3-1 Montreal. Like the Sharks and the Capitals, the Bruins wouldn’t just roll over; they ended up tying it 3-3 after Andrew Ference’s bird-flipping goal and a Patrice Bergeron tally.

Bruins won’t be denied in third period and overtime.

P.K. Subban showed why he’s getting so much attention by scoring a beautiful early third period goal to give Montreal a 4-3 lead, but the Bruins just wouldn’t go away. Despite playing with a full cage for the first time since his teenage years, Chris Kelly came through in a big way for his team by scoring the game-tying goal. Check it out in the video below.

This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!

Kelly also made a nice pass to set up Ryder’s overtime game-winner, which came about two minutes into the OT period. It was a great night for the line of Ryder, Kelly and Rich Peverley overall. Ryder had two goals and one assist, Kelly had a goal and two assists and Peverley had two helpers himself.

That’s not bad for two guys who just joined the team via trades (Kelly and Peverley) plus one winger who regularly finds himself in the doghouse (Ryder). Watch the game-winner below.

This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!

While the Canadiens will look back at this game with serious regrets, there were some great individual outputs. Michael Cammalleri continues to be an outstanding playoff performer for the Habs, as he scored a goal and two assists. Cammalleri has seven points in his last three games, with at least two in each.

Both goalies had their fair share of highs and lows, with Tim Thomas stopping 34 out of 38 shots while Carey Price made 30 out of 35 saves.

The impact on both teams

The Bruins go back to Boston with a hard-fought 2-2 tie, but this is no time to relax. Losing another game at home would force them to win two straight games, including another tough one in Montreal. They can’t assume their road hardiness will last forever.

Some might wonder if the Habs can bounce back, but they showed plenty of moxie when their backs were up against the wall in 2010. They had a great opportunity to at get to three wins with two chances at home, but one road win puts them in the driver’s seat once again.

If you were hoping for a dramatic series, then the first four games have delivered in a big way. It’ll be interesting to see which team will last laugh in this hate-filled best-of-7.

Are the Blackhawks back in Roberto Luongo’s head after their crushing 7-2 win?

Bryan Bickell, Roberto Luongo

In the previous three games, the Vancouver Canucks have been just a little bit better than the Chicago Blackhawks, taking a deceptive 3-0 series lead. It’s a shame for Chicago that the NHL doesn’t go by soccer’s total goals scored round robin rules, because they really pounded on Vancouver in a 7-2 blowout.

Chicago 7, Vancouver 2; Canucks lead series 3-1.

Dave Bolland produced an outstanding return to the Blackhawks lineup, scoring one goal and three assists to show that he can handle the postseason atmosphere despite coming off of a concussion. The game’s turning point was probably the fifth minute of the second period, as Brian Campbell and Duncan Keith scored 17 seconds apart to give Chicago a 3-1 lead.

Bolland and Michael Frolik capped that bombastic second period with goals to make it 5-1, but Canucks coach Alain Vigneault refused to pull Roberto Luongo until Patrick Sharp’s power-play goal made it 6-1 early in the third period.

Sharp scored another PP one-timer to make it 7-1, while Daniel Sedin made an off-night look a little better with a garbage PP goal late in the game. Luongo won’t be the only Canucks player who wants to put this game behind him, as each of the Sedin twins sported identically bad -3 ratings.

Chicago rookie Bryan Bickell evoked memories of a famous Darren McCarty goal to start things off strong for the ‘Hawks. Check out video footage of his fantastic goal below.

This video is no longer available. Click here to watch more NBC Sports videos!

This outcome brings about some interesting questions, but the pivotal ones revolve around Luongo’s psyche. There’s no doubt that the Blackhawks have given him fits* as they booted his team out of the playoffs for two straight years. Chicago scored six of its seven goals on him on 28 shots; will Bobby Lou bounce back or could this be the beginning of a shocking turnaround?

There’s also the question of whether Brent Seabrook will be able to play in Game 5 after missing Game 4 thanks to those much-discussed Raffi Torres hits.

It’s important to avoid an overreaction to this game, though. After all, many pundits wondered if the San Jose Sharks would crumble when the Detroit Red Wings crushed them despite San Jose’s 3-1 lead in 2010, but the Sharks took care of business in Game 5.

We should find out a lot about both teams in Game 5, which will take place in Vancouver. Will the defending champs continue to be a monkey on the Presidents’ Trophy winners’ backs? Can the Canucks show that they have the character to roll with the punches that inevitably come during the playoffs?

This should be a lot of fun, even if it gives Luongo an ulcer.

* David Amber points out that Luongo allowed five or more goals six times in his playoff career. Chicago was responsible for all of them.

Canucks push Blackhawks to brink of elimination with 3-2 win

Vancouver Canucks v Chicago Blackhawks - Game Three

An ancient philosopher* once said: “To be the man, you have to beat the man.” The Vancouver Canucks are one win for completing that process, as they squeaked by the defending Stanley Cup champions with a 3-2 win.

* OK, I’ll admit it: professional wrestler Ric Flair was the person who said it, not an ancient philosopher.

Forgive the Chicago Blackhawks if they’re experiencing some “Shoe on the other foot” moments, too. After all, they were the ones who tormented the Canucks both physically and on the scoreboard in their last two playoff series. The Blackhawks also know what it’s like to be in a potential series sweep that is closer than it seems; they beat the San Jose Sharks in exactly that type of series in the 2010 Western Conference finals.

Vancouver 3, Chicago 2; Canucks lead the series 3-0.

While many cannot help but focus on the suspension debate regarding the Raffi Torres hit on Brent Seabrook, the real story revolves around the Blackhawks having no answer for the Sedin twins. Daniel Sedin scored a goal and one assist while Henrik Sedin had two assists in the Game 3 win. The Sedins factored into every Vancouver goal, as Henrik set up Mikael Samuelsson’s game-winning goal in the third period.

Chicago’s best players showed up in this game, even if they couldn’t match the top-end brilliance of the Sedin twins. Duncan Keith and Patrick Sharp found the net on different power plays, Jonathan Toews earned two helpers and Patrick Kane also provided an assist.

The Blackhawks’ productive power play and Sharp’s quick goal following that Torres penalty arouses suspicion that the Canucks were lucky that it was only a minor penalty. Chicago coach Joel Quenneville echoed such a sentiment in his post-game comments.

Quenneville on hit: “Brutal. Major. Absolutely. They missed it. Could have scored four goals on that play.”

Corey Crawford made some nice saves, but will probably regret his allowing three goals on 26 shots. Roberto Luongo continues to be a steady presence in Vancouver’s net, making 30 out of 32 saves for yet another win.

For Chicago fans who need a reason for (somewhat blind) optimism, here’s an abstract thought. The Blackhawks accomplished something they hadn’t done since 1961 by winning the Stanley Cup in 2010. To stay alive, they only need to pull off a task that the Philadelphia Flyers managed last year when they beat the Boston Bruins after falling behind 3-0.

Is that a stretch? Of course, but when you’re down three games to none, it’s time to break out the ludicrous reasons for positivity.

The one silver lining is that the Blackhawks haven’t been getting blown out. It’s little solace at this point, but Chicago scratched and clawed to get into the playoffs. Now they’ll need to do even more to stick around.

The Canucks would like to stamp out that possibility nice and quickly, like a well-timed figure four leglock.

Mike Fisher comes through again as Predators edge Ducks, take 2-1 series lead

Nashville Predators v Anaheim Ducks - Game One

Many people wondered if the Nashville Predators overpaid in a trade that brought Mike Fisher closer to his wife Carrie Underwood, but the two-way center is belting out some big hits so far. He might not be more than Mr. Carrie Underwood to many mainstream media members, but the Predators won’t complain if they manage to make it to the second round for the first time in franchise history.

Nashville 4, Anaheim 3; Predators lead series 2-1.

Fisher scored Nashville’s game-winner to cap a wacky and wide-open Game 3 against the Anaheim Ducks, giving him three goals and two assists for five points in three playoff games with the Predators. If that wasn’t enough, he also dropped the gloves with Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf during the game, despite how nervous it made his wife.

It wasn’t all about Fisher, though, not in a game as rambunctious as this one.

Most of the scoring came in short, shocking bursts. Martin Erat and Jordin Tootoo scored just 38 seconds apart late in the first period to give the Predators a 2-0 lead. Teemu Selanne scored twice in 30 seconds late in the middle frame to stun Nashville and tie things up at 2-2. David Legwand and Matt Beleskey traded goals in the third period before Fisher connected on a sweet Sergei Kostitsyn pass to give the Preds a 4-3 win.

Nashville is happy to have a 2-1 series lead, but this game probably shouldn’t have been this close. The Predators out-shot Anaheim 37-16, putting more pucks on net than the Ducks in all three periods. That being said, they earned style points in a different way, as the team showed they can win a shooting gallery match too.

The game also included a rather inspiring moment, as Jordin Tootoo scored a goal on Ray Emery. It’s amazing that such a thing happened in the 2011 playoffs with Tootoo coming off a stint in the NHL’s substance abuse program and Emery fighting back from a career-threatening injury.

Emery kept the Ducks in the game by stopping 33 out of 37 shots, while Pekka Rinne will hope to play better in Game 4 after giving up three goals on just 16 shots. Rinne is glad to get the win, but surely the world-class goalie must be a little miffed that he had a statistically questionable night.

With Bobby Ryan forced out of the action for one more contest, the Predators have a great opportunity to take a commanding 3-1 series lead with a victory in Game 4. They shouldn’t count out the plucky Ducks, though, being that Anaheim has been one of the league’s most resilient teams this season.