Tag: game recaps

Ilya Bryzgalov

Red Wings hold off surprising Coyotes surge, take 2-0 series lead with 4-3 win


At one point, it looked the Detroit Red Wings would earn a 2-0 series lead via an absolute throttling. The Red Wings built their lead to 4-0 early in the second period, but the Phoenix Coyotes rode some golden power-play opportunities to three unanswered goals.

It wouldn’t be enough to bring the game to a tie, but Ilya Bryzgalov and the Coyotes might have a little more confidence as the series switches to Phoenix.

Detroit 4, Phoenix 3; Red Wings lead series 2-0.

The biggest story of the game was Pavel Datsyuk’s outstanding play, as the world-class center scored a goal and provided three assists. The Russian forward seemed like he was virtually everywhere on the ice, creating chances and causing havoc down to the buzzer.

While Datsyuk contributed to all four Red Wings goals, Shane Doan factored into each Coyotes tally, scoring two goals and one assist. Actually, three Phoenix players factored into the three goals, as Radim Vrbata scored twice and added an assist while Keith Yandle had three helpers.

All three of those Phoenix goals came on man advantages, a point that will surely be the topic of discussion at the Red Wings’ next charter conspiracy theory club meeting. Detroit fans might gripe the most at Doan’s first goal, which came in the waning moments of a 5-on-3 power play that looked pretty listless up to that point.

Doan was a big factor even when he wasn’t scoring, as he delivered the hit that sent Johan Franzen to get 20-plus stitches. Don’t expect that hit to go through the review process, though. On the bright side, Franzen seems fine, even if he might not look the part.

It looked like Ilya Bryzgalov might get the hook after Detroit made it 4-0, but Dave Tippett stuck with him nonetheless. That gamble could pay off because the Russian netminder played lights-out after that, making some big saves when things were especially grave to give Phoenix a reason to believe they could come back.

Will that be enough of a boost to help the Coyotes turn things around now that Games 3 and 4 are at home? We’ll have to wait and see, but they certainly feel better about their chances now than they did about 90 minutes ago.

Anaheim’s stars produce early lead, Ducks tie series with Predators at 1-1


Most people (myself included) billed the Nashville Predators-Anaheim Ducks series as a clash between Barry Trotz’s defensive system and the Ducks’ star forwards. The teams didn’t really follow that script at first as the Predators dominated almost every facet of Game 1, but Anaheim’s big guns made the difference in Game 2.

Anaheim 5, Nashville 3; Series tied at 1-1.

The Predators really shot themselves in the foot in the first period, giving the Ducks a 5-on-3 after Martin Erat and Shane O’Brien were whistled for successive slashing penalties. Anaheim’s skill players made them pay, as Corey Perry and Teemu Selanne scored in that time to give the Ducks a 2-0 lead.

There was a feeling that the game might have gotten out of hand thanks to that 40 second span early in the game, but Shea Weber showed his value with a power-play goal of his own to make it 2-1. The Ducks’ premier power forwards came through again after that, though, as Bobby Ryan and Ryan Getzlaf gave Anaheim a 4-1 lead going into the second intermission.

Patric Hornqvist and Joel Ward brought the lead down to 4-3 in the third period, but Ryan scored an empty-netter with a minute left to help the Ducks avoid losing the two opening games at home.

Ray Emery earned the win in his first playoff start in almost four years while Pekka Rinne allowed four goals on 27 shots.

Both teams should have mixed feelings after this game. The Ducks must feel relieved that they won, but also must regret that they dropped Game 1 since it was at home. Winning the first game gives the Predators “home ice advantage” in the series, but they must also worry that Anaheim’s elites regained the scary swagger that promoted a startling run to the West’s fourth seed.

This series doesn’t involve two marquee teams, but it’s an interesting battle of strengths that is tough to gauge. We’ll keep you up to date as it goes along.

Canucks hang on after hectic finish, take 2-0 series lead over Blackhawks

Daniel Sedin, Corey Crawford, Duncan Keith
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It wasn’t the kind of dominant win the Vancouver Canucks might have wanted to profoundly shake the Chicago Blackhawks from their psyches, but the Presidents’ Trophy winners will gladly take a 2-0 series lead from tonight’s win.

Vancouver 4, Chicago 3; Canucks lead series 2-0.

This Game 2 contest featured a mixture of the expected (a great performance by Hart Trophy frontrunner Daniel Sedin, who scored twice and recorded an assist) and the unexpected (Sedin’s goals being answered by two Ben Smith rebound goals, the first playoff tallies of his career). For a while, it seemed like the ‘Hawks might go into Game 3 wondering if they could solve Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo. By the end, there were many left wondering if Luongo still needs to get that monkey off his back.

Viktor Stalberg’s goal might have been the best microcosm of the surprising sources of Chicago offense, as the forward’s quick release caught Luongo off-guard … but also surprised Stalberg, as he took a noticeable amount of time to realize he scored a goal.

Ultimately, the Blackhawks made too many mistakes, especially when the Sedin twins were on the ice. Daniel had his three points and Henrik showed up too, providing two helpers. Chicago rarely had a solution for the pairing beyond “Let’s hope Corey Crawford can handle it.”

Crawford had some great moments despite allowing four goals on 27 shots, but Luongo did enough to win again, stopping 23 out of 26.

The best team from the 2010-11 season has the defending Stanley Cup champions in a tough situation, but the Blackhawks host the next two games at the United Center, an arena that has been a House of Horrors for Luongo and the Canucks the past few playoff years. Perhaps Chicago built a little confidence in giving Vancouver a late run in Game 2, but the bottom line is that they must match the Canucks’ efforts with two home wins of their own if they have a chance to make this a series.

It’s been a thrilling (if occasionally messy) first two games, but we’ll see if Chicago can get back into this series in the next two games.

Capitals beat Rangers at their own game, take 2-0 series lead with Michal Neuvirth shutout

New York Rangers v Washington Capitals - Game Two
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In almost seven periods of playoff hockey* against the New York Rangers, Michal Neuvirth has allowed one measly goal, including a 22-save shutout tonight. The rookie netminder stopped all but one of the 47 shots he’s faced in his first two career playoff games as the Washington Capitals ground their way to a 2-0 series lead.

Neuvirth’s performance can mean a few things. To some, it reveals that the young netminder is cool as a cucumber in the Capitals net, showing that his AHL playoff successes might point toward victories at the highest level. Others will gravitate toward Washington’s resounding metamorphosis from a free-wheeling offensive juggernaut to a defense-first team with a handful of game-breaking scorers. Meanwhile, depressed Rangers fans might argue that the spotlight should be shined upon their impotent offense.

All three factions have a point, but either way, the Caps are up 2-0 in this first round series.

Washington 2, NY Rangers 0; Capitals lead series 2-0.

Two was the magic number of this game, as Washington won 2-0 to take a 2-0 series lead thanks to two goals scored in about two minutes during period No. 2.

Jason Chimera scored the game-winner at even strength while much-ballyhooed veteran Jason Arnott gave his team an insurance marker on the man advantage. Alex Ovechkin and Mike Green notched assists on Arnott’s power-play goal.

Neuvirth didn’t have to do a ton in his 22-save shutout, but Henrik Lundqvist might have some regrets – at least from a statistical standpoint – as he allowed those two tallies on only 18 shots.

The Capitals continue to play the tight-checking, defensive minded game that many found lacking from their playbook in previous seasons. Before they get too cocky, it’s important to note that Game 3 will take place away from home, so Washington technically only managed to “hold serve” at this point.

As happy as Washington must be right now, it’s important to note that they’ve only managed to score four goals in seven periods of hockey. Obviously, allowing a single tally in that span shows they’re playing the kind of inelegant style that can get things done, but they shouldn’t let these tough wins get to their heads.

Instead, they should be like Arnott, who avoided celebrating in the team’s post-game huddle. Sure, he did so because he once suffered a concussion in that situation when he was with Nashville, but he should spin it as yet another savvy veteran move. After all, the Capitals hope to celebrate much bigger accomplishments during the next two months, don’t they?

* Counting a near-complete period of overtime hockey in Game 1.

Tampa Bay rides thunderous start to 5-1 win against Pittsburgh, ties series 1-1

Vincent Lecavalier, Martin St Louis, Simon Gagne, Steven Stamkos

Upon the completion of Marc-Andre Fleury’s 32-save shutout for a 3-0 Penguins win in Game 1, I couldn’t help but ask: could Pittsburgh really keep the Tampa Bay Lightning under wraps?

The Lightning didn’t wait long to end Fleury’s shutout streak as Eric Brewer scored about two minutes into Game 2. Tampa Bay stormed out to a 3-0 lead in the first period, which ended up being all they needed after a great performance by Dwayne Roloson. Fleury ultimately allowed four goals on only 20 shots while Roloson made 35 out of 36 saves for the 19th win of his playoff career.

After being frustrated in Game 1, the Bolts now have home ice advantage in this first round series.

Tampa Bay 5, Pittsburgh 1; Series tied 1-1

Brewer scored a goal and two assists, Martin St. Louis didn’t need all of his teeth to score a goal and assist and Simon Gagne provided three helpers in this one-sided Tampa Bay win. Craig Adams scored Pittsburgh’s only goal, but Roloson made sure it wouldn’t matter.

After only receiving one power play opportunity in Game 1, the Lightning connected on two out of six man advantages with St. Louis and Vincent Lecavalier finding the net in those situations. It wasn’t exactly the polar opposite of Wednesday’s game from an officiating standpoint, though, as the Penguins failed to score on seven opportunities.

The Lightning scored those three first period goals on only eight shots and then seemed to go into cruise control in the final 40 minutes, only putting 13 shots on Fleury while the Penguins sent 28 shots at Roloson in the final two periods. These last two games showed the best and worst of Fleury, as he allowed two goals on Tampa Bay’s first three shots in Game 2 after standing on his head in Game 1.

Perhaps the one worrisome factor is the continued struggles of Steven Stamkos, who went without a point.

One has to wonder if Fleury might have a minor issue with early playoff butterflies considering the fact that his young career is pockmarked with bad starts, although Roloson was the netminder who made a puckhandling gaffe in this game.

Much has been made about Tampa Bay’s inexperience, but it was the team’s veterans who took over Game 2, as Roloson, Brewer, Gagne, Lecavalier and St. Louis came up big. It’ll be interesting to see how a change of scenery affects this series, but Guy Boucher probably cannot complain about a 1-1 tie.