We’re just two days into the postseason, but we’re already being treated to our second and third overtime games. (Note: there have only been six playoff games overall so far.)
After a relatively uneventful first period, the San Jose Sharks and St. Louis Blues have engaged in a back-and-forth duel.
Patrik Berglund has been the big hero for the Blues so far. He went pointless in the Blues’ four-game playoff stint back in 2009, but he could have a big impact this time around. For the Sharks, Martin Havlat found the back of the net with the man advantage. San Jose’s Andrew Desjardins netted the game-tying goal in his fourth career playoff game with just 5:16 minutes left in the third period.
Meanwhile, the Boston Bruins have dominated much of their game against the Washington Capitals, but Braden Holtby seems content to fudge the B’s plans. Holtby stopped all 29 of the Boston Bruins’ shots while Tim Thomas has only had to make 16 saves through three periods. There are plenty of other interesting matchups going on here – most obviously Alex Ovechkin vs. Zdeno Chara – but ultimately it comes down to which goalie blinks first after a 0-0 first three periods.
For viewing purposes, Sharks-Blues is on CNBC while Caps-Bruins can be found on NBC Sports Network.
The sell-out crowd at Wells Fargo Center gave Mike Richards a standing ovation early in the first period when the Flyers organization displayed a classy message on the jumbotron: “Thank you Mike Richards: For all of your contributions and services to the Flyers organization and our fans.” The warm reception lasted until about halfway through the first period when a portion of fans started booing every time Richards touched the puck for the Kings. Welcome back to Philly, Mike!
It was another former Flyers who made his mark on the game. Justin Williams scored a pair of Kings goals as Los Angeles finished their 4-game “road” trip with a 3-2 overtime win in Philadelphia. The Kings have been on the road since the preseason when the left for Las Vegas on September 30th. They finish the trip with a 2-1-1 record and start the home portion of their schedule on Tuesday against the St. Louis Blues.
There are plenty of ex-Flyers on the Kings roster and ex-Kings in Philadelphia, but the man of the hour was certainly ex-captain Mike Richards making his return to Pennsylvania. Between periods, Richards said that “Philadelphia is a funny place” and he understood that he would hear some boos now that he’s wearing an opponent’s jersey. He probably heard a few more boos after his beautiful pass was deflected by Jack Johnson for the overtime game-winner.
Afterwards, he answered the “coming back to Philly” questions for the last time this season:
“It was nice coming back here, I have a lot of good friends out here. Nice to see a lot of the guys from the team. The fans are always passion to play in front of—whether you’re the home team or the visiting team. It was a nice homecoming for me, [but] it’s was nice to get it over with also.”
Not all of the news was great for the Kings on Saturday night. Drew Doughty took a big hit only 24 seconds into the game and eventually left with an “upper body” injury (not related to the head). He’s expected to miss 7-10 days for the Kings.
The overtime loss is the first defeat for the new-look Flyers on the young season. Even with the loss, the Flyers have still navigated the tough early season as well as anyone could have hoped. They’ve already noted victories against the New Jersey Devils, and both Stanley Cup finals participants from a year ago (Vancouver and Boston). They’ll finally get a much deserved rest when they faceoff against the Ottawa Senators on Tuesday.
Even when the Philadelphia Flyers were down 2-0 and 3-1 in the first period, there was a weird feeling that it wouldn’t be that easy for the Buffalo Sabres.
After all, it’s never really easy when it comes to the Flyers in the playoffs. This team might not always get from Point A to Point B in the most elegant way, but they tend to produce their best work when they need it the most. That’s the best way to explain their shaggy, bizarre journey to this overtime period.
Buffalo 4, Philadelphia 4 (third intermission); Sabres lead series 3-2
After two outrageous periods, the teams slowed down a bit on the scoreboard even if the pace barely dropped a notch. The defense wasn’t always pretty, but it was a lot of fun to watch.
Scott Hartnell scored the only goal of the third period, although Mike Richards ended up making it happen. It’s a tough-to-stomach moment for those who thought Richards should have been booted out of the game for boarding Tim Connolly. Connolly probably won’t return to the game, although that hasn’t been officially confirmed.
Ryan Miller stopped 41 out of 45 shots while Brian Boucher maded 23 out of 24 saves in relief of Michael Leighton.
Both teams are working hard – even if they’re not always “working smart” – but it all comes down to overtime now. If the Sabres score, they’ll move on to a second round match against the first seeded Washington Capitals. If the Flyers manage to complete their unlikely comeback, they’ll force a Game 7 in Philadelphia. It should be fun (and nerve-wracking) to watch.
Click here to watch Game 6 with us on NHL Extra