Couple of significant goals scored this evening.
After Antoine Vermette snapped a 20-game goalless drought to get his first as a Blackhawk, Flames rookie Johnny Gaudreau netted his first-ever playoff goal to give Calgary a 1-0 lead over Vancouver in Game 4 of its first-round series:
Gaudreau, a likely Calder finalist after scoring 24 goals and 64 points in 80 games this season, has performed well in his playoff debut. He’s now up to four points through four games and is averaging close to 19 minutes a night — key contributions for a guy that doesn’t turn 22 until August.
As for tonight’s game, the goals are coming fast and furious. After Henrik Sedin scored to even things at 1-1, Gaudreau assisted on Dennis Wideman’s power-play marker to give Calgary a 2-1 lead.
The NHL announced the three finalists for the 2015 Lady Byng Memorial Trophy on Tuesday: Pavel Datsyuk of the Detroit Red Wings, Anze Kopitar of the Los Angeles Kings and Jiri Hudler of the Calgary Flames.
To refresh your memory, the award is handed out to the player who “exhibited the best type of sportsmanship and gentlemanly conduct combined with a high standard of playing ability.” Voting comes down to members of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association.
If you gauage award chances by past victories, then Pavel Datsyuk stands as a heavy favorite. The Red Wings star won it four times in a row from the 2005-06 season through the 2008-09 campaign.
Hudler and Kopitar haven’t won a single Byng in their careers, on the other hand.
Colorado Avalanche forward Ryan O’Reilly took the 2014 award.
Here are some quick factoids about each finalist via the NHL:
A quick look at what games will be on what channels in tonight’s Stanley Cup playoff action…
Lightning at Red Wings, 7:00 p.m. ET on NBCSN
The Tampa Bay Lightning will look to continue their strong play in the series as it shifts to Detroit’s Joe Louis Arena. The Bolts have out-shot the Wings by a combined 76-38 margin through two games, but have just the one win after Detroit was able to squeeze out a 3-2 victory in Game 1. John Forslund and Andy Brickley have the call of Game 3.
Capitals at Islanders, 7:30 p.m. ET on USA
The Washington Capitals are hoping captain Alex Ovechkin can break out of his slump as they look to even the series at two. Ovechkin was held off the score sheet for the second time in three games in Sunday’s 2-1 overtime loss to the Islanders. Ovechkin has just one goal on a team-high 15 shots in the series after scoring a league-high 53 goals during the regular season. Kenny Albert and Pierre McGuire will call Game 4.
Predators at Blackhawks, 9:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN
Scott Darling will make his second career playoff start tonight as the Blackhawks look to take a 3-1 stranglehold on their series with the Predators. Darling made 42 saves in relief of Corey Crawford in Game 1’s double overtime victory. He then stopped 35 shots in Sunday’s 4-2 win. Captain Jonathan Toews has five points in the two Chicago wins. Gord Miller and Joe Micheletti will have the call of Game 4.
Canucks at Flames, 10:00 p.m. ET on USA
The Calgary Flames are 5-0-2 on home ice since March 19 and they’ll look to ride that success at the Saddledome tonight as they attempt to take a commanding 3-1 series lead in their best-of-seven matchup with the Vancouver Canucks. Calgary has now taken four of the last five meetings with Vancouver dating back to the regular season while limiting the Canucks to just nine goals. Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin have combined for just one goal and an assist in those games. Chris Cuthbert and Bret Hedican have the call of Game 4 tonight.
Sounds like Vancouver forward Alex Burrows will have his instigator-related suspension from late in Sunday’s loss to Calgary rescinded, meaning he’ll be eligible to play Game 4.
The report, per Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, comes just hours after Burrows was given a five-minute fighting major, a two-minute boarding minor and the aforementioned instigator penalty following a scrap with Calgary d-man Kris Russell in Game 3:
Though NHL rules state that instigator penalties levied in the final moments of games can be grounds for suspension, it’s possible that Burrows’ ban was rescinded because he wasn’t judged to have been sending a message, or exacting retribution.
It’s also worth noting that the league has already rescinded an instigator penalty in this series — the one called against Flames defenseman Deryk Engelland in the waning moments of Game 2.
Update: NHL confirms it:
Vancouver defenseman Dan Hamhuis does not have a hearing scheduled following his illegal check to the head of Sam Bennett on Sunday night, per an NHL spokesman.
Here’s the hit in question, which earned Hamhuis a two minute minor:
Bennett, 18, returned to the ice shortly afte and was on for Jannik Hansen’s goal at 17:41 that cut Calgary’s lead to 4-2. Bennett didn’t play another shift following the goal.
The illegal check to the head was the second incident Hamhuis’ been in the middle of in as many games. During the brawl at the end of Game 2, he was the third man in a fight between Derek Dorsett and Deryk Engelland and received a game misconduct.
As for this latest incident, it’s worth nothing that NHL discipline czar Stephane Quintal could still schedule a hearing with Hamhuis for the Bennett hit. That said, it would need to happen rather quickly (and probably already would’ve) as the Flames and Canucks are right back in action tomorrow at the Saddledome.