Had their been one playoff game Monday, Dayenu. However, four game threes took place on Monday, with two of them involving teams trying to avoid 3-0 deficits, which is even more glorious. Yes, I co-opted Jewish culture for an intro to a hockey column. Street cred with the indie crowd and all that. Now I’m just rambling. On with the recaps and previews.
Philadelphia and Buffalo moved their series to the Sabres’ home turf, with Brian Boucher now in net for the Flyers. Jeff Carter scored on the power play to give Philly the early lead, before Drew Stafford evened things up with a power play goal of his own. Early in the second period, Danny Briere gave the Flyers the lead once more, and then Nikolai Zherdev actually made an appearance and scored as well. However, his goal was quickly followed with a nice goal by Nathan Gerbe to get Buffalo back within a goal. There would no more scoring until late in the third period, when Kimmo Timonen managed an empty netter to give the Flyers the 4-2 win and 2-1 series edge.
The move to Boucher worked out at least on this night, as he turned aside 35 shots. Ryan Miller played well, making 22 saves, but Boucher was the better netminder on this night. Buffalo may have played better in every other aspect of the game, but they all count. Now, the Flyers have the series lead, stability in net (maybe), and Chris Pronger may be back soon. The advantage is theirs.
Pittsburgh and Tampa Bay were also fighting for the edge in their series, with game three taking place down in Florida, but not in the part where the Panthers play because they never make the playoffs. Things went Pittsburgh’s way early, as Maxim Talbot and Arron Asham gave them a 2-0 lead less than halfway through the first period. However, Martin St. Louis scored before the first period ended, with one of the assisted going to somebody named “Steven Stamkos.” There was no scoring in the second period, and then St. Louis scored again early in the third to tie things up. Tampa’s joy would be brief, however, as Tyler Kennedy scored about 30 seconds later to give the Penguins the lead again. The game would end with the score 3-2 in favor of the Penguins.
Marc-Andre Fleury saved 25 shots in victory, while Dwayne Roloson turned aside 27 in defeat. While it was nice for the Lightning to see Stamkos finally register a point, along with three shots on goal, they need more from him. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh’s secondary players are getting it done for the Penguins and has helped give them the series lead. That being said, Tampa certainly shouldn’t be counted out yet.
Boston lost the first two games of their series at home, and now they had to head to hostile Montreal to try and hold onto their playoff hopes. Fortunately for them, they got Zdeno Chara back for this game, although Montreal got Andrei Kostitsyn back. This may come as a surprise to the Anaheim Ducks’ color commentator, as he seems quite convinced Andrei Kostitsyn plays down in Nashville. After struggling to score this series, the Bruins must have been relieved to score twice in the first period, with David Krejci and Nathan Horton lighting the lamp.
Rich Peverley made it 3-0 early in the second period, but then the aforementioned Kostitsyn made sure things stayed interesting. They got more interesting when Tomas Plekanec cut it to one goal in the third period. However, the Habs wouldn’t find the back of the net again, while a Chris Kelly empty netter gave the Bruins a 4-2 win.
Patrice Bergeron and Marc Recchi both had two assists for Boston, while Mike Cammalleri did the same for the Canadiens. After being outplayed by Carey Price through two games, Tim Thomas turned in a 34 save performance. Price wasn’t bad, however, stopping 21 of 24 shots he faced. The Bruins needed this win, and getting it they got themselves back in this series. Of course, they still have one more game in Montreal before they head back to Boston. If they lose that game and fall behind 3-1 in the series, their newfound hope could be quickly dashed.
Speaking of hopes being quickly dashed, Phoenix’s first home game of the series got off to a bad start, as Ruslan Salei and Drew Miller made it 2-0 in favor of Detroit less than three minutes into the game. Valtteri Filppula would then score early in the second period to make it 3-0, before a Dave Schlemko power play goal got the Coyotes on the board. Early in the third period, Johan Franzen scored on a breakaway with what felt like the most non-chalant snap shot ever, though it was still very effective. Ray Whitney found the back of the net later, but it wouldn’t be enough. Detroit won 4-2 to take a 3-0 series lead.
Well, there goes Phoenix’s hopes, barely the rarely seen comeback from down 3-0 in a series. Considering the talent level of these two teams, I don’t see that happening, especially if Henrik Zetterberg comes back. Right now, however, I expect Detroit to hold him out until the second round. Why risk aggravating his injury? Niklas Kronwall had two assists for the Wings, while Jimmy Howard made 28 saves. Ilya Bryzgalov made 30 saves. He’s been good in this series, but the Coyotes needed him to be great.
Only two games tomorrow, one a game four and the other a game three. The game four comes first, as at 8:00 PM Eastern, Chicago hosts Vancouver needing a win to stay in the playoffs. Can the defending Stanley Cup champions manage a victory with their backs against the wall? They have the talent. The issue for them is the Canucks have even more talent. Somebody like Jonathan Toews or Patrick Kane is going to have to have a huge game I imagine. Then, at 10:30 the Sharks and Kings move their series down to Los Angeles. The Kings won game two on the road, will the Sharks repay them in kind? Can Los Angeles keep winning without Anze Kopitar, especially against such a talented team? I certainly won’t count them out, but on paper San Jose should still take this series.
Sure, there are only two games tomorrow, but it’s still playoff hockey. Plus, one of them is an elimination game. Will Canucks fans be able to get out the brooms like old timey shopkeeps? Or will the Blackhawks win one at home? Who will take the edge in the San Jose-Los Angeles series? These questions will be answered tomorrow. Enjoy.