Another interesting night in the NHL -- a league first, a controversial last-second game-winner, a series sweep in St. Louis, a win for a team that should have won already and more...
Here's the recap:
(Red Wings 4, Blue Jackets 1)
-The NHL playoffs came to Ohio for the first time in league history, but it was the Detroit Red Wings spoiling the party with a 4-1 win. The Wings scored 1:07 into the game and again with 46 seconds left in the first period to set the tone. They scored again midway through the third and added an empty net goal after the Jackets got to within two. R.J. Umberger's goal with just under four minutes left broke a 143:28 shutout streak by Detroit goalie Chris Osgood. In fact, Umberger has both of Columbus' goals so far in the series. I was impressed that he was even IN the game by the third period, because he got absolutely drilled by Red Wings defenceman Brad Stuart early on. Helmet off, couldn't stand up...it was intense! Mike Commodore tried to lay out Dan Cleary on the next shift, but missed and wound up in the Detroit bench. The Wings looked good once again and take a 3-0 series lead into Thursday's game four.
(Penguins 3, Flyers 1)
-Shots were 46-26 for the Flyers in this one, but they could only beat Marc-Andre Fleury once in a 3-1 loss to the Pens. Sidney Crosby opened the scoring in a bit of a controversial way by crashing the net and having the puck bounce in off of his skate, his body and then his stick before crossing the line -- Philly coach John Stevens disputed the goal, but to no avail. The Pens were up by a pair after one, the Flyers made it close at the midway point of the second period...but they simply could NOT beat Fleury. A good goalie can steal you a series and it looks like that's exactly what is happening here. With the exception of game three, the Flyers have been unable to beat Fleury more than twice in any game. On the other hand, the Penguins are scoring at least three goals per game so far, making them even harder to beat. I thought Philadelphia would be a force come playoff time, but it looks as though the Pens have got this one wrapped up heading back to Pittsburgh.
(Hurricanes 4, Devils 3)
-The 'Canes will be singin' a redemption song of sorts heading back to New Jersey after just about blowing it at home to the Devils on Monday night. By the 6:30 mark of the second period, Carolina led 3-0, but it was a tie game by the nine minute mark of the third. Jussi Jokinen saved the day though, tipping home the game-winner with 0.2 seconds left in regulation! Martin Brodeur was MAD (to say the least) after the game, hollering at the ref and throwing his stick around the ice. Why so serious? Well, Jokinen made a bit of contact with Brodeur outside of his crease just before the deciding goal crossed the line. According to the rulebook, if a player initiates contact with a goalie outside of his crease and a goal is scored, it should be called back (rule 69.4). It didn't look like it was on purpose to me though, so I think the officials made the right call. What a way to redeem yourselves as a team though, eh?
(Canucks 3, Blues 2 - OT)
-Alex Burrows had a breakout season with the Vancouver Canucks this year, and that has continued into the playoffs. On Monday night, a low shot from Burrows that beat St. Louis Blues goaltender Chris Mason with 19 seconds left in overtime sent the Vancouver Canucks into the second round of the playoffs with a 3-2 win, and a 4-0 series sweep. That was his second goal of the night and third in four games. Kyle Wellwood, another guy that had a big year in terms of goal scoring, opened the scoring with some sick moves (almost as sick as Mason's playoff beard), but the Blues made a game of it -- Brad Boyes and David Perron scoring in the tail end of the second period. The home crowd would go home disappointed though. So, I was off by two games in my prediction for this series ('Nucks in six); but that's because I wrongly assumed that the Blues would be riding some crazy momentum coming into their first playoff appearance since 2004 (they went 9-1-1 to end the season).
(Sharks 4, Ducks 3)
-The Presidents' Trophy winning San Jose Sharks looked almost like the Presidents' Trophy winning San Jose Sharks on Monday night, earning their first four leads of the series and finally beating the Anaheim Ducks by a score of 4-3. Until Patrick Marleau scored a power play goal midway through the third period, the Ducks had an answer to every Sharks goal and it looked like they might even make it a 3-0 series lead. BUT...the Sharks showed some life and I look forward to next game, to see if they've turned a new leaf here. I also want to see if the trend of home teams losing continues, just like in the Caps/Rangers series.
Boston @ Montreal - 5pm (Series: 3-0 BOS)
-The Bruins can sweep the series with a win.
Washington @ NY Rangers - 5pm (Series: 2-1 NYR)
-The road team has won every game so far.
Chicago @ Calgary - 8pm (Series: 2-1 CHI)
-Patrick Kane will be back, after missing game three with the flu