Three NHL playoff games were played Saturday night : Wings/Preds, Ducks/Stars and Habs/Bruins. All were game two match-ups and pivotal games as it determined who would go up 2-0 in the series, or if the teams changed cities tied at 1.The Wings and Habs bought in entirely to the old adage "There's no place like home". The Ducks, not so much.
The first game of the Day had the Detroit Redwings hosting the Nashville Predators. This afternoon game saw the Redwings take another game away from the Preds who, by this time, have to be talking to themselves after they have experienced two games full of bad bounces and, according to the Preds brass, bad officiating. In this game, not only was one of their goals disallowed, but the Preds continued their bad habit of taking penalties, not only while they, themseves were on the Power-play, but also in the late stages of the game. The Preds proved that they can play with the Redwings, but they have to remain disciplined and worry less about bad calls, because eventually, they will even out. The series heads to Nashville where the Preds will try and mount their comeback. It will be a long, hard road before there is even talk about making it back to Detroit for a game 5.
The game I was most anticipating, obviously, was the Montreal/Boston match-up and if the Bruins weren't talking to themselves after the 4-1 beat-down they took on Thursday, they most definitely have to be asking themselves "what now" after they played their best game against the Habs this year and still were not able to solve the enigmatic Canadiens dominance over them. The Habs have now stretched their win streak to 13 games straight going back to last season.
The Bruins came out of the gate like a team possessed and the way they were playing, you would think that this was a completely different team than the one that presented itself at the Bell Centre Thursday night. In a way, it was, as defenseman Denis Wideman was sidelined with an injury and, more surprisingly, Forward Phil Kessel was a healthy scratch as coach Julien needed something to jostle his troops out of their stupor. The Bruins dominated most of the 1st period but as seems to be the case more often than not between these two teams, the Canadiens were able to capitalize on their chances and The Habs came away from the 1st period up 1-0 on Roman Hamrlik's 1st playoff goal as a Hab. The second period saw both goaltenders seeing their fair share of shots but were it not for Tim Thomas, this game would have been on ice alot sooner than the overtime this game eventually saw. Thomas was instrumental on not one, but two breakaway attempts by the Habs, stoning Andrei Kostytsin on his deke attempt and giving Kovalev no room for a shot on his subsequent attempt. The game went into overtime because, as has happened in the past, the Habs sat back on a two goal lead, only to see it squandered by running into penalty problems, including Kovalev's self admitted "selfish" penalty he took for slashing right after he missed his breakaway attempt. This put the Habs down 2 men and eventually set up David Krejci's power-play goal on a beautiful tic-tac-toe that no one could blame Carey Price for.
Kovalev redeemed himself by scoring the game winner at the 2:30 mark of the 1st overtime period when the Bruins themselves got into a little penalty trouble. Kovalev was apparently being called back to the bench by coach Carbonneau, but didn't hear him and went on to score. I'm sure all is forgiven. Do not think for one moment, though that Carey Price was not busy. He faced 39 shots and was eventually named the game's 1st star. Sergei Kostytsin is on a goal-a-game streak, having scored in both games so far. The Series switches to Boston today but I feel the Bruins at least proved that they can, in fact, play with the Canadiens, but they can not take a shift off nor can they be undisciplined because although the Canadiens' power-play has been wanting during this series (1/12), if you play with fire long enough, you'll get burned. More bad news for the Bruins? In the last 31 playoff series where they began with a 2 game deficit, they have never come back to win the series...Fore !
What can you say about the Dallas Stars? What is going on with the Anaheim Ducks? Who would have thought that the Stars would steal both games in Anaheim and, if the tendency continues, sweep the defending cup champs at home in Texas? Give credit where credit is due. The Stars won convincingly, again, this time trouncing the lowly looking Anaheim Ducks 5-2. Again, my questions in my predictions are slowly but surely being answered. Mike Modano had a goal and Brad Richards contributed with a goal and an assist and let's not forget Mike Ribeiro who started off the scoring unassisted in the 1st. It seems Ribeiro found his niche in Dallas, or more importantly, wasn't able to find many bars, as he did here in Montreal... But I digress. Good on the Dallas team, although they are making my prediction of Anaheim in 5 look like a monkey picked it... again, I digress. I still believe there is alot of hockey left in this series and the Ducks have to realize they are 2 games away from the links and must control themselves and stay out of the penalty box.
Today's games include Flyers/Capitals, Habs/Bruins, Devils/Rangers and the Shark/Flames. I'll be commenting on those games after the last game has been completed.