Over the course of the last couple of days, three teams have faced elimination from the playoffs. But all three of them…Montreal, Philadelphia and Vancouver … refused to join the recently dispatched Detroit Red Wings on the list of “Also Rans” in this spring’s hunt for Lord Stanley’s Cup.
Here is a quick rundown of where those series stand…
Penguins Can’t Shake Habs
The defending champ Pittsburgh Penguins have yet to shake the pesky Montreal Canadiens…holding series leads of 1-0, 2-1 and 3-2. Monday night the Habs forced a deciding seventh game, just as they did against Washington in the first round, by defeating the Pens 4-3 behind Michael Cammalleri’s two goals. They were his 10th and 11th so far of the playoffs, a total that leads the playoff field.
Jaroslav Spacek returned to the Canadiens’ lineup for the first time since game-three of the Habs/Caps series and scored the goal that put Montreal ahead 3-2 in the second period. He had missed nine games due to a virus that goes by the title of “undisclosed”.
Jaroslav Halak turned aside 34 of the Penguins’ 37 shots for the win.
Sidney Crosby scored his first goal of series, tying the game at 1-1 in the first period.
If the Canadiens are able to pull off their second upset of this post-season with a game-seven win Wednesday night, it will be the last game played at Mellon Arena. Oddly enough, the Penguins NHL debute ended in a 2-1 loss to Montreal there on October 11, 1967.
Flyers Refuse To Be Kicked To The Curb
In Beantown…for the second straight game, and despite their injury situation, the Flyers denied the Boston Bruins their fourth win of their second-round matchup by blanking them 4-0. This was a tag-team shutout effort in the Flyer’s goal as Brian Boucher was forced to leave the game at the 4:35 mark of the second period, suffering a knee injuring in a crease pile-up.
Michael Leighton…who was just cleared to play since his March 16 injury…relieved Boucher for his first career playoff appearance. He stopped 14 shots he faced after Boucher had kicked out 9 prior to having to be helped off the ice.
Leighton had gone 16-5-2 with a 2.48 GAA and .918 SV% for Philadelphia since being traded to the Flyers from Carolina in December.
Simone Gagne dropped in a pair of goals for Philly.
Like the Montreal/Pittsburgh series, these two resume play on Wednesday night as the Flyers will look to force their series to a seventh game with a win in Philly.
Chicago Can’t Can Canucks
Sunday night it was the Vancouver Canucks who postponed the traditional handshakes by controlling game five from the get-go and defeating the Blackhawks 4-1. Roberto Luongo turned aside 29 of the 30 shots he faced to help bring the series back to the Pacific Northwest once more where they will look to force a game-seven Tuesday night.
Chicago’s Jonathan Toews’ 19 overall points is tied with Crosby. Both have 6 goals and 13 assists, though the Blackhawks have played one fewer games than have the Penguins.
Canuck’s defenseman Sami Salo missed the second and third period of Sunday night’s game in Chicago…he was helped off the ice after blocking a shot in the dying seconds of the first.
Salo was taken to the hospital where it was feared he’d suffered a ruptured testicle. However…and thankfully… there have been reports since stating he did not sustain that type of injury.
Meanwhile…the Sharks continue to rest up after their feeding frenzy on Octopi.
Wolves Still Seeing Stars
And speaking of game-sevens…the Chicago Wolves find themselves in exactly that situation after they shutdown the Texas Stars 2-0 in game six of their AHL Western Conference series. Drew MacIntyre saved 28 shot for the shoutout while Anthony Stewart and Joey Crabb score the Wolves’ goals. For Stewart, it was goal number nine during this playoff season…for Crabb it was his sixth.
“That was playoff goaltending”, coach Don Lever said of D-Mac. “You’ve got to give MacIntyre a lot of credit”.
“We were fighting for our lives and playing desperate, but we did a nice job of protecting the lead…it’s an even field now”.
The two teams will decide who moves on and who moves out Tuesday night in Chicago.