Detroit vs. San Jose (Sharks lead 2-0)
The Tampa Bay Lightning and San Jose Sharks find themselves only two wins away from advancing to the Conference Championships after last weekend’s Action. The Bolts are heading home after stealing a pair of games in D.C. while the Sharks held serve at home against the Detroit Red Wings.
San Jose took both games by the score of 2-1. Friday night required overtime to hang the first loss of the playoffs to Detroit while yesterday afternoon they built a 2-0 lead and hung on down the stretch for the victory.
Antti Niemi stopped 33 of the 34 shots he faced in the game-two win and has now tuned aside 57 of the 59 Wings attempts on his goal.
“He’s spectacular”, Joe Thornton said of his netminder. ““He’s the reason why we’re in this postseason and it feels like every time he’s in the net. He gives us a chance to win.”
Last spring the Sharks held a 2-0 second round series lead against the Wings and won in five games. But head coach Todd McLellan warns this series is far from over. “The two teams are pretty darned even,” he said. “‘I think you continue to see this.”
“But if anyone can let their guard down, whether it’s us or them, the other team is going to make them pay.”
Tampa Bay vs. Washington (Lightning lead 2-0)
Meanwhile in the nation’s capital, Vinny Lecavalier’s goal 6:19 into overtime gave the Lightning their second win in as many games against the top seed in the Eastern Conference. Te extra period was required after Alex Ovechkin tied the score at 2-2 with only 68 seconds remaining in regulation.
But the story of this game, and for the series so far, was Washington’s inability to…ahem…capitalize on the power play opportunities. They went 0-6 Sunday after failing on five man-advantage chances in the 4-2 game-one loss Friday.
“That was the difference right there,” Lecavalier said. “We gave them a lot of power plays—we were a little bit undisciplined with our sticks—but our penalty killing was phenomenal.”
But just as McLellan pointed out regarding his team’s situation against the Wings, Ovechkin promises that this series is far from over.
“Well, the series is not over.” He said after the game. “We’re going [to Tampa], and we’re going to win two games. It’s going to be hard, but right now in this situation, we have to win.”
Boston vs. Philadelphia (Bruins lead 1-0)
Tonight, the Boston Bruins will look to duplicate what the Bolts accomplished, winning games one and two on the road. Saturday the Bruins scored three goals in the second period and pounded Philadelphia 7-3.
Once again, the Flyers goalie situation took center stage with starter Brian Boucher allowing 5 goals on 18 SOG. Sergei Bobrovsky gave up a pair on 10 shots in relief. However Peter Laviolette wasn’t blaming the seven-spot solely on the play between the pipes.
“Too many easy goals, too many easy plays,” the Flyers coach said. “We weren’t strong enough right in front of our goaltender.”
Nashville vs. Vancouver (series tied 1-1)
Heading back out west, the Nashville Predators returned home after accomplishing the minimum mission they set out to do in Vancouver, gaining a split in the two games. They dropped game one Thursday night 1-0, then came back for a 2-1 double overtime win Saturday.
Pekka Rinne has kicked out 61 of the 63 shots he’s faced in goal for Preds.
It took the Preds 118:53 to final slip a puck past the Canuck’s goalie Roberto Luongo. But after Ryan Suter goal tied it, Matt Halischuk won game two with 5:09 remaining before a third OT period was required.
“Tonight we played Predator hockey”, Predator coach Barry Trotz said after the win. “We played with conviction. We played with discipline. Our work ethic was there. I thought in regulation, we had the majority of the better chances. We just couldn’t convert.”
Game three will be tomorrow evening back in Nashville.