Mon May 20 07:55am EDT
Hello, this is a feature that will run through the entire season and aims to recap the weekend’s events and boils those events down to one admittedly superficial fact or stupid opinion about each team. Feel free to complain about it.
No one is ever going to be totally happy with the ways in which the NHL's referees or officials make their decisions. We can all agree on that.
If there's a game in which neither team is whistled for a penalty, both will likely complain that the refs missed calls on the other. If there's a game in which both teams receive 10 power plays, both will complain that the referees were overly harsh in doling out discipline. No one is ever especially happy with calls that go in between those two extremes, either, because unless you win, you aren't happy. And sometimes, even when you do win, you aren't happy.
It's tough to know what, exactly, brought all this to a head in these playoffs. Alex Ovechkin complaining about a league-wide conspiracy in Game 6 after the end of Game 7; Jonathan Toews stamping his feet when his team got clobbered on home ice by its archrival; Sidney Crosby saying the league needs to institute video review for puck-over-the-glass calls; Jonathan Quick abusing officials because the Kings gave the Sharks a two-man advantage in overtime.
Doesn't it strike anyone as being a bit much?
No one likes to lose in October, let alone in the second round of the playoffs, and you might even say that the refs have made a bit of a spectacle of themselves in the last few games. The best thing a ref can do, the old saying goes, is not be noticeable, and things have admittedly gotten a bit out of hand in some instances.
But nonetheless, can you imagine the eye-rolling or outright mockery in Chicago if Henrik Zetterberg had said the same things Toews did after they got creamed in Game 1? Or the uproar if Ryan Callahan of the lionized New York Rangers had complained about a conspiracy to push the series longer? Or the furor if Joe Thornton had done what Quick did after the Sharks gave up a similar late-game 5-on-3 advantage that allowed the Kings to tie Game 1?
What it boils down to is being a sore loser.
Mon May 20 12:42am EDT
Zack Smith finishes off Matt Niskanen with the stinky leg drop.
No. 1 Star: Craig Anderson, Ottawa Senators
Anderson stopped 49 of 50 as the Senators staged a stunning comeback over the Pittsburgh Penguins, tying the game with less than a minute to go and winning it, 2-1, in double overtime.
No. 2 Star: Torey Krug, Boston Bruins
Krug's second postseason game was even better than his first. He had a two-point night in the Bruins 5-2 win, scoring again and picking up an assist. His play on the goal, kicking the puck to his stick then whipping it past Henrik Lundqvist, showed some serious veteran savvy:
Mon May 20 12:13am EDT
This one looked over.
The Ottawa Senators were staring a three-game deficit right in the face, down a goal with 90 seconds to go. Then, to make matters worse, Erik Karlsson took a slashing penalty, putting them down a man as well. But the Senators refused to go away, and a minute into the penalty, Daniel Alfredsson sneaked into the Pittsburgh zone, unmarked, and Milan Michalek found him in front of the net. Alfy sealed the deal, as Alfies often do, ending Tomas Vokoun's shutout bid and sending the game into overtimes.
Yes, overtimes. For the first time in the 2013 postseason, it took double OT for this game to produce a winner, and when it did, the Senators were back in the series. At 7:39 of the second overtime, Colin Greening banged home a loose puck to give the Sens a 2-1 victory:
And with that, the legend of the pesky Sens lives on. This team just won't go away. Pittsburgh will be left to wonder if it was their brutally lackadaisical approach to the powerplay late in regulation that cost them the lead, or destiny.
(Probably the former. But the latter makes for a nice narrative, no?)
Even after tying the game up in miraculous fashion, the Senators were nearly dealt the fatal blow numerous times. Pascal Dupuis hit a post in the first overtime. Evgeni Malkin had several terrifying forays into the Senators' end. They even survived another Pittsburgh powerplay in OT number two.
Alfredsson and Greening will get much of the credit for stealing Game 3 -- which is sort of what happens when you get your name on the scoresheet after the 59th minute -- but Craig Anderson was a deserving first star after keeping the game within stealing distance all night. The Senators' netminder stopped 49 of 50 shots in the win.
How close were the Senators to the end? After the game, Greening -- who took a high-stick in the second and was late to the postgame scrum because doctors had to extract the fiberglass that had been sitting in his face for two and a half periods -- looked like he'd just come from Dexter's kill table.
You can't get much closer to death than that. Not many people survive the blood slide moment.
Game 4 goes Wednesday in Ottawa.
Sun May 19 06:11pm EDT
Patrice Bergeron streaked into the Rangers' zone, going wide on his man and down the wall. As he neared the goal line, he threw the puck towards the crease, where Dan Girardi was unable to get a stick on it and, much to his chagrin, Brad Marchand was. The smallish winger with the nose for the net redirected it past Henrik Lundqvist for the score.
That's not the Game 1 overtime winner I'm describing, though the similarities are striking. It was the fourth goal in Boston's decisive, 5-2, Game 2 victory over the New York Rangers.
The retread of the Marchand-Bergeron connection aside, these games weren't all that similar. Game 1 was close -- so close it needed extra time; Game 2 was over well before the end of regulation.
Johnny Boychuk scored the eventual game-winner at 12:08 of the second period after Brad Marchand handed him the puck at the top of the zone and the Rangers handed him all the time in the world. He beat Henrik Lundqvist with a laser.
The Rangers' comeback hopes took a major hit just 26 seconds into the final frame, as Marchand and Bergeron hooked up for the goal described above (and showcased below):
Sun May 19 01:06pm EDT
The New York Rangers enter Game 2 of the Eastern Conference semifinals on Sunday with, statistically, the worst power play of the playoffs’ surviving teams: 2 goals on 31 shorthanded chances, for a 6.4-percent conversion rate.
The deficiency has gone from being a drag on the Rangers’ offense to being a boost to the opposition, like during their empty power plays in their Game 1 loss at the Boston Bruins.
So what’s gone wrong for the Rangers, and can it turn around?
Sun May 19 11:18am EDT
Via Penguins WhoSay
Besides being able to have their team advance out of the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, the city of Pittsburgh has also made it possible to turn one of its buildings into a goal light.
A Toronto Maple Leafs fan petition to turn CN Tower into a goal light for each playoff game didn't succeed. In Pittsburgh, however, it took a round, but the top of Gulf Tower will light up red every time the Penguins score in for the rest of the playoffs.
Ian Walsh, an executive with Rugby Realty, who control Gulf Tower, met with the Penguins on Wednesday to discuss another idea when the goal light conversation came up. After figuring out a way to control the lights remotely, the plan was put into place for Game 2 on Friday.
Here's a view from inside CONSOL Energy Center after Brenden Morrow's goal in Game 2:
There was no test run, and Crosby's goal early in the first period on Friday night turned the Gulf Tower into a rotating red light for the first time. However, because there was still daylight when Crosby scored around 7:50 p.m., few people noticed.
That was not the case about 30 minutes later when Crosby scored his second goal. A darker sky provided the perfect backdrop for the Gulf Tower to stand out.
During the game, Wareham received word from Penguins employees that fans were posting photos of the rooftop goal-light on Twitter, but even he was surprised how quickly the idea became a success.
The Penguins’ director of event presentation controls the lights via an iPhone and beginning with Sunday night’s Game 3, there will be 20 rotations of the lights for each goal scored, up from 15 used during Game 2.
Follow Sean Leahy on Twitter at @Sean_Leahy
Sun May 19 09:23am EDT
The Providence Bruins were unable to close out the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins on Saturday night in their Eastern Conference semifinal matchup as the home side forced a Game 6 with a 4-0 win. The Bruins wouldn't go quietly as a late-game brawl brought fireworks and set the scene for their next meeting on Monday night.
Both Providence and Wilkes-Barre/Scranton combined for 113 penalty minutes in the game, with the bulk of the total coming after Bruins forward Graham Mink -- who had rolled over him just minutes before -- fell on top of Penguins goalie Brad Theissen after he froze the puck:
What a call by the Penguins voice Tom Grace and a nice warning to the Bruins that Steve MacIntyre lurks. And we have to applaud the arena music person for using the Ultimate Warrior's theme during the brawling.
The two teams weren't done getting at one another. Two minutes later, after Paul Thompson made it 4-0 (8:07 mark of video), Bruins netminder Niklas Svedberg took exception and slashed him in the back of the leg, setting off another round of scrums. Svedberg would get a two two-minute penalties for slashing and roughing.
Mink was given a match penalty for deliberate attempt to injure. According to AHL rules, he's fined $200 and the penalty will be reviewed by the league for supplemental discipline.
"I didn't say anything or do anything. It kind of happened. I'm not sure what provoked it," Thiessen (30 saves) told Jonathan Bombulie of the Citizens' Voice afterward. "Whatever they want to do, my job is still to stop the puck."
Follow Sean Leahy on Twitter at @Sean_Leahy
Sun May 19 04:15am EDT
Jonathan Quick is typically a laid back dude. But after seeing the referees give the Los Angeles Kings two minor penalties in the final minute of regulation – leading to Logan Couture’s game-winning OT goal and a 2-1 San Jose Sharks’ win – Quick sought out the officials at the end of the game and was anything but laid back.
Watch Quick go zebra hunting (with an odd soccer highlight set to “C.O.P.S.” music after the clip):
The Sharks had a 5-on-3 power play to start overtime after Robyn Regehr went off for hooking Tommy Wingels at 19:18 of the third and Trevor Lewis went off for goalie interference for running into Antti Niemi with five seconds left.
That candor earned Quick a game misconduct. As per NHL Rule 23.2, that means Quick is hit with an automatic $200 fine, and could be subject to supplemental discipline although that’s not gonna happen.
Any guesses what he said?
Sun May 19 03:47am EDT
No. 1 Star: Antti Niemi, San Jose Sharks
The Sharks netminder made 26 saves and bailed them out on defensive lapses on several occasions, as San Jose defeated the Los Angeles Kings in OT 2-1, to cut their series deficit to 2-1.
No. 2 Star: Henrik Zetterberg, Detroit Red Wings
The Red Wings captain assisted on goals by Brendan Smith and Valtteri Filppula, while frustrating Jonathan Toews all game, in Detroit’s 4-1 win over the Chicago Blackhawks. The series is tied 1-1.
No. 3 Star: Logan Couture, San Jose Sharks
The Sharks forward scored the OT game-winner at 1:29, on the power play, to give the San Jose the 2-1 win. That came after he was injured in the second period, returning to the game about 15 minutes later.
Honorable mention: Dan Boyle and Tyler Toffoli had the other goals in the Kings/Sharks game. … Jonathan Quick made 38 saves for the Kings. … Patrick Kane scored his first of the playoffs. … Damien Brunner scored his fourth for the Wings. Johan Franzen also netted his fourth. … This Brad Stuart hit was awesome:
Conn Smythe Watch: 1. Evgeni Malkin, Pittsburgh Penguins; 2. David Krejci, Boston Bruins; 3. Jonathan Quick, Los Angeles Kings; 4. Henrik Lundqvist, New York Rangers; 5. Corey Crawford, Chicago Blackhawks; 6. Patrice Bergeron, Boston Bruins; 7. Sidney Crosby, Pittsburgh Penguins; 8. Henrik Zetterberg, Detroit Red Wings; 9. Drew Doughty, Los Angeles Kings; 10. Joe Pavelski, San Jose Sharks.
Dishonorable mention: The Kings took two penalties in the last minute of regulation to give the Sharks a 5-on-3 power play to start overtime. … Jonathan Quick received a game misconduct at the end of the game. … Dave Bolland was a minus-2 with three minor penalties.
Sun May 19 12:26am EDT
Logan Couture of the San Jose Sharks was injured in the second period of Game 3 on Saturday night vs. the Los Angeles Kings on a hit from Jeff Carter. He left for the trainers’ room, but returned later in the period to an ovation from the fans.
They would give him an even bigger ovation in overtime.
Couture scored the power-play game-winner 1:29 into overtime to give the Sharks a 2-1 victory and to cut the Kings’ lead in the series to 2-1.
The Sharks began overtime on a 5-on-3 power play after Robyn Regehr went off for hooking Tommy Wingels and 19:18 of the third and Trevor Lewis went off for goalie interference for running into Antti Niemi with five seconds left.
After the first power play ended, Couture set up in the slot and received a one-touch pass from Patrick Marleau, burying the puck high past Jonathan Quick for the win and his fourth of the playoffs.