- Roberto Luongo stopped 41 of 42 shots last night as the Florida Panthers rebounded to tie their series with the New York Islanders at one game a piece. There were some who thought that Luongo should not get the start in Game 2 after Thursday night's 5-4 loss, but those people don't know Lu. He played one of his finest games of the year to help get the win, as did Reilly Smith, whose been leading the charge offensively for the Panthers. Smith had a goal and an assist, giving him 5 points in the first two games, as did Nick Bjugstad. Dmitry Kulikov added an empty net goal, while John Tavares added his 2nd of the series in a losing cause, breaking the shutout.
- Duncan Keith had a goal and an assist, and most notably went an entire game without clubbing an unsuspecting opponent in the head with his stick as the Blackhawks tied up their series with the St Louis Blues at 1-1. The big story of the night was the officiating, which was consistently awful all night long, from missed calls, unique interpretations on icing and the two most important calls, the coach's challenge of St Louis' go-ahead goal which was ruled offside, which was (wait for it...) followed almost immediately by:
- A missed call on a trip by the Hawks, which was followed by...
- A penalty for slashing on St Louis, which was then followed by (you see where I am going, right?)
- An Andrew Shaw PP goal that would have given Luongo nightmares, as it was pretty much the same as 1/3 of the goals the Hawks scored on him: the goalie (Brian Elliott) finding himself in the back of the net, with zero help from the officials.
Ken Hitchcock had some interesting things to sayabout it all, toeing the line without saying what might garner him a fine. There's also a pretty good write up over at St Louis Game Time that deals with the interpretation of the offside rule that you should check out.
- Meanwhile down in Tampa, the Lightning took a 2-0 lead over the Detroit Red Wings, and to no one's surprise, the level of on-ice hatred between two teams playing in the opening round for the 2nd straight year is starting to boil over. It's not Chicago-Vancouver level yet, but it's getting there. If you thought that the Lightning were in trouble without Steven Stamkos, you didn't count on Tyler Johnson. He scored twice, and his 2 assists helped him tie a team record for most points in a playoff game as the Lightning rolled over the Wings 5-2. Johnson has sole control of the scoring lead in the post-season early on, followed by teammate Nikita Kucherov and Florida's Smith. Things got a little crazy as a bit of a line brawl broke out, highlighted by Justin Abdelkader suckerpunching Mike Blunden while Blunden was face down on the ice. Really need to see the DoPS step up and punish this garbage, but they likely won't. What a gutless display by Abdelkader.
- And finally, the last series got under way last night, as one of the favorites to go all the way, the Anaheim Ducks took on the wild card Nashville Predators and lost. John Gibson gave up a goal just 17 seconds in to James Neal, and while they got goals from the Ryans (the bald one and the one who left), a Filip Forsberg shot deflected off Ducks' D Shea Theodore halfway through the 3rd and that proved to be the winner. Lots of pressure on the Ducks now to live up to the hype they garnered since the end of December.
- We start off with a nooner as the Pittsburgh Penguins and New York Rangers meet in Game 2, and the big story here is who's playing and who isn't. For the Rangers, Henrik Lundqvist will be in net, as he appears to have recovered from that scary looking stick to the eye that knocked him out of game 1. Dan Girardi is definitely out, meaning Dylan McIlrath will likely slot in to replace him, paired with Keith Yandle. Meanwhile the Penguins have Marc-Andre Fleury and Evgeni Malkin listed as 'game time decisions', and Malkin has been removed from the IR. If Fleury's not ready to go they will start Jeff Zatkoff, who got the 5-2 win in Game 1.
- The Flyers will be looking to even up their series with the Washington Capitals at one game a piece, but they will have to do it without Sean Couturier. The Philadelphia forward is out 2 weeks with an upper body injury, so they will have to lean heavily on Brayden Schenn to fill the void of the defensive specialist. Scott Laughton will make his playoff debut in place of Couturier, but no other changes for the Flyers or Capitals seem likely.
- The big question in Minnesota tonight is: Do they even have a prayer? After being handily defeated 4-0 in Game 1, Lindy Ruff spoke about the need for the Stars to execute better in Game 2. Unless they can figure out how to solve what some thought was Dallas' weakness: their defence, and get a better game from Devan Dubnyk, this one's going back to Minny with the Stars holding a 2-0 lead. Oh yeah, and it looks like Tyler Seguin will be in for Dallas tonight, so good luck with that, guys...
- Joe Pavelski's goal 17 seconds into the 3rd period to give the San Jose Sharks a 1-0 lead over the LA Kings wasn't just a pretty goal, it was also awesome because of the stunned silence in the crowd that followed it. The Kings will have to put more pressure on Norris Trophy pretender Drew Doughty tonight, especially it appears they will be without Alec Martinez. He will likely be replaced by Jamie McBain, and they also called up Kevin Gravel from Ontario of the AHL. It shouldn't come as too much of a shock that the Sharks won Game 1, as the NHL's best road team this season won all 3 regular season matches at the Staples Center. While this series is a long way from over, it won't be a shock to see the Kings down 2-zip heading back to the Bay Area.
GAME DAY BATTLE HYMN
The Kings of Viking Metal AMON AMARTH have returned with a new album 'Jomsviking' on Metal Blade Records. Here's the video for 'First Kill', enjoy the games, and just a reminder that the Canadian Under 18's are playing Czechia (yes, that's what they want to be called now) at 8:30 on TSN3.