A double OT thriller in Nashville last night, as the Preds and Winnipeg Jets went toe to toe for over 85 minutes, and controversy and a glaring lack of consistency reigned in Washington as the Capitals tied their series with Pittsburgh.
NASHVILLE 5 WINNIPEG 4 (2OT) (Series tied 1-1)
Some felt that Nashville deserved a better fate than they got in Game 1, and credit to them for earning a hard fought victory in Game 2. Winnipeg, for their part upped their offensive game, firing 50 shots on Pekka Rinne last night. Rinne let in a couple soft ones (the Dustin Byfuglien goal in particular) but battled hard to give the Preds the chance to win. The Preds got a stellar performance from the Ryan Johansen line last night. Johansen scored twice, and Filip Forsberg had 3 assists, while Viktor Arvidson had a goal and 2 assists. Mark Scheifele continued his playoff coming out party as he scored twice for the Jets, including the game tying goal with just over a minute left in the 3rd. A Jet who did not have a good game was Matt Hendricks. Hendricks took a couple penalties and made numerous defensive gaffes, including the OT winner by Kevin Fiala. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him in the press box for Game 3 in Winnipeg tomorrow.
WASHINGTON 4 PITTSBURGH 1 (Series tied 1-1)
After blowing a 2 goal lead in the 3rd period of Game 1, the Capitals had to come out and send a message to Pittsburgh that this wasn’t going to be easy, and they did just that in a 4-1 win in a game that was marred by some of the worst officiating that we’ve seen this season in the NHL. Tons of missed calls both ways, and a pass on taking noted dirtbag Tom Wilson out for another headshot. Why is it so hard for the officials of this sport to understand that by “letting them play” because they don’t want to affect the outcome of the game, they are affecting the outcome of the game. The rules are rules, and it’s frustrating to see things that would get called every damn time during the season not even get a 2nd glance from the stripes. Add in the disallowed goal (which was probably in, but the only true view that would show it was blocked, probably deliberately by Braden Holtby) and you can understand the saltiness of Penguins fans today. Then again, they have 2 consecutive Cups and probably should shut up.
BOSTON @ TAMPA BAY- 7:00 EDT/4:00 PDT (CBC)
Tampa’s top line of Steven Stamkos, JT Miller and Nikita Kucherov are going to need to like more like their regular-season selves if they want to head to Boston with this series tied. And the Lightning would do well to do something that can neutralize the line of Patrice Bergeron, David Pastrnak and Brad Marchand, or they’ll suffer the same fate as the Leafs. The real question for the Bruins is can Tuukka Rask put together a constistent streak of strong performances. His on again, off again 1st round nearly cost them the series, and getting to the sometimes temperamental Finn to get him off his game might be the key.
SAN JOSE @ VEGAS 10:00 EDT/7:00 PDT (SN) (Series tied 1-1)
After bouncing back to take Game 2 in Double OT (handing Vegas their first loss of the post-season) all eyes are on the Shark Tank tonight to see just how well this Golden Knights squad handles the first true test of adversity. The Sharks will have Evander Kane back in the lineup after serving a 1 game suspension for his crosscheck on Pierre-Edouard Bellemare. One thing Vegas will want to do is be a little more disciplined than they were in Game 2. San Jose was 2 for 7 on the PP, and they added 2 goals at 4 on 4. The Sharks are a fearsome bunch with their special teams, best not to tempt fate.
TORONTO 4 UTICA 0 (Marlies win series 3-2)
The fact that this Utica Comets team was able to force a 5th and deciding game against the AHL’s top team is impressive enough. That they did it after a season where they often found themselves relying on players loaned from other organizations just to make a roster is even better. Head coach Trent Cull and his staff did a fabulous job, and while it’s disappointing to see them bow out, it bodes well for next season, not just for the Comets but the Canucks, as a number of players will be trying to push their way onto the lineup.