Monday, May 3, 2010

The Playoffs, Day 19: Squid and Pavelski rule

Montreal rewinds, evens series
For some reason, Pittsburgh coach Dan Bylsma and his players chose to watch tape of any of Montreal's first-round wins against Washington rather than Game 1 of the second round. The Canadiens were happy to return to their very recent past.

Montreal weathered an early Pittsburgh storm (coincidentally, it rained in Pittsburgh), capitalized on what few chances it tried to generate, and evened its series with the Penguins following a 3-1 victory heading to Montreal.

Jaroslav Halak returned to form, making 38 saves, but the Penguins failed to do anything they did in the first game to make life tough on Halak. The Canadiens goalie made a handful of top-notch saves but had a much easier time than in Game 2.

Pittsburgh even forced Montreal to play from behind again, getting Matt Cooke's nifty goal early in the game. However, the Penguins failed to add onto the lead despite generating several quality chances. By the midpoint of the first period, the Canadiens leveled the playing field.

Montreal took advantage of a team-wide defensive lapse by Pittsburgh and got Brian Gionta's goal to tie the score. Mike Cammalleri batted a puck out of midair on a power play in the second period for a 2-1 lead, and from there, the Canadiens followed their first-round recipe of pulling into a defensive shell. They had only three shots in the second period and six in the third, after out-shooting Pittsburgh 12-9 in the first.

The Penguins generated scoring chances but no traffic, and a turnover in the third period led to Cammalleri's second of the game and eighth of the playoffs with 2:54 remaining to ice the game.

Pittsburgh's power play that was so deadly in Game 1 didn't get a chance until the third period and was ordinary when it got opportunities, going 0-for-3.

Scott Gomez had two assists for the Canadiens.

Big Pavelski leads San Jose again
If San Jose ever gets that top line going and some decent goaltending, the Sharks might be deadly.

Joe Pavelski scored two more goals for a playoff-best nine and added an assist in San Jose's 4-3 victory over Detroit to take a 2-0 series lead, the first series in this playoffs to go 2-0. Pavelski is the first player since Mario Lemieux in 1992 to score two goals or more in three straight postseason games.

Pavelski twice tied the game with power play goals, once at 1-1 in the first period after Pavel Datsyuk scored, and once in the third period on a 5-on-3 power play to tie the score at 3-3. After his second goal, it was Joe Thornton's time to step up.

After Nicklas Lidstrom broke his stick on a shot attempt at the blue line, Dany Heatley raced up ice and fired a shot on Jimmy Howard. The rebound went into the slot where Thornton one-timed it into the cage for a 4-3 advantage with 7:23 remaining in the game.

The Red Wings struggled to mount a comeback attempt, which wasn't aided by taking two more penalties after Thornton's goal. Detroit was shorthanded five times in the third period and an incredible 10 times for the game.

Heatley finished with three assists. Thornton had two points and Nabokov made 28 saves.

Howard stopped 41 shots. Holmstrom and Lidstrom also scored for Detroit.

Stat of the night
2-0, 0-4 - The Canadiens are 2-0 against Pittsburgh this season in games with a 2 p.m. faceoff. They're 0-4 with other starting times.

Quote of the night
"Whatever planet he's on, I think everyone wants to get on it with him."
Thornton, on Pavelski

Monday predictions
Boston 4, Philadelphia 2
Chicago 4, Vancouver 2

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