Saturday, May 8, 2010

The Playoffs, Day 24: Drama, no drama

Philly sees Boston's Savard, raises one Simon
The Bruins don't have a monopoly on stars returning to the lineup with major contributions.

Simon Gagne, playing his first game of the series, scored in overtime and Philadelphia avoided a sweep, defeating Boston 5-4. The teams get the weekend off. Game 5 is Monday in Boston.

Gagne's goal came off two neat plays by Mike Richards and Matt Carle. Richards skated into the Boston zone, pulled up and threaded a pass to trailing defenseman Carle. For his part, Carle faked a shot then slid a perfect pass to Gagne standing right outside the crease. All Gagne had to do was get his stick on the puck and it slid under Tuukka Rask for the winner.

It capped off a game that Philadelphia seemed to be in control of on two occasions. After Mark Recchi's opening goal, the Flyers scored three straight times - from Daniel Briere, Chris Pronger and Claude Giroux - to take a two-goal lead.

Boston promptly responded, getting Michael Ryder's fluke goal after breaking his stick shortly after Giroux's tally, then Milan Lucic's deflection goal in the third period to tie the score. Ville Leino, who was in the penalty box for Lucic's goal, made up for it by deflecting a Pronger shot for a 4-3 Philadelphia lead with just 5:40 remaining in regulation.

Recchi continued to kick Father Time in the teeth though, taking Patrice Bergeron's pass and lifting a shot past Brian Boucher from a bad angle with 32 ticks to play to tie the score at 4-4.

I stopped the "Non-Star of the night" a while back, but Friday's winner is Carle, who posted four assists and was a plus-5 on the night, yet shut out in the Three Stars. Boucher finished with 33 saves.

"Canuck" is apparently not Canadian for "penalty kill"
It doesn't translate into "disciplined" either.

Vancouver committed a series of stupid, selfish penalties and the Chicago power play burned the Canucks, converting four times - led by Jonathan Toews - in a 7-4 victory to claim a big 3-1 series lead. Toews recorded five points, including his first career hat trick, and tying a team postseason record.

Los Angeles torched Vancouver's penalty killing in the first round and Chicago's doing the same thing. The Blackhawks went 4-for-8 in Game 4 with the power play.

Each goal by Toews came with the man-advantage, and his first was part of a back-and-forth first period. Brent Seabrook gave the Blackhawks a 1-0 lead just 18 seconds in before Mikael Samuelsson's centering pass went off teammate Kyle Wellwood and past Antti Niemi just over a minute later for a 1-1 game.

Toews scored only for Daniel Sedin to counter later in the period. Chicago then rattled off three consecutive goals and four of the next five to take a commanding lead. Toews' second and third goals sandwiched a Patrick Sharp power play goal. Alexander Edler stemmed the tide for Vancouver, but Tomas Kopecky's goal early in the third period restored Chicago's three-goal lead at 6-3.

Henrik Sedin scored late, but Dave Bolland's empty net goal pushed the final margin to 7-4.

Sharp finished with four points and Niemi recorded 26 saves.

Stat of the night
64.6 - Vancouver's penalty killing percentage. It was 81.9 in the regular season.

Quote of the night
"He's the second-best goaltender on the ice."
Vancouver coach Alain Vigneault, referring to Canucks goalie Roberto Luongo

Saturday predictions
Montreal 3, Pittsburgh 1
San Jose 4, Detroit 2

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