The regular season standings don’t mean anything when it comes playoff time. If you underestimate the competition you can be bounced out of the postseason. There are going to be no easy outs in the second round. No team rolling over. There will be no sweeps this round. If you want to advance into the Conference Finals you’re going to have to fight for and earn it. No team has been smacked with this realization more than the Washington Capitals.
Capitals (1) vs Penguins (2)
Penguins lead series 3-1
Coming in to the postseason with the best record in the East; there were a lot of high hopes in the nation’s capital. There may be dissension in the “House”, but not in the locker room. The series started out well for the Caps in game 1 when T.J. Oshie completed his hat trick with a reviewed overtime winning goal that just squeaked the puck pass the red line of goal to give the Caps a game 1 win. If there has been any team that have thrown a monkey wrench in the Caps hope for advancing further in the playoffs it has been the Penguins, and they are up to their old tricks.
The Penguins were able to eke out a win in the Verizon Center with a goal by Eric Fehr late in the 3rd period to give the Penguins a 2-1 win. Pittsburgh has continued their momentum back to Consol Energy Center; not exactly the “the Igloo” of the old Mellon Arena but has the same energy, and it worked for them in game 3. Intensity was high, motivation was in the crowd and the focus was razor sharp for the Penguins and it rewarded them with a 3-2 win and a 2-1 series lead.
Lightning (2) vs Islanders (WC1)
Lightning lead series 2-1
I’m not a boxing aficionado, but one of the legendary pound for pound punch for punch boxing matches that I can remember was Hagler vs Hearns. The Tamp Bay Lightning vs New York Islanders have the same feel. The Islanders threw the first knock down punch when they surprised the Lightning with a 5-3 win in Tampa. But the Lightning struck back quick and hard with Lightning’s goalie Ben Bishop becoming a bit greedy keeping the Islanders out of the nets for most of game 2 with 19 saves helping the Lightning to a 4-1 win which tied the series at 1 game apiece.
Game 3 was a back and forth game counter for counter from start to finish. When the Islanders score a goal the Lightning would respond right back. The momentum firmly on the Islanders side just under the 12 minute point of the 2nd period Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman sent a rolling rocket puck off the a faceoff past Islander goalie Thomas Greiss. With four goals in the 3rd period, and the tying goal coming with 38 seconds to go when Tampa Bay brought in an extra attacker to hope for extra life in overtime. Their wish was granted by Nikita Kucherov. That gave Tampa Bay a lot of confidence and they were on the attack in the overtime period, and it paid off with just under 3 mintes gone in the period Brian Boyle found the puck after it wide of the net and bounced off the boards for him to gather and shoot under the glove of Greiss into the net for the game winner.
Stars (1) vs Blues (2)
Blues lead series 2-1
The stars may have been shining bright in the night skies in Dallas after game 1 but the people in the lone star state are singing the blues after game 2 and 3.
After game 1 the Stars look to playing the right note to against the Blues especially when Radek Faksa was able to put in the rebound goal after Blues goalie Brian Elliott denied Stars’ Ales Hemsky to give the Stars a 2-1 lead with just under 5 minutes to go, and subsequent game winner. The Blues have come back to dim the once bright light of the Stars to take control of the stage and are playing loud and proud.
None was more clear than game 3 when the Blues quickly bounced back after the Stars’ Colton Sceviour puts the puck past Brian Elliott early in the 1st period. But that just woke up the Blues, because less than a minute later the Blues’ Alexander Steen responds with a slap shot past Antti Niemi, which woke up the crowd and pretty dropped the curtain on the Stars to roll to a 6-1 win and lead the series 2-1.
Sharks (3) vs Predators (WC1)
Sharks lead series 2-1
After game 1 and 2 the Predators looked more like prey and the Sharks were feasting admirably controlling the ice, and swarming at every possible occasion. Though the Predators are winning the shots on goal but they weren’t able to penetrate the defenses of Sharks goaltender Martin Jones very often. And the Sharks came out of the shark tank unscathed.
The Predators were able to get things back in order with the help of their Power Play opportunities. The Predators took things lying down, and finally wounded the Sharks with a 4-1 win in game 3 to swing the momentum back to them.