Hey everyone! Sorry for the unexpected hiatus, I was in the moving process once again. I'm back home for the summer now. Feels good. To make up for it, I'll present every game 4 games.
4 of those games had the potential to be sweeps. How many brooms did we need? Find out after the jump.
New Jersey Devils @ New York Islanders
This was a seesaw match and it started as early as 4:24 in the first period. P.A. Parenteau, continuing on his playoff tear, scored a powerplay goal with the help of Matt Moulson and Ty Wishart, who is also surprising everyone in the playoffs. Rod Pelley tied the game at the 8 minute mark with Dainius Zubrus and Mattias Tedenby. Each team got a minor penalty in the period, but the Isles badly outshot the Devils 16-6. The game was nonetheless tied at 1 a piece, suggesting maybe Martin Brodeur had finally found his mojo.
This time around, the Devils took the lead at 4:24 of the second period (uncanny) as Patrik Elias scored with Brian Rolston and Henrik Tallinder's help, but super-rookie Michael Grabner tied things up again at the 8:17 mark with Kyle Okposo and Radek Martinek. Again, both teams took a minor each, but this time, NJD outshot NYI 10-7. 2-2 after 40, who would come out on top?
The Devils regained the lead 9 minutes into the third period, giving them hope to tie the series at 2. David Clarkson was the scorer, Colin White was the helper. The Isles wouldn't go down easy however, as Grabner scored his second of the game with assists going to Frans Nielsen and Okposo. It was a tough, tight battle until the very end, but Kyle Okposo score a series-changing goal to get his time in front for good with about 2 and a half minutes left in the game. Nielsen and John Tavares with the apples, 4-3 Isles the final.
Now, the Devils, who had a chance to even up the series, are looking at a 3-1 deficit. Brodeur started well, but couldn't keep up and he has now allowed a staggering 20 goals in 4 games. The Devils absolutely need him to get back to his superstar form, because scoring isn't their problem, they scored 16 goals in 4 games. That usually gets you more than 1 win.
Score: NJD 3-4 NYI
Total shots: NJD 24 - 35 NYI
Total PIM: NJD 6 - 8 NYI
#1 Kyle Okposo (GWG, 2A)
#2 Michael Grabner (2 G)
#3 Frans Nielsen (2 A)
St.-Louis Blues @ Colorado Avalanche
On the brink of elimination, the Blues sure started horribly. Daniel Winnik started the scoring at 8:28 with the help of David Jones and Erik Johnson. Ryan O'Reilly then added another goal for the home team with assists going to Ryan O'Byrne and Jones. The Blues taking 2 minors didn't cost them, but it sure didn't help either. Shots were actually 8-7 in favor of the Blues though, but without the penalties, perhaps they wouldn't have lost momentum.
The only point of interest in the second period was a Blues major penalty, but they did fine despite of it. No scoring in the second, shots were 9-8 for the Blues, who were 20 minutes away from the golf course at that point.
Looks like the Blues didn't want to go play golf yet. They showed oodles of energy in the third period, sparked by an early David Backes goal, tipped in off a Carlo Colaiacovo shot. T.J. Oshie also got an assist. 2-1, with about 3 minutes left, the Blues needed a hero, and he emerged... Cam Janssen! Janssen tied the score at the 16:36 mark of the third period with the help of Nikita Nikitin and Vladimir Sobotka. Hold your brooms everyone, the Blues aren't swept yet. Overtime was needed.
You can put those brooms in the closet, T.J. Oshie scored on the only shot of the period off a Chris Stewart rebound at the 0:52 mark of OT to keep the Blues alive
Despite dominating the play for most of the game, St-Louis nearly couldn't find a way to not get swept. Perhaps not taking so many penalties would've helped them, but dramatic finishes are always way more fun! Now St.-Louis gets another home game, and they'll need the crowd's support to get the series up to 3-2.
Score: 3-2 OT
Total shots: STL 35 - 28 COL
Total PIM: STL 11 - 2 COL
#1 T.J. Oshie (OT winner, A)
#2 David Jones (2 A)
#3 Chris Stewart (A)
Atlanta Thrashers @ Ottawa Senators
Atlanta was another one of the 4 teams looking to avoid a sweep, so they weren't going to go down easy. Marek Svatos opened the scoring for Ottawa with Ryan Shannon's help at the 6:18 mark, but Atlanta scored two goals 26 seconds apart. First one was scored by Evander Kane, assisted by Bryan Little and Dustin Byfuglien and the second one was scored by Little, assisted by Zach Bogosian and Blake Wheeler. Atlanta scored those two goals on 5 first period shots. Ottawa got the only minor penalty of the period. Atlanta was leading 2-1.
Jim Slater got his Thrashers in a good mood with an early powerplay goal, assisted by Nik Antropov and Andrew Ladd. Chris Philips scored a rare powerplay goal of his own at the 7:43 mark with assists by Shannon and Erik Condra. Antropov got the two goal lead back with an off-angle shot, making Craig Anderson look rather bad. Tobias Enstrom got the only assist. 4-2 lead for Atlanta, they were feeling good...
... but they let the foot off the gas in the 3rd period. Bobby Butler scored a powerplay goal with the help of Erik Karlsson at 10 minutes even and Erik Condra scored the game-tying goal 3 minutes later. Shannon got his 3rd assist of the game on the tying goal. Atlanta were now on their heels, as they failed to hold their 2 goal lead, and now, they had overtime to deal with.
I don't know if Dustin Byfuglien will be able to live down taking a boarding penalty, major one at that, as that permitted Ottawa to pepper Ondrej Pavelec with 6 shots, and the playoffs ended for them on that 6th shot. Milan Michalek's goal, assisted by Svatos, makes the Thrashers the first team eliminated from the Yelnats Cup Playoffs.
Being swept by one of the worst teams in the NHL is quite a big fall for a team that led their division at one point in the season. The lack of scoring and the bevy of penalties did them in. Better luck in 2011-12 Thrashers!
Score: ATL 4 - 5 OTT (OT)
Total Shots: ATL 30 - 39 OTT
Total PIM: ATL 9 - 8 OTT
#1 Ryan Shannon (3 A)
#2 Erik Condra (G, A )
#3 Milan Michalek (OT winner)
Toronto Maple Leafs @ Florida Panthers
Another high-octane game from these two teams in what has truly turned out to be the most intriguing series of the bunch. Must be all the truculence. Anyhoo, Ryan Carter got things started for Florida, finishing off Jay Garrison's pass 2 minutes in. Toronto took 3 minor penalties, but they only needed one Florida penalty to score on the powerplay. Nikolai Kulemin finished a pretty play from Clarke MacArthur and Phil Kessel. Shots were even at 12 a piece.
Steve Bernier scored a powerplay marker at the beginning of the period with the help of Mike Weaver and Ryan Carter. 3 minutes later, Mikhail Grabovski tied things up again, assisted by Carl Gunnarsson. Kulemin scored his second goal of the game shortly thereafter, tipping in a Keith Aulie blast, who was fed by Grabovski. A lot of penalties again in this period, 3 for Toronto, 2 for Florida, making for lots of powerplay action, lots of back-and-forths as well, shots were 8-7 in favor of Florida.
Florida did all they could to tie the game again, shooting pucks on James Reimer 14 times, but Optimus Reim was ready for battle once again. Tyler Bozak put up a back-breaker powerplay goal with helpers going to Grabovski and Nazem Kadri at the 11:31 mark. All of a sudden, the Maple Leafs have a 3-1 series lead after this 4-2 win over Florida.
TRUCULENCE. That is all.
Score: FLA 2-4 TOR
Total shots: FLA 34 - 30 TOR
Total PIM: FLA 8 - 16 TOR
#1 Mikhail Grabovski (G, 2A)
#2 Nikolai Kulemin (2G)
#3 Optimus Reim (32 saves)
Calgary Flames @ Edmonton Oilers
Plenty of penalties in this one, but the goals didn't come very easily. No scoring in the first, but Calgary amassed 9 PIM while Edmonton got 1 minor, but couldn't even outshoot their opponents. Calgary held a 13-11 shot advantage after 20 minutes.
This time, the Flames controlled their fire and took no penalties, while Edmonton got 3 minors. The score didn't change however, 0-0 after 40 minutes, Calgary shot 12, Edmonton 10.
At that point, the first goal was probably going to be the game-winner as both goaltenders were at the top of their game. The lack of urgency of the Oilers, who were facing elimination, led to Calgary finally scoring after being dominant for most of the game. Ales Kotalik broke the deadlock after 53:34 minutes of play with assists going to Mark Giordano and Matt Stajan, spoiling the Bulin Wall's valiant effort. Go get the brooms again, Edmonton becomes the 2nd team eliminated from the Yelnats Cup Playoffs, 1-0 the final score.
Calgary simply overwhelmed the young, undisciplined Oilers. Miikka Kiprusoff just out-dueled Nikolai Khabibuiln. The Oilers losing was to be expected, but the sweep actually removed this series potential to be an epic battle between two hated rivals.
Score: EDM 0 - 1 CGY
Total shots: EDM 29 - 35 CGY
Total PIM: EDM 15 - 11 CGY
#1 Miikka Kiprusoff (29 save shutout)
#2 Nikolai Khabibulin (34 saves)
#3 Ales Kotalik (GWG)
Minnesota Wild @ Columbus Blue Jackets
Damn you Rick Nash. Just... damn you. The Wild-killer broke the ice with a goal assisted by Jakub Voracek and Maxim Mayorov at 5:53. Not to be out-captained, Mikko Koivu answered with a powerplay goal assisted by Nick Schultz and Pierre-Marc Bouchard. In this active period, PIM were 4-4 and shots were 13-12 in favor of Minnesota, and then, a pig flew over the arena...kidding :)
This period was maybe the worst of the series for Minnesota (2nd period curse re-emerges). Super sniper Derek Mackenzie scored on the powerplay with assists to Grant Clitsome (teehee) and Derrick Brassard. A few minutes later, Jakub Voracek scored a cute goal, apples for dish-master Jared Boll and.... RICK NASH! RAGE! Minnesota managed only 6 shots, but kept the BJs at 7 shots, allowing 2 goals nonetheless.
Minnesota needed 3 goals to become the third team ever to sweep another team in the Yelnats Playoffs. Eric Nystrom scored a Matt Cullen - assisted goal at 16:07, but it was too little, too late. The Wild drop a Yelnats game for the first time in their history, 3-2 Blue Jackets.
This game continued the tradition of the Wild losing the rare games in which they outshoot the opponent. Video games can be so realistic sometimes.
Score: MIN 2-3 CBJ
Total shots: MIN 30 - 27 CBJ
Total PIM: MIN 14 - 8 CBJ
#1 Rick Nash (supplying the Wild's nightmares once again)
#2 Steve Mason (28 saves)
#3 Jakub Voracek (G, A)
And that recapped all the action of April 19th and 20th. Tomorrow, I'll get to work on covering all the game 5s, which were played on the 21st and 22nd. The first round could potentially have ended on the 22nd as the 4 series are 3-1, and that would be amazingly short for a first round, even with the Dallas Stars and Carolina Hurricanes not playing due to byes.
New York Islanders @ New Jersey Devils, Isles leading series 3-1
Colorado Avalanche @ St.-Louis Blues, Avs leadng series 3-1
Florida Panthers @ Toronto Maple Leafs, Leafs leading series 3-1
Columbus Blue Jackets @ Minnesota Wild, Wild leading series 3-1
Calgary Flames and Ottawa Senators moving on to the second round.
Edmonton Oilers and Atlanta Thrashers moving on to the golf courses.
Come back tomorrow for some game 5 action!