I don't want to remove anything from the other candidates, but how is Lubomir Visnovsky not up for the Norris?
Also, Mike Richards, you disgust me. So do you Colin Campbell. There, I said it.
3 games on the docket tonight:
Follow me after the jump. Now.
New Jersey Devils @ New York Islanders.
Very intense battle tonight between a team desperate to stay alive and a team desperate for some playoff success. Brian Rolston started things off with his patented slapper at 2:32, assists to Matt Taormina and David Clarkson. Super-rookie Michael Grabner knotted things up shortly after with a powerplay goal, assisted by Josh Bailey and Ty Wishart. Kyle Okposo showcased some puck wizardry with a dazzling goal against Martin Brodeur, who seemed to have the luster shaken out of him once again. Okposo's goal was assisted by Frans Nielsen and Blake Comeau. The Isles led 2-1 after one period.
Jesse Joensuu quickly brought the score up to 3-1 for the home team, helped by Grabner and Milan Jurcina, but on the ensuing faceoff, David Steckel wins the FO, gets it to Colin White, who gives it to Ilya Kovalchuk who slaps it immediately after crossing the line, eluding Rick Dipietro and making the score 3-2, all in 4 seconds. Wow. Kovalchuk wasn't done though. 36 seconds later, he beat Dipietro again, assisted by Andy Greene and Zach Parise, and all of a sudden, this was a tie game, 3-3. It's amazing that the Isles weren't able to score on 5 separate powerplays from the start of the game, but perhaps even more amazing is the fact the Isles took no penalties in the game.
Very stressful period for both teams, they were both playing cautious, smart, disclipined hockey. No goals, no penalties, 21 shots between the two teams, with NJ getting one shot more than NY. On to overtime we go, do or die for the Devils.
The OT period came and went very quickly. New York won the faceoffs, got two shots on Brodeur, Travis Zajac got the puck out of the zone and on Parise's stick, 2 on 1 with Ilya Kovalchuk, Parise enters the zone, passes it to Kovy, and he makes no mistake, one-timing his natural hat-trick goal past Dipietro. The first ever Yelnats game 7 will be needed as the Devils take this one 4-3 in OT.
A playoff star is born. After so much waiting and failure for Kovalchuk, he's currently ripping it up. It would be a shame for him to have his team eliminated now, especially after this herculean performance. Then again, a bunch of the Isles players are also bringing the heat offensively. P.A. Parenteau, John Tavares, Matt Moulson... problem is, none of them were anywhere to be found tonight, and it just so happens the Isles would've needed them tonight. What seemed unlikely last week has now happened: The Devils force a game 7.
Score: NJD 4 - 3 NYI (OT)
Total shots: NJD 33 - 32 NYI
Total PIM: NJD 10 - 0 NYI
#1 Ilya Kovalchuk (OT winner, natural hat-trick)
#2 Zach Parise (2 A)
#3 Michael Grabner (G, A)
St-Louis Blues @ Colorado Avalanche
This game was another seesaw battle until the very end. Who came out on top? The Blues needed this one to not be sent home. Let's just say it didn't start too well for them. It all started with a Roman Polak - David Koci bout in which Koci turned out victorious and that gave the Avs some wind in their sails. Ryan Stoa scored at the 8:58 mark, assisted by Paul Stastny and Erik Johnson. Johnson has been quite a dishmaster in this series against his former team and he added an assist on the following goal when Matt Duchene made it 2-0 Avs. John-Michael Liles got the other assist on that goal. Shots were even at 8 a piece, but it was all Avs in the first period.
Chris Stewart capitalized on an early period penalty by the Avs to make things interesting at 2-1. Patrik Berglund and Alex Pietrangelo supplied the assists. Jaroslav Halak and Peter Budaj put on quite a show in this period, with Budaj making 13 saves and Halak making 15.
T.J. Oshie scored the all-important tying goal and the 7:23 mark of the third period, assisted by Roman Polak and Chris Stewart. Polak's assist made up for his lost fight I guess, but no one was able to make up for Matt Duchene's second goal of the game 4 minutes later, assisted by Jay McClement and Kevin Porter. The goal sealed the series for Colorado as Peter Budaj shut the door 7 times in the period to clinch the 3-2 Avalanche win.
All in all, every player involved in the big trade had some form of impact on the series, but St-Louis would've liked to see more out of Kevin Shattenkirk, who only put up 1 point. Colorado becomes the third Northwest Division team to move on to the 2nd round of the Yelnats Cup Playoffs, which is both good and bad for the Division, considering 3 out of 4 teams won their series, but 4 teams were bad enough to be in the Yelnats Cup Playoffs.
Score: STL 2 - 3 COL
Total shots: STL 30 - 30 COL
Total PIM: STL 11 - 11 COL
#1 Matt Duchene (GWG, 2G)
#2 Peter Budaj (28 saves)
#3 Erik Johnson (2 A)
Toronto Maple Leafs @ Florida Panthers
Yet another 3-2 series, with Florida the team looking to stay in the Playoffs. They kicked things off with a Michal Repik goal, assisted by Stephen Weiss and Evgeny Dadonov. Toronto's truculence led to 6 PIM, but apart from getting more shots on net, Florida couldn't take advantage of them. Shots were 9-6 for Florida. 1-0 Panthers after 20.
Dion Phaneuf, who's been all kinds of great for the Leafs in the playoffs, feeds huge breakout pass to Carl Gunnarsson just as he was leaving the penalty box and he surprises Tomas Vokoun with a quick slapper. Tie game. Mike Komisarek had the second assist on the goal. This period was very even, shots were 11 a piece. The suspense continues as it was 1-1 after 40.
Offensive festival in the third period as 4 goals were scored. Joe Callahan (who?) scored first with helpers by Dmitry Kulikov (where were you all series long?) and Marty Reasoner at 5:48. 2 and a half minutes later, Darryl Boyce tied things up again with the help of Fredrik Sjostrom and Joffrey Lupul. Florida regained the lead for the third time in the game as Evgeny Dadonov scored a pretty goal, finishing off a play orchestrated by Stephen Weiss and Keaton Ellerby. I told you 4 goals were scored right? Well the fourth goal was a Tim Brent game tying goal at 12:49, assisted by Captain FANOOF. After that goal, Jay Rosehill, probably seeking revenge on Darcy Hordichuk for injuring Keith Aulie in the previous game, gets a misconduct of his own at the worst possible time. However, Toronto found a way to survive long enough for the game to get decided in overtime.
Say it with me now: FANOOOOOOOOOOF. The captain clinches the series with an OT slapper goal, aided by Nikolai Kulemin. It was a close battle right to the very end, but Toronto eliminates Florida and moves on to the second round.
Rosehill damn near cost Toronto the game witth his ill-advised hit on Hordichuk. He should've just been content in his team holding the 3-2 lead and working towards making it 4-2. Anyhoo, what's done is done, Toronto moves on. It was hard to expect Florida to go far in the playoffs with their current lineup, as they're really in a rebuilding phase right now, but they gave a good fight and helped make this series one of the more interesting ones.
Score: TOR 4 - 3 FLA (OT)
Total shots: TOR 32 - 31 FLA
Total PIM: TOR 25 - 0 FLA
#1 Dion FANOOF (OT winner, 2A)
#2 Tim Brent (GTG)
#3 Stephen Weiss (2 A)
Well, two more teams moving on, one more spot left on the second round bracket. Stay tuned tomorrow as the first round of the Yelnats Cup Playoffs concludes with game 7 between the New York Islanders and the New Jersey Devils. Nighty-night
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