Hey all! The Wild may be out, but the Yelnats aren't over. We've got two series left to cover in the first round. We have game 7 between the Edmonton Oilers and the Colorado Avalanche and we have game 7 between the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Carolina Hurricanes. I've watched both games this time around, so we're getting our first look into the Canes-Leafs matchup. What we know about that series is that the Leafs' first line, Phil Kessel, Tyler Bozak and Joffrey Lupul, have dominated. Each one of them are in the top 5 in points in the NHL. However, Cam Ward has been lights out. He's been one of the best goalies in the playoffs and is the reason the Canes are still alive. Meanwhile, the Colorado-Edmonton series has been as tight as can be, with mostly low-scoring affairs.
Make the jump for the Round 1 conclusion.
Edmonton Oilers @ Colorado Avalanche: Game 7
Fairly exciting period to start things off. Good physical play, back and forth chances and only one penalty, which came to Cody McLeod for elbowing. The Avalanche killed the penalty with some help from Nikolai Khabibulin, who made 5 saves on that penalty kill by my count. Ales Hemsky was injured on an Erik Johnson hit and missed the rest of the game. Shots were nearly equal and it was just a well fought period by both teams. They went into the second period with a scoreless tie.
The Avalanche got the upper hand in this period, but they were helped by penalties to Eric Belanger, Darcy Hordichuk and Theo Peckham. The Oilers were able to survive a 5 on 3 opportunity, but they weren't able to get any offense going. The Bulin wall cracked when Steve Downie completed Gabriel Landeskog's play to make it 1-0. Strangely enough, Downie and Landeskog are on the 4th line. No more goals were scored in the period, but Colorado got some more chances. Nikolai Khabibulin played beautifully.
Darcy Hordichuk (BARF) got the Oilers on the board when he rushed into the zone directly from the bench to one time a Nick Schultz pass. Cam Barker got the second assist. Figure that out: Schultz and Barker got assists. Schultz may have gotten the primary assist, but he made a fatal mistake a little later; He took a slashing penalty around the 4 minute mark and David Jones capitalized on the powerplay. He roofed a rebound past Khabibulin. Turns out that was all she wrote for the Edmonton Oilers, despite a colossal push at the end of the game. Semyon Varlamov simply refused to allow a goal and the Avalanche are moving on to the second round.
Shots: Edmonton 9 - 10 Colorado
COL 11:12 S.Downie (2) (G.Landeskog, E.Johnson)
Shots: Edmonton 8 - 12 Colorado
EDM 1:10 D.Hordichuk (2) (N.Schultz, C.Barker)
COL 4:52 D.Jones (2) (M.Hejduk) (PP)
Shots: Edmonton 15 - 9 Colorado
Interesting tidbits: Jordan Eberle had 8 shots. No one else on either team had more than 4. Not that it matters anymore, but Hemsky's injury was an MCL sprain which was to keep him out for 5 weeks. Cam Barker only played 2 games. He had two assists. Taylor Hall had 2 points in the series, while Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Ales Hemsky and Sam Gagner were held point-less in 7 games, which likely caused the Oilers' demise. Milan Hejduk had at least a point in all 7 games. The Oilers' penalty kill was perfect in the series before allowing a third period PP goal in game 7.
Final score: Edmonton 1 - 2 Colorado
Total shots: Edmonton 32 - 31 Colorado
#1 Semyon Varlamov (1GA, 0.968SV%, 31 saves)
#2 David Jones (GWG)
#3 Nikolai Khabibulin (2GA, 0.931SV%, 29 saves)
Toronto Maple Leafs @ Carolina Hurricanes: Game 7
Wonky start for the Leafs. Matthew Lombardi took a hooking penalty early, which the Leafs killed, but barely. The Canes hit the post twice on the powerplay and had about 4 shots on net but Reimer stood strong. Later in the period, it was Bryan Allen's turn to get a hooking penalty and Phil Kessel capitalized on the powerplay with the help of Joffrey Lupul and Tim Connolly. Even later in the period, Joni Pitkanen evened things up from the blueline. Anthony Stewart and Jeff Skinner were awarded with assists. Luke Schenn responded with a penalty immediately following the goal, but the Leafs survived it again. The Leafs were good in the middle on the period, but the beginning and end were all Canes.
Luke Schenn's lack of discipline continued in the second period. He got a holding call. The Leafs survived it again, but hardly. The Canes dominated the period again, despite getting a penalty of their own in the middle of the period. Jeff Skinner scored his 3rd goal of the series on a wrist shot from the faceoff circle. Joni Pitkanen and Derek Joslin got the assists.
Low shooting period, but the Canes added 2 goals to nail the Leafs' Yelnats coffin. Tim Gleason scored another long range goal for the Canes, assisted by Eric Staal and Jussi Jokinen and Brandon Sutter got his 3rd of the series deking James Reimer out on a breakaway. Anthony Stewart picked up another assist and Jaroslav Spacek got one as well. The Canes suffocated the Leafs' offense the rest of the way, preventing them from even having a prayer. Once again, Cam Ward was exceptionnal and he was the difference in the series. 4-1 the final score, the Canes are moving on to the second round.
TOR 8:00 P.Kessel (4) (J.Lupul, T.Connolly)
CAR 16:02 J.Pitkanen (1) (A.Stewart, J.Skinner)
Shots: Toronto 12 - 14 Carolina
CAR 15:38 J.Skinner (3) (J.Pitkanen, D.Joslin)
Shots: Toronto 9 - 13 Carolina
CAR 4:13 T.Gleason (1) (E.Staal, J.Jokinen)
CAR 7:27 B.Sutter (3) (A.Stewart, J.Spacek)
Shots: Toronto 9 - 8 Carolina
Interesting tidbits: Joffrey Lupul finished the first round on top of the league with 6 goals and 6 assists in 7 games.
Final score: Toronto 1 - 4 Carolina
Total shots: Toronto 30 - 35 Carolina
#1 Cam Ward (1GA, 0.966SV%, 29 saves)
#2 Jeff Skinner (G, A)
#3 Joni Pitkanen (G, A)
This concludes the first round. Here's what the matchups for the second round look like:
#9 Calgary Flames
#15 Columbus Blue Jackets
#11 Colorado Avalanche
#13 Anaheim Ducks
#9 Buffalo Sabres
#12 Carolina Hurricanes
#10 Tampa Bay Lightning
#11 Winnipeg Jets
The Buffalo Sabres and Calgary Flames are climbing into the fray after their first round byes. I'll write up a 2nd round preview soon and will start round 2 in the next few days.