Thursday’s hockey action was excellent. Let’s just get that on the table. The question now is, why was it excellent? I shall tell you, but first, allow me to point you toward this story, wherein Adam Oates says he can beat up John Tortorella. If that is what Washington wanted from their head coaches, they would have just kept Dale Hunter.
The Bruins and Rangers were the last team to begin their second round series, but they kicked it off with a bang. Well, to be fair, there was no scoring in the first period, as the teams got back in the hockey playing saddle. Then, Zdeno Chara opened the scoring, as a shot of his got behind Henrik Lundqvist, who then accidentally knocked it into the net. Fortunately for him, and the Rangers, Ryan McDonagh managed to score with two seconds left in the second period to tie things up. Early in the third, Derek Stepan gave New York the lead, but soon thereafter the legendary Torey Krug scored on the power play. Also, Tory Krug was playing on the Boston power play. The game headed into overtime. Late in the first overtime period, Brad Marchand took a pass and put it through Lundqvist’s five-hole for his first goal of the postseason. Nice time to get on the scoresheet.
And so, Boston struck first in this series with a 3-2 overtime victory. Tuukka Rask made 33 saves, while Lundqvist stopped 45. Both goalies played well. Both teams played well. If the entire series can be played like this, it should be a great one. If both teams can get back some key injured players, it might be even better. Of course, that is the nature of the postseason. It can be a war of attrition, so to speak. We’re already getting those after the fact reveals of guys playing through injury.
Later that evening, the Kings and Sharks played their second game. Los Angeles pitched the shutout in game one, dealing San Jose a loss. Jeff Carter opened the scoring to give the Kings the lead early in the first period. In the second, Drew Doughty added another goal on the power play. Then, San Jose finally got on the board in this series with a tally from Patrick Marleau. Brad Stuart found the net as well to tie the game up. In the third, the Sharks actually took the lead thanks to Marc-Edouard Vlasic. It looked like San Jose would even the series up. Then, they had some penalty issues, and the Kings got a 5-on-3. Dustin Brown tied the game up, but LA still had the power play. Shortly thereafter, and still with the extra man, Trevor Lewis scored as well, and the Kings took the late lead. They held on, giving them the 4-3 win.
Oof. Tough loss for the Sharks. Jonathan Quick made 28 saves, while Antti Niemi made 27. Both goalies have been excellent in this postseason, but neither was able to really be the story here, although to be fair three of the goals on Niemi were power-play tallies. Scott Gomez had two assists. Scott Gomez! Now, the Kings have a 2-0 series lead. It’s hard to see San Jose taking this series now. Sure, they haven’t played at home yet, and I definitely don’t see a sweep. I just find it unlikely the Sharks can overcome a two game deficit, particularly with the way the Kings are playing. Plus, they don’t have Raffi Torres the rest of this series because he has been suspended for a hit from Jarret Stoll, who missed the games. Sure, Torres isn’t a good player, but he was part of their regular line rotation, and now somebody else has to step in. Has San Jose held on, this series would have been very interesting. Alas, they took some penalties late, and they could not take care of business. BTO, they are not.
There is only one game Friday. At 8:30 Eastern on NBC Sports the Penguins and Senators square off again. Pittsburgh won fairly soundly in game one. Will Ottawa bounce back much like the Islanders did? Not if Tomas Vokoun keeps going strong. Or, you know, if Pittsburgh’s collection of great forwards play well. Ottawa is a good team, and they will likely make a series of this, but they have their hands full with the Penguins. Like Jim Carrey in that movie nobody saw.
There is no basketball tonight. So just watch hockey. You have no excuse.