You want leaving-the-feet hits? We got em! You want pugilism? Step this way! You want post buzzer nonsense? Welcome to the NHL!
Also, hockey was played.
New York Rangers 3 – 4 Montreal Canadiens (1 – 1)
An Alexander Radulov goal, in the 19th minute of overtime, helped the Habs to a series-tying win in the Bell Centre.
Jeff Petry opened the scoring, his shot from the right circle beating Henrik Lundqvist at 4:05 to give the Habs the lead. Michael Grabner equalised with a breakaway goal at 13:48, but the lead was restored less than two minutes later, Paul Byron left all alone in the slot.
After a big scrum involving Mats Zuccarello, JT Miller, Shea Weber and Jordie Benn, the Rangers drew level again, Rick Nash powering a shot over Carey Price’s shoulder at 29:58. Five minutes later, they took their only lead of the game, Zuccarello batting in a Brendan Smith shot from the blueline.
That looked like being the winner until Radulov found Tomas Plekanec’s stick out in front with 18 seconds remaining, and then turned scorer himself 86 seconds left in 1OT, battling in front to stuff the puck through Lundqvist and pick up the win.
Both goalies were once again outstanding, with Price stopping 35 of 38, and Lundqvist making 54 saves despite the loss.
Columbus Blue Jackets 1 – 4 Pittsburgh Penguins (Pens lead 2 – 0)
Another tale of two goaltenders, except here, we have an unexpected hero of the series, and another who might have just cost his team the series.
The Pens hadn’t had a shot on goal until Conor Sheary stripped Sergei Bobrovsky of the puck behind the net, feeding Jake Guentzel on the backhand, who steered it onto the stick of Sidney Crosby, who doesn’t miss open goals from two feet away, at 8:31.
Brandon Saad would level things at 27:00, beating Marc-Andre Fleury top shelf, but the lead was restored less than a minute later, Guentzel knuckling a one-timer past Bob from a Crosby feed. Evgeni Malkin made it 3-1 at the end of a power play at the start of the third, beating Bob from an almost impossible angle, and Patrick Hornqvist got an empty-netter to seal the deal.
Fleury made 39 saves from 40 shots, while Bobrovsky made 28 from 31. He has now conceded 19 goals in his last six games, not winning a game since March 28th.
Matt Calvert may expect a phone call from DoPS for a late cross check, breaking his stick on Tom Kuhnhackl’s neck, while Boone Jenner and Scott Harrington both received misconduct penalties at the final buzzer – Jenner had just slashed Scott Wilson.
St Louis Blues 2 – 1 Minnesota Wild (Blues lead 2 – 0)
A much tighter, closer game than game one, but the same result – the Blues win in Minnesota, and now have two games at home to attempt the sweep.
Overtime hero Joel Edmundson gave the Blues the lead – the first time he’s scored in consecutive games as a pro – at 23:51, but Zach Parise – for the second time in this series – scored the equaliser, this time on the powerplay at 37:44.
Again, though, the Blues would come out on top. Jaden Schwartz scored with 2:16 left to grab the victory and head home with the chance to seal it in four games.
Jake Allen only had to make 23 saves this time, with Devan Dubnyk making 20.
San Jose Sharks 0 – 2 Edmonton Oilers (1-1)
Shorthanded goals from Zack Kassian (20:42) and Connor McDavid (50:31) saw the Oilers ease past the Sharks, who looked completely bereft of a plan, purpose or clue.
The nature of the goals belies the game, which Edmonton dominated from puck drop to buzzer. Martin Jones made 34 saves, while the Sharks only had 16 all game – only ten of which came at even strength.
Kassian may find himself in trouble for a leaving-the-feet charge on Logan Couture that wasn’t even called as a penalty, but the Sharks have bigger problems than that. They had six power plays, which only generated six shots, and they never looked like scoring if they’d have been playing for 30 periods, never mind three.
The Oilers will be concerned about the status of Oscar Klefbom though. He blocked a shot with his left thigh in the third and looked in considerable pain as he left the ice and didn’t return.
Four games tonight, all at staggered start times for those of us who cannot get enough playoff hockey.
Bruins @ Senators (BOS leads 1 – 0)
TV: NBC, Sportsnet, TVAS, Premier Sports
A smash-and-grab third period comeback belied the fact that the Bruins were terrible for two periods, and only an inspired Tuukka Rask kept them in it.
The Bruins will again be missing David Krejci, while Joe Morrow is expected to take Colin Miller’s place. Miller had to leave practice early yesterday, still suffering from the knee-on-knee collision from game one.
There are still concerns over Erik Karlsson’s health, but he’s still expected to lead the Sens out.
What the Bruins need to do: Turn up for three periods
What the Sens need to do: Convert more of their pressure into marks on the scoreboard
Reason to watch: It’s hockey at a reasonable time for those of us this side of the Atlantic, and there’s not much else on the TV on a Saturday night.
Leafs @ Capitals (WSH leads 1 – 0)
Faceoff: 7e/4p/Midnight BST
TV: CBC, NBCSN, CSN-DC, TVAS
Close but no cigar for the baby Leafs (or Buds, as some people are unfortunately calling them) on Thursday night. They looked really good to begin the game, but the Capitals have star power for days. The Leafs look capable of taking games, but they have to do it before the season gets away from them.
Nikita Zaitsev is still unlikely to feature for the Leafs. Some are trying to scapegoat Martin Marincin for the giveaway that led to Tom Wilson’s OT winner, so he may be left out in favour of Steve Oleksy or Alexey Marchenko.
Nothing new out of the Caps camp, so expect the same lineup.
What the Leafs need to do: Build a bigger lead and/or try to get better matchups and not be lost in the possession battle
What the Caps need to do: Keep a better handle of Marner and Matthews
Reason to watch: the kids did good in game one, they could go better here.
Predators @ Blackhawks (NSH leads 1 – 0)
Faceoff: 8e/5p/1am BST
TV: NBC, Sportsnet, TVAS2
An unexpected victory for the Preds sees the Blackhawks playing catch-up early in the post-season. That said, it wouldn’t be a Hawks post-season without something going drastically wrong along the way. At least it wasn’t 3OT.
No news regarding injuries on either team, so it should be as you were – maybe Hawks coach (and long-lost Marx brother who constantly looks like he’s chewing bees) Joel Quenneville mashes his lines ab it.
What the Preds need to do: Rely less on Pekka Rinne and do some of the work themselves
What the Hawks need to do: Solve Rinne. Can’t win if you can’t score.
Reason to watch: Maybe the Hawks lose again. That’d be funny.
Flames @ Ducks (ANA leads 1 – 0)
Faceoff: 10:30e/7:30p/3:30 BST
TV: CBC, NBCSN, Fox Sports West, TVAS
The Flames had a lead. They had control of the game. Then they threw it away with the worst line change I have ever seen. They certainly weren’t outplayed or outclassed, though. There’s a really simple key to the game here.
Nothing new for the Flames, but Nick Ritchie may return for the Ducks having completed his suspension.
What the Flames need to do: Stay out of the box. They won the 5v5 Corsi battle, so if they can keep at even strength, they stand a hell of a chance.
What the Ducks need to do: Keep drawing penalties. If it ain’t broke…
Reason to watch: There is a pretty nasty undercurrent to this series. It’s riveting.