Puck It @ The Playoffs: Two more teams on the brink: night 6, where the points don’t matter and the rules are for fun

Four games, four overtime periods, four leads squandered – and only one of those would be rescued. It’s the crazy world of the playoffs, where apparently a stick at 5ft 5in is no longer higher than the 4ft crossbar.

No, you’re bitter.


Ottawa Senators 4 – 3 Boston Bruins (OTT leads 2 – 1)

In a series where having the lead has been a bad thing, the Sens nearly threw away a three goal advantage before taking the game in overtime in suspicious circumstances.

Two goals from Mike Hoffman and Derek Brassard within 35 seconds of each other had the Sens up at the end of the first. Hoffman extended the lead on the power play at the start of the second to make it three, and then the Sens fell apart.

Noel Acciari and David Backes scored 42 seconds apart, then David Pastrnak scored on the power play seven minutes later, and it was a tie game and it looked like being another case of bottling a lead.

No goals in the third, but Bobby Ryan got his second of the post-season in overtime, on a power play he possibly shouldn’t have been on – Riley Nash was sitting for roughing after retaliating to an elbow from Ryan.

Craig Anderson made 29 saves for the Sens, with Tuukka Rask making just 16 – the Sens tried holding on to the lead, and couldn’t.


Washington Capitals 3 – 4 Toronto Maple Leafs (TOR leads 2 – 1)

Another Caps/Leafs game, another overtime game between supposedly the best and the worst teams in the east, another win for the Leafs, and another squandering of leads.

In this game, the Capitals gave up two two-goal leads to somehow conspire to losing. Impressive work.

The Caps were two-up within the opening five minutes through Nicklas Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin, and they looked lethal. Yet, they allowed the Leafs back in, and Auston Matthews followed up his own rebound from a ludicrous zone entry to pull one back just after the 14 minute mark.

Evgeny Kuznetsov restored the two-goal barrier, but Nazem Kadri and William Nylander both scored in the second period to pull the Leafs level.

Thankfully for programme schedulers everywhere, overtime only lasted 1:37, Tyler Bozak joining the party and scoring on the power play to put the Leafs up in the series everyone thought would be a whitewash.


Chicago Blackhawks 2 – 3 Nashville Predators (NSH leads 3 – 0)

Good news for the Blackhawks: they finally scored! Twice, in fact!

Bad news for the Blackhawks: they surrendered a two-goal lead and are now on the brink of being swept by the ‘worst team in the west.’

Second period goals from Dennis Rasmussen and P*****k K**e (on the power play) put them ahead going into the third, but having finally broken the duck, they couldn’t put the game away.

Two goals from Filip Forsberg pulled the Predators level, and an overtime tally for Kevin Fiala sent the wall of yellow into rapture, and gives the Preds a chance to sweep the dynasty next time out.

Corey Crawford made 46 saves, a much-improved performance by him, but those in front of him couldn’t get the job done. Pekka Rinne was lights out again, making 34 on the night, including this most ridiculous of saves.


Anaheim Ducks 5 – 4 Calgary Flames (ANA leads 3 – 0)

Q: When is a high stick not a high stick?
A: When the Flames are leading 4-2 in the post-season.

We’ll get to that in a minute. The main story here is how Calgary finally made their dominance pay, managed to run up a lead, and still managed to lose.

Mirroring games one and two, the Flames managed to draw the Ducks into early penalty trouble, and took advantage through goals from Sean Monahan and Kris Versteeg. Nick Ritchie would put away a rebound late in the first, but the period definitely belonged to the Flames.

The second started much in the same fashion. A Michael Stone point bomb made it three, and a Mark Giordano effort on the power play hit Sam Bennett on the way in, putting the Flames 4-1 up. Randy Carlyle pulled John Gibson for Jonathan Bernier, and while not the immediate catalyst for the comeback, his 16 saves laid a good foundation for it.

Just before the end of the second, Shea Theodore scored on the rush – a goal that perhaps should never have been allowed to happen, considering Corey Perry was trying to punch the Flames’ bench – and the doubts started to creep in.

Then we come to the high stick. Nate Thompson is 6ft tall. That’d make his shoulders, what, 5ft? So why, when he deflected the puck in to make it 4-3, when his stick was at shoulder height, was it declared a good goal when the stick has to be under the crossbar’s height at 4ft?

Again, no, YOU’RE bitter.

Anyway, that was all the encouragement the Ducks needed. Theodore scored his second of the night to pull level, and Perry scored the game-winner after 90 seconds of overtime to take the 3-0 lead and leave a lot of angry Flames fans.


Leaders

We’ve had a full round of game threes now, so lets see who leads the charts.

Mostly from his hat-trick against Columbus, Jake Guentzel sits top of the tree with four goals. Sean Monahan sits one back from him – all power play goals – with 23 players on two goals.

Seven players lead the assists chart with four – Kevin Bieksa, TJ Brodie, Sidney Crosby, Ryan Johansen, Erik Karlsson, Evgeni Malkin and TJ Oshie.

Malkin leads in overall points, his six points leading five players on five.

Jonathan Bernier‘s half-hour showing last night gives him a 1.000 save percentage, which is technically top. Of those who have completed a game, Pekka Rinne drops to .979, with Jake Allen not far behind on .974. Allen’s comes from 114 saves on 117 shots.

Minnesota remain the best possession team, with a CF% of 63.44 and a FF% of 62.62 unadjusted, and 58.61 and 58.60 when adjusted for score, zone and venue.

Possession players – unadjusted, minimum 30 minutes played

Corsi For % – D: Ryan Suter (Min) 67.69 – F: Oliver Bjorkstrand (CBJ) 71.21
Fenwick For % – D: Ryan Suter (Min) 68.09 – F: Mikko Koivu (Min) 70.45


Tonight’s action

Three games tonight (I don’t know why it’s not four either), one of which could see our first elimination of 2017.


Canadiens @ Rangers (MTL leads 2 – 1)

Faceoff: 7e/4p/Midnight BST
TV: NBCSN, CBC, TVAS, MSG, Premier Sports

The Habs were dominant in game three, ignoring the Magic of Madison Square Garden(TM) and putting a sorry Rangers outfit to the sword. A win tonight would leave them needing one from their final three – two of which are in the Bell Centre.

Nothing new out of either camp, with a couple of healthy scratches on both sides up for debate.

What the Habs need to do: What they did in game three
What the Rangers need to do: Better deployment of their offensive talents.

Reason to watch: I’m still waiting for Paul Bryon to explode, you might want to tune in to the next one


Penguins @ Jackets (PIT leads 3 – 0)

Faceoff: 7:30e/4:30p/12:30BST
TV: CNBC, Sportsnet 360, TVAS2, Fox Sports Ohio, Root

As it turns out, the Pittsburgh Penguins are quite good at the hockey thing. The Jackets’ torrid end to the season has continued, and they are not looking good.

Nothing new for the Pens. Matt Murray is still out, and Marc-Andre Fleury hasn’t been terrible, so might as well keep as is.

The Jackets will be missing Zach Werenski, who is out for however long their series goes after breaking his face with a puck. Markus Nutivaara or Kyle Quincey will take his place.

What the Pens need to do: Their thing. It worked well thus far.
What the Jackets need to do: Go down fighting, without actually fighting. Make a good account of yourselves.

Reason to watch: The first elimination of the year, potentially. Plus, the potential for the Jackets going full Torts.


Oilers @ Sharks (EDM leads 2 – 1)

The Oilers haven’t been great. The Sharks have been worse. This isn’t a good series to watch, and there’s no reason to believe that’ll change in game four.

Nothing new from the Oilers, they’re winning so they’re unlikely to change.

The Sharks may reinstate Mikkel Boedker after he sat out game three.

What the Oilers need to do: Keep boring the Sharks into submission
What the Sharks need to do: Score a damn goal

Reason to watch: Insomnia does crazy things to people.

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