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Stanley Cup Playoffs: What You Need to Know, April 19

By Chris Peters | Hockey Writer

More NHL Playoffs: Schedule, TV listings | Expert Picks | Bracket | Scores | Odds

Every night during the playoffs, we will wrap up all the exciting action and tell you what you need to know about the 2013-14 Stanley Cup Playoffs. Welcome to What You Need To Know.

Colorado wins 4-2 | Avalanche lead series 2-0| Game 3 Monday

Colorado Avalanche: After dealing with a rather heavy onslaught from the Wild early on in the game, the Avs settled down and let their top line take over. Colorado's speed was a major factor in the game, but they never wholly dominated. Great goaltending from Semyon Varlamov, like most of this season, and some brilliance from forwards Nathan MacKinnon, Gabriel Landeskog and Paul Stastny was a big difference between the two squads.

Minnesota Wild: The Wild shouldn't hang their heads too low after this one. They were pretty even with the Avs and may actually have had the better of the play for a good portion of the game. A few breakdowns allowing Colorado's top line too much space and an inability to get much past Varlamov sunk the Wild and put them at a huge disadvantage going forward. They have to be wondering what more they can do after two heart-breakers in Denver.

Play of the Game: We already gave this one its own post, but it's worth showing you again. The passes Nathan MacKinnon and Paul Stastny delivered on this play were nothing short of artistic. With all due respect to Gabriel Landeskog, the goal was the least interesting play in this entire sequence, but I'm sure he'll be pleased to have put this one in. This goal gave the Avs a commanding 3-1 lead at the time.

Player of the Game: Nathan MacKinnon is writing himself quite a story in the opening round of his first ever Stanley Cup Playoffs. He was involved in all four Colorado goals, scoring the spectacular one below and assisting on the other three. MacKinnon now has seven points through his first two playoff games. Seven. According to stats history guru Eric Hornick, his six assists so far is a Stanley Cup Playoffs record for an 18-year-old rookie. That's for the whole playoffs and he's done it in two games. This kid is something special and he showed exactly why in Game 2.

Turning Point: The entire complexion of the game changed when Nathan MacKinnon blazed across the ice, through the Minnesota defense and rifled a shot past Ilya Bryzgalov to tie the score at 1-1. The Wild had control of the game very early after a pretty solid power play and shortly after Charlie Coyle scoring to give the visitors a 1-0 lead. MacKinnon's amazing play energized the building, it energized the Avs and it changed everything.

GIF of the Game: Since the turning point is just above, let's get a look at it in GIF form, particularly the part where MacKinnon breaks Jared Spurgeon's ankles. Mercy. GIF via @cjzero:

Columbus wins 4-3 (2 OT) | Series tied 1-1| Game 3 Monday

Pittsburgh Penguins: If hockey was a 20 minute game, the Penguins would have had a dominant game. As we know, it's a 60-minute game and the Penguins were just not good enough in the closing 40 of regulation to close out the Blue Jackets. Good goaltending from Marc-Andre Fleruy (yes, really) and a hot start to the game was enough to get the Penguins to overtime and they may have even been lucky to get it to that point. Once in the extra frame, the Pens were better, but they could not seem to keep down the Blue Jackets.

Columbus Blue Jackets: After weathering the storm in the first period in which the Blue Jackets got off to an awful start, they never fell out of the game. From the start of the second period on, Columbus was controlling the play and very much earned a chance to win in overtime. They just kept chipping away at the Penguins' lead and never flinched. That was a deserved playoff victory, the first in franchise history.

Play of the Game: Matt Calvert's overtime game-winning goal was his second of the game and gave the Blue Jackets their first ever playoff victory. The Blue Jackets swarmed in front and Calvert actually got two cracks at ending the game, making the rebound off his first thwarted shot count to give Columbus a huge win and even the series.

Player of the Game: Even before the OT winner I was considering putting Calvert in this slot. That goal was just icing on the cake. His shorthanded goal in the second period was just a terrific shot and rewarded his team for the advantage they were starting to gain with the number of shots they were generating. He had two goals in 22-plus minutes of ice time and put five shots on net. He was a factor throughout the game due to his dangerous speed and ability to get pucks to the net. What a huge moment for Calvert who scored just nine goals during the regular season.

Turning Point: The first period ended. The Blue Jackets had a bad start to the game, getting out shot 15-4 in the first 20 minutes, but from the second period on seemed to be the better team. The disparity was completely erased and the Blue Jackets started chipping away at the 3-1 deficit. Matt Calvert's shorthanded snipe over Marc-Andre Fleury provided a huge spark in the middle of the second period and Columbus kept pouring it on the rest of the way. The Blue Jackets out shot the Pens 27-15 in the final two periods. The Pens evened things out in overtime, but the Blue Jackets would not go away. It all started after they erased the first period from their memory.

GIF of the Game: Brandon Dubinsky has a polite conversation with a Pittsburgh Penguins fan from the penalty box. GIF via @PeteBlackburn:

St. Louis wins 4-3 (OT) | Blues lead series 2-0| Game 3 Monday

St. Louis Blues: The Blues were the far superior team in the first period and owned much of the second period, but faltered in the third. Despite a dominant effort from the Blackhawks in the final frame, the Blues stuck with the game and when Brent Seabrook knocked captain David Backes out with a big hit, the Blues got revenge where it mattered most, on the scoreboard. Though the Blues will lament the loss of Backes, they took what Seabrook's costly mistake gave them and took control of the series as it shifts to Chicago.

Chicago Blackhawks: Despite a rather poor performance through the first two periods, the Blackhawks kept chipping away at the deficit. Chicago's key forwards were getting shut down pretty effectively, but defensemen Duncan Keith, Brent Seabrook and Michal Rozsival gave the Blackhawks control. Seabrook's hit put his team in a hole, but the Blackhawks were doing a good job killing the major. It looked like Chicago was going to steal one The Blues found a way and the Blackhawks proved once again what happens when you don't play 60 minutes (or however long you need to with overtime) in the playoffs.

Play of the Game: Vladimir Tarasenko's goal with 6.4 seconds remaining in regulation kept the Blues' hopes alive. It was an absolutely terrific shot from Tarasenko inside the right post. Perfectly placed. The Blues had to make the Blackhawks pay for the hit that knocked Backes out of the game and that was the only way to do it.

Player of the Game: Vladimir Sobotka played a rather large two-way role in this game. He ended up with two assists, including a helper on the overtime game-winning goal by Barret Jackman and topped 20 minutes in ice time. He drew penalties and seemed to do a good job of agitating some Blackhawks forwards. When depth players bring what Sobotka did for the Blues, it goes a long way in helping one's team win.

Turning Point: Brent Seabrook drilled Blues captain David Backes with a high hit, knocking Backes out of the game and earning Seabrook an early shower as well. Seabrook got a five-minute major and game misconduct and the Blues scored the game-tying goal with 6.4 seconds in regulation. Up to the point of that hit, the Blackhawks had dominated the third period, scoring twice, and looked to be in control of the game. That hit changed everything.

GIF of the Game: One day, maybe they'll laugh about this, but when Duncan Keith and Patrick Sharp collided at the offensive blue line on a Blackhawks power play, it could have been really bad. Both were a little shaken up on the play and Steve Ott got a breakaway as a result of the teammate crash. Corey Crawford made a huge save both further embarrassment. The Blackhawks seemed to get in their own way a lot Saturday. GIF via @myregularface:

 
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