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.
Blackhawks win 2-1 (OT) | CHI win series 4-2
Minnesota Wild: Talk about being a hard-luck loser. The Minnesota Wild played one heck of a game, they have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of. They controlled this game from start to finish and were generating a lot more chances than the Blackhawks. Defensively they were doing a very good job of keeping the Chicago chances down minus a couple of breakdowns and they were generating great looks constantly at the other end, they just couldn't actually beat Corey Crawford. Their speed is something that will be a real takeaway from this series, as will the emergence of Erik Haula, who had another goal in this game. The Minnesota Wild opened a lot of eyes with their play in this series and this postseason and there's no denying that the future is very, very bright for the Wild.
Chicago Blackhawks: Sometimes you have to win when you don't play your best and that fits the Blackhawks in this game. That's a mark of a true champion, something this team is closer to doing now that they're on to the Western Conference finals. Not every team is capable of making the Blackhawks look slow in comparison or breaking down their defense with some regularity, but those were both the case in this game and still Chicago prevailed, thanks ultimately to their last line of defense as well as the terrific skill they have. Of course it wasn't all Crawford keeping the Wild off the scoreboard, the defensemen made some terrific plays to negate potential scoring chances too. They had a lot of very close calls and the Blackhawks should no doubt feel fortunate to have ended this series in six.
Play of the Game: If you're looking for Patrick Kane's winner, you'll find it here, we're going a different direction than the OT winner for this game. Corey Crawford was fantastic and he made so many great saves in this game like these two on Justin Fontaine.
Or this one on Cody McCormick.
Player of the Game: Indeed, it's Crawford. There's no way the Blackhawks win this game without him playing out of his mind. He stopped 34 of 35 Wild shots on the night, very few of the garden variety. He is a guy that still gets some questions as being a weak link for Chicago but he stole this win for the Blackhawks.
Turning Point: When overtime began, the Wild came out how they finished the third, fast and furious. They had a couple of great looks but again Crawford was up to the challenge and the Blackhawks withstood the barrage. After surviving that, the ice evened out a bit and a few minutes later the Blackhawks were winners.
GIF of the Game: OK, so the Wild didn't win but we're still going with this almost terrifying grin from Ryan Suter. Either he just saw/heard something funny or he was planning an offseason of evil. Or anything in between, who knows (via @cjzero).
Rangers win 2-1 | NYR win series 4-3
Pittsburgh Penguins: With how the Penguins looked after four games in this series, it's really hard to think they are here but they are. The question is how many of the Penguins are still going to be there when next season starts. The expectation now is that Dan Bylsma won't be. Thing is, in this game the Penguins didn't play poorly at all. It was undoubtedly their best game of the past three but one common trait all those games have is that they were all Rangers wins. Still, that won't stop the cascade of blame. Sidney Crosby will get some with only one goal in this entire postseason, Marc-Andre Fleury will get some just because he's Marc-Andre Fleury. James Neal was not good, though he did assist on the Penguins' only goal. It's a team game and in the case it was a collective disappointment to bow out, especially when this series was so firmly in their grasp. For the first time in years, this could a very interesting offseason in Pittsburgh.
New York Rangers: Once down three games to one and looking like they were on the verge of getting crushed in this series, the Rangers never trailed in the final three games of this series, a stretch that included two wins IN Pittsburgh. That's the mark of a good team. So is a great goaltender, which Henrik Lundqvist most definitely is and that can't be argued after Game 7 (if you even dared to argue it before). The final numbers show the Penguins severely outshout the Rangers (36-20 on the final chart) but they didn't dominate the game as much as that would indicate. It seemed that just about every Rangers shot was a legit scoring chance.
Play of the Game: Here was your game-winning goal, Brad Richards from Martin St. Louis on the power play. A bit ironic that it was the Rangers' man advantage that ultimately won the series for them after going through an 0-for-34 stretch? It was a very nice pass from St. Louis to set it up but we'd be remiss to comment on the pretty terrible defensive effort from the Penguins on the play. Not sure what they were doing, especially down a man.
Player of the Game: You won't find many goaltenders as good as Henrik Lundqvist in a Game 7. The Rangers have given him plenty of opportunities and he's always delivered, Tuesday night no different. He is now 5-1 all time in Game 7s, allowing just six goals in those six games, including only one against Pittsburgh. And it's not like the Penguins didn't test him because they absolutely did, Lundqvist had to shut down some great Penguins chances from right on the doorstep. The King had his crown.
We're going to add a second play of the game from the player of the game. Check out this sequence late in the third period to preserve the win.
Turning Point: This game didn't really much in terms of ebbs and flows, with the Rangers grabbing the lead on two separate occasions, it was mostly a Penguins attack, though not dramatically so. That's all a way of saying the turning point was pretty much the moment when things happened; specifically the penalty to Matt Niskanen for tripping that led to Richards' goal.
GIF of the Game: So obviously this one didn't go in but we were this close to having a new leader in Marc-Andre Fleury's playoff lowlights reel. He and Olli Maatta could use some work on those communication skills this summer (via @MyRegularFace)