NHL playoffs: Habs strike back, Wild fall again, Pens look like defending champs

canadiens.png
Paul Byron celebrates a goal for the Canadiens, who evened up their series with the Rangers.  USATSI

A night after one of the Stanley Cup favorites was shut out by the Nashville Predators , the most recent team to win the Cup put on a scoring clinic against the Columbus Blue Jackets .

Meanwhile, the Montreal Canadiens got the rebound they needed against Henrik Lundqvist and the New York Rangers , while the St. Louis Blues made another statement in topping the Minnesota Wild for a second straight game and the Edmonton Oilers got physical to even their series with the San Jose Sharks.

With all playoff teams' series underway, here are some things to take away from Friday night's action:

The Pittsburgh Penguins look like defending champions

Maybe four goals isn't too out of hand for the Pittsburgh Penguins (then again, maybe it is), but Sidney Crosby and the defending champions sure had the looks of a team far superior to Columbus' top defense on Friday, boosting their series advantage to 2-0 with a 4-1 win.

All of a sudden, the Blue Jackets have to be concerned. We already know they're frustrated, for one thing:

No one should be shocked that Crosby and the Pens are making plays -- and they are doing just that, as Sid logged three points in Friday's rout. But for Columbus to enter Game 3 having been outscored 7-2 is not ideal. Perhaps underrating Pittsburgh's plethora of offensive talent, not to mention their ability to cope with injuries in the postseason, is not the right move.

Hat tip to Marc-Andre Fleury , too. The old man continues to do his thing in place of a banged-up Matt Murray . (Good thing the Pens clung to Fleury at the trade deadline, by the way.)

Jake Allen and the Blues are a force to be reckoned with

St. Louis better be thanking Allen for the job he has done, suddenly thrust into the spotlight against what at least one point was a dangerous Wild offense.

Two days after helping the Blues force -- and win -- in overtime, the young goalie was back it on Friday, stopping all but one of Minnesota's 24 shots on goal to give St. Louis a huge 2-0 edge in the Western Conference series.

Now the series is headed for two straight games in St. Louis. The Wild, meanwhile, went just 22-19 on the road in the regular season. Suddenly, Mike Yeo is in quite a good position against his former team.

One glimmer of hope for Minnesota was another scoring outing from Zach Parise , whose last-second goal on Wednesday kept the Wild's fleeting chances alive.

Montreal had the edgy night it needed, if only barely

The Rangers are the better offensive team and perhaps misrepresented by their lower seeding thanks to the packed Metropolitan Division turnout, and that showed in Wednesday's opener between N.Y. and Montreal. But the Habs, with some feisty play from Shea Weber and late heroics from Alexander Radulov , got a hard-earned victory to even the series Friday.

The fight to the finish in this clash is not going to be easy. The Rangers weren't exactly elite at Madison Square Garden this season, either, so just because Game 3 is set for New York does not mean Montreal can't swing momentum going forward.

The Oilers controlled the puck, got physical and are right back in the mix

Friday night was a great night for the Edmonton Oilers, too.

After dropping their playoff opener to the San Jose Sharks, Connor McDavid's crew got back on track -- and firmly so -- with a physical 2-0 win to even the series heading to California. At one point, the Oilers had racked up more than double the number of shots on goal by the Sharks, doing enough after a scoreless first period to set up a win.

Oh, and then there was Zack Kassian, who had his first postseason goal and also did this:

Show Comments Hide Comments
CBS Sports Shop
NHL Winter Classic
Our Latest Stories