Stanley Cup Playoffs: What You Need To Know, April 23
The Penguins are in big trouble. They blow a 3-0 lead and more importantly Marc-Andre Fleury appeared to crack. All you need to know from Wednesday.
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.
Chicago Blackhawks : That looked a bit more like the great Blackhawks team we saw in the Stanley Cup last season. Though the first period was scoreless, it was the best period the Blackhawks played in this series as they dominated the possession, clearly the more dangerous team. While they lost that control a bit in the late second and early third, they remained mostly in control of their game. They started to get more out of their top players and there's no denying the most effective line on this night was that of Kane, Saad and Smith. They lost a two-goal lead but credit them for fighting through it and coming back to win this game in overtime, a massive win to gake this back to St. Louis at two games apiece.
St. Louis Blues : There's not too much for the Blues to hang their heads about after this one. Once again without their captain David Backes , the Blues hung in. They were the team on the down side of the possession battle in this game but that just allowed them to be more physical than they normally are, which is already physical. It was very heavy hockey and eventually it started to turn in their favor. The power play finally clicked thanks to Vladimir Tarasenko , who was so dangerous at every turn. They showed a lot of fortitude getting back into the game and taking a lead but this time it was their turn to lose a lead late in this series. It's not as though they did a lot wrong in Game 4, they just got the best of the Blackhawks.
Play of the Game: There were a few outstanding plays in this game but of course we're going with Patrick Kane 's winning goal in overtime. It was pretty much classic Kane and a really smart play. He allowed his fellow forwards ( Ben Smith and Brandon Saad , each deserve a lot of credit on this play) drive hard toward the net while cooly eyeing his shot and firing another twisted wrister. Great shot, great composure, great play.
Player of the Game: There's about one choice for this, isn't there? It has to be Patrick Kane. He scored not only the game-winner but also scored Chicago's second goal of the game and assisted on the first. Not to mention every other time he had the puck, particularly late in this game, you were just anticipating him doing something. He was locked in late in this game and was the Kane we've become so used to seeing.
Turning Point: This game was a bit slow in the scoring department but started to hit a few turns in the second half of the contest. The Blues had totally flipped the script and went up 3-2 and seemed to be in control. But in an instant the Blackhawks found a quick spurt of offense and Brian Bickell deflected in a shot for the game-tying goal. Just like that the Blackhawks had wind in their sails once again and that carried into overtime.
GIF of the Game: This would have been the play of the game without overtime but it deserves to be enjoyed so here it is. Check out this pass from Johnny Oduya across the ice to Patrick Kane on the back door for the goal. Perfection (via @PeteBlackburn).
Dallas Stars : Whatever Lindy Ruff said to his team after the first period, it worked. The Stars fell down two goals in the first period but came out like men on a mission in the second, outshooting the Ducks 16-3 in the middle stanza to even things up. Even in the third period they only had three shots on goal but two went in the net. However, they did a very good job of defending but not totally settling back as they surrendered only 23 shots total in the game. This series has developed a very nasty edge, which isn't something the Stars seem to mind that much. They have done all it can to make life very comfortable for the Ducks, and it's working.
Anaheim Ducks : Could these two games in Dallas have gone much worse for the Ducks? It's hard to imagine how. Not only did captain Ryan Getzlaf apparently suffer an injury in Game 3 (potentially from a scrap when he already had a damaged face from Game 1) that caused him to miss Game 4 but now they lost both and now could have a question in goal again after having to pull Frederik Andersen for Jonas Hiller in the third period. The series has gotten nasty and right now that seems to be bad news for the Ducks as they are the one paying the biggest price and getting a bit off their game. They return home now so they'll have to hope that will be enough to energize them because Dallas has clearly taken the momentum in this series.
Play of the Game: There's a lot of talk about the Stars being Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn then a bunch of others but they have some other guys who can make things happen like Cody Eakin . His game-winning goal in the third period began with a nice play to corral the puck in the neutral zone then he just turned on his jets and went wide to get a clear shot on Frederik Andersen from in tight. He still had to finish from there and he did. That's a nice play.
Player of the Game: Jamie Benn once again has a good argument with his goal, one on the empty net, but we're going to spread the love around a bit for the Stars. One player who was strong was Shawn Horcoff . The veteran forward had four shots on goal and ended up with two assists to show for all of his hard work. Another potential submission: Alex Goligoski . The defenseman logged more than 31 minutes and had a goal, three blocked shots and four giveaways. In other words, take your pick.
Turning Point: As mentioned above, it was whatever the Stars heard/were told in the dressing room after the opening period because they came out as a completely different team and were flying. Their second period was probably their best of the series.
GIF of the Game: Not sure how much needs to be said about this one. (Via @cjzero.)
Columbus Blue Jackets : Huge bit of credit where it's due, the Blue Jackets had a massive hole to climb out of with potentially their series on the line and they did. It was a terrible start, they were just dominated in the first period by Pittsburgh and fell behind 3-0. But as we have seen in every game, no lead in this series is safe. Sergei Bobrovsky did not look to be that comfortable in net but it didn't much matter with how much the Jackets were controlling play over the final few minutes. Now they have to be feeling good about themselves moving forward in a best-of-3, really good with how this game ended.
Pittsburgh Penguins : It's time for Pittsburgh to get those panic buttons handy. This game started oh so well for the Penguins, jumping out to a 3-0 lead but they sat back and just watched the Jackets take control of the game after that. They took too many penalties, a problem this series so far. But the most important and in their case devastating fact is that Marc-Andre Fleury crumbled. He was having a very strong game, truly, until he made the fateful decision to vacate his net with less than a minute to go and gave up a terrible tying goal as a result. In overtime he looked absolutely broken and the winner was a save he should make 100 times out of 100. This is precisely the concern of every Penguins fan; old Playoff Fleury is back.
Play of the Game: We shared it already in another post but it has to be the game-tying goal from Dubinsky. Just as important it would seem as this tying the game was that this was the goal that seemed to shatter Fleury's confidence. Of course Nick Foligno 's winner was kind of big too.
Player of the Game: Dubinsky got the goal that tied it but he had a strong all-around game. Really, he's had a strong series. It has been his job to pester Sidney Crosby best he can and he's been relatively effective as Sid has been quiet on the score sheet. For Dubinsky, not only did he get the goal but he had an assist and five shots on net. Strong game and he was rewarded in the final minute.
Turning Point: This game really flipped after the Penguins took their 3-0 lead. It was after that the Blue Jackets simply took the puck and barely gave it up. There was a stretch in the third period where the Penguins went 13 minutes without a shot. They went into a defensive mode obviously with the lead but that was too passive.
GIF of the Game: Do you think the Blue Jackets coaches were happy when Nick Foligno scored the game-winner in overtime? (Via @MyRegularFace.)
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