Stanley Cup Playoffs: What You Need To Know, April 21
Here's what You Need To Know from the Stanley Cup Playoffs action, all four games, on Monday night.
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: When you're down 2-0 in a series, you don't care how you get a win, just so long as you get a win. The Blackhawks were fortunate to get the goal that gave them the lead and from then on in they were mostly playing on their heels, defending against the Blues. They blocked 24 shots in the game, something that will surely sting but feels better with a win, even better with a shutout. It's a series again but the Blackhawks still have more to show.
St. Louis Blues: Though the Blues didn't score in this game they have nothing to hang their heads over. Even without one of their top players and captain in David Backes, they were the team that controlled play and outshot Chicago 34-25. They were physical, too, keeping to their game plan against the Blackhawks, they just couldn't actually score, the most important piece of the puzzle.
Play of the Game: It definitely isn't of the highlight variety and is absolutely one that Ryan Miller would love to have back but it was the only goal (sans an empty-netter) and nothing saying the play of the game has be gorgeous. So here it is, Jonathan Toews' winner.
Player of the Game: Yes, it's the guy who had the shutout, Corey Crawford. Even after leading the Blackhawks to the Cup last season, some still doubt if Crawford is a goalie that can lead the Blackhawks when they need him to. On Monday night they needed him to and he delivered. He stopped all 34 shots and was as good as the save total would lead you to believe.
Turning Point: In this case it was that goal for Toews that was the winner. It came early and after that the Blues had a very strong finish to the period but for the rest of the game the Blackhawks were a bit more content to focus on defense first. That goal, as soft as it was, helped dictate the action and pace for the remainder of the night.
GIF of the Game: Does anything say playoff hockey quite like Jordan Leopold having his nose swabbed for blood? Ewww. (via @PeteBlackburn).
Dallas Stars: The Stars had been close in Anaheim to getting a win, so with the home crowd behind them, they were able to turn it up another notch and record the shutout win to make this a series again. They got some great production from the star players as usual, including Kari Lehtonen, but the line of Antoine Roussel, Ryan Garbutt and Cody Eakin was excellent. Something else the Stars did really well in this game was keep Ryan Getzlaf and Corey Perry in relative check. They gave up shots and were not the team with the puck most of the night but they were also ahead most of the way. They might have packed it in a bit too much for comfort in the third period but it certainly worked.
Anaheim Ducks: It's not as though the Ducks played a poor game, they didn't. The Ducks had 37 shots in the game led by six from Patrick Maroon -- in fact, every skater except for Hampus Lindholm recorded a shot on goal -- but just couldn't solve Lehtonen in this one. After a season where they led the league in shooting percentage, it was perhaps a small bit of karma. They were having fits with that Garbutt line, giving them something else to focus on for the next game beyond the Stars' two stars.
Play of the Game: It was really the totality of this play that garners it the play of the game. It started with the Stars killing a penalty thanks to some very nice work by Kari Lehtonen in net and it finished with Jamie Benn finding the puck off a rebound on the rush and shooting it through the Ducks defenseman for the first, and what turned out to be game-winning goal.
Player of the Game: Jamie Benn was very good (what else is new?) as was Ryan Garbutt for the Stars but how about Lehtonen in net? He was not as good as the Stars needed him to be in Anaheim so he was in need of a rebound game just as much as the rest of his team and he got it. Seeing how they were chasing the game for the final 40 minutes, the Ducks got plenty of pucks on net and Lehtonen got in front of every single one, all 37 shots for the shutout.
Turning Point: You could easily nominate the Benn goal that got the scoring started and the penalty that the Stars just killed but getting through the second period unscathed was massive for the Stars. The Ducks put a lot of pressure on the Stars in the period, firing 17 shots on net but got nothing to show for it while the Stars got one.
GIF of the Game: Ryan Getzlaf is sporting a jaw shield after taking a puck to the face in Game 1 but that didn't stop him from trading a few fists with Antoine Roussel when things got a bit uncivil between the Ducks and Stars (via @MyRegularFace).
Minnesota Wild: The Wild made some lineup changes before Game 3, more than just changing to Darcy Kuemper in net, and it seemed to light a fire under the Wild to start. They were the better team all game long and especially near the end of regulation it looked like they might not be rewarded for it. But after two really tough losses in Colorado, they exacted a bit of heart-breaking revenge. Really it was a tremendous effort from the Wild all around, outshooting Colorado 46-22 and beating the Avs in shot attempts (including misses and blocks) 75-37. It was much more one-sided than a 1-0 OT game would lead you to believe.
Colorado Avalanche: All of that speed and creativity the Avs showed in Colorado disappeared on the road mostly because they just couldn't get the puck. It didn't help that they were down defenseman Tyson Barrie after a hit from Matt Cooke but the Avs were steamrolled in the first period even, only in the game because of Semyon Varlamov. There is no debating they need to be a lot better in Game 4 or risk this series going back to Colorado as a best-of-3.
Play of the Game: So this kind of wins by default because it was the only goal and an overtime winner, but this goal from Mikael Granlund 5:08 into overtime was simply spectacular. From the move through traffic and right in front of the crease to the finish on from the ice, what a great play.
Player of the Game: The only reason this game even went to overtime was because of Semyon Varlamov. The Wild came out just on fire and tested Varlamov tremendously in the first period, firing a franchise record 22 shots on net. By the end of regulation they had 44 shots to Colorado's 20 and yet the game was scoreless. Varlamov was their MVP all season and he was once again on Monday night. Even in a losing effort, he was the player of the game.
Turning Point: Honestly, there wasn't much of a turn in this game as it was pretty much the Wild's game from start to finish and since Granlund's goal didn't really turn anything in the game, it must have been whatever Mike Yeo had to say to the Wild before the game that led to a franchise-best first period.
GIF of the Game: Near the end of regulation there was a controversial no-call on a puck that went over the glass in the Minnesota defensive zone. From all replays it looked like it should have been a penalty for delay of game but the refs ruled it was OK. Paul Stastny freaked out for a second. (via @cjzero).
Columbus Blue Jackets: The Blue Jackets came out flying with a pumped-up crowd and grabbed the 3-1 lead early in the third period ... the dreaded 3-1 lead. Perhaps it was partly a product of the score and the Jackets leading very early into the game, but they were chasing Pittsburgh all game long and then when the Penguins had their three goals in 2:13, they seemed to be stunned. They were doing a pretty good job of keeping the Penguins to the outside but still the shots were coming and the Jackets weren't quite clearing the crease for Sergei Bobrovsky. It was going to be a tough lead to hold but seeing it evaporate in 2:13 hurts.
Pittsburgh Penguins: In the opening minutes the Penguins looked unprepared for what Columbus would be like as a playoff atmosphere but once they got settled into the game, they really got settled. They were helped in part by penalties against the Blue Jackets even though they didn't convert any of the seven power plays into goals because it helped them get their feet back in. Then late in the second they took over and just blitzed the Jackets in the third period. When you outshoot your opponent 41-20, you're doing a lot of things right.
Play of the Game: Not only was this goal from Brooks Orpik -- Brooks Orpik! -- a thing of beauty with a dangle and a snipe from the slot but it was absolutely massive for the Penguins as it got them on the board with less than two seconds left in the second period.
Player of the Game: Aside from a bad penalty in the second period, James Neal was a very strong game for the Penguins but we'll go to the blue line and give a nod to Paul Martin. Kris Letang gets the headlines in Pittsburgh but Martin has been their best defenseman when healthy for some time now and he was again on Monday. He led all skaters in ice time with more than 28 minutes, finished with a pair of assists and he blocked four shots.
Turning Point: The Orpik goal above is a pretty good candidate as it finally got the Penguins on the board just before the second intermission but Brandon Sutter's goal -- which Martin basically just shot off him -- was the breakthrough that began the spurt. You could certainly say that the comeback had already begun but having it pay off started the surge and undoubtedly gave the Penguins confidence ... and shook the Jackets.
GIF of the Game: One of the Blue Jackets' bevy of penalties came when Boone Jenner went airborne in the Penguins crease and hit the back of Marc-Andre Fleury's head with his skate. Amazing players don't get cut more often (via @MyRegularFace).
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