The Maple Leafs bounce back, Capitals get a crucial OT win, the Ducks move into the series lead after a big hit by Detroit's Justin Abdelkader and the Kings win the latest slugfest with the Blues. Scott Cullen has stats, notes and observations from Saturday's NHL playoff action.
LEAFS PULL EVEN
After they were thoroughly dominated in Game One, the Toronto Maple Leafs responded with a vastly different effort in Game Two and ended up doubling up the Boston Bruins, 4-2.
LW Joffrey Lupul was dangerous all night for the Maple Leafs, scoring twice and recording eight shots on goal. As productive as Lupul was when he was healthy this season (11 G, 7 A, 16 GP), he didn't record more than five shots on goal in any game. The last time Lupul had as many as eight shots on goal in a game was December, 2007, when he played for the Flyers.
The game-winning goal was scored by Leafs RW Phil Kessel, his first even-strength goal in 24 games against the Bruins.
The win wasn't all about Toronto's offence, though. G James Reimer had 39 saves on 41 shots, withstanding the Bruins' barrage, particularly as the game went on (Boston had 31 shots in the second and third period combined).
Maple Leafs C Tyler Bozak led all Leafs with 24:22 time on ice, and while he took a remarkable 38 of 76 total faceoffs in the game, Bozak only won 14, putting him at 36.8% for the night.
Toronto made several lineup changes, which included inserting wingers Matt Frattin and Ryan Hamilton into the lineup. Frattin used his speed to create a scoring chance on Lupul's second goal and had five hits in 11:00 of ice time. That's a performance that ought to keep him in the lineup for Game Three.
It was a tough night for Dennis Seidenberg, who was moved away from being paired with Zdeno Chara as the Bruins shuffled their defence to accomodate the suspension handed out to Andrew Ference. Seidenberg ended up as a minus-3, something that has happened to Seidenberg four times in the last six seasons.
Bruins RW Tyler Seguin was a threat most of the night, registering eight shots on goal and tying for the team lead with four hits.
There was a monumental difference between the performance in Game One and Game Two for Toronto and now the Maple Leafs come home feeling much better, thinking that they have a chance in this "winnable" (per Nazem Kadri) series. It might be winnable, but only if James Reimer continues to play great in goal.
RANGERS IN A HOLE
It wasn't necessarily a tight-checking game, at least not as tight as the score would indicate, but the Washington Capitals and New York Rangers went to overtime scoreless before Mike Green scored on the power play, giving the Capitals a 2-0 series lead.
Rangers G Henrik Lundqvist took the loss, despite stopping 37 of 38 shots, when Green's one-time slapshot from the point on the power play found its way through to the net. Washington was on the power play because Rangers D Ryan McDonagh was penalized for clearing the puck over the glass, an infraction that occurred when McDonagh had been caught on ice for more than three minutes on his final shift.
While the low-scoring result (if not the shot totals) might indicate that the Rangers were keeping Washington's attack under wraps, the Capitals' top line (Alex Ovechkin, Nicklas Backstrom, Marcus Johansson) was dominant in terms of possession, even if they didn't score at even strength.
On the winning side, Braden Holtby stopped all 24 Rangers shots. Holtby has stopped 59 of 60 shots (.983 SV%) through the first two games of this series.
Capitals RW Alex Ovechkin and D John Carlson tied for the team lead with seven shots apiece. Ovechkin was involved physically, too, recording seven hits, second only to D Steven Oleksy who had eight hits.
Playing in his first game for the Rangers, RW Derek Dorsett led Blueshirts with seven hits and played 15:17 in first game since suffering a broken collarbone on March 7. Dorsett played with former Blue Jackets teammate Derick Brassard and, primarily, Taylor Pyatt.
The Rangers head home, down 2-0, and looking for an answer offensively, something that had been a problem for much of the year but, with 28 goals in the last six regular season games, it looked like the Rangers might have figured out a few things. One obvious solution is to decisively outshoot the Capitals, which would really just be holding true to form -- the Rangers were tied for eighth with a plus-2.70 shot differential during the season whie Washington was 26th at minus-4.20 per game.
MAJOR PENALTY IGNITES DUCKS
Game Three of the Anaheim-Detroit series changed when Red Wings RW Justin Abdelkader received a five-minute major for charging Ducks D Toni Lydman. It was a scoreless game at the time, then 18 seconds later, Ducks C Nick Bonino scored and that started the Ducks on their way to a 4-0 win.
Bonino's goal was his second of the series and he played 19:14, a total he surpassed twice in 29 games (regular season plus playoffs) this season and second-most among Ducks forwards (19 seconds behind leader Ryan Getzlaf, who had a goal and an assist in Game Three).
Ducks G Jonas Hiller wasn't tested heavily, but stopped all 23 shots sent his way to earn the shutout. One way to keep the Red Wings at bay is to find a way to lock down Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg, the Wings' two most dangerous players.
Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg both finished minus-2 and combined for three shots on goal, while facing C Ryan Getzlaf and RW Corey Perry (with Kyle Palmieri or Bobby Ryan on the left side) for most of the night.
If the Ducks can keep Datsyuk and Zetterberg in check, it's going to be extremely difficult for the Red Wings to advance by leaning on their depth players. With the distinct possibility that Abdelkader could be suspended for his hit, that could mean a change on the wing with Datsyuk and Zetterberg. Gustav Nyquist or Todd Bertuzzi (who didn't dress for Game Three) might be a couple viable options to fill that spot.
With rookie D Danny DeKeyser sidelined, Brian Lashoff was inserted into the Red Wings lineup. Lashoff played 20:00, which was second-best among Detroit D, behind only Niklas Kronwall.
Paired with Ben Lovejoy, Ducks D Cam Fowler had a strong showing in Game Three.
While Game Three wasn't so lopsided until the Abdelkader penalty, the Ducks now find themselves in good position, having earned at least a split in Detroit. If Anaheim can somehow win Game Four, they will take a stranglehold on the series, so expect the Red Wings to bring all they have left in the tank for Game Four.
KINGS ON THE BOARD
As expected, the series between the Los Angeles Kings and St. Louis Blues has been a grind and the Kings, returninghome, managed to take a 1-0 decision from the Blues in Game Three, giving the Kings their first win of the series.
Kings G Jonathan Quick who, despite some crucial errors on game-winning goals, has played well throughout the series, stopped all 30 shots he faced for the shutout.
Blues C David Backes did everything but score, finishing with six shots on goal and six hits. He had several high-quality chances, but came away empty. It's been that kind of year for the two-time 30-goal scorer who finished this year with six goals in 48 games. Backes was also matched up against Kings C Anze Kopitar and Kopitar was held without a shot on goal.
As expected, this series has been a battle for every inch of space, with the Blues holding a 4-3 goal advantage through three games!
Just as Backes' efforts typify St. Louis' game as a whole, Kings captain LW Dustin Brown is much the same for the Kings. Brown had eight hits in Game Three, giving him 20 through the first three games.
As low-scoring as the first three games of this series have been, there's little reason to expect any dramatic changes in style. One-goal games that, for one reason or another, leave the loser disheartened have been the order of the day.
Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook.