Despite only having two games last night, there was plenty of exciting playoff action. The Kings and Sharks had a shocking finish, while the Blackhawks held off elimination and avoided the sweep. Let’s look at how it all went down.
Chicago vs. Vancouver – The Blackhawks got things going early in the first with an amazing individual effort from Bryan Bickell. After taking a pass from Michael Frolik, Bickell skated in and dangled Kevin Bieksa in the right circle, then waited out Roberto Luongo as he skated across the front of the net. Finally he slid the puck past Luongo after being tripped. This was a sick effort and definitely YouTube worthy. It didn’t take long for Vancouver to tie the game, though, as Sami Salo capitalized on a shot from the point on the power-play. Things remained even heading into the first break.
The second period was all Chicago. They finally had enough and decided they weren’t ready to hit to golf course. Besides, it’s not that warm yet in Chicago anyways, so they tore the game open with a four goal second period. First, it was Brian Campbell with a wrister from the left circle. It came off of a perfect feed from Patrick Kane. Less than 20 seconds later, Duncan Keith buried one of his own from the slot and followed it up with a pretty classic celly. Later in the second, Dave Bolland added his name to the scoresheet with another shot right between the circles. Michael Frolik finished off scoring in the second with a great breakaway goal on Luongo. After losing the puck in his feet, Frolik kicked it back up and deked the jockstrap off of Luongo, leaving himself an open net to bury the puck into. Chicago finished the period strong and carried a 5-1 lead into the second intermission.
In the third, Patrick Sharp decided to join the fun and games with two power-play goals. Chicago was coasting with a 7-1 lead until Daniel Sedin scored his fourth goal of the playoffs on a nice tip-in power-play goal. Things got rough late in the game, however. Kevin Bieksa went after Viktor Stalberg following a few big Stalberg hits (and maybe a slash or two). Bieksa absolutely pummeled Stalberg in a completely one-sided fight. Unfortunately for the Canucks, that game was over and they have to think about being blown out for a couple days. Fortunately, however, they still have a 3-1 series lead. Plus, we can all remember back to last year when the Detroit Red Wings pummeled the Sharks 7-1 in game four before ultimately losing game five, and the series. Things still aren’t looking good for the Blackhawks.
Los Angeles vs. San Jose – Out west we had another exciting game full of scoring. First it was Willie Mitchell giving the Kings an early lead just 2:26 into the game. It only took 13 seconds before Kyle Clifford tallied to give the Kings a 2-0 lead. Late in the first, it was Michal Handzus on a one-time feed from Dustin Brown who gave his team a 3-0 lead heading to the intermission.
Fourty-four seconds into the second period, Brad Richardson unleashed a beautiful wrist shot from the slot to give the Kings a 4-0 lead. After pulling goaltender Antti Niemi, the Sharks regrouped and rallied for three straight goals of their own, from Patrick Marleau, Ryane Clowe, and Logan Couture, respectively. The Sharks now trailed only 4-3, and were on the verge of a great comeback. However, just 15 seconds after the Couture goal, Ryan Smyth brought life back to the Kings with his first goal of the post-season. The Sharks maintained their composure and brought themselves back to within one on Ryane Clowe’s second goal of the night at 18:35. Less than a minute later, the Sharks had completed the comeback as Joe Pavelski scored to tie the game, 5-5.
Despite good scoring chances for both sides, the third period remained scoreless. With the game all knotted up, we headed to another overtime matchup. It took only three minutes in the extra period for Devin Setoguchi to find the back of the net after receiving a great feed from Patrick Marleau.
This was a tremendous game for both teams, offensively more than defensively, but you have to give a lot of credit to San Jose for not giving up when they were down four goals. The Sharks now carry a 2-1 series lead, and will battle in game four on Thursday.